By Yuram Abdullah Weiler*
“While Western politicians are very vocal, and rightly so, in their condemnation of Christian persecution in many Muslim-majority countries, reaction to the extreme violence against Shi’ite communities is much more muted.”
—Eldar Mamedov, adviser in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament
The recent mass slaughter of Shi’a Muslims in Zaria, Nigeria carried out by the Nigerian army went largely unnoticed by the western media, which is still preoccupied with the criminal shootings that took place in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California in the United States. While official sources claim only 20 were killed, others say that hundreds upon hundreds, perhaps even 1,000 were gunned down by soldiers indiscriminately.
The decision to raid the Shi’a community in Zaria and arrest its leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky was made by Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, commander of the First Division of the Nigerian Army. Oyebade, who had been promoted to major general in 2013, ordered the crackdown based on a report that the motorcade of the chief of staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai was attacked by Shi’a protestors. The report, which accused Shi’as belonging to Sheikh Zakzaky’s Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) of attempting to strike Buratai’s vehicle with a fire bomb, characterized the protest on December 12 as an assassination attempt.
Previously, Buratai’s motorcade had been ambushed by Boko Haram militants in August of 2015, one month after his appointment as chief of staff by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari.
Justifying the Shi’a massacre as if he had no choice, Oyebade explained, “Of course, because of the report I got that they [Shiites] are mobilizing, I had to order that the Gyallesu (Sheikh Zakzaky’s residence) and Husseiniya (shrine) be brought down.” Oyebade, who had recently been appointed to a five-general board to investigate allegations of army involvement in the 2015 elections, insisted that “the military has to a large extent performed creditably as the foremost guardian of the nation’s democracy.”
On July 25, 2014, Sheikh Zakzaky’s son, Mahmud, and several other Shi’as were shot and killed during a peaceful procession commemorating Quds Day, the last Friday in Ramadan proclaimed by Imam Khomeini as a day of protest against the Israeli entity’s occupation of Al Quds (Jerusalem). Two days earlier, twin bomb blasts, allegedly the work of Boko Haram takfiris, took the lives of over 40 in the IMN stronghold of Zaria. So rather than protecting all of Nigeria’s citizens, the army appears to be collaborating with the takfiri terrorists in their anti-Shi’a campaign.
Sheikh Zakzaky, who was shot four times during the two-day-long siege before being arrested, even predicted this latest military confrontation over a year ago, after his three sons were killed during Quds day rallies in 2014. At that time, Sheikh Zakzaky accused the Nigerian military of initiating “false flag” operations--killing Shi’as and blaming the deaths on the Boko Haram takfiris. “We will not be surprised if the military decides to detonate bombs or even kill some of its personnel to accuse the ‘Shi’ites’ of taking revenge,” predicted Sheikh Zakzaky. “The military had been doing this all over in the name of Boko Haram.”
Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who had lived and studied in Shi’a-loathing Saudi Arabia for over 20 years, accused Sheikh Zakzaky of bringing “bad innovations among Nigerian Muslims.” Siding with the Nigerian army, he warned the Shi’a leader, “The delinquency of your followers and the disturbance of public peace is what makes you and them an easy target of the authority.” For his part, Gumi was detained for six months in connection with the attempted bombing of an airplane in Detroit, Michigan in the United States by Farouk Umar Mutallab on December 25, 2009.
Sheikh Zakzaky also accused Gumi of being an agent for the Israeli entity. In apparent agreement with the Shi’a leader, one Islamic scholar and activist, Shabbir Hassanally, has accused the Nigerian regime in Abuja of taking orders from Tel Aviv and Washington and furthermore, that the Nigerian army “can’t fight Boko Haram, because they are Boko Haram themselves.” Evidence of Tel Aviv’s influence over Abuja can be seen in a letter sent by Israeli entity president Reuven Rivlin to then president-elect Buhari in which the Zionist leader assured him that “Israel stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Nigeria,” and that “relations of friendship and cooperation between Nigeria and Israel will continue to expand and strengthen.”
It is well known that the flames of Shiaphobia and its widely accepted secular derivative, Iranophobia, have been stoked by academics and political leaders in the U.S. and the Zionist regime. An example of this can be seen in an article by Council on Foreign Relations scholar John Campbell, who, suggesting that Iran might capitalize politically on the massacre, wrote, “The Nigerian Shia have been a vector of Iranian influence.” Former Israeli entity ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, confided in an interview published in the prestigious Atlantic Monthly that in the Middle East “the lesser evil is the Sunnis over the Shias.”
Conflating Shiaphobia with Iranophobia, former U.S. CENTCOM commander and CIA director David Petraeus stated, “The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State.” While Petraeus conceded that “the U.S. and Iran may have convergent interests in the defeat of Daesh,” he still maintained that “the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by—and some guided by—Iran.”
Going beyond Petraeus, Israeli entity Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an unabashed display of Iranophobia, equated the Islamic Republic of Iran with Daesh. “The radical Shiite camp under Iranian leadership on one side, and the Sunni spearhead in the form of the Islamic State group on the other,” he harangued, “are applying cruel terror with shocking zeal and carrying out a war to the death among themselves.”
Far worse than Netanyahu or Petraeus are the Saudi Wahhabi clerics, whose virulent Shiaphobia embraces fatwas (verdicts) endorsing the wanton killing of Shi’as. One cleric, Nasser al-Omar, issued a fatwa declaring that Shi’a Muslims have a choice of converting (to Wahhabism) or being killed, urging his followers to “slaughter Shia until there are rivers of their blood” and rape Shi’a women. Finally, al-Omar suggests that all Shi’a publications be burned and their mosques and centers should be demolished. It is obvious that the commander of the Nigerian army has simply followed this cleric’s fatwa by killing Shi’a Muslims and destroying their Husseiniya.
Shi’a Rights Watch has exposed the Saudi-funded anti-Shi’a campaign and points out that an astounding 402 Shi’a Muslims on the average die every month and 497 are injured as a result of Shiaphobia. Attacks on Shi’a occur from Nigeria to Bangladesh but the western media remains silent, about which Shia Rights Watch commented, “The most modern and disappointing example of Anti-Shi’ism can be witnessed in the Media coverage, or lack thereof, of Shia suffering.”
For their part, the western media rely on Iranophobia to discredit the IMN and Sheikh Zakzaky. By claiming the IMN is a “state-within-a-state” created by Iran after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and still funded and supported by Iran, western media outlets such as BBC conveniently mask the massacre of hundreds of Shi’a Muslims by Nigerian armed forces in the guise of suppressing a treacherous, Tehran-backed insurgent group. Likewise, the western media invariably points to Shi’a-Sunni sectarianism as the underlying cause of violence while expediently ignoring its true roots, which are embedded in Euro-American colonization and the United States’ ongoing quest for global dominance.
Thus, by backing the reprobate Riyadh regime and allowing it to fuel Shiaphobia with its incendiary, anti-Shi’a Wahhabi ideology, the Washington imperial Wehrmacht, along with its sycophant Zionist stooges, is ultimately responsible for the deaths of these Shi’a Muslims in Zaria. The Nigerian army commanders were merely accomplices, following the orders of their neocolonial masters, using Shiaphobia as a step towards justifying Shi’a genocide.
* Yuram Abdullah Weiler is a former engineer educated in mathematics turned writer and political critic who has written over 130 articles on Islam, social justice, economics, and politics focusing mainly on the Middle East and U.S. policies. His work has appeared on Tehran Times, Mehr News, Press TV, Iran Daily, IRIB, Fars News, Palestine Chronicle, Salem-News, Khabar Online, Imam Reza Network, Habilian Association, Shiite News, Countercurrents, Uruknet, Turkish Weekly, American Herald Tribune and Hezbollah. In addition, he has frequently appeared as a guest commentator on Press TV, Al Etejah, and Alalam. A dissenting voice from the “Belly of the Beast”, he currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA.
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