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Nigerian musician sentenced to death for committing ‘blasphemy’ against Prophet Muhammad

A musician has been sentenced to death by an Islamic court in north Nigeria for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad in a song he circulated on WhatsApp. 

Yahaya Aminu Sharif, 22, a resident of Kano city in the state capital Kano, was handed the death sentence on Monday. 

His song, shared on the messaging platform in March, caused riots throughout the city.   

Protesters burnt down his family home demanding his prosecution, leading to his arrest. 

The singer had gone into hiding after sharing the song, which praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood to the point where it gave him higher status than the Prophet Muhammad, the BBC reported.

The prosecutor, Inspector Aminu Yargoje, described the verdict as fair, and said it would prevent future blasphemy in the state.  

Islamic gospel musician Sharif belongs to a separate branch of Tijaniyya Sufi order.

Their beliefs are considered dissident because of their different interpretation of some basic Islamic principles. 

Guards at the court barred journalists from speaking to Sharif after the sentencing, but a court spokesman said he has 30 days to lodge an appeal.

Baba-Jibo Ibrahim, spokesman for Kano region justice ministry, said: ‘The court handed down the death sentence as enshrined in Islamic laws based on irrefutable evidence and the convict’s admission of guilt.’ 

The court also sentenced a 13-year-old boy, Umar Farouq, to 10 years in prison for making derogatory statements toward Allah in an argument with a friend. 

Ibrahim said the court considered the boy’s age as a minor and handed him the prison sentence ‘as a penitence and to make him reform’. 

Kano, in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria, has Islamic sharia courts that function alongside civil courts and introduced sharia law in 2000.  

Death sentences for blasphemy are unusual though  courts have handed down death sentences for adultery, murder and homosexuality.

To date, though, no executions have been carried out.

The most recent death penalty for blasphemy was given in 2015 to nine followers of the Tijani Muslim sect, though these have also yet to take place.    

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