Nigerian Singer Sentenced To Death For Blasphemy

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.

Mr Sharif-Aminu did not deny the charges.

Judge Khadi Aliyu Muhammad Kani said he could appeal against the verdict.

The singer who is currently in detention had gone into hiding after he composed the song.

Protestors had burnt down his family home and gathered outside the headquarters of the Islamic police, known as the Hisbah, demanding action against him.

Death sentences are rare in northern Nigeria, where Sharia law is implemented alongside secular law in most states, says the BBC's Mansur Abubakar in Kano.

Critics said the song was blasphemous as it praised an imam to the extent it elevated him above the Prophet Muhammad.

'Judgement will serve as a deterrent to others'

The leader of the protesters that called for the musician's arrest in March, Idris Ibrahim, told the BBC that the judgement 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 [judgement] will serve as a deterrent to others who feel they could insult our religion or prophet and go scot-free," he said. 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.

The sentence has however not been carried out as a death sentence in Nigeria requires the sign-off of the state governor.

Mr. Inyass is still in detention.