Massoud Shadjareh: Sheikh Zakzaky’s Resistance Model for World
TEHRAN (FNA)- Massoud Shadjareh, prominent Islamic human rights activist, believes Nigeria’s top Shia cleric and his supporters’ refusal to give up hope which finally led to their release is a world-class instance of gains of pure resistance.
Speaking in an interview with FNA, Shadjareh said, “Let’s not forget that five days a week for the whole six years, people in Nigeria went out on streets and demonstrated in support of the Islamic Movement and Sheikh Zakzaky; even though they were shot at, teargassed and abused… They [the state] tried everything such as massacre, mass killings and mass graves for some one thousand, but they could not achieve their goal. They arrested Sheikh Zakzaky and many of his supporters for years. But if anything, the popularity of the Islamic Movement became much more apparent and more people started understanding what is going on and more people started supporting the Islamic Movement.”
Massoud Shadjareh, author and human rights activist, is the co-founder and chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission. The IHRC is a London-based NGO working with different organizations from Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds, to campaign for justice for all peoples. The organization, since 2007, has consultative status with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: Kaduna State High Court acquitted Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife of all the charges. Why did his acquittal come after the longtime of nearly six years of incarceration?
A: The Kaduna High Court had no option but to come to this conclusion. Because there never was any evidence to be presented. So, this whole episode of almost six years was just reflection of misuse of judicial process to just arrest someone and delay the court’s hearing month after month and year after year just to keep innocent persons (both of them) in jail. This process was even used against his supporters and the reality was that no crime was committed and no evidence could be given and this was ultimately something that if there was any ounce of justice, this conclusion should have come to reality, and it did.
Q: The Kaduna state government hastily filed a new charge against Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife to block their release. What do you make of this?
A: What we are hearing about the Kaduna state governor saying is not really [realistic]; nothing has been put forward officially. These are rumors and propaganda which is echoing. The fact of the matter is that already-enough injustice has taken place, because of false accusation. We all know that the highest court in the land in 2016 said there was nothing for the Sheikh and his wife to answer and ordered their release and then consequently we had this other false accusation. Now, we are hearing of rumor of false accusation which is absurd. If it goes beyond these rumors, it will expose Nigeria’s to be totally out of touch with the concept of due process and justice.
Q: The Islamic Movement of Nigeria was officially banned in 2019, and many of its followers were arrested, but later released due to lack of evidence. Is it justifiable to ban a religious movement, and arrest its followers?
A: The accusation that the Islamic Movement of Nigeria is a terrorist organization is something that is still being challenged in courts. The reality is that this is there, because they tried everything such as massacre, mass killings and mass graves for some one thousand, but they could not achieve their goal. They arrested Sheikh Zakzaky and many of his supporters for years. But if anything, the popularity of the Islamic Movement became much more apparent and more people started understanding what is going on and more people started supporting the Islamic Movement. Let’s not forget that five days a week for the whole six years, people in Nigeria went out on streets and demonstrated in support of the Islamic Movement and Sheikh Zakzaky; even though they were shot at, teargassed and abused. This shows the Islamic Movement of Nigeria cannot be defeated by these policies. The best thing is that the Islamic Movement will be allowed to be part and parcel of conscious of Nigeria which seems that is there now to survive beyond current politicians’ duration and empowerment.
The rest of us have to start investigating and studying in depth to understand why Sheikh Zakzaky’s Islamic Movement of Nigeria have been so successful, despite all the opposition and lack of resources. This should be a model for what could be done elsewhere in the world.