By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Shiite protest in Abuja turned violent two days ago claiming a senior police officer and a journalist among others. The Shiites claimed that about a hundred of their members were arrested and detained.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has condemned the violence. The human rights group described the incident as disheartening. This was disclosed in a press statement issued by the Director of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, early on Thursday, 25thJuly, 2019.
“It is most disheartening that people are dying during Shiite protests. We condemn all forms of violence. True to our avowed motto: ‘Dialogue, No Violence’, MURIC as a dialogue-loving human rights organization will never condone or subscribe to violence. We detest the shedding of blood. Life is sacred and nobody has the right to deprive a fellow homo sapien of his Allah-given fundamental right to live.
“We therefore appeal to the supporters of Shaykh El-Zakzaky to review their strategy. The El-Zakzaky affair is getting complicated. Video clips have emerged showing members of the group attacking police vans during demonstrations while the police vehicles were seen manouvring their ways to escape. The death of the senior police officer during the last protest cannot be wished away. Policemen are also human beings. They have dependants and they have the inalienable right to live. Shiites claim that they did not use any weapon but did the officer commit suicide?
“This is why the Shiites need to urgently take another look at their current disposition. It is time to stoop in order to conquer. Non-Shiite Muslims who reside close to Shiite headquarters in Zaria have given damning evidence of the intimidation of neighbours by the Shiites in the days and years before the army’s attack. Those harassed included Christians and non-Shiite Muslims. This is quite worrisome. This discovery has made it difficult for those who are intervening in the Shiite imbroglio to absolve the group of any wrongdoing.
“Shiites should not be deceived by the hypocritical declarations of solidarity from certain quarters. Most of such statements are made by people who are keen on exploiting the sectarian lacuna between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. They are therefore empty, meaningless and politically motivated. Shiites are simply being egged on to self-immolation by inmates of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ ideological camp who will disappear into thin air when it matters most.
“The only panacea which we envision is for the followers of El-Zakzaky to make themselves amenable to negotiations. Dialogue is the answer. Violence is a square peg. Peace is a round hole. We repeat the suggestion which we made some months ago, viz, that the Federal Government (FG) should invite the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and representatives of the Shiites to a roundtable.
“Due to past experience, Shiite representatives must be prepared to sign an undertaking that the group will remain peaceful and law-abiding if its leader is granted bail. The conditionalities must also include a vow to stop holding processions which obstruct traffic in anyway anywhere in Nigeria.
“MURIC condoles Channels Television on the death of one of its staff at the scene of the protest. In the same vein, we commiserate with the Nigerian police on the death of the senior police officer.
“Before we stop hitting the keyboard, we appeal to the followers of Shaykh El-Zakzaky to reflect deeply on the need to respect the rights of other Nigerians, to be humble in the practice and manifestation of religion and to desist from any act capable of causing discomfort to their fellow compatriots. We appeal to FG to initiate dialoge on the El-Zakzaky affair.”