Senior Iranian official Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has condemned the Nigerian military’s bloody crackdown on the Shia Muslim community in the African country.
Rafsanjani, who is chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, on Wednesday denounced the recent raid on the house of the revered Nigerian Shia cleric, Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, and the killing of a large number of Shias in the country.
The Iranian official said around 10 million Shias live in Nigeria without causing any trouble, but they have recently been subjected to acts of aggression under “false pretexts.”
Local media said on December 12 that more than a dozen people were killed after clashes erupted between the Nigerian army and Shia Muslims in the northern city of Zaria in Kaduna State. The military accused the Shias of attempting to assassinate Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the chief of the Nigerian army staff.
The clashes broke out when Nigerian soldiers opened fire on the people attending a religious ceremony at Hussainiyyah Baqeeyatullah, a religious center belonging to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
One day later, Sheikh al-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested during a raid by the army on his residence and the buildings connected to the Shia community in Zaria. Local sources say hundreds of people trying to protect the cleric were killed.
The Nigerian army and Zakzaky’s daughter have confirmed the arrest of the top cleric.
OIC must address Nigeria attacks
Meanwhile, senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, called on the Muslim world on Wednesday to take action regarding the recent bloody crackdown on Shia Muslims in Nigeria.
Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene a meeting to press the Nigerian government to secure the immediate release of Sheikh Zakzaky.
He also called on the international community to break its silence on the severe clampdown on Nigerian Shia Muslim and said those behind the recent brutal assault must be identified and brought to justice.