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Both army, Boko Haram targeting Nigeria Shias: Activist

Nigerian military forces target several Shia Muslims who had gathered to attend a religious ceremony in Zaria, Kaduna State, December 12, 2015.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Massoud Shadjareh, head of the Islamic Human Rights Commission from London, on the Nigerian army’s deadly attack against Shia Muslims near house of top cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky in the northern city of Zaria.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Why do you think the military would target Sheikh Zakzaky? Can you please tell to our viewers what Hussainiyyah is and what a disrespect it is to actually attack Islamic institutions such as Hussainiyyah?  

Shadjareh: It seems very clear now, we’ve been following this whole episode from the start to now, and it’s very clear that this was well planned to basically attack and kill as many people. And there is a worry that the real target is Sheikh Zakzaky himself. And we saw from early morning Nigerian time around 10, 11 o’clock, army personnel gathered all around the Hussainiyyah and we’ve got footage of this and it shows very clearly they are surrounding and holding and taking position.

This is nothing to do with travel of any individual being the army general and it really shows very clearly that this was planned, they were positioning themselves and then they started the attack. And even when we look at the footage of the attack, it’s very clear that the soldiers are standing without hiding or taking refuge behind anything. They know no one is shooting back at them…there is no weapons in the hand of the opposition and that they’re shooting at will.

Then they moved towards the house of Sheikh Zakzaky, which people tried to protect it with their own bodies. And we are seeing further all night we’ve seen a number of people becoming Shahid (martyr) and injured and we’ve got photographs and the footage of the whole of that.

And now they have reached his house. And we are extremely worried for the well-being of Sheikh Zakzaky. He’s been attacked and his community has been attacked by Boko Haram on one side, and on the other side the Nigerian government. It really shows the hypocrisy of what Nigerian government is doing instead of fighting the Takfiris. They’re actually attacking the very people who are being attacked by the Takfiris.
We’re urging all around the world to do whatever they can to stop further massacre and possible assassination of Sheikh Zakzaky.

Press TV: In fact we’ve got reports from eyewitnesses that none of his followers were even according to your words holding weapons or armed in anyway, is this not considered a war crime for the Nigerian army just to unleash their vengeance on these unarmed people?

Shadjareh: I mean, this is not the first time. They actually did a similar thing after al-Quds demonstration last year and they massacred 26 people. I went there after the event and I investigated, and it was very very clear that this was organized to kill as many people. And what has happened tonight this level of organization first of all accusing that they were attacked in the Hussainiyyah which is a place that is not just a place of worship in Nigeria. It’s actually a hospital for the needy. It’s a place that the poor are looked after. And they first attacked that on the pretense that they came under attack and then they moved completely to other side of the city around the house of Sheikh Zakzaky himself and start attacking.

And they are people who love him so much. He’s respected and his followers are estimated 15 million in numbers. Over the Arba’een procession, they gather from all around Nigeria and five million of them actually came to Zaria. And they love him and they will protect him with their bodies and that’s what they’ve been doing. There is no weapon used by any of his supporters, but they are actually committed to protect him. And now we are really worried because they have reached right outside the house. He and his supporters have got nothing to protect them except Allah.   

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