The Muslim Rights (MURIC) has said that the New Year celebrations according to the Gregorian calendar are “unfair, unjust and undemocratic” to Muslims in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by the MURIC Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, the Islamic group urged the Federal Government to declare the 1st of Muharram Hijrah, which is the first day in the Islamic calendar, as a public holiday to favour Muslims.
Akintola noted that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari supported “the Christianisation of Nigeria” by giving more regard to the Christian celebration while casting aside the Islamic one.
The statement read in part, “As usual, the Federal Government (FG) declared 1st January 2022, a public holiday in recognition of the first day of the Christian Gregorian calendar.
“But because the day fell on a Saturday, FG created an alternative by declaring the following Monday a public holiday.
“This was an aberration and a gross injustice because Nigerian Muslims have been demanding the declaration of the first day of the Islamic calendar as a holiday for more than 20 years to no avail.
“It simply means that FG under President Muhammadu Buhari is also supporting the Christianisation of Nigeria. It considers the first day of the Christian calendar as sacred while the first day of the Islamic calendar is regarded as unimportant.
“MURIC frowns at this lopsided arrangement. It is unfair, unjust and undemocratic. We demand an immediate review of FG’s holiday policy.
“We demand the declaration of the first day of the Islamic calendar as a holiday to justify the 1st January holiday that is declared annually by FG.”
MURIC added that if the Federal Government fails to properly recognise the first day of the Muslim calendar as it has recognised the Christian calendar, it should stop declaring New Year holidays.
According to Prof. Akitonla, the government’s failure to declare the Hijrah holiday is modern-day slavery which Muslims have been suffering since the colonial era.
“1st January holiday is a Christian colonial creation designed to dignify and rubber-cushion the pomp and pageantry of Christmas. In the interest of peace, FG should review this Christian colonial heritage.
“Nigeria became independent 62 years ago for crying out loud. 62 years is long enough to right wrongs perpetrated by the British slave masters.
“Democracy is fraudulent without equal participation, equal rights and justice. We demand parity now and only the recognition of the first day of the Islamic new year can balance the equilibrium and ensure parity, justice and fair play.
“Holidays are part of the dividends of democracy. However, the dividends must not be dished out in a selective manner.
“What explanation does FG have for giving Christians holiday on the first day of their calendar while Muslims are denied same? What right has FG to allow one faith to enjoy a holiday on the first day of its calendar while the other creed is forced to go to work on its own first day? It is modern-day slavery, no more, no less.
“To strike a balance, we demand the declaration of 1st Muharram as a holiday for the Muslim Hijrah calendar. In the alternative or if the government thinks this demand is unreasonable, FG should stop declaring 1st January as a holiday. That is when we will know who has been benefitting from it and who has been losing and hurting,” Akintola stated.