One feared killed in Kano religious crisis; church, shops destroyed

Normalcy has returned to the town.

At least one person may have been killed in a religious violence in Bichi town of Kano State, Thursday. A church was burnt and several shops believed to belong to Igbo traders were also destroyed in the violence.

There are however conflicting reports as to the cause of the violence.

A resident of Bichi, Muntari Ahmadu, told PREMIUM TIMES that a disagreement over a non Muslim’s right to wear a shirt with an Arabic inscription, believed to be blasphemous to Prophet Muhammed, sparked the religious riot.

The riots, which were quickly quelled by police, started at about noon on Thursday.

Mr. Ahmadu said a group of Muslim young adults mobbed an Igbo Christian boy to death for wearing a shirt with Arabic inscriptions that the Muslims believed to be blasphemous. He said the Muslim group accosted the victim on the street and demanded that he pull off and hand over the blasphemous shirt.

The boy refused; arguments followed and the group lynched the victim.

His lynching drew a crowd of other young Muslim adults in the area who subsequently staged a riot destroying a church and some shops belonging to the Igbo traders within the community.

The Kano State Police Commissioner, Ibrahim Idris, gave a slightly different account of the incident.

He said the riot was a case of “misinformation.”

“Rumours went round that someone blasphemed the Prophet and there was a breakdown of law and order,” Mr. Idris said.

According to the police commissioner, a Christian tailor mispronounced the name of a dress while chatting with his Muslim neighbours in Hausa, changing the likely meaning to ‘the Prophet has come to the market.”

He denied that anyone was killed.

The Associated Press, AP, however reported that at least four people died from the attack.

“Four Igbos were killed in the attacks. One of them was thrown into a ditch near my house,” one resident told AP.

Another resident told AP that he saw four dead bodies “hacked with machetes by the rioters”.

Normalcy has since returned to the town but movement of motorcycles remain suspended, by police order, Thursday night.

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