Just recently disciples of Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky A.K.A El Zakzaky protested – for the freedom of their leader/father/figurehead and were met with lethal opposition at the hands of the Nigerian security agents.
And trust a lot of people have weighed in, the thoughts usually come down to |they Sh’ia are inherently violent or are known to be violent, they are always protesting, their leader is evil so the disciples are fighting to free an evil man, a bunch of fanatical Muslims…
People who say this may actually believe it because they are ignorant of history and do not have a good picture of the manifestation of what is playing out, or just intentionally prejudiced and so have to believe all the false premises.
From day 1 of Nigeria forming there have been fault lines that were never addressed, think of building a house with a shaky foundation and instead of going to the base to attempt to fix the root cause, you instead fast track building more stories/floors on that foundation! The question of what Nigeria is has no clear answer, ethnic fault lines, religious lines, the question of whether it is a secular country.
El Zakzaky is very important to the Shia Muslims – he founded the Islamic Movement when he was in A.B.U back in the late ’70s. He is intelligent and well-schooled in Islam – he studied economics in A.B.U was on track to graduate with a first class but that did not happen because of his ‘radicalism’. He never went to an english primary/secondary school but excelled in exams set in english! He was and is a big critic of government – we should recall that he was a radical in a military government, he and his followers defied the military government of that time – dared the military forces to come confront them because death is a price they are willing to pay for their ‘freedom & rights’.
Can you use violence to swat someone who welcomes death?
Here is what someone (Mohammed Ammen) had said back then
“If the leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria, Malam Zakzaky, gives an order now for the Muslims of this state to go and bring Governor Madaki to this house, I assure you that in no time he will be brought here”
They had legitimate issues with the government that is still legitimate today but now add years of repression and aggressive tactics from the government. How can someone given his experience from university and government not be against the whole system?
He is important to his followers he educates and takes care of them, he has lots of tapes that outline the problems with government and those problems speak to the secular and religious fault lines of the nation, because they believe their religion, culture, and laws are being washed away – like it or not they have this legitimate gripe. He is probably the most educated of his group now so no wonder he is such a beacon for them plus he has ‘credibility’ having been arrested a lot of times and lost 6 of his 9 children! Yes, 6 of his children were killed during clashes with the government.
The government believes he is a threat [he opposes policies], they say he wants to overthrow the government [protesting], threatens peace and stability [because he questions the status quo and points to fundamental issues]. The government still operates on a militaristic template – everything is met with force, repression, ban, decrees… now that we have a ‘civilian’ government one would imagine things to be different but that is not so. I think the government has developed a bad pattern of behaviors and cannot escape the loop, there is paranoia from the civil war, their mandate to keep one nation, they only know repressive tactics and the fear of an example and so they have to violently shut down protest & dehumanize protesters with verbal violence and hate literature and trust members of the society are always willing to help spread the ‘news’, this speaks partly to why we do not have a good protest culture in the country.
With the recent flare-up who is responsible or more responsible? The government has more power and all the backing a security agencies, to say the least, so they are more responsible but what we have is people blaming the I.M.N protesters – who are asking & have been asking for the freedom of their leader who the courts have asked the government to release and even ordered to pay compensation because the government was wrong in the eyes of the law to have arrested and detained El Zakzaky and his wife. If there is a crisis in a family is the parent more responsible or the child, for the outcome of events?
We should empathize and not dehumanize after all the critique El Zakzaky has is legitimate and I am sure in line with what non-muslims have in terms of the fault line issues. The methods used against him will be used against anyone that brings similar criticisms forward, make no mistake about that. It is the government VS all of us [that will have fundamental criticisms].