UN human rights experts have called for the release of the Nigerian singer sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy by an Islamic court in the northern state of Kano.
Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, 22, was sentenced on 10 August for sharing a song that he had written and performed via WhatsApp. The court ruled that the song had blasphemed Prophet Muhammad.
In a statement, 10 UN experts on human rights called for the sentence to be overturned, saying they were concerned that Sharif-Aminu – a Muslim who belonged to the Sufi Tijaniyyah order – was being held incommunicado and did not have legal representation at his initial trial.
“Artistic expression of opinion and beliefs, through songs or other media – including those seen to offend religious sensibilities – is protected in accordance with international law. The criminalization of these expressions is unlawful. Music is not a crime,” the statement.
Reporters At Large recently reported Dr Piotr Cywiński, the Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Warsaw, Poland, as saying he and 119 other volunteers across the world are offering to be jailed in exchange for the release of a teenager imprisoned for blasphemy in Kano State.
In an appeal letter that he wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, Cywiński, a 48-year-old historian and ecumenist, said he and the 119 others were offering to each serve a month in a Nigerian prison for Omar Farouq, whom a Sharia court in Kano State in August sentenced to 120 months in jail for blasphemy during a conversation with his friend.