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Muslim Extremists Again Attack Home in Nigeria

Emboldened by sharia, militants assault sister of student expelled for ‘blasphemy.’

by Obed Minchakpu

JOS, Nigeria , March 6 (Compass) – Five years after the introduction of the sharia penal code in the northern state of Gombe, Islamic extremists have misused it to accuse a Christian of blasphemy and punish her by assaulting her sister.

Before the recent eruption of anger over Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, Muslim militants last Christmas Eve invaded the family home of a Christian student and assaulted her 26-year-old sister. The student, Hannatu Haruna Alkali, had been expelled from a university in Bauchi for allegedly blaspheming the prophet of Islam.

Alkali said five extremists broke into the family home in Gombe town searching for her but, finding only her older sister Jemima, raped and beat her.

“Five Muslim men came and sent a boy into our house to inquire whether my dad was at home,” Alkali said. “Unfortunately, my elder sister, Jemima, was the only one in the house and she said our dad was not at home.”

With this information, the Muslim militants decided to invade, Alkali said – her father had repelled a previous attack in January 2005. Four masked militants and one with uncovered head knocked on the door and forced their way in after Alkali’s sister answered it.

Alkali had left the family home the previous day to visit another sister’s house, also in Gombe town. Their parents had left that morning for their mother’s home village, Tanlang, in Gombe state.

“They pushed Jemima into the house and closed the door,” Alkali said. The five Muslim militants asked about Alkali’s whereabouts, and her sister told them she was not in town.

The Muslim militants told Jemima that they had gone to Jos looking for Alkali and had learned she was back in Gombe. But her sister repeated that she was not in Gombe.

“They searched everywhere in the house, and when they could not see me, four of them said they should kill Jemima since they could not find me and forget about looking for me,” Alkali said. “One of them, however, was against that, and so they were arguing among themselves in the presence of my sister.”

Injected with Unknown Substance

Alkali tearfully recalled that when one of the militants persisted in insisting that the extremists not kill her sister, the remaining four assaulted her. “She was defiled by them, beaten up, and then tied with a rope,” Alkali said.

They also injected her sister three times with an unknown substance, leaving her near death. “She was left in that state until a neighbor of ours, who is a policeman by the name of Lucky, heard the moaning of my sister,” she said. “He rushed into the house and saw her in the state that she was left in by the Muslim men.”

The officer took a knife from the kitchen and untied her, she said, and called her brother Alex, who rushed home. The neighbor quickly reported the matter to the police in Gombe town, and officers took her to the Federal Medical Centre there.

Police are still investigating the incident, but two months after the attack they have made no arrest. Meanwhile, the attack has forced Alkali into hiding again.

“I had to leave Gombe immediately, because my parents did not want me to remain in the town,” she said. “I am shocked by the defilement of my sister. I have not been myself since this incident.”

Alkali said the prayers and support of Christians across the world have kept her family protected spiritually. In addition, she says, “the Lord has not abandoned us.”

Alkali was expelled from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi in December 2004, along with two of her Christian colleagues, Abraham Adamu Misal and Habakkuk Solomon. They were accused of blasphemy of Muhammad when they went out to share the gospel with fellow Muslim students.

Besides the expulsion, the Christian students had a death sentence passed on them by the Muslim militants.

When the Islamic extremists attacked the home in January 2005, Alkali’s mother, Juliana Alkali, was wounded. The expelled student’s father, Haruna Alkali, a former military officer, disarmed the militants but they escaped.