The contest for strict enforcement of Shariah in Northern Nigeria

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Nine individuals have been sentenced to death in Kano, Nigeria by the Kano State Hisbah Board, a part of the city’s police force. The suspects were accused of claiming Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, the founder of the Tijaniya sect of Islam, was superior in comparison to the Prophet Muhammad. This is the first instance in Nigeria that a death sentence has been ordered in relation to blasphemy, however, in other cases in which a death sentence has been ordered it has never been carried out.

Kano was one of the first Nigerian states to adopt Shariah law into practice in the early 2000’s. When it was first brought into practice, Shariah advocates hoped the new law system would bring peace to Kano, a region that has seen extensive religious unrest in the past. Since the adoption of Shariah law, the police forces of the Kano State Hisbah Board have appeared in various headlines. These instances include arresting street beggars, destroying hundreds of thousands of bottles of alcohol, and overseeing mass weddings.

When Kano was transitioning to a Shariah state, officials assured non-Muslims in the area that Sharia law would not apply to them. Kano’s Shariah status is the epitome of a society that Boko Haram seeks to establish throughout Nigeria and beyond. However, Boko does not approve of those who do not adhere to the Sharia law. In recent years, Boko Haram has carried out various attacks in Nigeria, including a bombing at a mosque that left hundreds dead.

Politics in Northern Nigeria tend to be a question of who can enforce the strictest version of Shariah. This theme was once heavily pushed by Muhammadu Buhari, former governor of North Eastern State, who has since gone through a political makeover to appear much more moderate leading up to the recent presidential election election.

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