Campaign to Crack Down on Shia Sects in Nigeria Worries U.S Government
The out-going administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has denounced in unusually harsh terms last week’s bloody military and police crackdown against members of the Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN.
In a statement Friday the United States said it is deeply concerned by the deaths of dozens of Nigerians during clashes between individuals participating in a Shia procession and the Nigerian Police Force in Kano State on November 14.
“Members of the Shia community, like other religious communities, have the right to assemble, peacefully express their religious beliefs, and mark their celebrations. We call on the Nigerian government to protect and defend these rights. It is also incumbent on members of the IMN and all Nigerian citizens to respect the rule of law and cooperate with the police as they attempt to maintain public order. ”
“While the matter is still under investigation, we are troubled by the apparent disproportionate response by the police.”
“This is the latest in a series of violent incidents between security forces and members of the Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), some of which have resulted in deaths, destruction of property, and the arbitrary detention of IMN members.
“The United States calls for calm and restraint on all sides, a reduction of tensions, and greater communication between Shia citizens and government authorities.”
“We continue to urge the government to ensure accountability for the deaths of more than 300 IMN members during December 15, 2015 clashes between the IMN and security forces in Zaria, Kaduna State. We also call on the Nigerian government to conduct a transparent investigation of the latest incidents and bring to account anyone responsible for violating the law.”
Last week, Police killed no fewer than 9 members of the sect during a peaceful procession in Kano.
Narrating the incident to Per Second News over the phone, a leader of the movement Mohammed Abubakar, said that police attacked the sect while preparing for a peaceful protest
A witness said the clash started around Tamburawa, on the outskirts of Kano city, with a police officer amongst the casualties.
At least nine people were reported to have died after police opened fire on a procession of Shia Muslims marking the Ashura festival last month.
Graphic images posted to social media appeared to show at least three women among the bodies of those killed in the clashes in the town of Funtua, in Katsina state.
Another eye witness said the army and police had tried to block the procession, which commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.