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Man Sentenced to Execution for ‘Blasphemous’ WhatsApp Posts Faces Death by Hanging

Man Sentenced to Execution for ‘Blasphemous’ WhatsApp Posts Faces Death by Hanging

Yahaya-Sharif Aminu, sentenced to death in 2020 for sharing song lyrics deemed blasphemous on WhatsApp, which were perceived as offensive to Islam, is currently detained in Nigeria pending a Supreme Court appeal. United Nations experts have urged for his immediate and unconditional release, citing concerns of human rights violations.

According to the legal advocacy group ADF International, which has been backing Sharif-Aminu’s appeal since November 2022, United Nations experts, including Alexandra Xanthaki, special rapporteur on cultural rights; Nazila Ghanea, special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; and Irene Khan, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, have issued a statement urging the Nigerian government to eliminate the death penalty for blasphemy.

Quoted in a statement by ADF International, the experts emphasized that “Mr. Sharif-Aminu has been detained for an excessive period for exercising his human rights.” They urged the Supreme Court to prioritize his case and ensure compliance with international human rights obligations. Additionally, they called for a review of his case, safeguarding his rights, and ensuring his well-being.

In August 2020, an Upper Sharia Court in Kano, Nigeria, sentenced Sharif-Aminu to death by hanging for composing a song about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. However, the Kano State High Court overturned the conviction in January 2021, citing procedural irregularities, and ordered a retrial. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision in August 2022. Despite these legal developments, Sharif-Aminu remains in custody, challenging the retrial order at the Supreme Court.

Sean Nelson, legal counsel for ADF International, expressed appreciation for the global advocacy. However, he highlighted Sharif-Aminu’s continued detention pending a hearing at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, urging Nigerian authorities to heed international calls, release Sharif-Aminu, and abolish blasphemy laws that contravene fundamental human rights.

Kola Alapinni, international human rights lawyer and legal counsel for Sharif-Aminu, referred to the perilous state of religious freedom in Nigeria. “As long as religious minorities are imprisoned for mere peaceful expression, religious freedom is imperiled in Nigeria,” Alapinni stated.

The persecution of religious minorities, including Christians and minority Muslims, is severe in Nigeria. According to recent reports, over 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith last year, with at least 200 murdered by militants in Plateau State during Christmas.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended designating Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern,” citing Sharif-Aminu’s case.

Members of Congress have passed resolutions calling for greater U.S. action in response to Nigeria’s religious freedom crises. They have also drawn attention to religious prisoners of conscience and egregious blasphemy laws in Nigeria.

Read the complete story on Christianpost.com


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