A musician in Nigeria’s northern state of Kano has been sentenced to death by hanging for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad.
An upper Sharia court in the Hausawa Filin Hockey area of the state said Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, 22, was guilty of committing blasphemy for a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March.
Sharif-Aminu did not deny the charges. The singer who is currently in detention had gone into hiding after he composed the song.
Protesters had burnt down his family home and gathered outside the headquarters of the Islamic police, known as the Hisbah, demanding action against him.
Critics said the song was blasphemous as it praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood to the extent it elevated him above the Prophet Muhammad.
Judge Khadi Aliyu Muhammad Kani said he could appeal against the verdict.
States across Muslim-majority northern Nigeria use both secular law and Sharia law, which does not apply to non-Muslims.
The leader of the protesters that called for the musician’s arrest in March, Idris Ibrahim, said that the judgment will serve as a warning to others “contemplating toeing Yahaya’s path” “When I heard about the judgment I was so happy because it showed our protest wasn’t in vain.
“This [judgment] will serve as a deterrent to others who feel they could insult our religion or prophet and go scot-free,” he said.
An Islamic gospel musician, he is not well-known in northern Nigeria and his songs were not popular outside his Tjjaniya sect, who have many such musicians within their ranks.
The last time a Nigerian Sharia court passed a death sentence was in 2016 when Abdulazeez Inyass, was sentenced to death for blaspheming against Islam during after a secret trial in Kano.
Only one of the death sentences passed by Nigeria’s Sharia courts has been carried out since they were reintroduced in 1999.