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The Possible Security Implications of Christianizing Liberia

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Even though the mixed reactions from the general public especially the Muslim community manifested by series of remonstrations and some members from the Christian community opposing the inclination to Christianize Liberia by constitutional amendment appears to have subsided, the intentions still remain fresh on the minds of proponents as evidenced of its gradual progression since 2012 despite the same remonstrations.

Until this inclination or ideology that has far reaching consequences especially for our post conflict reconstruction can be buried, our knowledge in Peace and Conflict Studies will continue to serve as the basis for enlightenment.

Doubtlessly, the history of humanity is so replete with the implications of religious intolerance manifested by incidence of violent conflict. One of the obvious implications of religious intolerance is security concerns.

This is evidenced by Wolffe and Moorehead (2014), assertion that “religion plays an ambivalent role when it comes to threatening or promoting security. That is, in certain situations it can be a threat, in other situations it promotes security”. Although this article did not reveal any research findings that could have possibly likened Liberia to, however the assertion of Wolffe and Moorehead seem to fit the Liberian context considered as the thrust and crux of this write up.

With close reference to Wolffe and Moorehead assertion or argument, the possible security implications of Christianizing Liberia pose serious security threats especially in the case of where people apprehension or skepticism of the Liberia National Police ability to maintain order and preserve internal security after the United Nations Mission in Liberia shall have departed in 2016.

The main implication stems not from the numerical and logistical capacities of Police responsible for civil disturbance that threatens internal security. The implication which is thinkable to be latent has to do with how the extent to which the constitutional amendment will fragment the security, mainly the police. For proponents who may not be thinking about the security implications, is about time you learn from this article.

To begin with, proponents of Christianizing Liberia must not be oblivious to the fact that in as much as the security forces mainly the police have tons of Christians, so the same for the Muslim religion. Deliberately, the police is being emphasized because of its statutory mandate to deal with civil disturbance characterized by remonstrations that may progress to violent conflict.

Now back to the issues. Ponder or imagine about this scenario. Assuming a serious remonstration or protest nearing civil disturbance as a result of signing into law that Liberia is now a Christian state or nation in which the Police Support Unit or Emergence Response Unit that comprised of Muslim officers or the Commander who is a Muslim to restore order and calm that may require the use of reasonable or proportional force. Bearing in mind the obvious fact of religious solidarity, sentiment and identification that unite Muslim than Christian, do you or will you expect the Muslim officers to use battons or tear gas and handcuff their own people? Or will you expect the commander who is also a Muslim to release such an order on his own people? In this kind of situation, the tendency or possibility of the unit fragmentation is obvious on grounds of the Muslim officers passive response or counter attack to repel rioters. In the end, the rioters may overwhelm the unit and as such cause serious destruction.
If you are of the opinion, that the Muslim officers or commander is under legal obligation to enforce the laws without fear or favor, again understand that arguably, religious solidarity, sentiment or identification that binds or units people of the same faith can serve as the driving force for ignoring ethical or professional standards.

Take for example, the escape of Boko Haram Commander; Sani Mohammed from police custody in Abuja, Nigeria in 2012 November. Although the police denial of his escaped in which religious solidarity, sentiment or identification was not mention despite the ethnic and religious ties (Hausa & Islam) shared among the suspect, the Police commander or even the Inspector General of Nigeria, one could reasonably argue that these factors may have influenced his escape from custody. This is why Sociologist Durkheim argued that religion acted as a source of solidarity and identification for the individuals within a society.

This analysis may not happen in Liberia. It is just to explain the extent to which religious solidarity, sentiment or identification has the potential to influence professional or ethical decisions.

In the words of Jacob Kehinde Ayantayo (2010),Senior Lecturer in Social Ethics and Sociology of Religion, Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan Nigeria, “religion has been a sensitive enterprise because anything said about religion is capable of being interpreted negatively or positive”. When it is interpreted or perceived as something negative (intolerance, discrimination), it stirs up strong feelings and possibly develop animosity toward the source (s) and even those associated or attached to the source(s).

For law enforcement officers, it is important to wonder about the kind of social relation that may exist between the Christian and Muslim officers. If care is not taken, expect religious sentiment to creep into law enforcement in situation where a Muslim officer is interacting with a civilian from Christian background coming into conflict with the laws. This too has the implication for reprisal. No matter the level of care the officer display, it is also possible that either the Muslim or Christian coming into conflict with the law will want to draw attention that either the Muslim or Christian officer has introduced religious dimension into the case. In this kind of situation, people quickly touched by religious sentiment or solidarity will want to esteem the allegation or give it a face value.

Arguably, anything that provides meaning for life must not be taken for granted or temper with especially when it is inherently or implicitly ideological. For such thing, the implications are latent and far reaching. Religion is one of the things that provide meaning for life that must not be taken for granted or temper with. The implication may also extend to the national army, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency that also comprised of bunch or tons of Muslims.

Proponents of Christianizing Liberia by law must reflect on all of the apprehensions or skepticisms expressed by the general public about our security apparatus abilities to effectively provide and maintain internal security after UNMIL shall have departed 30 June 2016. With this kind of skepticisms, isn’t one of the genuine early warnings that will serve as the basis for saying no to such constitutional amendment? Why think about another problem likely to create security challenge for an already struggling security? Ponder about this.

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