Nigerian Singer Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy

A professional singer in Kano State in Northern Nigeria has been sentenced to death by hanging for apparently blaspheming against Prophet Mohammad.

An upper Sharia court in the Hausawa Filin Hockey area of the state declared that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu who is 22 years of age was guilty of committing blasphemy for a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March this year.

When made to appear in court, Mr Sharif-Aminu did not deny of the charges.

Judge Khadi Aliyu Muhammad Kani who sat on the case said he could appeal against the verdict.

The states in Northern parts of Nigeria are a region of Muslim-majority where they make use of a mixture of both secular law and Sharia law, which does not apply to non-Muslims.

There have been a number of death sentences that have been passed under Sharia law in Northern Nigerian States, but none of these death sentences have been actually carried out… yet.

The singer who is currently in detention, had been forced into hiding after he composed the song.

His song sparked some protests and the protestors had gone to burn down his family home and gathered outside the headquarters of the Islamic police, known as the Hisbah, demanding a series of actions against the musician.

Critics said the song was blasphemous as it praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood to the extent it elevated him above the Prophet Muhammad.

The convener of the protesters that called for the musician’s arrest in March, Idris Ibrahim, told the BBC that the judgement is a good one and it would send strong signals to others who might want to exhibit errant behaviours or are “contemplating toeing Yahaya’s path”.”When I heard about the judgment I was so happy because it showed our protest wasn’t in vain.

“This [judgement] will serve as a deterrent to others who feel they could insult our religion or prophet and go scot-free,” he added.

The last time a Sharia court in the country sentenced someone to death was in 2016 when one Abdulazeez Inyass, was sentenced to death on allegations of blaspheming against Islam during after a secret trial in Kano.

He was alleged to have committed a similar offence as Yahaya when he is alleged to have said that Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, the Senegalese founder of the Tijaniya sect, which has a large following across West Africa, “was bigger than Prophet Muhammad”.

The sentence has not been carried out as a death penalty in Nigeria requires the sign-off of the state governor.

Mr Inyass is still in detention.

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