Ms. Nusaibah Ibraheem Zakzaky, in an exclusive interview with Khamenei.ir, has talked about the brutal repression of Muslims in her country and the kidnapping of his father.
Would you please update us on the latest incidents and the conditions of Sheikh Zakzaky and the Shia community, how many have been injured or killed?
I cannot say for certain anything about my father’s condition or his whereabouts as we have not been allowed access to him since he was shot and taken by the Nigerian military. As of the number of people killed, some estimate it to be at 1000 or more, there have already been reports of bodies in one hospital being estimated at 300 people. We have seen pictures of the army burying people in a single mass grave and burning some corpses. These people have at least a thousand family members waiting to identify their loved ones and bury them. If the Nigerian government and the world don’t do anything about this, so many people will never know what happened to their loved ones and a lot of evidence will be buried.
Why do you think, the Nigerian army has committed such a massacre? What are the reasons in your opinion?
Well of course they came up with a lot of excuses one of which was that a road blockade and an attempted assassination of the chief of the army staff- of which they released an edited version of a video. A more extended version of that video was released and there was absolutely no attempt on anybody’s life, but I think people should really see the video for themselves and judge it for themselves. The fact, however, that the army thought this was a valid excuse to kill hundreds of people should really alarm every Nigerian and people in the world in general.
What are some of the most significant activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria?
Well, one that was just interrupted is the Maulud (birth anniversary) of the Prophet and Usboo’ul Wahda (The Week of Unity). My father has never identified himself as a leader of a sect, or the Islamic movement as a sect. So, in this event, Muslims from all over are invited so that we celebrate our similarities rather than our differences. There are of course many more events.
Why do you think a movement so popular and with millions of followers has been cracked down by the military in such a brutal manner?
The Nigerian military cannot just act on their own, they must be following orders. This isn’t the first time they have done something like this, they have been doing it for years and they are never held accountable for their actions. We are the only people in Nigeria that really challenge corruption and injustice. The Nigerian Army views us as a threat; throughout our more than 30 years of existence, we have never attacked anybody even when they attack us.
Why do you think while the army could have benefited from peaceful interactions with a social active group like the Islamic movement in Nigeria, it decided to adopt a radical approach?
The Islamic movement’s main agenda was to oppose the injustice that we were forced to live under. Anyone from anywhere including non-Muslims are welcome to join our social movement. As for whether a peaceful interaction will be beneficial for the army, am not sure if that is what they would have wanted. Nigeria is one of the only places in the world where the people are made to be scared of officials that are supposed to keep them safe like the army. When people see the police or soldiers they get scared and run, because these officials can kill them or torture them without any reason and no one will do anything about it. Also from everything that transpired, there is absolutely no way this wasn’t premeditated. They wanted to do this, and they used the road blockade as an excuse.
What do you think will be the potential consequences of this massacre for the Muslim community in Nigeria?
It wouldn’t matter what our beliefs were; as long as we accept to live under the current oppression of the army, they would not have attacked us. This massacre should mean a lot to every single Nigerian whether they are Muslims or not. And it should also matter to everyone in the world. If the army can kill a thousand or more people over a ridiculous reason like this, then every Nigerian should worry about what other reason they might propagate to kill anyone they want to kill. Also I would like to mention that if this was Muslims killing non-Muslims, the world would have reacted to it, it would have been world news, every major network would have been talking about it, but as you can see, not that much coverage is seen from the media, and this is by no means due to little evidence because as I write this interview right now, bodies are being buried in mass graves but still no one cares. Everyone will express their regret later though, when everything is over.