After a Nigerian woman was killed over accusations of blaspheming Islam and another set to stand trial for similar charges, a Catholic prelate has denounced the country’s blasphemy laws as a violation of basic freedoms. Source: Crux.
“No person should be silenced or imprisoned for peacefully sharing their views,” said Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of the national capital of Abuja.
The comments came in the wake of the killing of Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu, a university student in Sokoto state, who was lynched in May 2022, after being accused of blaspheming Islam, and the arrest of 45-year-old Rhoda Ya’u Jatau in Bauchi state the same month for sharing a WhatsApp message that condemned Yakubu’s death.
“What has happened to Rhoda should never have happened,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
“Freeing her from incarceration now will help greatly in moving our country to a direction where the rights and lives of its people are truly valued and this will be an important first step to restoring that hope,” he said.
Twelve states in the Muslim-dominated northern part of Nigeria have implemented some form of Islamic sharia law, under which blasphemy is a crime which can be punished by death. Critics object that such laws no only violate freedom of expression and other basic rights, but are often used to target and harass religious minorities.
At a high court hearing on Monday, Ms Jatau’s appeal that the case be thrown out was rejected.
Maria Lozano of Aid to the Church in Need, a papally-sponsored organisation that supports persecuted Christians, said she hoped justice would prevail for Ms Jatau and that the truth would come to light.
“There can be no peace without justice, and no justice without truth. We pray for that,” Ms Lozano said.
In wake of killing and arrest, Nigerian prelate blasts blasphemy laws (By Ngala Killian Chimtom, Crux)