Nigeria: Christian woman on trial for blaspheming Islam in WhatsApp message

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A Christian woman who was imprisoned without bail for blaspheming Islam in a WhatsApp message has gone on trial in Nigeria’s Bauchi state, Morning Star News (MSN) reported on October 5.

A member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) church community in Warji County, Mrs. Rhoda Ya’u Jatau was arrested on May 20 after a complaint by Muslim extremists to Security agents from the Department of State Services, Nigeria’s secret police MSN reports. Mrs. Jatau had forwarded a Watts App message she received which condemned the May 12 brutal murder by Muslim extremists of Christian university student Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu. Having seen the forwarded message, Muslims said Mrs. Jatau had insulted Islam and committed blasphemy.

Mrs. Jatau was arrested and taken into custody after Muslim mobs reportedly threatened to kill her, MSN reports. Mrs. Jatau was charged with violating Sections 114,210 of the Penal Code Law and Section 24 subsection 1b(i) of the Cybercrime Prohibition Prevention Act 2015 and was denied bail.

“Ever since her arrest, Mrs. Jatau has been detained in prison over false accusations of blasphemy,” charged with “inciting public disturbance, exciting contempt of religious creed and cyber-stalking,” Jatau’s attorney, Joshua Nasara, in a press statement. Bail applications on Jatau’s behalf were “frustrated and denied by government authorities and leaders of Islamic groups in the state,” Nasara said.

In a statement to MSN, the Rev. Ishaku Dano of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Warji County said the charges against Mrs. Jatau are false. “Information we obtained from Mrs. Jatau shows that the WhatsApp message she received and shared in her group was for caution against violence and against the use of derogatory language in addressing other people’s faith, but that was not the interpretation by the Muslims,” Pastor Dano said.

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