A senior Iranian official has called on the Nigerian government to bring to justice those involved in the military’s bloody crackdown on the Shia Muslim community in the African country.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Secretary General of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening Ali-Akbar Velayati expressed “deep regret and sorrow” over the Nigerian army’s recent “brutal attack” on Shia Muslims in the country.
He added that people across the world still remember the killing of Muslims by the Nigerian army during last year’s rallies marking the International Quds Day, stressing that the demonstrators were only killed for supporting the Palestinian nation against Israel’s atrocities and occupation.
Velayati, who is also a senior advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, further stated that the Nigerian army, provoked by the Israeli regime and backed by Wahhabi extremists, has once again attacked Muslims in the African country following the massive march of Nigerians during this year’s mourning rituals of Arba’een, which marked the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussain (PBUH), the third Shia imam.
Local media said on December 12 that more than a dozen people were killed after clashes erupted between the Nigerian army and Shia Muslims in the northern city of Zaria, Kaduna State. The military accused the Shias of attempting to assassinate Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the chief of the Nigerian army staff.
The clashes broke out when Nigerian soldiers opened fire on the people attending a religious ceremony at Hussainiyyah Baqeeyatullah, a religious center belonging to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
One day later, revered Nigerian Shia cleric, Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, and his wife were arrested during a raid by the army on his residence and the buildings connected to the Shia community in Zaria. Local sources say hundreds of people trying to protect the cleric were killed.
Last year, 25 Nigerian demonstrators were gunned down during the International Quds Day rallies in Zaria.