By Rafiu Ajakaye
Tens of thousands of mostly Muslim Nigerians gathered Monday to commemorate the Al-Aqsa Day, with calls on the United Nations to ensure that resolutions to ensure justice for Palestinians are implemented.
Organized by Muslim Awareness International (MAI), a prominent civic group, Al-Aqsa Day is commemorated in Nigeria on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabiul Awwal to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, especially those living in Gaza, which John Holmes, then-UN humanitarian chief, in 2010 called the world's largest “open-air prison” due to the Israeli blockades.
Al-Aqsa Day commemorates the struggles of the Palestinian people.
“We call on the UN to walk the walk on Palestinian matters. We call for sanctions to be imposed on Israel for its atrocities against the Palestinian people,” Luqman Balogun, MAI director, said at the event.
“If other countries are sanctioned for committing crimes, the Israeli state should face the consequences of its actions too. There should be no sacred cows,” he added.
Speakers at the event called for a broader coalition against the Israeli actions in Palestine, including boycott and divestment strategies.
Adelaja Odukoya, an activist who teaches comparative politics at the country’s University of Lagos, said the injustices against Palestinians persist because of the complicity of the global powers.
“The UN was founded on the slogan of self-determination, but that slogan has remained empty in regard to the Palestinian crisis. What is playing out in the crisis is the hegemony of the U.S as reflected in the non-implementation of several UN resolutions, especially resolution 242 and others,” Odukoya said.
“Israeli policies in Palestine amount to genocide because the livelihood of the Palestinian is left at the mercy of Israel. Every human being deserves a state, so denying Palestinians a homeland amounts to dehumanization. And I daresay that America's continued veto of resolutions that seek to end Israeli occupation has remained a major setback to peace,” he added.
Abdur-Razaq Abdus-Salam, a veteran journalist, said the media have not been fair in reporting the crisis.
He called on journalists to do independent research of the crisis and not continue to spread propaganda that impedes peace in the region.
Attended by academics, top politicians, and leading Muslim scholars and believers, the event featured a drama that depicted what organizers called media prejudice against the Palestinians and the need for a broader alliance to create awareness and push world powers to help make the Palestinian state a reality.