Students of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, Yola, Adamawa State, Friday launched, “#IAmABeliever,” a campaign to check religious extremism in the country.
Organisers said the programme is a movement to foster peace, tolerance, respect and honour for every religion.
The campaign is part of the Global P2P (Peer-to-Peer) Challenge Extremism competition, funded by the US State Department for Education and Cultural Affairs Bureau, EdVenture Partners, and Facebook, to challenge violent extremism among youth across the world.
Zamiyat Abubakar, one of the students coordinating the campaign said the programme is primarily online, and harnesses the power of social media to reach target audiences.
Apart from the online feature, Miss Abubakar said the campaign will feature seminars, rallies, and a football tournament.
Other features, she said, will include a web-app called “Beliepedia” which compares scriptures from the Bible and Qur’an, to show commonality across both religions.
“The #IAmABeliever movement promotes peace and religious tolerance. We seek to make people see themselves more than what they believe and in doing so, honour and respect other people’s beliefs too, said Temi Oluwadare, another coordinator of the campaign.
The duo spoke during a press conference to unveil the campaign at the Professor Idorenyin Akpan Digital and Multimedia Laboratory of the university.
Also, the Interim Dean, School of Arts and Science, Jacob Jacob, said the campaign deserved worldwide publicity as violent extremism is a sensitive issue faced all over the world.
“We are not saying you should stop believing in what you believe but we are encouraging people to learn to coexist in a space with tolerance and mutual respect for each other’s beliefs,” he said
He urged the media to take the campaign far and wide, and show the world why extremism should not have a space in humanity.
A member of the #IAmABeliever team, Abdulmalik Aminu, said he believes in a world where people live together irrespective of their religion.
“I believe in a world where we can all co-exist, as brothers, friends, sisters, doctors, Christians, Muslims, teachers,” Mr. Aminu said
“Your beliefs are only a part of your identity; they make you a human being. Our humanity is the supreme criteria that should guide our existence and not what we individually believe in.”
The climax of the campaign lunch was the unveiling of a platform where participants shared their beliefs.
Known as “Write on Our Wall,” one of the first persons to take to the platform was a TV personality and host of The Voice Nigeria, IK Osakioduwa.
“I believe in mutual respect and love,” Mr. Osakioduwa wrote on the white wall.
The #IAmABeliever campaign is organised by students of Public Diplomacy and Strategic Media Intervention, a course in the Communications and Multimedia Design program of the university.
Over 95 universities worldwide are participating in the P2P competition which is held twice a year with the aim of involving youths in the fight against violent extremism.
AUN is in Adamawa, one of three North-Eastern states which almost came under state of emergency in 2013 because of the bloody campaign of the extremist sect, Boko Haram.
By Wadi Ishaku
Photo Credit: Wadi Ishaku