Sunday, 12 January, 2020

Iranians protest against killing of Shias in Nigeria

A large number of Iranians held rallies across the country to condemn the heavy crackdown against Shiite Muslims in Nigeria in recent days and the Nigerian army’s massacre of dozens of Shiites.

Iranian protesters staged rallies in front of the Nigerian embassy in Tehran and in front of the UN office in Mashhad on Tuesday to condemn the mass killing of the Shia Muslims by the Nigerian army.

They also voiced support for prominent Shiite Nigerian cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been wounded in an attack by the military forces on his house in Nigeria’s northern city of Zaria and is now in custody.

In a statement at the end of the rally, the protestors slammed the recent attacks on Nigerian Shiite people as part of a “Takfiri-Zionist” plot, saying the US and Israeli regimes have the blood of the victims on their hands.

They also called on the Abuja government to prevent harassment of the Shiite Muslims.

On Saturday night, Nigerian military forces surrounded the house of Sheikh Zakzaky in Zaria. Heavy fighting broke out afterwards between the government forces and members of the Islamic Movement, which stretched into the early hours of Sunday.

Director of a local hospital has reported that at least 60 people have been killed this weekend when the Nigerian army raided the Shiite community and arrested Sheikh Zakzaky.

Iranian officials and media outlets have also condemned and expressed concern over the attack on Sheikh Zakzaky by the Nigerian military.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Nigerian charge d’affaires in Tehran after the raid.

In a telephone conversation Dec. 14 with Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed Iran’s concern and said that he expects calm to be restored and for the lives of Muslims to be protected.

Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that while the relations between Iran and Nigeria are positive, Iran holds the government responsible for the event.

The attack on Zakzaky was also discussed at an open session of Iran’s parliament Dec. 15. Speaker Ali Larijani said that the parliament is currently preparing a response “to the killings of Nigeria’s Shiite Muslims.”

Iranian parliamentarian Hossein-Ali Haji-Delighani said that Iran must prepare an appropriate response to ensure that Zakzaky and his family are compensated for the “oppression inflicted” upon them.

Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Gholpayeghani said members of Zakzaky’s Shiite movement “pose no danger to their country and are living peacefully.” He condemned the silence of international and Islamic communities on the killings.

Iran’s Tasnim news and al-monitor contributed to this report

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