By Danladi Babangida
A Daily Trust newspaper columnist, by name Mohammed Qaddam Sidq Isa, wrote on17th and 27th Dec. 2015with the above caption in which he made some statements which, as a matter of fact, need careful scrutiny by any right thinking individual who has concern for humanity and seeks fair judgementirrespective of his religious or ethnic background.
I would like to look at some of his statements and respond accordingly.
1. The writer described the incident as “neither the first nor the worst of its kind in the county”.Of course this crackdown by Nigeria Army on the IMN members is not the first , but as far as any right thinking citizen of Nigeria is concern, the Zaria massacre, by Nigerian Army,is the worst ever that happened in the country in terms of magnitude and intensity. Is it the Zakim-Biam Army massacre? Is it the Niger-Delta Militants vs Nigerian Army clash? Is it the Nigerian Army vs Boko Haram clash? Or is it the so called religious crises or Fulani herdsmen vs Famers clash?
The Human Rights Watch puts the figure of the civilians killed in Zakim-Biam massacre to over 100 persons and that the massacre was apparently carried out as revenge for the killing of 19 soldiers. The Zaria massacre was unique in all its ramifications. Over 1000 unarmed and defenceless men, women and children of IMN (including 18 month old baby who approached her killer calling him “baba” after her mom was killed) were killed during the 17- hour indiscriminate shooting and bombing by the Army. Some were killed in cold blood after being shot and wounded while others were burnt alive. All these were followed by the subsequent destructions of: Sheik Zakzaky’s house, the Hussainiyyah, Fudiyyah Islamic Center, Darru-rahama village etc.
But surprisingly enough the writer, without any remorse for the lives and properties lost, he claimed that the massacre is “neither the first nor the worst of its kind”. Even ifMuhammedQaddam does not consider Shiites as Muslims; at least they are Human beings whose lives are valuable in the sight of their creator. Allah said: “We have certainly honoured the children of Adam” (17:70). If Zakim-Biam massacre was as a result of killing 19 soldiers, what was the offence committed by the IMN members to deserve this? Was it the ridiculous claim by the Army of “assassination attempt” of the COAS or the laughable “road blockade” theory? Certainly no single soldier was wounded not talk of killing any.
2. The writer described the Islamic Republic of Iran’s attitude towards Nigeria concerning the Zaria massacre by the Nigerian Army as “smack of sheer arrogance and disdain for Nigeria’s sovereignty”. I do not know much about the so called” International Relation laws”, but I know Islam has no geographical boundaries. That is why Imam Khomeini (R) was quoted to have said:” it was Western imperialism that introduced the national idea in order to divide the “Islamic homeland” into “ephemeral states.” And this is also in line with the Qur’anic verse which says:“Truly, this community of yours is one community and I am your Lord so hold Me alone in fear“(23:52).
A Hadith from SahihulBukhari as reported by Abu Musa also confirmed Imam’s statement. The Hadith is as follows: The Prophet (SAWA) said, "A believer to another believer is like a building whose different parts enforce each other." The Prophet then clasped his hands with the fingers interlaced (while saying that).
May be the Saudi Royal king, Salman followed the teaching of the Prophet (SAWA) contained in the above Hadith by calling Nigerian President, Buhari and commending him for what happened in zaria, and as far as MuhammedQaddam is concern, that is not interfering in Nigerian internal affairs, but the Iranian President, Rouhani who called to condemn the act was considered by Qaddam as interfering in Nigerian internal affairs as a sovereign country.
One may ask, is the above Hadith teaching the Muslims to support one another whenever and wherever they maybe? Is this support means commending your brother if he does something good only? Or it also includes condemning him if he does something wrong? Because another Hadith(also in Bukhari) asNarrated by Anas bin Malik who said, Allah’s Apostle (SAWA) said: "Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one." So,Mr.Qaddam did not find any fault in Saudi King, Salman because he commended Buhari but he apportioned blame to Iranian President, Rouhani for condemning Buhari for the same act. ProbablyMr.Qaddam sees no problem with the massacre because Shiites do not share the same “creed” with him.
Iran does not discriminate between Shia and non-Shia or even non-Muslims. This is evident in its support to Palestinian people who are predominantly Sunni. The Qudus day which is set aside to show solidarity to Palestinian people was initiated by Imam Khomeini (R) and is being observed worldwide (including Nigeria) by people of different ethnic or religious background. Iran is against any form of oppression andalways champions the course of justice no matter who is the oppressor or the oppressed. Its support to Mr. Nelson Mandela during the apartheid regime of South Africa is an undeniable fact. Similarly, the death sentence fatwa (verdict), issued By Imam Khomeini on Salman Rushdie concerning his book the Satanic Verses while the Saudi King Fahad was busy watching football match in Riyadh in 1989 and none of the Muftis in the Saudi Kingdom issuedsimilar Fatawais another testimony to that.
3. The writer stressed that, though the Nigerian government is trying to address the issue to avoid future recurrence, it is imperative for the government to engage, as he puts it,”relevant experts to unravel the peculiar nature of the relationship between Iran and the Shi’a communities around the world”.He tried to explain the relationship between Iran and the shi’a communities around the world by saying:“On their part, the Shiite communities in various countries feel spiritually bound to imbibe and maintain allegiance and loyalty primarily to Iran instead of their respective countries”, which according to him is based on “theocratic political ideology called Wilayatul-faqeeh and indecently the Waliyul-faqh is the Supreme Leader of Iran and that ”he is automatically considered the actual leader of all the Shiites all over the world, and their total allegiance and loyalty must therefore be principally to him”.
As far as this claimby Mr.Qaddam is concern, I need not waste my pen and time to respond to that because he did not substantiate his facts with figures. Where and when did the whole Shia communities hold to that “theocratic political ideology”? As a columnist of a reputable newspaper (Daily Trust), I believe it is unethical and unprofessional to comment on something without substantial proof. It is not all the Shia communities that hold to the ideology of Wilayatul-faqih. I challenge you to disprove my claim.
Such unfounded information is similar to the one you made reference in trying to alert the Nigerian government for potential threat posed by Iranwhich states: “The time when they could oppress Shias and get away with it is long gone, we shall pay a visit to the puppet regime in Nigeria soon, God willing”. This information was purported to appear on “official Facebook page” of Iran Military on 15 December 2015. How can social media such as Facebook be a source of credible information? It is ridiculous for a columnist of a refutable newspaper like you to refer to information found in the social media as authentic. This can as well make you lose credibility to be among the “relevant experts”that could be employed by the Nigerian government as Special Adviser on” Iran affairs”.
4. In another attempt to justify you claims that Iran is a potential danger to Nigeria, you sited two instances were one Iranian and two Lebanese were apprehended by security agents in connection with arms deal in 2010 and 2013 respectively. However, the suspects were prosecuted in a court of law and were convictedwhich is in line with the Nigerian constitution. But the Zaria massacre was carried out extra judicially by the Army under the pretext of assassination attempt of COAS and road blockade which calls for condemnation by all right thinking individual like Iranian President, Rouhani.
5. In yet another effort made by the writer to describe Iran’s destabilizing activities, he intentionally or unintentionally belittled Nigerian government in terms of intelligence capabilities, diplomatic expertise and effective media outlets. The writer has this to say:“Obviously, Nigeria lacks adequate intelligence capabilities to pre-empt the impacts of Iran’s destabilizing activities, as it also lacks adequate diplomatic expertise and, of course, effective media outlets to counter Iran’s systematic smear campaign against it”.I consider this statement as belittling the Nigerian government, because in the 2013 armscase which the writer made reference with, the security agents of Nigeria disagree with him. This is what they were quoted to have said regarding the case:“In an e-mailed statement from 3 Brigade headquarters and signed by the Public Relations Officer, Captain IkedichiIweha, the military narrated how the operation was carried out: “On 28 May 2013 a combined team of the JTF involving the NA of the 3 Brigade here in Kano and the Kano state DSS conducted a thorough search of this house located at No 3 Gaya Road off Bompai Road Kano belonging to one Abdul Hassan TaherFadlalla, a Lebanese national who is currently out of the country”.
Now if the security agents lack intelligence, how did they get the information about the arms?
6. I want to conclude my rejoinder by responding to what the writer said about some individuals or organizations that condemned the Zaria massacre. He wrote that: “On their part also, Iran-sponsored media outlets e.g. the Lebanon-based Al-Manar Arabic satellite TV channel and Press TV etc have equally taken a particular interest in the incident, and some Iran-sponsored organizations and individuals in some parts of the world organized protests against Nigeria over it”. Mr.Qaddam, it is all about justice, it is all about oppressor and oppressed. You don’t need to be sponsored to condemn injustice. What about those people in Nigeria, who condemned the Zaria massacre, people like Barr. Femi Falana, Bishop Kukah, Dr.PeregrinoBrimah, AdeoluAdemoyo, Hon. Ebenezer and TV stations like Channels TVC, etc. Are they also sponsored by Iran? So Mr.Qaddam it is all about humanity, which you also should be part.
I will rest my pen by reminding you, as Muslim, of the following verse:“Don’t let the hatred of people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness." (Quran 5:8).
Peace be upon those who follow guidance.