President Muhammadu Buhari has described violent extremism as the biggest challenge facing Islam.
In his Eid-el-Kabir message to Muslims, the president said that the only way to neutralise the evil influence of extremism is for Muslims to distance themselves from the activities and teachings of those who preach indiscriminate violence against innocent people.
According to Buhari, the greatest commitment to Islam is for Muslims to put its good virtues into practice, and by making justice and righteousness the guiding principle of their everyday life.
“We should be the mirror through which others see the good virtues of our faith. Islam is a religion of peace and we should avoid violent extremist ideas that give Islam a wrong name because our conduct leave more lasting positive impressions than what we say by word of mouth.”
The president regretted that “violent extremism is the greatest challenge facing Islam today and the only way we can neutralise its evil influence is to distance ourselves from the activities and teachings of those who preach indiscriminate violence against innocent people. And this flies in the face of the teachings of Islam.”
President Buhari in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, advised parents to “protect their children from the deadly exposure to violent extremists who manipulate and exploit those children for their own evil agenda.”
President Buhari noted that “Boko Haram became a deadly force and a major security scourge because Muslim societies were indifferent from the beginning to the activities of extremist preachers who manipulate innocent and gullible followers.”
He said that “extremism is like a cancer, which must be detected and destroyed from its early stages of growth.”
He, however, assured Nigerians that the Boko Haram terrorism, kidnappings and other forms of banditry “would be dealt with uncompromisingly until we see the back of these evils plaguing our country.
“Despite occasional setbacks, the Boko Haram militants have been so militarily weakened and scattered by our Armed Forces that they are no longer in a position to occupy any part of Nigeria, let alone hoist their flag and impose their reign of terror longer than 24 hours.
“As our armed forces get more equipped and trained, in addition to being more motivated and reinvigorated, this administration is relentlessly committed to protecting Nigerians no matter what it takes to bring a permanent end to this evil.”
He advised Muslims to be tolerant and continue to work for peace, unity, national integration, and peaceful coexistence.