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Shiite Muslims in Nigeria's northern Kaduna State have demanded that authorities stop ongoing crackdown on worshippers participating in mourning ceremonies during the Month of Muharram.
In a statement, Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) spokesman Ibrahim Musa has warned Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to stop suppressing the religious rights of its members and called on the international community to restrain him.
According to the IMN the latest episode of denial of their right to worship by El-Rufai occurred on Friday, a day marking the beginning of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.
During the period, said the statement, Shiite Muslims worldwide remember the brutal killing of Imam Hussein AS, grandson of Prophet Muhammad PBUH by Yazid forces on the plains of Karbala. INM spokesman added that mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hussein AS is a religious duty.
On Saturday also, governor El-Rufai ordered armed security agents to disperse Shiite Muslims participating at Muharram mourning ceremonies. According to Musa, the situation was tense adding that, "it was through Allah's grace that loss of lives was averted in Kaduna and Zaria."
A similar thing happened last year in the same Kaduna when the governor used a combination of these security forces and hired thugs to brutally attack mourners resulting in the death of scores of Shiite Muslims. Security forces also torched a religious center and school as well as the unjustified detention of many others to date.
"This mindless killing spree should not be allowed to repeat itself this year," IMN warned.
Tensions between the Nigerian government and Shiite Muslims broke out in December 2015 in the city of Zaria in Kaduna state when the army killed over 1,000 innocent Muslims. During the incident The Islamic Movement in Nigeria leader Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife were shot and badly wounded and thereafter detained by Nigerian security agencies. They are still being held incommunicado by security forces with their health rapidly deteriorating.
The massacre and continued persecution of INM members continues amid a deafening silence by the UN which has ignored the crimes committed by the Nigerian regime against Muslims in the West African state.