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Blasphemy Accusations Ignite Violence in Nigeria: Homes and Stores of Christians Torched in Bauchi State

In a distressing incident of religious intolerance in Katanga, a town in Nigeria’s Bauchi state, a mob set ablaze six houses and stores owned by Christians, leaving at least 20 individuals injured. This outbreak of violence was sparked by accusations of blasphemy against Rhoda Jatau, a 40-year-old Christian woman employed in the medical field. Allegedly, Jatau had made blasphemous remarks online, inciting the wrath of Muslim youths who sought retribution. The attack resulted in significant property damage, targeting six residences and seven commercial establishments belonging to the Christian community. Jatau, a resident of the town, narrowly escaped harm by fleeing before the mob could find her.

Reverend Jibrin Nababa Warji, speaking with Morning Star News, highlighted the dire consequences of the attack, noting that many Christians were compelled to leave Katanga for other areas within Bauchi state. A number of those displaced have sought refuge at the Nigeria Air Force Base, indicating the severity of the situation and the fear it has instilled in the community.

This event is part of a concerning trend in Nigeria, where accusations of blasphemy have led to extrajudicial violence and killings, particularly targeting the Christian population. Just last month, Deborah Emmanuel, a Christian college student, was stoned to death following blasphemy charges, an incident that also prompted the burning of three churches after the arrest of two men linked to Deborah’s killing.

Reverend Joseph John Hayab, the vice-president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for Northern Nigeria, condemned the misuse of blasphemy accusations. He pointed out that such charges are often fabricated to justify attacks on Christians, settle personal vendettas, or persecute individuals for rejecting unwanted advances. Hayab’s statement underscores the complex interplay of religious fanaticism, social tensions, and personal grievances that fuel these violent acts.

This episode in Katanga is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by religious minorities in Nigeria, where blasphemy accusations can quickly escalate into violence, displacement, and community division. The increasing frequency of such incidents calls for urgent attention from both local and international communities to address the root causes of religious intolerance and promote peace and reconciliation.

Source article from ECSPE