The sect’s leader said the protests would go on despite police warnings.
Defying a police order on marches against the recent anti-Islam video that sparked violent protests in many Islamic countries, members of the Nigerian Shiite sect, and the Islamic Mission of Nigeria, IMN, say they have concluded plans to hold a major but “peaceful protest,” very reliable Shiite sources told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday in Zaria and Abuja.
The peaceful protest, according to the sources, is expected to start by 9 a.m. on Thursday from the Gellesuwa residence of the Sect leader, who doubles as the president of the Islamic Mission of Nigeria, IMN, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.
He will also lead the protest himself across all the streets of Zaria, which is the national headquarters of the sect.
Mr. El-Zakzaky, commenting Wednesday on the website of the IMN, said “our message to the stooges of America is that our protest shall surely take place. So, the blood thirsty stooges who serve American interest shall have the chance to kill. We are ready to die for the Prophet, and we want you to show that you are enemies of Prophet (SAWA) by killing his lovers.
“Our common slogan is Labbayka Rasulallah. This is the symbol of unity, so all Muslims shall express their concern with us. One is either with the Prophet or with the enemies,” he said.
He urged Muslims not to watch the movie which “production and dissemination … was another strategy to institutionalize and commemorate September 11 as a global phenomenon, and portray Islam as a religion of terrorists,” adding that the “clip mocks, insults, ridicules and portrays the Prophet, his wives, Muslims and religion of Islam negatively.”
It is unclear if other cities of the country will also host the protest, but Police Public Relations Officer, Frank Mbah, demurred from commenting, merely saying the matter has a peculiar security implication.
Mr. Mbah, however, suggested there was no permit for the march, insisting that the Inspector General of Police has “ordered a red alert against any violent protest.”
Mr. El-Zakzaky took time, in his web commentary, to berate the Jonathan administration which it describes as “an American stooge,” saying popular expectations in the country that Nigerian Muslims would have demonstrated last Friday were baseless because there was nothing mandatory about a Friday protest as was the case in many other Islamic countries.
“People thought that we would also come out to protest on Friday, but we did not. This is because we are in country led by American stooges who promotes its agenda, and even work for it” Mr. Zakzaky said.
In the wake of the violent protests against the film in many countries, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar, placed all police formations in the country on red alert, and directed all his zonal assistants [AIGs] and commands to ensure a “24-hour water-tight security in and around all embassies and foreign missions in Nigeria as well as other vulnerable targets.”
Mr. Abubakar also charged the police Intelligence; the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Police Mobile Force (PMF) and Special Protection Unit (SPU) to ensure that their personnel are “strategically deployed to prevent and nib all potential crisis in the bud.”
PREMIUM TIMES sources insisted on Wednesday afternoon that the sect planned to continue its protest.
“We have concluded plans to hold the protest that will be led by Mallam Zakzaky along all major roads with thousands of Muslims including women and children to join other Muslim brothers all over the world to condemn in strong terms the recent anti-Islam film produced in America,” the source said.
This appears to challenge the IGP message that had warned “potential trouble makers to stay off the streets of Nigeria” because the nation’s “security agencies will bring to bear the full weight of the law on all law breakers.”
The Nigerian Shiite community, believed to have as many as 10 million members, according to Wikipedia, was a very vocal opposition during the military era which led it to frequent serious and bruising confrontations with the government of late General Sani Abacha who orchestrated a massive crackdown on its membership.
Its leader, Mr. El-Zakzaky, a 59-year old cleric and father of six, resides in Zaria where he was educated at the Ahmadu Bello University and earned a first class degree in economics in 1979.