A large number of Muslim Americans have held a demonstration in New York to condemn the Nigerian military’s massacre of Shia Muslims, Press TV reports.
The demonstrators on Friday gathered in Midtown Manhattan near the Nigerian Mission to the United Nations and called for the release of senior Nigerian cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, Press TV correspondent Caleb Maupin reported.
The protesters chanted slogans and carried placards condemning the Nigerian military’s oppression against Muslims.
Hundreds of Shia Muslims have been killed during the weekend after clashes erupted between the Nigerian army and Shia Muslims in the northern city of Zaria in Kaduna State.
The clashes broke out when Nigerian soldiers opened fire on the people attending a religious ceremony at Hussainiyah Baqiyatullah, a religious center belonging to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
The Nigerian military accused the Shias of trying to stop a convoy of Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai. The military also accused the Shias of attempting to assassinate Buratai – a charge Zakzaky, the IMN leader, denied.
Zakzaky was arrested during a raid by the army on his residence and the buildings connected to the Shia community in Zaria.
“We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Sheikh Zakzaky, and all of the other detainees that have been illegally detained by the Nigerian military and the government,” said activist Ali Naqvi.
Seyed Ayleya of the Muslim Congress of America told Press TV that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is vitally important for the entire African continent.
“Sheikh al-Zakzaky is one of the greatest leaders in Africa, and in the contemporary times we don’t find anyone similar to him in the entire continent,” he added.
“And the work he has done is just beyond just the Shia community. He is a source for inspiration for the Sunni brothers there, and even [for] the Christian community.”
Activists said Zakzaky was targeted because he has bravely exposed links between the Takfiri group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government.
Boko Haram — whose name means “Western education is forbidden” — says its goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government.
The group has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly gun and bomb attacks in various parts of Nigeria since 2009.