The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has strongly condemned what it termed as “state-sponsored crackdown” on Shia Muslims attending commemorations of Ashura, which marks the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia imam and the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
The IMN, in a statement released on Thursday, announced that “the worst forms of state-sponsored terror tactics… involving arson, butchery, murder and unwarranted arrests,” were used by security forces and government officials against its members in the northwestern states of Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto.
The statement noted that the pattern of the attacks was the same in all places, suggesting that they were not isolated coincidences.
It added that government forces used all weapons at their disposal to maim, kill and arrest large numbers of Shia mourners in the towns of Funtua, Sokoto, Kaduna and Jos.
“This savagery was followed by arson, particularly in Kaduna and Jos, where Islamic centers, schools and private residences were torched,” IMN pointed out.
The IMN stated that at least 20 people lost their lives, over a hundred sustained injuries, and more than 300 others were arrested across the West African country in the government crackdown on Ashura mourning processions.
The movement also called for the immediate release of all those arrested on Wednesday, describing the detainees as prisoners of conscience, who are being persecuted by the state for their beliefs.
“Despite all intimidation by the government, we will not succumb to their plot of plunging the country into needless bloodshed in the disguise of religious differences. We will keep on pursuing the legal and peaceful means we have been adopting since the Zaria massacre in December 2015. We will not be distracted in abandoning our quest for justice,” the movement pointed out.
It also repeated its call for the release of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been in jail since late last year.