Nigerian Cleric Sentenced To Death For Blasphemy

Nigerian Cleric Sentenced To Death For Blasphemy

A Nigerian cleric has been sentenced to death by hanging for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in the northern city of Kano by an Islamic court.

Mr Nyass is a preacher at a local faction of the Tijaniya sect, founded in Senegal by Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, which has a large following across West Africa.

He was reported to have said that "Niasse was bigger than Prophet Muhammad", leading to violent protests in the city.

Abdul Nyass was convicted after a trial held in secret to avoid protests. Five of his followers had earlier been sentenced to death last year.

These are the first death sentences for blasphemy handed down by a Nigerian Sharia court - the sentence has been delivered for other offences such as adultery but none has been carried out.

Kano has a predominately Muslim population and Islamic courts operate alongside secular courts. Several states in northern Nigeria have introduced Sharia after the country returned to civilian rule in 1999.

The Sufi sect of Tijaniya was founded in Algeria in 1784 by Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tijani. It spread all over the world, with large following in North and West Africa. It also has followers in South Africa, Indonesia and other parts of the world.

There are other Sufi sects in Islam but Tijaniya is the largest. They have three main daily practices: Asking the forgiveness of God; sending prayers to the Prophet Muhammad and affirming the Oneness of Allah.

Senegalese-born Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse was credited with reviving the sect in the 20th Century. People travel from across the continent to visit his shrine.

 

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