Yemenis outraged after imam issues fatwa to kill young 'magician'

Yemenis outraged after imam issues fatwa to kill young 'magician'
An imam in Yemen's Aden city called for the killing of a young trickster magician, prompting backlash that saw locals rally in support of Mohammed Tika.
2 min read
18 July, 2020
Tika regularly participates in shows in Aden [Twitter]
Aden residents rallied in support of a young, local trickster magician in the country's temporary capital city this week after an imam at a mosque issued an alleged religious ruling for his killing.

In a social media campaign that has picked up speed in just two days, Yemenis expressed solidarity with Mohammed Abdul Karim, known by his stage name Mohammed Tika, condemning a Friday sermon that called for his killing over his talent.

The campaign was launched after the imam of the Othman bin Affan mosque in the coastal city of Aden incited violence against Tika, including making permissible his killing, after the young magician was hired to do a magic show at the opening of a new mall.

"Everyone has declared their solidarity with the young man, Mohammed the magician, but this is not enough. We are facing a dangerous precedent and this is why we hold the Southern Transitional Council [STC], judicial authorities and all those concerned in Aden, accountable for the life of this Adeni youth," Yemeni rights activist Anis Abdulla wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.

"The fatwa [religious edict] issued by the preacher at the Othman bin Affan mosque in Al-Kathiri is a dangerous precedent that targets the youth of Aden and society as a whole," Abdulla added.

Tika, who has gained prominence for his quick and swift hand tricks, first began his journey at the age of seven after picking up the skill from his father.

In an interview with Aden Alghad, Tika revealed he was first hired to publicly share his talents during a graduation ceremony in 2011, where more than 500 people watched in awe.

Read also: One ring to rule them all: Libya's Haftar ‘uses black magic’ to hypnotise his soldiers

"I don't think the art I offer contradicts our society because everyone enjoys these tricks," the young magician told the local platform.

"People know these are simply tricks of the hand and it even makes me happy to see people discover the secrets of the trick.

"Yes, we can describe them as 'magic' tricks but we try to avoid that word because unfortunately some people will believe it’s sorcery. This is an art and a skill and has nothing to do with magic at all," he added.

Sorcery, black magic and witchcraft are forbidden in Islam and those deemed to be involved in using "dark arts" across the Arab world risk severe punishment.

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