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Nigeria: Shiite group ban raises fear of escalating tensions

06.08.2019
Read the original article on : RT.fr
In late July, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, Sunni as the vast majority of Nigerian Muslims, has banished the MIN, a group led by Ibrahim Zakzaky, incarcerated since December 2015. The Nigerian army had then mocked a demonstration in the MIN stronghold in Zaria (Kaduna State), killing some 350 people. Since then, his health has deteriorated, according to his lawyers, who finally got him to go abroad for treatment: Monday, August 5, the Nigerian justice allowed the Shiite leader to go to India, defusing partly the protests of his supporters who demanded his release.

The members of the group show unlimited loyalty to Zakzaky, to whom they devote a real cult. The more the news of his health is bad and the more radical the movement, says a source within the group, on condition of anonymity.
In recent weeks, MIN supporters have protested almost daily to demand his release, shouting “Death to Buhari, Death to Saudi Arabia, Free Zakzaky, Die for Zakzaky.” The rallies were for the most part peaceful, but by the end of July at least six protesters (twenty according to the MIN) as well as a police officer and a journalist were killed in violent clashes. For now, the Shiite group announced that it was suspending any gathering, but this decision is not unanimous among its supporters.
“You can die at any time, in a car accident or anywhere,” AFP spokesman Muhammed Soje told AFP as he slid the photos of his killed friends onto his phone. “Would not it be better to die as a martyr? “Zakzaky is not a violent person,” says a former member of the group. He does not preach violence, but it is true that those killed on his behalf or on behalf of the MIN are considered martyrs. ”

Nigerians fear that MIN will take up arms

In the face of the MIN, Sunni radical and Salafist Sunni sheikhs very close to local authorities have regularly lobbied to ban the movement, a researcher said on condition of anonymity, and continue to call for hunting Shia of Nigeria. The Nigerian state’s response to this group, which does not recognize the authority of Abuja and wishes to establish an Islamic Republic on the Iranian model, is clear and has never been open to dialogue.
At a time when Nigeria banned the MIN, the country celebrated the sad anniversary of the 10-year-old insurgency of the Boko Haram jihadist group, which left more than 27,000 dead and 2 million displaced. On July 30, 2009, the Nigerian army massacred hundreds of supporters of the radical Islamist sect and its leader, Mohamed Yusuf, in his stronghold of Maiduguri (north-east). The group then went into hiding and was recovered by international jihadist movements, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The scenarios are strangely similar and many fear that the MIN will take up arms in a context of rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia on the African continent.

Read the original article here.

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