Sheikh Zakzaky extremely popular in Nigeria: Activist


Press TV has conducted an interview with Massoud Shadjareh, the head of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, in London, on the fate of prominent Nigerian Islamic cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: What do you think about the whereabouts of the İslamic prominent figure?

Shadjareh: Well, there are a lot of rumors. The reality is that we don’t have credible information and we hope and pray that he and his family are safe. What we do know currently is the fact that one of his children was shot and we know one of his deputies has been killed.

And also we know that, over the 28 hours of shootings by the army, both in Hussainiyyah and also his residence, there are now estimated at least 1,000 deaths and one particular hospital we have got the clear information that there are 300… at one hospital alone.

And the all sort of false propaganda and lies which have been unleashed by the government is sort of really exposed, because we have not heard of a single even injury on army’s side. And that shows that really what the movement is saying that they were all unarmed and they were shot at. And this casualty is… and the number of death and the destruction is actually a testimony to the fact that innocent people were subjected to this… barbaric shooting.

Press TV: Given that Sheikh Zakzaky was a strong critic of the Takfiris and he was against Boko Haram, why do you think he’s being a main target of Boko Haram now with the army arresting him? What interest do you think the army and Boko Haram terrorists both share?

Shadjareh: Well, this is what is very puzzling. And what Sheikh Zakzaky himself always said, he said that there is no Boko Haram, it’s actually the army who implements these policies of Boko Haram.

And now we actually really see this is playing out, because what happened two weeks ago… the ultimatum by Boko Haram that unless they dismantle everything, they are going to be targeted and they’re going to be massacred.

And then we see that army is actually carrying out the threat of Boko Haram. And we need to really investigate to find out why is it that the armed forces are actually behaving this way. Why is it that for over 27 hours, they have gone and massacred people not in just area near the Hussainiyyah, which they claim that they came under attack but going all the way… miles away to the residence of Sheikh Zakzaky.

And men, women and children have been massacred in that way. There are photographs now available, which I believe Press TV has got access to them, which shows, posted all around the house and in front of the house of Sheikh Zakzaky and these innocent people are just lying there and being shot at and killed in total innocence without any ability to protect themselves.

Press TV: And then, given that he is a prominent Islamic figure in Nigeria specifically, do you think there is an agenda of Muslim genocide perhaps by the Nigerian military?

Shadjareh: I actually don’t believe this is a sectarian issue. I don’t think Nigerian army is particularly sectarian. What I believe… it is actually a political thing. Sheikh Zakzaky is actually extremely popular not just among the Muslim community but among the other Muslim community, even Salafi community, Christian community.

Islamic Movement of Nigeria, which he is the leader of, has got a faction which is a Christian faction. And he’s extremely popular with the people because he actually serves people, he believes in sort of serving all the communities.

And the reality is that what… the only people who hated are the government, because he speaks against the corruption; he speaks against injustice that is taking place; and he actually wants [to] empower all of the communities in Nigeria. And that’s why he’s loved by people.

His community itself is now 15-million strong with many other supporters and that is what the Nigerian government hates and is scared of. It’s not an issue of sectarianism.