A Muslim group in Nigeria recently condemned the public beheading of an elderly woman who had allegedly blasphemed against Prophet Mohammad. Bridget Agbawe, 74, was reportedly helping her husband at their shop in Kano, northern Nigeria, when the gruesome murder took place. Nigerian police have arrested two suspects, namely Subeiru Abubaka and Dauda Ahmed, since. Speaking to the media last month, Muslim Rights Council condemned the attack, calling it barbaric and demanding greater action against the culprits than mere arrests.
“We dare say this is not good enough. Two people cannot publicly hold a woman down and cut off her head. Available evidence point at the participation of a large number of people,” the council's director, Ishaq Akintola, said in a statement. “Heads must roll on this if we must make it a deterrent. We therefore urge the police to dig deeper in order to prevent future carnage. Enough is enough.”
According to local media reports, Agbawe was accompanying her husband when a Muslim man forcefully entered their shop in Kofar Wambai Market to recite his evening prayers. When Agbawe objected to the man’s actions, he started arguing with her and went on to accuse her of blaspheming against Islam as well as Prophet Mohammad. It was not long before an angry Muslim mob had encircled Agbawe and while she was not able to survive the attack, her husband managed to escape at the last minute.
“At about 4:30 pm, there was a disagreement between the murdered woman and some traders bordering on religion,” said Musa Magaji, spokesperson for Kano Police. “The woman was said to have blasphemed Prophet Mohammed, which did not go down well with the mob.”
The brutal attack sparked protests across Nigeria, which is the largest economy in the African continent.
“It is shocking that such an incident could happen in 2016 Nigeria. It also begs the question how equipped and prepared the security agencies, especially the police, are to respond to spontaneous incidents such as mob action,” said human rights activist Obo Effanga. “How long shall we live with conceding that certain people can commit heinous crimes in the name of culture and religion and we go gentle with them? Why is Kano often so combustible and so easily known for mob actions?”
Clarifying how the Prophet never propagated the killing of innocent people, Muslim Rights Council said jungle justice has no place in Islam.
“Even where blasphemy is committed, the woman should have been taken to the police station instead of being brutally attacked. We charge the Nigerian Police to get to the root of the matter and deal with the culprits according to the law. Nobody has the right to take to take the law into his hands,” read their statement. “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said the noblest of men are those who honor women.”
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with more than 182 million citizens as of 2015. While the country is almost equally divided between Muslims and Christians, the exact ratio is unknown but that does not stop the former from terrorizing the latter. Even though the latest beheading took place in Kano, this is not the only city in the country to have witnessed brutal killings in the name of religion.
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