El-Zakzaky: South Africans to protest brutal incarceration of Nigerian Muslim cleric

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Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in detention for four years without any formal charges being brought against him.

A protest is planned for outside the Nigerian Consulate in Illovo, Johannesburg, on Friday against what is described as the brutal treatment of Nigerian Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been imprisoned since 2015 by the Nigerian authorities.

They will demand that Zazaky be released after being in detention for four years without any formal charges being brought against him. They further allege he has been denied medical care while incarcerated and that his health is deteriorating.

When the Muslim cleric was initially detained, hundreds of his followers from the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), who are members of the country’s Shi’ite minority and oppose Nigeria’s secular government, were killed by the Nigerian military.

“The Nigerian authorities’ failure to hold anyone to account for the killing of hundreds of women, men and children by soldiers in Zaria, shows the acceptance of a culture of impunity for violations of human rights in the country,” said Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Our research indicates that the deaths in the clashes between members of the IMN and the Nigerian military were the consequence of an excessive use of force that must be thoroughly investigated,” said Ojigho.

In early July, members of the IMN stormed the National Assembly in Abuja, demanding the release of Zakzaky.

In the ensuing clash with security forces, several people were reported to have been killed and about eight injured, outlining how the Shia minority is now a political street force to be reckoned with, according to the European Council for Foreign Relations (CFR).

Like Boko Haram, the IMN sees the secular state as evil and wants an Islamic state based on Islamic law, says the CFR. However, the IMN rejects the indiscriminate violence employed by Boko Haram.

“The group is hostile to any Western influence, including in education. It is also hostile to Nigeria’s traditional political and religious elite, CFR explained.

“For the IMN, its model is the post-revolutionary Iranian Islamic state. In turn, the traditional Nigerian Islamic establishment despises the Shia.”