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Abuja: Muslims who Murder for Blasphemy Are Killing Islam

Banned Islamic Movement in Nigeria say eight members shot dead by police during Abuja procession.

By Leo Igwe

Abuja, Nigeria: Humanists condemn the murder of a man for blasphemy in Abuja. According to a news report, some muslims killed this man, who belonged to a vigilante group, at the Federal Housing Estate following some exchange of words with members of the group. As in the case of Deborah Samuel, a Christian woman killed for blasphemy in Sokoto in May, some Muslims mobilized and beat the alleged blasphemer to death. They later burnt the corpse. There has been no arrest of suspected killers of the alleged blasphemer. Recently, there have been rampant cases of blasphemy allegations in Northern Nigeria. People accused of blasphemy have been threatened, attacked, summarily executed, or imprisoned in Kano, Sokoto, Bornu, and now in Abuja. In most cases, perpetrators of blasphemy-related attacks go scot-free. They are not arrested. If they are arrested, they are not prosecuted. Even when they are arraigned, they are later discharged and acquitted.

In Muslim communities, those who attack or kill suspected blasphemers are treated as heroes, as defenders of the Islamic faith, not criminals. Thus, Muslims have no qualms killing any real or imagined blasphemers.

Muslims attack and murder alleged blasphemers with impunity because the Islamic establishment sanctions and sanctifies these savage acts. Muslim leaders enable these horrific abuses through their actions, inactions and reactions whenever these atrocities are committed. They make pronouncements and declarations to justify blasphemy-related murders. Muslim clerics openly and publicly call for the killing of anybody suspected to have disparaged Islam or its prophet. The Nigerian police and other security agencies have caved into pressure from jihadists and Islamists. They turn a blind eye to these killings because they do not want to offend the Islamic authorities. Many state officers are jihadists or Islamist sympathizers; they support the killing of those who make blasphemous statements. They regard killing a blasphemer as a religious duty that would earn them a place in paradise, not an offense against the state.

It is important to get the Muslim community in Nigeria to understand that blasphemy killings undermine Islam now and in the future. Muslims who kill suspected blasphemers are killing the religion of Islam. These horrific murders are not doing Islam any good. Blasphemy killings negatively affect the perception of the faith of Islam, and the treatment of Muslims across the country and beyond. These killings reinforce the notion that Islam is a violent religion, and that Muslims are intolerant. Blasphemy-related attacks are likely to provoke revenge attacks and retaliations against Muslims, especially in places where Muslims are in the minority.

Since Muslims easily interpret any statements or expressions as blasphemous and resort to attacking and killing those who made such statements, it will become increasingly difficult to freely interact, communicate, and exchange ideas, debate, or discuss with Muslims. It will be difficult for Muslims to preach, or be allowed to publicly present their religion. Muslim leaders should begin the process of reorienting their members and getting them to abandon this violent tendency and inclination to attack or kill any suspected blasphemer.

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Leo Igwe
Leo Igwehttps://www.maravipost.com
Leo Igwe (born July 26, 1970) is a Nigerian human rights advocate and humanist. Igwe is a former Western and Southern African representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and has specialized in campaigning against and documenting the impacts of child witchcraft accusations. He holds a Ph.D from the Bayreuth International School of African Studies at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, having earned a graduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Calabar in Nigeria. Igwe's human rights advocacy has brought him into conflict with high-profile witchcraft believers, such as Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries, because of his criticism of what he describes as their role in the violence and child abandonment that sometimes result from accusations of witchcraft. His human rights fieldwork has led to his arrest on several occasions in Nigeria. Igwe has held leadership roles in the Nigerian Humanist Movement, Atheist Alliance International, and the Center For Inquiry—Nigeria. In 2012, Igwe was appointed as a Research Fellow of the James Randi Educational Foundation, where he continues working toward the goal of responding to what he sees as the deleterious effects of superstition, advancing skepticism throughout Africa and around the world. In 2014, Igwe was chosen as a laureate of the International Academy of Humanism and in 2017 received the Distinguished Services to Humanism Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Igwe was raised in southeastern Nigeria, and describes his household as being strictly Catholic in the midst of a "highly superstitious community," according to an interview in the Gold Coast Bulletin.[1] At age twelve, Igwe entered the seminary, beginning to study for the Catholic priesthood, but later was confused by conflicting beliefs between Christian theology and the beliefs in witches and wizards that are "entrenched in Nigerian society."[1] After a period of research and internal conflict due to doubts about the "odd blend of tribalism and fundamentalist Christianity he believes is stunting African development," a 24-year-old Igwe resigned from the seminary and relocated to Ibadan, Nigeria
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