Nigerian singer accused of blasphemy freed on bail

A singer who was arrested last week in Nigeria’s northern state of Kano after allegations of blasphemy against Islam has been released on bail.

Ahmad Abdul was detained by the police after the censorship board, an arm of the religious institution that governs the majority Muslim state, received several complaints.

In a song titled Barhama – gwaska (“Barhama – the man of extraordinary qualities”), the 35-year-old had praised a figure known as Barhama, and attributed qualities to him to such an extent that some Muslims in Kano perceived it as blasphemous.

Barhama is slang for “Ibrahim” in the Hausa languageIbrahim Nyass is the Senegalese founder of Tijjaniya, a Sufi sect.

He is a popular figure in Kano and the musicians sing praise songs to him, and numerous homes and buildings displays his picture.

Nigeria’s censorship board said they called for Mr Abdul’s arrest to forestall violent reactions from residents.

While in detention, Mr Abdul told the police he did not realise that the song violated Islamic teachings.

He apologised to the Muslim community and the state government.

Last year, a Sharia court in Kano found another singer, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to death for a song deemed offensive to the religion.

But a higher court quashed the death sentence and freed the singer in January this year.

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