By Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf (Mni), Daily Trus Newspaper, August 13, 2015.
Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf (Mni), veteran journalistt and public comentator of high repute, participated at the International Quds Conference and Exhibition organized by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in Abuja. Read below the first part of her commentary and experience during the occasion:
Al Quds Day is a day set aside for showingsolidarity with the dispossessed people worldwide. The front line state for registering this sad case is Palestine which has been violently and forcefully occupied by the Zionist state of Israel for decades. In 1979, Imam Khomeini declared the last Friday of Ramadan as Quds Day, as an international day for demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinians. Since then, rallies are organised in several cities around the world to draw global attention to the plight of the Palestinians. The last count showed that the demonstrations were held in 770 cities from Europe to America, Asia to Africa and of course the Arab world.
For the past thirty five years, the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) led by their leader Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky have organised peaceful demonstrations around several cities in Nigeria every year as part of the global network of concerned citizens who demand justice for the Palestinians. In Zaria on July 25 2014, after concluding theirand were about to disperse the Nigerian military opened fire on the IMN members. They killed 35 members and injured 108 people. Among those killed were three sons of Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky, Ahmad a 21 year old Chemical Engineering student at a university in China, Mahmoud, a 19-year-old student of Islamic Studies at a Beirut University and Hameed, a 22 year old student of Aeronautical Engineering at a China University. The fourth son, Ali, was injured in the leg. Reports showed that those arrested and taken to the army barracks were tortured and some of them who were alive and healthy when arrested died in the barracks. It was a day of mourning in the various communities and condemnation trailed the Zaria Massacre- the coldblooded murder of innocent, fasting and unarmed citizens who were only demanding that justice and human rights must be promoted above global injustice, oppression and impunity.
Disturbed and shocked by the inaction of the Nigerian government, members of the Islamic Movement took their case to the global community demanding independent investigation and prosecution of those found guilty. A year later, they are still waiting for justice to be done to the aggrieved. The members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria said the massacre of their members and all attempts to stifle their demand for justice is only strengthening them. There is no retreat and no surrender. One of the manifestations of their resolve to continue the Quds solidarity with renewed vigour was an international conference they organised on July 26 2015 at Sheraton Hotel Abuja. It featured symposium with presentations by renowned scholars at home and from the UK, United States, Iran and Malaysia. The theme of the symposium was From Al Quds to Zaria: A Melting Pot of Rights Violation, Veil of Bias and Conspiracy of Silence. In addition to the symposium, there was an exhibition on the lives, scholarly pursuits and the martyrdom of the three sons of Sheikh El Zakzaky and the 34 members of the IMN. It was a touching event that brought tears to the eyes of participants. Dr Shuaibu Musa, one of the organisers welcomed participants. He declared that the event will be an annual international activity to underscore the fact that Al Quds has moved
from a local issue to a global one even in Nigeria.
The resource persons from Nigeria, were activists and intellectuals from human rights and good governance communities, Among them were Professor Chidi Odinkalu, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Professor Dahiru Yahaya, Honourable Ebenezer Oyitake, Pastor Yohanna Burus and Malam Ahmad Bello Ankpa. From other countries were, Dr. Muhammad Al Asi the Chief Imam of Washington, USA, Syed Jawad Mousawi, Mashad from Iran, Mohammed Azmi Abdul Hamid of Malaysia and, through Skype, Syed Massoud Shadjareh, Islamic Human Rights, London.
The keynote presenter, Imam Muhammad Al Asi made a presentation on the historical perspectives and significance of marking the International Quds Day. He said ‘the liberation of Al Quds (Jerusalem) is important to Muslims not as a material city but as a political, social, and psychological fact. It is about our history and current affairs that affect us.’ He traced the history of the Children of Israel as contained in the Quran and their ingratitude for Allah’s favour on them and their intransigence which goes to explain what is happening today. They strategized to occupy Palestine and they said ‘We are a people without land, who want land and we are arriving in a land without people. ’ Meaning the 9-10 million Palestinians did not exist. They promoted a racist and divisive nationalism and promoted expansionist, tribal exclusiveness. Their aggressive concentration on worldly pursuits catalyzed their strategy of dominating global finance, global media and international legal and political system. The Jews now dictate to the world. He concluded that Muslims should not despair because the liberation of Al Quds has already begun.
The second part of the symposium was chaired by Malam Muhammadu M Turi and there were several speakers. One of them was Honourable Ebenezer Oyitake, who began by saying ‘I am here this morning in solidarity with Justice, human rights, love and truth. Israel is a false entity and it promotes hate. The United States is pretentious and engages in double speak where Israel is concerned while the United Nations is about pretending and ignoring the truth.’