‘Treason for the state and blasphemy for the church”

There is a subsisting debate over the sentence of an upper area court in Kano which found a singer, Yahaya Sharif, guilty of defaming the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) which got the attention of so many Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide on New Media, Malam Bashir Ahmad, giving their opinions for or against the judgment/sentence. While in the University of Lagos, a professor of law teaching us history of law in criminology opined that law makers i.e. the ruling class, created the crime of treason to protect their crowns and created the crime of blasphemy to protect “the church” ( ie religion). From that time, the English law which Prof. basically based his argument on has been punishing for treason till date and until recently, that legal system had practically punished blasphemy.
My preliminary thought and little knowledge has shown me that there’s no law in the entire world that has no remote or direct link with  religious or supernatural beliefs which are being protected by the state to bring about security and balance in the system because of the respect and attachment people have for their religious beliefs. Well, I stand to be corrected and I may extend my research.
But before then, are we not same people that seek for people accused of crimes such as blasphemy shouldn’t be subjected to mob action and should be made to go through trial in a court of law? Now, someone has been found guilty and sentenced! What’s the fumes about?

Even in Nigeria we still punish treason. So, why do you not attack the law that punishes someone for merely abusing the president and attack the law that punishes for abusing people’s belief; an act which may cause more harm to people’s feelings with enormous consequences to peace and stability?

About two years ago I have written at least two articles: one was published by Daily Trust Newspaper on the 24th of July, 2018 title “Law School: On Blasphemy and Islam” {https://dailytrust.com/law-school-on-blasphemy-and-islam-262340] where I talked on the importance of respecting each other’s faith for a peaceful coexistence; and the second titled “Secondly, Law School: On Blasphemy and Islam(2)” where I emphasis on the need for people to avoid taking the law into their hands no matter the provocation, published by thenigerialawyer.com and [http://www.nigeriabar.com/2018/07/secondly-law-school-on-blasphemy-and-islam-2-by-hussaini-hussaini#.XzWLb5fPzIU]. .
The love for religion and susceptibility to be pained when it is derogated is not the monopoly of any religion or people. For example, on the 9th of June, 2017, a comedian going by the name and handle @klintoncod on Instagram posted a movie video clip of a person depicting Jesus Christ editing the voice to seem the person depicting Jesus was commenting on a song by Tekno (a Nigerian artist), saying to the effect that since Tekno says his girl, Erima, is his “night and day”, “wetin me, Jesus, be to wuna sef?”
That video has generated a lot of heat from our well educated Christian brothers who saw it as a mockery of Jesus Christ and blasphemy. One of the commentators, Mr. Abiodun Falade (@abiodun.falade) who describes himself as a “medical doctor”, “entrepreneur”, “software developer” and a “workaholic” shows his vehement sadness over the video thus:
“So Jesus is now your subject of ridicule. Just wait and see how God will ridicule your life”. He was one amongst some Christians that didn’t take that as a joke at all despite the fact that other Christians found the video funny. In fact, @klintoncod has been a comedian that sometimes mimics the church and almost every time he does that he is visited by insults and accusation of blasphemy. I will never support a disrespect for any religion no matter what it members chose to worship because people are generally pained when someone or something they hold dear is attacked or derogated and it may lead to hostilities. This may be the reason Allah in the holy Quran says we should not abuse those who worship gods other than Him so that they will not abuse Him out of strife. See Qur’an 6:108. It is the dangers and the evil consequence of blasphemy that probably makes the Bible to also provide a capital punishment for it in
Leviticus : 24 : 16 as follows:

“And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.”

On a final note, I am more interested in hoping that the judgment has satisfied all requirements for it to be upheld by our appellate courts than the argument whether or not an act which is capable of putting the lives of Nigerians in jeopardy is to be punished or not.

Hussaini, legal practitioner based in Abuja, writes via [email protected] or 07032859644.

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