Fearing for its members’ safety, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari provide protection to the group while it observes Arba’een.
The Shiite organization disclosed this in a press release issued on Tuesday, alleging that it had received reports that the military was planning to attack observers.
According to the IMN, the suspect plans including hiring armed thugs to attack observers and burning homes and businesses. The group also alleged that the perpetrators compiled a list of specific IMN members who will be targeted in the attacks.
The group explained that its letter to Mr. Buhari reminded him of “the bloody history of violence against supporters of the IMN who [participate] in these events.”
Specifically, the IMN called the president’s attention to the Zaria massacre of December 2015, in which some at least 348 IMN were killed. Nigerian authorities also raided the home of IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and arrested him. He has yet to be released.
“These reports of potential sabotage must also be seen in the context of the wider campaign of persecution of the IMN by the Nigerian authorities which seeks to prevent the movement and its supporters from exercising their rights to freedom of worship, movement, association and expression,” the group said in the press release.
The London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission similarly petitioned the Nigerian government to ensure that observers are protected and can exercise their freedom of religion.