Blasphemy/Jihad Didn’t Kill Deborah. Refusing to Date Did


A Christian student stoned to death at a college in northwest Nigeria on Thursday (May 12) was not killed because she blasphemed the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) as widely reported, she was killed because she had refused to date a Muslim guy who wooed her.

Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu, a 200-level student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, the capital of Sokoto state, was beaten, stoned to death and her body set on fire, area residents said; a video showing the attack reportedly appeared on social media on Thursday (May 12). In the video, an unidentified man reportedly rages in the Hausa language that he killed Yakubu and set her body on fire.

Her killer may have used religion as a facade to carry out his anger against her because killing in northern Nigeria in the name of fighting for Islam (when they are not) is commonplace. Jihad is one of the most abused religious concepts in the world.

Renowned French sociologist, Olivier Roy, argues that while terrorism and jihadism are familiar phenomena, the deliberate pursuit of death has produced a new kind of radical violence. In other words, we’re facing not a radicalization of Islam, but the Islamization of radicalism.

Roy said further: “Jihad and Death is a concise dissection of the highly sophisticated narrative mobilised by extremists: the myth of the Caliphate recast into a modern story of heroism and nihilism. This very contemporary aesthetic of violence is less rooted in the history of Islamic thought than it is entrenched in a youth culture that has turned global and violent”.

Roy’s argument substantiates the narrative around Deborah’s death: someone had willfully manipulated Jihad to kill an innocent girl.

Yakubu, was a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in her native Tungan Magajiya town, Rijau County in Niger state. David Ayuba Azzaman, senior pastor at The King Worship Chapel and Ministries, Inc. in Kaduna city confirmed that was falsely accused of blaspheming the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) by a Muslim whose advances she had refused.

Pastor Azzaman said he received information about the killing from Christians at the college in Sokoto.

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Pastor Azzaman told Morning Star News that: “Deborah Emmanuel was complaining in a class WhatsApp group chat, kicking against how they discriminate against Christians in the school in areas of assignments and tests in favor of the Muslims. This is what they used as a yardstick to say she insulted Muhammad. She didn’t insult Prophet Muhammad, but it was discovered that she turned down a Muslim proposal to date her. That led to him accusing her of insulting Prophet Muhammad”.

Local media reported that Yakubu said in the WhatsApp chat group that she had passed exams thanks to Christ, and when she was pressured to retract the statement and apologize, she declined. She urged fellow group members to refrain from discussing religion. Deborah was killed for standing for Christ, not for desecrating Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W).

Area residents told Morning Star News in text messages that a Muslim mob dragged Yakubu from her hostel in the morning, stoned her to death, and burned her corpse.

Area resident James Shingumi said: “This morning, a Christian female student was stoned to death and burned by some Muslim students who accused her of insulting Muhammad”.

The Rev. Kelvin Ugwu, a Roman Catholic priest, said in a statement that he had viewed a video of the assault.

Two students have been arrested in connection with the killing, according to the Sokoto State Police Command. Police spokesperson Ssnusi Abubakar said all those connected to the crime would be arrested.

Sokoto state’s information commissioner, Isah Bajini Galadanci, confirmed the killing, saying that as a proactive measure against escalation, officials had ordered the closure of the institution.

Governor. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has directed the ministry of higher education and relevant security agencies to investigate.

The commissioner said: “Meanwhile, Gov. Aminu Waziti Tambuwal has called on the people of the state to remain calm and maintain peace as the government would take appropriate actions on the findings of the investigations by the relevant authority”.

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, the Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, called on Christians to remain calm and for authorities to arrest and prosecute the killers.

Reverend Kukah said in a press statement: “The only obligation that is owed her immediate family, her fellow students, and the school authorities is the assurance that those who are guilty of this inhuman act, no matter their motivation, are punished according to the extant laws of our land. This has nothing to do with religion. Christians have lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors here in Sokoto over the years. This matter must be treated as a criminal act, and the law must take its cause”.

Leaders of the Hausa Christian Foundation (HACFO), a ministry among the Hausa people of northern Nigeria, noted that Yakubu was the leader of the campus Christian fellowship’s female students.

HACFO said in a press statement that: “Trouble started from an argument on their departmental WhatsApp group, which led to the gruesome murder. Pray for her family and the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS), and ask God to intervene in the security of other lives of Christians on the campus and in the city, which is the Islamic headquarters of Nigeria where the Sultan is based”.

The leader of Muslims in Nigeria, the Sultan of Sokoto, issued a statement condemning the killing.

The sultan said through the secretary of the Sokoto Sultanate Council, Sa’idu Muhammadu Maccido: “The Sultanate Council has learned with dismay the unfortunate happenings at the Shehu Shagari College of Education (SSCOE), Sokoto, that led to the loss of life of a female student of the institution. The Sultanate Council condemned the incident in its totality and has urged the security agencies to bring perpetrators of the unjustifiable incident to justice. The Sultanate Council has urged all to remain calm and ensure peaceful co-existence among all people of the state and nation”.

There was pandemonium two days ago in Sokoto as protesters took to the streets demanding the release of two suspects detained for the killing of the late Miss Yakubu.

The protesters were chanting “Allahu Akbar” meaning “God is Great” in Arabic, also faulting what they described as the sympathy trailing the murder of Deborah, who was a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto.

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