Statement: Nigerian Shia Muslims under Attack
The current human rights situation and extensive use of state violence against innocent civilians in Sokoto, Nigeria has reached melting point, as the Sokoto state government has proceeded in demolishing the local Shia Centre, schools and a clinic belonging to the Shi’ite community.
Although no official explanation was given for the demolition, it is being suggested that it is part of a plan to expel the Shia community from the city.
On 19th July 2007, cleric Umaru Danmaishiyya, well-known in Sokoto for his sermons against Shias, was assasinated. Since then, the Nigerian government used this criminal incident as a pretext to unleash an indiscriminate assault on an entire religious sect, namely; the Shi’ites of Sokoto.
To date, there have been two confirmed murders and hundreds of unwarranted detentions of innocent civilians, including Shia leader Kasimu Rimin Tawaye. Hundreds of homes and properties belonging to Shias in the city have been set ablaze, prompting the mass exodus of Shias from the city. The Sokoto state government has since the above mentioned incidents, also proceeded to demolish the local Shia Centre, schools and a clinic belonging to the Shi’ite community.
The recent systematic acts of state aggression against a religious minority group come as part of a wider policy specifically targeted at Shias in Nigeria. The present state governor, Mr. Alu Magatakardar Wamako in his political mandate pledged to limit what he called ‘the spread of Shi’ism in Sokoto’ and also promised to demolish the Shia Centre, the latter of which he has since actualised. These inflammatory comments — if not openly racist — far from being compatible with the national and moral standards of responsible office bearing individuals within democratic societies, share alarming resemblance with utterances made by extreme elements in the wider Middle East against Shias; more specifically, views espoused by leaders from the intolerant Wahhabi school of thought.
These acts of aggression and collective punishment of Shias in Sokoto still continue, despite the clear statements made by the state commissioner of police on the BBC Hausa Service where he declared the lack of any evidence linking any members of the Shi’ite community to the assassination.
The AhlulBayt Islamic Mission (AIM) deplores this indiscriminate assault on the Shia of Nigeria, which clearly constitutes a breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the commitments of the Government of Nigeria as signatories of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
It is with these escalating circumstances that AIM strongly requests an immediate change in government policy towards the Shia in Nigeria; an independent and impartial investigation to the assassination of cleric Umaru Danmaishiyya and all subsequent acts of violence including the deaths of several Shias in Sokoto; the immediate release of detainees; compensation to victims of the illegal acts of aggression and the rebuilding of the Shia centre, schools and clinics; thus allowing the Shias of Nigeria their rightful freedoms to practice their faith and go about their daily lives without any fear.
AhlulBayt Islamic Mission
3rd August 2007
19th Rajab 1428
Act Now: Raise Your Voice Against the Attacks on Shias in Nigeria
Raise your voice against the systematic acts of aggression and violence against Shias in Nigeria. We strongly encourage you to write a short personalised letter to your Local MP and/or the Head of Mission in your country or neighbouring countries. Kindly find below, two sample letters directed at a Local MP and Head of Mission respectively; and a list of emails and addresses of Heads of Mission situated in different countries and a quick search finder for your Local MP in Britain. You will also find useful tips and guidelines on how to draft a personalised letter.
In your message, make clear your concerns about the distressing acts of aggression and violence in Sokoto targetting Shias. Urge your Local MP and/or the Head of Mission to press the Government of Nigeria to meet your demands:
1) the immediate halt of military operations by the police, military and security forces in Sokoto;
2) the need for an independent and impartial investigation to the assassination of cleric Umaru Danmaishiyya and all subsequent acts of violence including the deaths of several Shias in Sokoto;
3) the immediate release of detainees;
4) the compensation to victims for both loss of life and property, and provision of the necessary legal assistance for victims to provide for the compensation;
5) the responsibility of the Government of Nigeria to ensure that all public political figures act responsibly and respect the rights of all Nigerians, regardless of their religious persuasions.