8 August 2019
The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) tells Iranian state-owned Press TV that the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been behind the Abuja government’s bloody crackdown on supporters of senior Muslim figure Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been jailed for over four years.
Mohammad Hassan Shojaeifard, representative of Sheikh Zakzaky in Iran, said in an interview with Press TV that the IMN under the leadership of Sheikh Zakhzaky has had “peaceful” relations with the government over the past three decades.
He said “the situation was absolutely cultural and peaceful,” but after the start of large pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the African country in 2014, “Israel, Saudi Arabia and, on top of them, the American government tried to stop the activities.”
He described the Nigerian government forces as the “puppets” of the trio, which has been pushing the military forces to carry out the deadly crackdown against Sheikh Zakzaki’s supporters.
He said that the Nigerian forces started the brutal assault against Sheikh Zakzaki supporters ever since they publicly condemned Israel for its atrocities against the Palestinian people during a demonstration marking International Quds Day.
The International Quds Day is a legacy of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, who designated the day in solidarity with Palestinians. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the International Quds Day has been held worldwide on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Zakzaky has been in detention since December 2015 after his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost vision in his left eye.
During the brutal crackdown, three of his sons lost their lives, his wife sustained serious wounds, and some 350 of his followers were killed.
Since then, the government has been violently cracking down on the IMN and its members.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), based in London, said last month that the cleric’s health condition had further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.
The cleric’s son, Mohammad, told Press TV on July 6 that his father was in dire need of medical treatment, as “large and dangerous quantities of lead and cadmium have been found in his blood.” He said that the authorities intended to murder his father since they refuse to take any measures.
Recently, a Nigerian court granted the government permission to label the IMN as a “terrorist” group, a move that many believe would give the officials the opportunity to clamp down harder on it.
IMN members regularly take to the streets of the Nigerian capital to call for the release of Zakzaky.
Elsewhere in his Monday interview with Press TV, Shojaeifard said that the court was “unlawful” since Sheikh Zakzaki, his wife and the IMN had committed no crime.
He said that the court “is under the control of Saudis, Israelis and the United States.”
A version of this report appeared on Press TV. The broadcast can be watched below.