Mob riots in north Nigeria over blasphemy claim

AFP , Saturday 21 May 2022

An enraged mob went on a rampage in the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi over alleged blasphemy by a Christian resident, the third such incident in days in the predominantly Muslim part of the country, police said Saturday.

A student was beaten and burnt to death Thursday by fellow students in northwestern Nigeria after she was accused of making a blasphemous social media post, witnesses and police said. AP


Blasphemy is highly sensitive in Africa's most populous country, which is almost equally divided between the mostly Christian south and the mostly Muslim north. Intercommunal tensions often flare up.

Late on Friday, a mob set homes and shops on fire in the town of Warji, 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the state capital, Bauchi, following "a blasphemous message posted on social media by one Rhoda Jatau," said Bauchi State police spokesman Ahmed Mohammed Wakili in a statement.

"Some irate youths set six houses and seven shops ablaze, while some score of persons were injured," said Wakili.

The deployment of policemen from Bauchi brought the situation under control and a police investigation into the incident is ongoing, Wakili said.

"The area is calm for now."

According to Warji residents, the mob became enraged when they could not get Jatau, a female medical worker, who was whisked away to safety by people in her neighbourhood.

Religious tensions have been highlighted this month after Deborah Samuel, a Christian student in the northern city of Sokoto, was stoned to death and her body burnt by a mob of Muslim students of the college after she made a post on social media they said insulted Prophet Muhammad.

Four days later, hundreds of Muslims demonstrated in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, lighting bonfires on the streets, calling for the death of a Christian woman for an allegedly blasphemous online post.

The crowd was dispersed by the police and some protesters were arrested, according to sources.

Blasphemy in Islam carries the death penalty under the Muslim Sharia law which operates alongside common law in northern Nigeria. But in some cases the accused are killed by mobs without going through the legal process.

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