Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has assured that his administration will continue to protect the rights of the citizens to practice any religion of their choice without the fear of harassment or discrimination.
The Governor, stated this on Friday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos where he declared open the 34th National Qu’ran recitation competition.
The Governor noted that the competition will further enlighten all and sundry as well as exposing Muslim youths to the bright side of life as preached by Islam through the holy Qur’an.
The National Qu’ran recitation competition was established in 1986 as an annual Islamic competition. It is organised by the Centre for Islamic Studies, Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto to bring the Qur’an closer to the hearts and minds of young Muslims across the country.
This year’s competition will run from December 27th to January 10th in the Centre of Excellence.
Sanwo-Olu reminded all that now was the time Nigeria required more programmes such as the quranic recitation to re-channel the minds of the youths toward positive ventures.
He said: “As a nation engaged in the battle against extremism, this programme will, among other initiatives, promote true understanding of the religion of Islam and help make our young people less vulnerable to beliefs that are not consistent with the teachings of the religion.
“As you all know, Lagos State is a cosmopolitan State in which people of diverse religious, ethnic and cultural orientations have lived together in peace, tolerance, mutual respect and understanding for centuries.
“As a government, we will continue to protect the right of every citizen to practise every religion of their choice without fear of harassment or discrimination in this State.”
The Governor described Islam as a religion of peace stressing that citizens should embrace tolerance, with reference to the life of Holy Prophet Muhammed.
He said: “To underscore the importance of this, it was reported that the Holy Prophet Muhammed, in his last sermon, emphasised that he was leaving behind for Muslims, two things that will continue to serve as a guide for them after his demise: the Quran and his personal examples.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Islam is a religion of peace; encouraging tolerance and harmonious coexistence among all people of different beliefs,” he said.
The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar in his remarks noted that the Quran stands as a guide to life in all facets of life.
According to the Sultan: “Islam is a way of life. Whatever you want to do must be according to the Qu’ran. It is very important that our children must memorise and work with the Qu’ran. Whether as leaders or followers, we will not do bad things if we continue to work with the Qu’ran. A lot of Nigerians are good people, let us continue to be patience because patience is a virtue.”
Notable personalities at the recitation includes the Deputy Governor of Lagos, Dr Obafemi Hamzat; the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, among others.