On May 11, Deborah Samuel, an economics major at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, was accused by fellow students of posting a “blasphemous” statement about Mohammed in a WhatsApp group chat. She was subsequently dragged from the school building, beaten, and burned.
Video footage of the horrific murder allowed police to identify participants, who were immediately arrested. In response, Muslim youth in the capital attacked Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, another church, and a hospital.
The Diocese of Sokoto reported the following details of the incident:
During the protest, groups of youths led by some adults in the background attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Bello Way, destroying church glass windows, those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat and vandalized a community bus parked within the premises.
St. Kevin’s Catholic Church, Gidan Dere, Eastern By-pass, was also attacked and partly burnt; windows of the new hospital complex under construction, in the same premises, were shattered. They were promptly dispersed by a team of mobile policemen before they could do further damage. The hoodlums also attacked the Bakhita Centre located along Aliyu Jodi Road and burnt down a bus within the premises.
The city’s government declared a 24-hour curfew to stem the riots.
Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese called upon government authorities to bring those who murdered Deborah Samuel to justice. “The only obligation that is owed her immediate family, her fellow students, and the school authorities,” the Bishop declared, “is the assurance that those who are guilty of this inhuman act, no matter their motivation, are punished according to the extant laws of our land.”
Insisting on the criminal nature of the killing, the bishop said: “This has nothing to do with religion. Christians have lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors here in Sokoto over the years. This matter must be treated as a criminal act and the law must take its cause.”
The bishop also called upon the faithful to pray for the soul of Deborah Samuel, writing: “Meanwhile, I wish to call on all Christians in Sokoto and around to remain calm and to please pray for the repose of the soul of Ms. Deborah. It is the first obligation we owe her. May God grant her eternal rest and console her immediate family.”
Please SIGN this petition calling on Hong Kong leader John Lee to cease all intimidation of Cardinal Joseph Zen following his arrest for supporting pro-democracy demonstrators.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, was arrested by the pro-China security police in Hong Kong in a major escalation of intimidation against pro-freedom activists in the region.
Zen was one of four people arrested on May 11th on suspicion of "colluding with foreign forces", with the 90-year-old's detention marking the first high-profile move by Hong Kong's new Chief Executive, John Lee.
The Hong Kong security police targeted Zen as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which provided “legal, medical, psychological and emergency financial assistance” to those involved in the 2019 protests against the government’s Extradition Law Amendment Bill, which allows prisoners to be transferred to China for trial.
Cardinal Zen has since been released, but his passport was confiscated to prevent him leaving Hong Kong.
The arrest was made possible under the terms of Hong Kong’s draconian national security law, passed in 2020, which Zen warned would be used to silence the Church.
The outspoken cardinal previously confessed that he was prepared to go to prison under the terms of the new law, saying, “If right and proper words were considered against their law, I will endure all the suing, trials, and arrests.”
Cardinal Zen is a hero to Hong Kongers, and needs the world to stand with him today.
SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition calling on Hong Kong leader John Lee to cease all intimidation of Cardinal Zen today.
The people of Hong Kong, including Cardinal Zen, have lived under the shadow of Beijing since 1997, and know personally how oppressive Chinese Communist Party rule is.
This arrest of a Catholic cardinal by communist authorities in Hong Kong is a stark reminder of the harsh realities of life for all citizens of the region.
Cardinal Zen's plight demands the attention of all people of good-will, as his spirit of resistance in the face of tyranny continues to inspire new generations of Hong Kongers to defy the horrors of communist rule.
Please stand with Cardinal Zen today - SIGN and SHARE this petition calling for an end to the intimidatory tactics of the Chinese Communist Party's proxy leaders in Hong Kong.
The Pontifical Foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), said in a statement on the events that it is shocked by the “terrible murder,” underscoring the long train of violence that has increasingly destabilized Nigeria.
“ACN decries this most recent act of violence,” executive president Thomas Heine-Geldern said. “The levels of extremism and violence reached in Nigeria over the last few years are absolutely appalling. Hardly a week goes by without news of kidnappings and dozens of deaths, but this barbaric act leaves us speechless.”
In its statement, ACN also deplored the increasingly widespread adoption of Islamic Shariah law in northern Nigeria.
“Since 1999, twelve states in northern Nigeria have adopted Shariah-based legal codes which operate in parallel with secular courts. Many of these Shariah laws include heavy penalties for blasphemy, including death,” noted ACN.
“However, at least Shariah guarantees a form of due process, without resorting to lynching and summary execution, as happened with this most recent case in Sokoto, which is not unprecedented.”