The Catholic Diocese of Yola, Nigeria, led by Most Rev. Stephen Dami Mamza built a Mosque for Muslims in his Diocese in 2021.
According to the Bishop, the move was faced with opposition from various quarters.
The Bishop who is currently the Second Vice-President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, (SECAM) built the Muslim place of worship for some internally displaced persons (IDPs) in his Diocese some two years ago.
The Bishop explained the rationale behind his action in an April 2021 interview published by The Punch, saying in the first place, they did not discriminate against anyone when he and other members of the church played host to the displaced persons.
The Prelate noted that “They didn’t ask what religion the IDPs belong to or ask for their church denomination, adding that the IDPs were treated as human beings who are in need of help”.
He said the majority of the IDPs who thronged to their camp were Christians but noted that there was also a large number of Muslims among them.
Bishop Manza stressed that if they were able to build houses for all of them, and also built a church for the Christians among them, saying that it is only a matter of justice and fairness that they also provide a space of worship for the few Muslims among them.
The cleric said: “There are about 10 to 12 Muslim families in the camp. I just felt that since we didn’t leave out the Muslims while providing food for the Christians or leave the Muslims out while building houses for the Christians, it is only just that we also build a mosque for the Muslims as we built a church for Christians. It is not something that is commonly done; it is not something that we have heard of being done, especially in our country, Nigeria, where everybody is conscious about their own religion.”
He said people did not see it as a good gesture, stressing that some of them even pointed out that the Boko Haram insurgents are Muslims and they have caused a lot of havoc for them.
Bishop Manza said: “Even from within, people did not see it as a good gesture, at all. But it is normal; I can also understand them. Some of them even pointed out that the Boko Haram insurgents are Muslims and they have caused a lot of havoc for us; they ask, “Why should we even go ahead and build a mosque for them?”
“But I say, “Well, not all the Muslims are Boko Haram (members), not all of them (Muslims) are evil. Those that I know, that we have been living together and taking care of them for the past seven years, I know them to be good. So, there should be no reason why I should discriminate against them.
“I think that is the reason we built the mosque. People even ask, “Why should you, a Christian, build a mosque?” And my response to them is that, “I am a Christian, a pastor, a bishop and a priest, I shouldn’t deny anybody their right to worship.”