On the 11th October, 2016. The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) Monitoring and Countering of Hate and Dangerous Speech team, paid an advocacy visit to the Chief Imam of Yobe State University, Damaturo Central Mosque, Yahuza Hamza Abubakar Ph.D.
The objective of the visit was to engage religious and traditional leaders in promoting peace and campaign against hate and dangerous speech on social media platforms.
The team was led by Isa Garba, Senior Programmes Officer who is also the Project Coordinator, Hate and Dangerous Speech. After general introduction and prayers, Isa thanked the chief Imam for accepting to receive CITAD. Then he briefed the Chief Imam about CITAD project of Monitoring and Countering of Hate and Dangerous speech online. He further traced history of dangerous speech insurgency of Rwanda which led to the death of hundred thousands of people within short period of time as a result of single hate speech.
In the previous project of peace campaign CITAD has successfully generated comments and contributions of religious scholars like him which CITAD published, that is the reason we want to reflect that in our campaign against hate speech. This is more serious than our previous monthly reports, we noticed that 90% of the hate speeches reported were religious/ethnic issues and that is why we focused paying courtesy visits to the religious leaders, as well as knowledgeable prominent influential people like you. We ‘believed that where we are today is a place to get more lessons to learn’ said Isah Garba.
In his response, the Imam expressed his happiness for the visit and for getting people that have concern to address such a vital but neglected issue especially at this moment. “We have lost the most important element of life which was modesty and morals that is why everyone is expressing his view about any religion irrespective of level of his knowledge. The most shameful thing is to see was to see religious people fighting against each other”.
The Holy Quran warned against insulting idols of infidels so that they cannot in return insult Allah ignorantly. Then why should we insult others because we differ in our perception or understanding. The life of the Prophet is full of such good examples of how relate with the non-Muslims in all areas of life, respecting them and try to get them understand the truth, the Imam said. He called on Ulamas to register with social media because they have important role to play there especially in the areas of sensitizing and enlightening their followers about ambiguous issues but unfortunately maany of Ulamas refused to join the social media due to fear of intimidation, attack on their personality.
Being already on social media, the Imam pledge to join CITAD in the campaign against hate speech.
At the end of the visit, the team presented some CITAD’s publications to the Chief Imam and had a group picture. The team included Isah Garba, Ibrahim Nuhu, Abubakar Yusuf Auyo, Shazali Sunusi Sulaiman and Balarabe Yakubu.