A senior Iranian official has called on the Nigerian government to bring to justice those involved in the military’s bloody crackdown on Shiite Muslims in the African country.
In a statement released 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 Shiite Muslims in that country.
He added that people across the world still remember the killing of 25 Muslims by the Nigerian army during last year’s rallies marking the International Quds Day, stressing that the demonstrators were killed only 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 Shiite imam.
Local media said on December 12 that more than a dozen people were killed after clashes erupted between the Nigerian army and Shiite Muslims in the northern city of Zaria, Kaduna State. The military accused the Shiites 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 Shiite community in Zaria. Local sources say hundreds of people trying to protect the cleric were killed.
In other developments, over 200 Iranian lawmakers condemned the “brutal” killing and called for the formation of an ad hoc committee to investigate the matter. And President Hassan Rouhani called for the establishment of a fact-finding committee in Nigeria to investigate the crackdown on Shiite Muslims.