Attacking Nigerian Shias, an Effort to Counter Peaceful Model of Islam

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Jafar Ghannad-Bashi
Middle East and Africa Expert

Vicious attacks against Nigerian Shias by the country’s army during recent days, which have so far left at least 300 Shias killed, are not the aftermath of a sudden and unplanned effort, but there is evidence to prove that they have been planned since a very long time ago in order to prevent further empowerment of the country’s Shia population.

Of course, the goal of these attacks, which started with a raid on the house of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), was not to kill him. The Nigerian army was interested in incarcerating this prominent personality or sending him into exile, and was well aware that his death could be followed with serious domestic reactions and entail threats for the government of Nigeria.

During past years and under the leadership of Sheikh Zakzaky, Nigerian Shias have turned into a model of peaceful conduct of Islam in the African country and have drawn support from people in Nigeria while the number of those supporting the Islamic Movement in Nigeria has been constantly on the rise. This issue had stirred great concerns in Nigerian government and army as well as among reactionary Arab regimes of the region. Another factor that led to recent bloody incidents in Nigeria was the way that the country’s Shias treated Sunni Muslims, which was marked with high level of humbleness and cordiality as a result of which they enjoyed very good relations with Sunnis. This issue had also led to indignation of those who sway political and economic power in Nigeria. Another factor was the personality of Sheikh Zakzaky. He had got his hands on information that proved close cooperation between Nigerian army and Boko Haram terrorist group, and he disclosed that information in his speeches and interviews. He had said time and again that certain parts of the army receive money from reactionary Arab regimes of the region and, in return, give their arms to Boko Haram.

The alignment of Nigerian Shias with the resistance axis with regard to Israel’s occupationism and the role that they played in struggles against that occupationism were other factors that prompted Nigerian army, which was constantly concerned about the rising power of Shias, to embark on the recent attacks in order to suppress the African country’s Shia population.

In a country where Boko Haram terrorist group considers itself a Muslim group and massacres people in the name of Islam, presence of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, as a pacifist group, which depicts a compassionate and merciful picture of Islam, can easily stir the wrath of powerful figures. However, the sure thing is that recent developments in Nigeria will by no means lead to religious skirmishes in this country, because Boko Haram terrorist group is also hated by the country’s Sunnis as it destroys Sunnis mosques as well. Therefore, Nigerian Shias and Sunnis form a single front in this regard and the recent incidents will not make Shias suspicious of Sunnis. However, some analysts maintain that both the government and army of Nigeria are keen on kindling religious differences in the country, and under these conditions, vigilance of Shias and Sunnis will be the biggest obstacle on the way of further widening of such differences.

Key WordsNigerian Shias, Peaceful Model of Islam, Vicious Attacks, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sunni Muslims, Boko Haram, Ghannad-Bashi

Source: Iran Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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