The Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) condemned the Nigerian military's deadly use of force against pro-Palestinian protesters
as they staged a march in Zaria, Kaduna State, one of the states in the Northern Nigeria where they held their annual Al-Quds Day Rally.
While the street marched went without incidents in others states, 30 Shias were killed in Kaduna State, including 3 children of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, the leader of the Shias. Many more have been injured.
MPAC views the gruesome killing of these young men and women and the unwarranted use of extreme force against peaceful protesters as a clear abuse of power and violation of the fundamental rights of Shias. There is no justification for this type of violence under any circumstance and it is the responsibility of the state to protect all of its citizens, regardless of religious affiliation and support.
The plight of the Palestinian people is one of the most enduring human rights struggles in modern times. For more than seven decades, Palestinians have endured continuous suffering at the hands of Israel, with the full backing and support of the United States of America which has acted immorally to strengthen the brutality of the Israeli regime and its racist policies.
The Nigerian people should be allowed to exercise free speech and protest in the name of the democracy we made significant sacrifices to enthrone, and they should be able to do this without suffering from a culture of violence that seems to be pervasive in the military profession in the country. As in similar cases, MPAC calls on the military to immediately halt attacks against law-abiding citizens and work with all parties to ensure a constructive way forward that will achieve the envisioned peace in our collective fight against terrorism.
A failure of the Nigerian armed forces to abide by its own rules of engagement, the religious profiling and arrest of Muslims and the constant harassment of Muslims being reported across the country only further undermines the Nigerian government's claims that genuine war is being waged in the pursuit of peace, freedom and democracy for all people. In the current climate of our national and private security concerns, the Nigerian armed forces need to self-reflect on how they view human rights of citizens and how they train our armed personnel to view Nigerians, their lives and rights.
As the Palestinians continue to struggle to remove the shackles of oppression and injustice on them, they should be rest assured that Nigerians are willing to amplify their voice, just as we did against South Africa's apartheid. As Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere", so we cannot afford to be bystanders anymore.
Conscientious Nigerians, Muslims and non-Muslims, are all invited to share their experiences of what freedom and boundless compassion mean and voice their support for the Palestinians whose only aspiration to have human dignity extended to them.
In the final days of this blessed month of Ramadan, MPAC remembers the souls of the victims of the gruesome killings in our prayers, and we pray for the quick and full recovery of their injured and traumatized colleagues. We view their sacrifices as an extension of the struggle of the Palestinians to be free and we beseech Allah to fully reward them.