Sharia Law - Nigerian Thief Burned Alive

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 15:20 PM EDT, 4 May 2012

South African Man Killed by Necklacing, Photo by SofoloPOTISKUM, Nigeria – Potiskum is a city 575 kilometers (350 miles) northeast of Nigeria's central capital, Abuja. It is located in Yobe state which is the epicenter of the radical Islamic group, Boko Haram's reign of terror.

The group has perpetrated over 480 killings since the beginning of the year as they seek to bring Northern Nigeria and then the rest of the country under Sharia law.

Sharia law is one of the harshest interpretations of the Quran and results in the brutalization of many people for crimes which would be considered misdemeanors in the West.

When I was a child living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I can vividly recall when a young boy was nearly beaten to death for stealing some oranges and silverware from one of the homes in the neighborhood.

We lived on the university campus in an affluent neighborhood, and one day as I was returning home from school I approached an angry mob of people kicking and hitting a young boy who was screaming for mercy.  I was so frightened, I ran home to get my mother who along with my uncle called the police and then returned with me to the scene.

The violence had escalated during my brief absence, but I was relieved when the police arrived. What happened next has remained with me nearly forty years later. The policemen asked the assembled crowd which included the housekeepers, cooks, and gardeners of our neighbors, what had occurred.

Some people shouted in Swahili, others in broken English, explaining that the young boy had stolen some oranges and silverware from one of the houses. On the ground before the accused thief lay the silverware lay scattered about and some oranges.

As a child, the only thing I focused on were the oranges and I thought that he must have been terribly hungry to have stolen them. After the crowd explained the situation, I was shocked and appalled to see one of the policeman reach to his belt. He first removed some handcuffs which he put on the young boy and I thought that was the end of it.

But to my shock and dismay, the policeman then removed his belt and began to beat the boy mercilessly. I screamed, cried and pleaded for them to stop as the boy fell to the ground and curled up in a fetal position to protect his body. The belt buckle cut open one of his eyes just as my uncle tried unsuccessfully to intervene and calm the situation.

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Published: 4 May 2012 (Page 2 of 2)

It was to no avail so my mother quickly grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the scene back toward our house.  I was crying and screaming that they were killing him, but my mother’s only concern at that time was to protect me from further psychological damage from witnessing such an abhorrent act. I never knew what happened to the boy, but my mother explained to me that under Islamic law thieves usually had their hands cut off.

So today’s story of the Nigerian thief being beaten and burned alive was viscerally reminiscent of that day long ago in East Africa. There can be no justification for the cruelty and inhumanity of what occurred to the boy from my childhood, nor the Nigerian man in the cattle market. Though the differences are stark, since the boy seemed to be hungry, whereas the Nigerian thief was definitely guilty of prior bad acts.

The thieves accosted sellers at a cattle market, shooting into the crowd with the intent of driving away the merchants and stealing their cattle and money. Cattle in Nigeria, as in other parts of Africa, are an extremely valuable commodity. They provide meat, milk, dung, and hides.

Herdsmen are often attacked by marauding thieves as they take their stock to market. If they are fortunate enough to make it to market without incident, their return journey can be just as dangerous as they carry hundreds of Naira in cash from the proceeds of their sales.

During the altercation in the market and the ensuing gun fire, at least 34 people were killed. As the thieves made their retreat, one of the gunmen was unable to escape and was left to suffer the full wrath of the enraged crowd. As is the custom in the treatment of thieves in many parts of Africa, and as witnessed by me, they began to beat the man mercilessly, then set him on fire.

This retaliation spawned more violence as the thieves returned later that night, after the market closed, and hacked cattle to death with machetes, set stalls, cars and holding pens on fire, leaving only charred ground in their wake.

A very graphic video of a crowd beating and burning another Nigerian man to death for stealing can be viewed at the link below. Normally, we embed videos to provide a richer experience and to enhance our reader's understanding of the subject matter.  However, in this case, the video is so disturbing that we are posting this link instead. (View Video Here)

Although, the primary reason stated for the death of the man in the video has been attributed to the fact that he was Gay, Paul Canning of LGBT Asylum has refuted this claim, stating “this man is not gay, but was accused of being a thief.

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Africa's Christians Under Attack

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:05 PM EDT, 30 April 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya - In recent months, across Africa, Christian sects have been under attack from extremist. On Sunday, 29 April 2012, a church in Ngara was bombed leaving one person confirmed dead and 16 others seriously injured.

Although the US embassy warned of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks in the country, specific targets were not identified. The lone attacker is said to have entered God’s House of Miracles International Church with other worshipers, at which point he hurled a grenade toward the front pews before hastily retreating toward the exit.

Police immediately launched an investigation while many of the victims were taken to be treated at the Guru Nanak and Kenyatta National hospitals. Unlike the conflict between radical Islamists and Christians in northern Nigeria, the terrorist’s attacks in Kenya are primarily a reaction to Kenya’s incursion into Somalia in October 2011 when troops were dispatched to fight al-Shabab fighter.

Terrorist attacks like the Sunday church bombings in Kenya and Nigeria seem to be the favored method of expressing dissatisfaction with the government. Prior to the Ngara bombing, there was a grenade attack on a church service in Mtwapa, Mombasa that left one person dead and ten others seriously injured.

From East Africa to West Africa, the incidence of sectarian violence is escalating. Previously, we reported on the rising conflict between Christians and extremist Islamic factions in northern Nigeria’s Kano State. The radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram has in recent months unleashed bloody attacks on Christians and other non-Islamic sects as they seek to impose Sharia law in Nigeria.

Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, is widely believed to be Boko Haram's base of operations and has the highest number of incidents of violence against Christians, police, and the military. Thus, the Monday 30 April 2012, Kano church attack by Boko Haram, a day after the Nairobi bombing was surprising.

The Nigerian attack was carried out by gunmen on motorcycles who hurled small homemade bombs into a university lecture hall where church services were being conducted. A total of 19 people were injured or killed in Boko Haram attacks on Christians in Maiduguri and Kano on both Sunday and Monday.

According to an official presidential statement, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the murderous terrorist attack on the Bayero University Campus in Kano yesterday and the "brutal killing of innocent worshipers by vicious assailants." However, many Nigerians believe that Goodluck has not been forceful enough in his efforts to eradicate Boko Haram and restore peace in the North.

The Vatican has also condemned the incidents. “The new terrorist attacks in Kenya and Nigeria at Christian celebrations are horrible and despicable acts,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

“We must be close to victims and communities that suffer just as they are peacefully celebrating a faith that wants love and peace for all,” he said. “We must encourage the whole population.... not to give in to the temptation to fall into the vicious circle of homicidal hatred,” he added. (Source: Independent Catholic News)