DR. Piotr Cywinski, the Director of Auschwitz Memorial Museum, Poland says he and other volunteers gathered from around the world are willing to serve the 1o years jail term on behalf of Omar Farouq, a 13-year-old boy, sentenced by a Sharia Court in Kano to 10 years in prison over alleged blasphemy against God.
Cywinski stated this in a letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari seeking his intervention in the sentence of Farouq.
“However, if it turns out that the words of this child absolutely require 120 months of imprisonment, and even if you are not able to change that, I suggest that in place of the child, 120 adult volunteers from all over the world, gathered by us — myself personally among them — should each serve a month in a Nigerian prison,” Cywiński wrote.
“In total, the price for the child’s transgression will be the same, and we will avoid the worst.”
Cywinski in the statement personally signed by him said regardless of what Farooq said, he cannot be treated as fully aware and responsible, given his age.
According to him, “he should not be subjected to the loss of the entirety of his youth, be deprived of opportunities and stigmatised physically, emotionally and educationally for the rest of his life. I am convinced that the authority you possess can still undo this sentence.”
The Auschwitz Memorial Museum director also pledged to finance the education of Farouq if his request is granted.
Farouq’s sentence has been met with public outcry and condemnation as the United Nations Children’s Agency, (UNICEF) on September 18 in a statement condemned the Kano court for upholding the 10-year prison sentence with manual labour for a 13-year-old boy convicted of blasphemy.
UNICEF said it firmly opposed the sentence, saying it contravened core principles of children’s rights and justice in Nigeria.
It called on the Nigerian Government and the Kano State Government to urgently review the case with a view to reversing the sentence.
“The sentencing of this child – 13-year-old Omar Farouk – to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
“It also negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria – and by implication, Kano State – has signed on to.”
It would be recalled that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a Kano-based musician was also last month sentenced to death for blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.
The ICIR had reported how Sharif was sentenced to death by hanging by the Upper Shari’a Court in Kano after he was found guilty of committing blasphemy in a song against Prophet Muhammad.
Also, Mubarak Bala, the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, has been held incommunicado by the Police in Kano after he was arrested on April 28 at his home in Kaduna State for allegedly posting comments that were critical of Islam on Facebook.
Bala was charged under state law with violating a religious offence law and with cybercrime.
He has not been heard from since the day of his arrest. His wife Amina Mubarak, with whom he has a newborn son, told the Guardian in July: “At this point, I’m not even begging for his release, I just want his proof of life.”
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