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Nigeria Muslims rally to protest persecution of Shias in Azerbaijan

Demonstrators who took to the streets were seen chanting "death to America, death to Israel" during the rally. (File Photo)

Members of the Islamic movement in Nigeria have rallied to condemn Azerbaijan's persecution and torture of Shia members of the Muslim Movement for Unity (MMU) and its leader Sheikh Haj Taleh Baqir Zadeh.

The rally that took place at Abuja national mosque on Saturday was attended by Abdullah Musa, national secretary of the academic forum of the Islamic movement.

"The government (of Azerbaijan) is prosecuting them illegally, unconditionally,” Musa was quoted as saying.

"Therefore, every Muslim must stand against tyranny and oppression.”

Demonstrators and the participating youth took to the streets and chanted "death to America, death to Israel."

“The essence of the rally is to show our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Azerbaijan particularly their leader, Haj Taleh Baqir Zadeh. We are using this opportunity to call on them to release them immediately,” said Bala Hassan Bauchi, another member of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.

“We use this medium to call on the people of the world to support the people of Azerbaijan and again the people of Yemen and Palestine. All of them are oppressed and they need the world's attention," he added.

In a similar protest, Muslims in Kano State held rally in solidarity with the oppressed Shias of Azerbaijan.

Hundreds of Muslims gathered at Fagge Eid prayer ground holding photos of Baqir Zadeh, along with a solidarity speech for the oppressed.

"We are from the part of the committee for the solidarity of the Azerbaijani brothers who were unjustly detained by Azerbaijan's authorities,” said Dawud Nalado in Kano State.

“Haj Taleh Baqir Zadeh and our brothers and sisters should be released because they are being detained unjustifiably."

Baqir Zadeh, known as Tale Baghirov, who is serving a life sentence along with 17 other activists, was accused of attempting to overthrow the government.

According to local observers, the real trigger for his arrest was a fiery sermon he delivered in Nardaran, Azerbaijan.

Known for speaking up against the ban on headscarves in schools, Baqir Zadeh had called for more Islamic representation in the Azerbaijani political system.

A London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission released a statement on Friday about the persecution of MMU members, and called the Azerbaijani government “corrupt.”

"The extremely secular and corrupt Azerbaijani government has severely persecuted Azerbaijani activists as well as harassment, censorship and blockading of the town of Nadaran, a town with large support for the Muslim Movement for Unity (MMU) organization, the government forces have arrested, imprisoned and tortured many activists," read the statement.

Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International claim he is a prisoner of conscience.

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