Head of Auschwitz Memorial Seeks Easing of Nigerian Boy’s Prison Sentence


The director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum in Poland has asked Nigeria’s president to pardon a teenager who was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment with menial labor in excess of a blasphemy conviction.

And if that does not take place, he also provided to serve component of the boy’s sentence.

“He really should not be subjected to the reduction of the entirety of his youth, be deprived of options and stigmatized physically, emotionally and educationally for the rest of his existence,” the director, Piotr Cywinski, wrote in an open letter relating to Omar Farouq, a 13-yr-outdated boy who was convicted on costs that he had blasphemed Allah in an argument with a pal.

Because the boy’s sentence was issued in August by a Shariah court in Kano, Nigeria’s 2nd-biggest city, the situation has been condemned by human rights groups, which include the United Nations, who say that it violates global agreements on youngster welfare. The very same court also came below scrutiny on Monday when U.N. rights gurus known as for the release of a 22-yr-outdated musician whom it sentenced to death in excess of a blasphemy charge.

In Omar’s situation, his attorney, Kola Alapinni, said on Twitter this month that he had filed an appeal towards the judgment, calling it a violation of the country’s Constitution and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Kid.

For Mr. Cywinski, who oversees the state memorial at Auschwitz, wherever many young children had been imprisoned and murdered by the German Nazi regime, Omar’s situation struck a unpleasant chord.

“I are not able to stay indifferent to this disgraceful sentence for humanity,” Mr. Cywinski wrote in his letter, which was addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and produced public on Friday.

If the boy was not pardoned, Mr. Cywinski wrote, the director and 119 other grownup volunteers from all over the globe would every single serve a month in prison to account for the boy’s 120-month sentence.

Reached by phone on Monday, Mr. Cywinski explained that he had been inspired to act just after studying about Omar’s situation in the media final week. Recalling that Mr. Buhari visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in 2018 to spend tribute to victims of the Holocaust, Mr. Cywinski explained he hoped that an appeal to pardon the boy may resonate with the Nigerian leader.

He also explained it was a probability to discover from the previous and battle injustice.

“Many instances we are asked to like, not like, to share, to retweet and signal a petition on-line,” Mr. Cywinski explained. “I needed to do additional one thing additional.”

A spokesman for Mr. Buhari did not quickly reply to requests for comment. Salihu Tanko Yakasia, a exclusive adviser to Kano’s governor, explained that he had viewed the letter on social media, in accordance to Reuters, and that “the place of Kano state government stays the choice of the Shariah court.”

Sunni Islam is the biggest religion in about a third of Nigeria’s states, with Shariah courts working in addition to the country’s constitutional judiciary. The crime of blasphemy, defined as a “public insult” to a person’s religion, can carry a death sentence below Shariah law.

Nigeria’s personal blasphemy laws seem to contradict its Constitution, which entitles its citizens to freedom of considered, conscience and religion, and the ideal to freedom of expression.

Mr. Cywinski’s plea echoed remarks this month by Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s representative in Nigeria, who explained that Omar’s sentence “negates all core underlying rules of youngster rights and youngster justice that Nigeria — and by implication, Kano State — has signed on to.”

On Monday, United Nations rights gurus also appealed to Nigeria’s government for the release of Yahaya Sharif, a 22-yr-outdated musician who was sentenced to death by the Kano court for circulating a song he had composed that critics explained elevated a Senegalese imam over the Prophet Muhammad.

An additional Kano guy, Mubarak Bala, an atheist who is head of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, disappeared in police custody this spring just after calling the Prophet Muhammad a terrorist.

In some scenarios, public mobs have taken issues into their personal hands — burning down Mr. Sharif’s household and even killing other individuals accused of blasphemy.

But Mr. Cywinski explained that he, also, had met with an upswell of assistance from all over the globe given that sharing his letter on Friday. Whilst he would not specify specifically how quite a few individuals had volunteered to serve component of Omar’s sentence, a single factor was clear: It surpassed 120.

“We are seriously impressed by the humanity all over us,” he explained in the phone interview. “Now we have to see if it will be sufficient to get freedom to this pretty, pretty younger child.”


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