By Rafiu Oriyomi
LAGOS – Nigeria’s Shia movement will on Sunday, July 27, hold an international conference to commemorate the July 25, 2014, massacre in which at least 35 members of the group were gunned down during a peaceful protest on Al-Quds Day in northwestern Zaria town in Kaduna state.
“We have lined up a program of event to commemorate the July 25 massacre,” a national spokesman of the movement Dr Abdullahi Danladi told OnIslam.net.
Planned in the Nigerian capital city Abuja, the conference is organized by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, the name by which the Nigerian Shias go, led by Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, who lost at least three sons in the massacre.
The Nigerian army was criticized home and abroad for the shooting of the protesters, and the military’s probe panel established to probe the incident has not made its findings public one year after.
Sunday’s conference will be addressed by many scholars from across the world, capping a weeklong activities commemorating the massacre whose victims included three sons of the Nigerian Shia leader Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky.
The last few days saw members of the movement and civil rights activists giving testimonies on the martyrs, witness accounts, film show on Al-Quds Day massacre, parade, recitation of special prayers and speeches.
“Tomorrow, an international conference is scheduled to take place at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, which will feature international dignitaries of high repute,” said the spokesman of the movement.
“First of its kind, a renowned scholar and Chief Imam of Washington DC, Imam Muhammmad Al-Asi, will deliver a paper on ‘Al-Quds: Historical Perspective and the Significance of Marking the International Quds Day’.
“A segment of the day’s event will be a symposium with a theme, ‘From Al-Quds to Zaria: A Melting Pot of Rights Violation, Veil of Bias and Conspiracy of Silence’, in which dignitaries from Iraq, Iran, Malaysia and London, including cream of Nigerian human rights activists will participate.”
Top Nigerian and foreign activists expected at the event include Prof Chidi Odinkalu of the National Human Rights Commission who will speak on the topic ‘From Al-Quds to Zaria: A melting pot of rights violation, veil of bias and conspiracy of silence’; Barrister Festus Okoye of Network for Justice; Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, London; Sheikh Ramadhan Abdullah (Iraq), Syed Jawad Mousawi (Iran), Mohideen Abdulkadir (Malaysia), Professor Dahiru Yahaya of Bayero University, Kano.
“Others are activist and columnist Hajiya Bilkisu, Professor Maigandi Muhammed of Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto; Dr Abdullahi Danladi and Dr Shuaibu Musa of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria,” according to a statement made available to OnIslam.net.
Search for justice
The Islamic movement of Nigeria says it would continue to press for justice for the victims of the massacre.
“We are not going to keep quiet until justice is done, and of course this commemoration of the incident is part of the clarion call on the authorities to do what is right,” Dr Abdullahi Danladi, spokesman of the movement, told OnIslam.net in a telephone interview on Saturday.
“Despite claims of probing into the unjust killing of our members, no one has seen the report of the probe and no one, to the best of our knowledge, has been made to face the law for the massacre of innocent and law abiding citizens.
“This is impunity but we will continue to seek redress and justice through lawful means.”
The conference will also feature exhibition on the images, sights and sounds of Zaria Al-Quds Day massacre while the leader of the Nigerian Shia Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is expected to give a closing remark at the event.
Although Nigeria is predominantly dominated by Sunni Muslims, a significant minority subscribe to Shia ideology especially in the northwestern Sokoto, Kano and Kaduna state.
The Shia movement was started in the 1980s and is currently being led by Sheikh El-Zakzaky.