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Nigerian Christian student lynched over blasphemy charges

Motor bike riders drive past a city gate in ancient Sokoto in northwest Nigeria in September 2021. AFP via Getty Images/Photo by Pius Utomi Ekpei, file

Nigerian Christian student lynched over blasphemy charges

A mob of mostly students Thursday stoned Deborah Samuel, a second-year student at a public college in Nigeria’s Sokoto state, after accusing her of blaspheming the prophet Muhammad. The school’s security officers tried to shelter her in a security room, but the mob dragged her out and beat her with planks before dumping tires on her and setting her ablaze. Sokoto is one of Nigeria’s northern states that also enforce Shariah, or Islamic law.

What prompted the attack? On a shared WhatsApp group with other students, Samuel had sent a voice note criticizing an earlier pro-Islamic message. She asked her schoolmates instead to share posts about their tests and assignments, but members of the group shared the recording on other platforms and accused her of making derogatory comments. Authorities shut down the school, the Shehu Shagari College of Education, and they detained two suspects and launched an investigation. Bishop Matthew Kukah, the Catholic bishop of Sokoto state, and others have condemned the killing. Such lynchings have occurred before in Nigeria, though they are relatively uncommon. Last year, a mob in Bauchi state in the northeast burned a man to death after accusing him of insulting Muhammad. In 2016, a Muslim mob killed a 74-year-old Christian trader in nearby Kano state over similar accusations.

Dig deeper: Listen to my report on The World and Everything in It podcast on Nigeria and other religious freedom offenders highlighted in this year’s persecution report.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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