Friday, November 23, 2012

Nigerian Muslims riot violently over 'blasphemy' rumors, 4 Christians killed

(BBC) A rumour that a Christian man blasphemed against Islam has sparked a riot in the northern Nigeria town of Bichi, police have said.

Residents said four people were killed and shops were looted.

The riot came on the day the incoming head of the Anglican Church, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, launched an initiative to promote religious tolerance in Nigeria.

Religious clashes have claimed thousands of lives in Nigeria since military rule ended in 1999.

The militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, has also been waging an insurgency since 2009 to impose strict Sharia across Nigeria, which is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and a Christian and animist south.

'Learning about religions'

Nigeria's Kano state police chief Ibrahim Idris said "misinformation" had triggered the riot, AFP news agency reports.

"Rumours went round that someone blasphemed the Prophet [Muhammad] and there was a breakdown of law and order," he is quoted as saying.

The BBC's Yusuf Ibrahim Yakasai in Kano, the main city in northern Nigeria, says that a heavy contingent of soldiers and policemen have been deployed to Bichi to restore order.