Nobel prize-winning author Wole Soyinka warns of religion’s roll call of death

August 10, 2014

Atrocities carried out by fanatics such as Nigeria’s Boko Haram show the dangers of religious belief with the “scroll of faith … indistinguishable from the roll call of death”, according to the Nobel prize-winning author Wole Soyinka. In a video address to the World Humanist Congress, at which he will be presented with its main award, Soyinka will argue that even moderate religious leaders may be “vicariously liable” for sectarian hatred if they have failed to argue against it.

He added that Boko Haram’s members considered abducting 200 girls to be “virtuous” and moderate Muslims could not simply disavow their actions with “pious incantations” that “these are not the true followers of the faith”. “We have to ask such leadership penitents: ‘Were there times when you kept silent while such states of mind, overt or disguised, were seeding fanaticism around you? Are you vicariously liable?'” said Soyinka. “The lesson of Boko Haram is not for any one nation. It is not for the African continent alone. The whole world should wake up to the fact that the menace is borderless, aggressive and unconscionable.”