The latter accuse him of having published a “blasphemous” comment on social networks. Hundreds of people demonstrated this Saturday in Sokoto, in the northwest of the country, to protest against the arrest of two suspects. A curfew has been instituted.
Hundreds of people marched in Sokoto, northwestern Nigeria, on Saturday to protest the arrest of two students following the murder of a Christian student accused of blasphemy, residents said. Sokoto Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal urged protesters to return home and declared a curfew.
“Following the sad incident that took place at Shehu Shagari School on Thursday and the developments of the morning in the metropolis (of Sokoto), I declare, with immediate effect, a curfew (…) for the next 24 time“, he said in a statement. “Everyone must, please, in the interest of peace, go home.»
At the origin of the two arrests, an unbearable scene, filmed and then published on social networks. Thursday, May 12, in northwestern Nigeria, a young Christian student was stoned to death, then burned, by her classmates. The latter accuse him of having published a commentblasphemouson social media, considered offensive to the Prophet Muhammad. The facts took place in the state of Sokoto, where Sharia law is applied alongside common law, as in other states in the conservative Muslim north of Nigeria.
A video shared on social media shows the dead student, her face bleeding, wearing a pink dress lying on the ground surrounded by dozens of large stones thrown by her attackers. According to a statement released by Sokoto Police Spokesperson Sanusi Abubakar, students at the school forcibly removed Deborah Samuel after she had been placed in a room by education officials, for her safety. . Once outside, “they killed her and burned down the building “said the spokesperson. While two people have already been arrested, police say all of the suspects identified in this video will be arrested as well.
Police said they are looking for other suspects appearing in a video of the murder that has been circulating on social media. In response, young Muslims took to the streets of Sokoto on Saturday morning to demand the release of the two detainees, residents said. Some of the protesters went to the palace of Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto and the highest Islamic figure in Nigeria, who condemned the killing and demanded that the culprits be brought to justice. “The crowd also demanded that the police end the hunt for those identified as having taken part in the murder“, he added. The angry mob then retreated to the city center where they attempted to loot Christian-owned shops, but were dispersed by law enforcement, according to another resident, Faruk Danhili.
Sharia introduced in 12 northern Nigerian states
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, the highest spiritual authority of Nigerian Muslims, and the influential Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Mathew Hassan Kukah, on Thursday appealed for calm after the student’s murder.
“The Sultanate Council condemned the incident (…) and urged the security agencies to bring the perpetrators of this unjustifiable incident to justiceMuhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar said in a statement. The Sultan, who also leads the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) for Interfaith Harmony, called “everyone to keep calm and ensure peaceful coexistence” in the country. Catholic Bishop Kukah also condemned the killing, lamenting a “deep shock“. “We call on the authorities to investigate this tragedy and ensure that all culprits are brought to justice“, did he declare.
On Twitter, Ibrahim Maqari, a senior Nigerian cleric, Imam of the Abudja National Mosque, justified the savage murder of Deborah Samuel. On May 13, he wrote:Everyone should know that we Muslims have red lines that should not be crossed. The dignity of the Prophet is at the forefront of these red lines. If our grievances are not properly handled, we should not be criticized for handling them ourselves.»
In Islam, blasphemy, especially against the Prophet, is punishable by death under Sharia law, introduced in 2000 in 12 northern Nigerian states. These Islamic courts, which operate alongside the state justice system, have already handed down death sentences for adultery, blasphemy or homosexuality, but no executions have taken place so far. Two Muslims had been sentenced to death in 2015 and 2020 by Islamic courts for blasphemy against the Prophet.
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Nigeria: a Christian student stoned then burned by her classmates
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