Two churches set ablaze in northwestern Nigeria
By Rafiu Ajakaye, Monday, March 31, 2014
LAGOS – Two churches were set ablaze by angry Muslim youths in Nigeria's northwestern state of Katsina on Monday in response to an alleged blasphemous comment on Islam's Prophet.
"There are contradictory accounts," Ismail Tafida, a resident, told Anadolu Agency.
He said that the churches in the Funtua district were reportedly set ablaze over a "blasphemous" question about the Prophet Muhammad.
"The other narrative is that the crisis began when students at a school named Ideal School, a private secondary school in the community, reported to youth outside the school that a teacher was teaching some lesson that were blasphemous in Islam," he added.
"I am at pains to make sense of the whole scenario that could warrant anyone burning down church," Tafida said.
Another witness, Mustafa Tanimu, said the angry youths had tried to set ablaze the secondary school but were repelled by soldiers who had already arrived at the scene.
"But they had already torched the two churches especially St. Theresa in Funtua," he said. "They vandalized properties and looted shops too."
Tanimu said the teacher believed to have made the purported blasphemous comment is a fresh university graduate on the mandatory National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), a scheme established by the Nigerian government to foster national integration.
Other witnesses spoke of indiscriminate attacks on people and businesses by the rampaging youths, a phenomena feature in some parts of Nigeria's north during crises.
Movement has been restricted and security forces have been deployed in Funtua, accordance to police spokesman Aminu Abubakar.
The spokesman, however, said that calm has been restored to the area.
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