"....take not life which Allah has made sacred" (Quran 6:151)
(Lagos, 26/07/2014) The Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) today condemned the Nigerian military’s deadly use of force against pro-Palestinian protesters as they staged a march in Zaria, Kaduna State, one of the states in the Northern Nigeria where they held their annual Al-Quds Day celebration. While the street marches went without any incident in others states, 30 members of the Shiite sect were reportedly killed in Kaduna State, including 3 children of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic sect. Many more have been injured.
MPAC views the gruesome killing of these young men and women and the unwarranted use of extreme force against peaceful protesters as a clear abuse of power and violation of the fundamental rights of the sect members. There is no justification for this type of violence under any circumstance and it is the responsibility of the state to protect all of its citizens, regardless of religious affiliation and support.
The plight of the Palestinian people is one of the most enduring human rights struggles in modern times. For more than seven decades, Palestinians have endured continuous suffering at the hands of Israel, with the full backing and supports of the United States of America which has acted immorally to strengthen the brutality of the Israeli government, and its racist policies.
The Nigerian people should be allowed to exercise free speech and protest in the name of the democracy we made significant sacrifices to enthrone, and they should be able to do this without suffering from a culture of violence that seems to be pervasive in the military profession in the country. As in similar cases, MPAC calls on the military to immediately halt attacks against law-abiding citizens and work with all parties to ensure a constructive way forward that will achieve the envisioned peace in our collective fight against terrorism. A failure of the Nigerian armed forces to abide by its own rules of engagement, the religious profiling and arrest of Muslims and the constant harassment of Muslims being reported across the country only further undermine the Nigerian government's claims that genuine war is being waged in the pursuit of peace, freedom and democracy for all people. In the current climate of our national and private security concerns, the Nigerian armed forces need to self-reflect on how they view human rights of citizens and how they train our armed personnel to view Nigerians, their lives and rights.
Similar protests were staged all over the world in sympathy and solidarity with the Palestinians in their occupied land with no case of shooting and killing protesters. In the London, Paris, Istanbul and in other European cities as well as the Americas, thousands protested on the street who were given adequate security cover. Even within the Zionist state, Israel, there are Jews of conscience who condemned and are condemning the wanton killing of defenceless civilians, women and children, and the wholesale destruction of Gaza, including bombing hospitals, schools and UN infrastructure.
As the Palestinians continue to struggle to remove the shackles of oppression and injustice on them, they should be rest assured that Nigerians are willing to amplify their voice, just as we did against South Africa’s apartheid. As Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere", so we cannot afford to be bystanders anymore. Conscientious Nigerians, Muslims and non-Muslims, are all invited to share their experiences of what freedom and boundless compassion mean and voice their support for the Palestinians whose only aspiration is to have human dignity extended to them. As Nelson Mandela said at the 1997 edition of The International Day Of Solidarity With The Palestinian People, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians; without the resolution of conflicts in East Timor, the Sudan and other parts of the world”
Albert Einstein added "It would be my greatest sadness to see Zionists do to Palestinian Arabs much of what Nazis did to Jews". This was complemented by Indira Ghandi stating that "Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose Jews on the Arabs." Sadly these voices are being drowned by the cacophony of noises from debased people who do not have regards for human lives.
Late Mandela’s political achievements in South Africa took place within the context of an internationalism that always urged us to make connections among freedom struggles. Almost two decades after he made the important statement, we have now inherited the last legacy of those solidarity- the Palestinian struggle. The East-Timorese and South Sudanese are now free, and our legacy should be solidarity across faiths and borders, that will produce hope and freedom for the Palestinians.
In the final days of this blessed month of Ramadan, MPAC remembers the souls of the victims of the gruesome killings in our prayers, and we pray for the quick and full recovery of their injured and traumatized colleagues. We view their sacrifices as an extension of the struggle of the Palestinians to be free and we beseech Allah to fully reward them.