There was once a liberal governor in Pakistan in the state of Punjab.
He wanted peace to reign in his domain and he wanted to promote the spirit of tolerance. He wanted to promote the right of children and women. He did his best.
One day a woman was sentenced to death, charged with speaking blasphemy against the holy prophet of Islam. But before she would be killed the governor decided to do a private investigation into the allegation and the judicial process.
He discovered that the woman was falsely accused. She is a Christian and one of the 2% of the followers of Christ who are scattered among 180m people.
The governor went on air to make a statement that he has found out that the woman was falsely accused and that the case against her may be dropped.
In addition he also said that he will be looking into either adjusting the law that allows people to be sentenced to death for blasphemy or have it removed altogether.
In the midst of this religious imbroglio the governor made a visit outside of his territory. He went to Islamabad. Then as he was about to enter his car to return to his hotel room he was shot 29 times by one of his personal security aides. He died.
The man who shot him was charged to court. As the trial was about to begin, thousands of Pakistani made their way to the court yard to praise the murderer. They throw roses and beautiful flowers at him.
They praised him for killing the governor of Punjab. Many of them mentioned that they would have done the same if they had the opportunity to kill anyone speaking blasphemy against Islam and its prophets.
There was also a young girl who was not born a Christian. Somehow she met with the Christian faith, became a Christian and decided to attend a bible college. She was very shy but studious and for two years she studied the scriptures and became versed.
One day she travelled back to her roots to help people who have been displaced by flood. As she helped them she spoke about The Christ.
People asked her many questions and she provided answers to all of their questions.
Some men did not like what the young woman was up to so they threatened her. They would kill her if she continues to spread the word about Christ.
She called her bible teacher who told her to leave the zone and report back to the district where she has attended bible school. She obeyed.
However as she rode on the back seat of a bicycle to the train station, unknown to her, an ambush has been laid. She was shot at; she sustained injuries on her legs but was lucky to have escaped the murder attempt.
In pain she got to Lahore and was treated. She is alive to tell the story.
She didn’t want her bible teacher to visit the remote place in the south of Pakistan where she has worked as a volunteer and shot. The man of God wanted to make a police report and to see if they can start a judicial process to seek justice.
In the words of the young woman “I have forgiven those who tried to kill me because they don’t know what they are doing”.
These stories touch my heart and they remind me of the recurrent killings in parts of Nigeria especially in the Northern Province. Some of the religious and or tribal killings do not make the news. When they do, they are no longer headlines. In short they have become part of our existence.
We now accept that it is “ok” that innocent people be murdered in certain parts of Nigeria. Life has become meaningless and lawlessness is now an acceptable pattern to us. Or how many perpetrators have been arrested in Jos, Bauchi and Borno?
Just to let sleeping dogs lie, I try to refrain from discussing or writing about religious matters either in Nigeria or elsewhere. It’s too sensitive. People get stirred up when religion is debated or reported in a certain way. It’s puzzling because of rigid opinions.
Yet it is so unbelievable how evil has spread in the minds of people representing all the religious groups around the world.
Around 1992/93 I wrote an essay for an English course at the University of Lagos. It was titled Religion and Morality. I argued that religion from a moral point of view has helped to shape the world. That argument probably belongs to the dustbin now.
No doubts I can now add that religion has also changed the world order forever. Intolerance based on religion (along with social injustice) has come to stay as a parameter that has ensured that the world is totally unsafe for all.
Religion has ensured that peace is elusive to humanity.
I wrote down these stories after listening to a preacher from Pakistan. The stories are real.