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Nigerian Shias persecuted

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The current human rights situation and extensive use of state violence against innocent civilians in Sokoto, Nigeria has reached the boiling point, after the Sokoto provincial government demolished a Shia religious center, schools and a clinic belonging to the Shia community.

The current human rights situation and extensive use of state violence against innocent civilians in Sokoto, Nigeria has reached the boiling point, after the Sokoto provincial government demolished a Shia religious center, schools and a clinic belonging to the Shia community.{mxc}

Although no official explanation was given for the demolition, it is widely thought that the attacks are part of a plan to expel the Shia community from the city.

On 19th July 2007, cleric Umaru Danmaishiyya, well-known in Sokoto for his sermons against Shias, was assassinated. Since then, the Nigerian government used this criminal incident as a pretext to unleash an indiscriminate assault on an entire religious sect, the Shias of Sokoto.

The acts of aggression and collective punishment of Shias in Sokoto are still continuing, despite the clear statements made by the state commissioner of police on the BBC Hausa Service where he declared the lack of any evidence linking any members of the Shia community to Danmaishiyyah assassination.

To date, there have been two confirmed murders and hundreds of unwarranted detentions of innocent civilians, including Shia leader Kasimu Rimin Tawaye. Hundreds of homes and properties belonging to Shias in the city have been set ablaze, prompting an exodus of Shias from the city. After those incidents, the Sokoto state government demolish the community’s facilities.

Nigeria has a problem with discrimination against Shias.  The present state governor, Alu Magatakardar Wamako in his political mandate pledged to limit what he called "the spread of Shiism in Sokoto" and had promised to demolish the Shia Center before it actually happened. 

A number of international human rights organizations have stated that such inflammatory comments against Shias are far from being compatible with the national and moral standards of responsible office bearing individuals within democratic societies.  What is happening in Nigeria today bears an alarming resemblance with utterances made by extreme elements in the wider Middle East against Shias.

 

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