Claim of ‘blasphemy’ in city market leads to looting, destruction.

KANO, Nigeria, April 23 (Compass Direct News) – Hundreds of Muslims took to the streets of this northern Nigerian city on Sunday (April 20), attacking Christians and their shops and setting vehicles on fire on claims that a Christian had blasphemed Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

Thousands of Christians were trapped in churches until police dispersed rioters. Fearing that Muslims may attack again, many Christians have relocated to army and police barracks in the city.

An as yet unidentified Christian was said to have written an inscription on a shop wall that disparaged the prophet of Islam. Muslims at a market in the Sabon Garia area of the city reportedly attacked the Christian, whom police rescued and took to the area police station.

Muslims in large numbers soon trooped to the police station, threatening to set it ablaze unless officers released the Christian to be stoned to death in accordance with sharia (Islamic law), sources said. Police were able to disperse the mob.

“A Christian trader was accused of making some blasphemous inscriptions against Muhammad in his shop by his Muslim colleagues, who pounced on him,” Baba Mohammed, Kano police spokesman, said in a special radio broadcast.

He said the accused Christian escaped from being lynched and ran to the police station seeking protection, adding, “We had to move him to the police headquarters here in Kano for protection.”

Police have arrested some of the Muslim rioters, he said, adding that an investigation is underway.

“We have made several arrests of persons suspected of attempting to breach the peace while the suspect [accused Christian] is in our custody pending conclusion of the investigation,” Mohammed said.

Nnamdi Ike, a Christian who witnessed the disturbances, told Compass in Kano that Muslim claims that a Christian painted an inscription insulting Muhammad were false.

“Christians have always been attacked on false claims of blasphemy,” Ike said. “No Christian wrote anything against Muhammad or Islam. It is all a lie. They just made this up to find a reason to attack us.”

In the past year, four cases of false claims of blasphemy against Christians have been reported in Kano state, three in high schools and this latest one in the market area.

The three alleged blasphemy cases in high schools were reported in the towns of Tudun Wada, Gwarzo, and Samaila. In all these public high schools, Christian students were attacked, injured or sent home from school.

Additionally, in 1994 Muslim fanatics beheaded Gideon Akaluka, a Christian held in a Kano prison over claims that he desecrated the Quran.

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