Elzazaky: Foolishness and wisdom
Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games series, captured the Nigerian Army vs Shiite standoff succinctly when she wrote, “And if we burn, you burn with us.”
Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky means different things to different people. To the Sunni majority Muslims in Nigeria, he is an adulterer of Islam; preaching a brand that is offensive. For his legions of followers, he sits amongst the pantheons of learned Islamic scholars. To the government, he is a preacher that tethers on the borderline of extremism.
No matter which side of the divide you belong, there is no arguing that Elzakzaky is not one to be taken lightly. Over the years, he has had brushes with the government which has left him acquainted with tragedy and sorry.
Given the many deaths of his family and adherents at the hands of the State, you will think that the cleric would have learnt some hard lessons on how his followers should behave.
But no! Penultimate week, he got more than he bargained for; he burned, his followers burned and possibly, the army is burning with him.
Probably, the army fell into his grand design by killing his members so that they will be caught in international searchlight. If that is his wish, Elzakzaky has achieved more than he guessed as the Nigerian state is faced with barrage of accusations from all sides.
But given the level of war brought to his domain, will Elzakzaky temper down and show some restraint? Or will he go on the offensive for his losses? The answer, many will say, is difficult to fathom.