The Ahlul Bait (a.s) Foundation of South Africa (AFOSA) condemns the violent attacks on the most senior leadership of the Shia Muslim Community of Nigeria and its members led by Hujjatul Islam Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.

Latest reports indicate that Sheikh Zakzaky has been arrested, after over 20 unarmed Shia were brutally killed by members of the Nigerian Military. It is further alleged that among the victims are the wife and son of Sheikh Zakzaky.

This attack comes just two weeks after a suicide bomber killed over 20 Shia in the Arbaeen procession marking the fortieth day after Ashura in memory of the martyrs of Karbala.

It also follows a sinister attack on Shia Muslims during the Quds Day march in 2014 when three of the sons of Sheikh Zakzaky were killed.

While the Middle East appears to be showing signs of exhaustion from sectarian conflict, the religious fault lines within the international Muslim community with respect to Shia and Sunni differences seem to be shifting to the wealthy continent of Africa with Nigeria being the latest victim in this political chess game.

Nigeria has the largest Shia Muslim population in Africa, which is estimated to be approximately 10 million followers who have an active presence in Nigeria. Most of central Africa consists of Sunni Muslims who have a Tassawuf (mystical) persuasion and the relationship between Sunni and Shia in Nigeria has been an amicable one for decades.

However, the media hype around somewhat mythical groups like Boko Haram seeks to disturb that peace for strategic reasons, the most important being to divide the oil rich nation of Nigeria and for Western powers to control its resources.

Whereas in most other conflicts, the wars fought by extremist groups like ISIS seem to be separated from direct state involvement of any sort, the instigation of this conflict by the military of Nigeria is an extremely dangerous dimension.

AFOSA calls upon:

  1. All South Africans to condemn these attacks and to spread awareness on these developments through all means at their disposal including the powerful tool of social media;
  2. The Nigerian government to secure the immediate release of Sheikh Zakzaky and others who have been unjustly arrested;
  3. The Nigerian government to clamp down on its army who may be acting independently to serve orders from external organisations;
  4. The Nigerian government to clamp down on the real extremists like Boko Haram who create terror in the world and are seeking to create the same terror in Nigeria; and
  5. The South African government through the Foreign Ministry to liaise with the Nigerian government to take immediate action in relation to this appeal.

May Almighty Allah protect our beautiful continent of Africa from further wars which it has been a victim of for so long.

With salaams and dua,


Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider

AFOSA National Co-ordinator

14 December 2015