‘Being a Muslim does not make you a potential terrorist’- Niger Deltan Lecturer
Dr Patrick Egaga is a lecturer in the faculty of Education at the University of Calabar. He is also the Adviser on Religious Affairs at the University. In this interview with Aljazirahnews, he says there is no victimisation of adherents of any faith, a reason why there has never been a religious crisis in the establishment. Excerpts-
Interview conducted by Asare Asare
What is the extent of religious tolerance in the University of Calabar?
Here in the University of Calabar, students are encouraged to undertake their religious observances, and to be tolerant of each other. Our students are also encouraged to come closer to each other without any religious consideration. Muslim students are even better protected. They are very free to conduct their worship. The Moslems Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) held their awareness week in the main campus. Last time, it was held at MALABO Republic, the students hostel. Muslim students can confirm this assertion. There is no discrimination whatsoever.
As a man who represents the VC and students in religious issues, how have you represented the students?
I relate with all students irrespective of their religious background because all of them are one. The administration is extending to everyone without any selfish end irrespective of any social and religious affair.
What personal interest do you have in ensuring religious relationship?
It is both school related and personal. I stay with the Moslem brethren a lot. They have influenced my life in more ways than one. My relationship with different religious groups has reactivated my life. I like the lifestyle of the Moslems. I like their simplicity, I like their ordinary behavior. I like the way they mix with everybody irrespective of religion or where you are from or your social circle. Moslems, as a matter of fact, do not discriminate. They see everybody as one and you know that is my kind of life. So, part of my relationship with Moslems is just because of that. The second issue is that the University administration understands that there is a way that I relate with my Moslem brothers so that when normally there are activities, the University authorities call me and say go and talk to your own brothers.
Islam and its adherents are sometimes erroneously suspected to be terrorists. How do you view this?
I do not agree with this. Islam respects the sanctity of life. I can say that these killings in the name of Islam is not done by true Moslem. When you talk on the issue of killing and blackmail and nefarious, activities it is not perpetrated by true Christians or Moslems. So it is unfortunate. At a particular time for instance, if you see the crisis between Serbia and Hezigovina will you say it is between Moslem and Christians? If you see the conflict between Russia and Crimea, is it between Christian and Moslems? In the whole of Russia and Crimea, 90% of them are Christians and this uprising is going on there. This kind of crisis is purely political.
As a lecturer, have you conducted any research on Islam in the Niger Delta?
Well I read a lot of books. Some of these books include Islamic literature. I don’t discriminate whilst I read. For example, according to Islam, Muhammad is the last prophet of Allah. I tell my friends and colleagues that Moslems believe in all the prophets that are in the Bible. With this, you will agree that we are worshipping the same God except for the differences in mode of worship.