By Reno Omokri
First published in my column, #TheAlternative, in today’s ThisDay.
I have just returned from a trip to Turkey, where I was on a pilgrimage to some of the seven churches of Asia, also known as the seven churches of Revelations.
I visited Smyrna (now known as Izmir), Pergamum (now known as Bergama, and Ephesus (now known as Efes).
Prior to this visit, I had visited Laodicea (now known as Laodikeia). There are no remnants of some of the other churches, but I did get to see Cappadocia.
And then I went to Istanbul and the city blew my mind. It was my third visit to Istanbul, but my first time staying on the Asian side.
Istanbul has a rich history that can probably bring you to tears. This city used to be known as Constantinople, and was the center of orthodox Christianity, until on 29 May 1453, when it was conquered by the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Note I said Muslim Ottoman Empire, not Islamic Ottoman Empire.
The Ottomans were Muslims, but they were not really Islamic. In fact, they even conquered the Arabs, and from the 16th Century to their liberation by the British through Lawrence of Arabia, Saudi Arabia was under Ottoman rule.
The fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire meant that Cristian Europe no longer had a buffer against Muslim (not Islamic), expansion into Europe, and one by one, European Christian city states and nations began to fall one after the other.
And why did the conquest happen? It happened because there was no unity In Christendom (political Christianity). The Byzantines were Orthodox. The Roman Catholic Church considered them rivals, rather than brothers. And the Balkan Christians would not even help them. Rather, they were suspicious of them.
When the Byzantines were under siege by the Ottomans, the Roman Catholic Church, rather than help them, insisted that they must first accept their dogmas (Trinity, Mary veneration, Christmas, purgatory, idols, the change from the fish as the true symbol of Christianity, to the pagan Ankh (disguised as a Cross) etc) as a condition for their help. Out of desperation, the Orthodox Church voted to accept the Pope’s terms, but the people of Constantinople refused and rioted, rather than accept what they believed to be an adulteration of their faith by the adoption of pagan European doctrines masquerading as Christian doctrines.
There are about 20,000 of these pure, Orthodox Christians left in Turkey and I have had the honour of preaching to them and learning from them.
A similar lack of unity had earlier led to the Islamic (not Muslim) conquest of much of Spain in 711 AD, which led to 800 years of Islamic rule in Iberia.
And the Byzantines were also partly to blame for their own destruction. While the Byzantines were busy building awe inspiring churches, basilicas, theatres and marble roads, the Muslim Ottomans were razor focused on building a political movement and an army.
And when they were ready, they descended on the Byzantines, and militarily defeated them, and now, all their awe inspiring churches, basilicas, theatres and marble roads belong to the Muslim Ottomans, and have so belonged to them for almost 600 years.
Fast forward to 2022, and the All Progressives Congress is presenting Nigerians with a Muslim-Muslim ticket, of which Kashim Shettima, the Borno Governor under whom Boko Haram thrived and metastasised into the international terror group that it now is, and again under whom they invaded the Christian enclave of Chibok, because Shettima refused the Federal Government’s counsel not to hold WAEC examinations at Chibok, is now assuring us that he will be in charge of security, effectively making Bola Tinubu a puppet, if at all he is elected.
If you do not see parallels between what happened to Constantinople and the Byzantine empire and what the All Progressives Congress wants to serve Nigerians, then you have obviously not been paying attention.
In the last seven years of almost demonic mis-governance by the All Progressives Congress administration of Muhammadu Buhari, we have seen a sudden, unapologetic and zero sum like shutting of the government space to people of the Christian persuasion.
Never in the history of this nation have we ever had the head of the executive (the President), the head of the Legislature (the Senate President), and the head of the judiciary (the Chief Justice of Nigeria), all Muslims. I mean the imbalance is unprecedented.
And then you go to the next layer of government, which is the military and security services. The heads of the Ministry of Defence, Army, Navy, Police, NSA, DMI, EFCC, DSS, DIA, NPS, NCS, NIS, NIA are all Northern Muslims. Where is the balance?