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VIDEO: “Blasphemy”-accused musician’s legal team applaud European Parliament for condemning deathly Nigerian speech restrictions

VIDEO: “Blasphemy”-accused musician’s legal team applaud European Parliament for condemning deathly Nigerian speech restrictions

  • In a near-unanimous resolution, the European Parliament has urged Nigeria to repeal blasphemy laws and release Yahaya-Sharif Aminu 
  • Sharif-Aminu’s appeal will be heard by the Nigerian Supreme Court. ADF International are supporting his legal defence 

WASHINGTON (21 April 2023) The legal team working to obtain the release and acquittal of Yahaya Sharif-Aminu has issued a message of thanks to members of the European Parliament.  

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The Sufi musician was sentenced to death by hanging for “blasphemy” in 2020. His alleged crime involved sending song lyrics on WhatsApp that were deemed blasphemous toward the prophet Mohammed. With support from human rights legal advocacy group ADF International, Sharif-Aminu has appealed his case to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and is challenging the constitutionality of Sharia-based blasphemy laws. 

In a near-unanimous urgency resolution adopted yesterday, 550 MEPs called upon Nigerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Sharif-Aminu and others facing allegations of blasphemy.  

International pressure mounts against “draconian” blasphemy laws 

Sharif-Aminu’s legal team, supported by ADF International, hope that mounting international attention will contribute to a positive ruling from the Supreme Court of Nigeria, freeing Sharif-Aminu and declaring blasphemy laws unconstitutional. 

In the video message, Kola Alapinni, the Nigerian human rights lawyer representing Yahaya, says: “We’re thankful to our friends around the world, particularly the European parliament, for all they have done. We look forward to the Supreme Court of Nigeria deciding on these draconian blasphemy laws as soon as possible.” 

Kelsey Zorzi, ADF International’s Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom, echoed, stating: “We are so grateful for the coordinated efforts from the international human rights community for Yahaya’s case. We urge everyone to continue advocating for him until he is released.” 

The urgency resolution, which was passed 550-7, calls for the release of Sharif-Aminu, a young Sufi Muslim, who was sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws of Kano State, northern Nigeria. The resolution “recalls that blasphemy laws are in clear breach of international human rights” and “contrary to the Nigerian Constitution which guarantees religious freedom and freedom of expression.” 

Yahaya’s Parents Hope for Justice in Newly-Released Video Footage 

A newly released documentary featuring Sharif-Aminu’s story, including testimony from his family, can be seen here and below: 

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Yahaya Sharif-Aminu remains in prison awaiting his appeal at the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, his case is far from an isolated incident. In addition to Yahaya, the urgency resolution points out how many others “have been harmed by Nigeria’s blasphemy laws” including Deborah Yakubu, who was stoned and beaten to death, Rhoda Jatau, who was attacked by a mob and is being tried without bail, and Mubarak Bala who was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Together with minority Muslims, the persecution of Christians in Nigeria is especially severe. In 2021, 90% of all Christians worldwide that were killed for their faith were in Nigeria. 

Yahaya Sharif-Aminu’s Supreme Court appeal could end blasphemy laws in his home state of Kano and across northern Nigeria. A positive decision would lead the way towards abolishing blasphemy laws around the world.   

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