The UN has called for the release of a Nigerian singer who has been sentenced to death by hanging. An Islamic court in Kano State had sentenced 22 year old Yahaya Sharif-Aminu for blasphemy. The court had ruled that the song had blasphemed Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him).
The BBC reports that Sharif-Aminu was sentenced in August by a Shari’ah court for sharing a song that he had written and performed via WhatsApp. He did not deny the charges, and is currently in detention.
Sharif-Aminu had gone into hiding after he composed the song in March, which praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim Brotherhood (a Sunni Sufi order) to the extent that it elevated him above the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). His family home was burnt down by protestors, who also gathered outside the headquarters of the Islamic police, or Hisbah, demanding action against him.
The protest leader said the sentencing would serve as a warning to others, “This will serve as a deterrent to others who feel they could insult our religion or Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) and go scot-free.”
The ‘human rights experts’ from the UN said they were concerned that Sharif-Aminu was being held incommunicado and had no legal representation at his initial trial. According to them, “Artistic expression of opinion and beliefs – including those seen to offend religious sensibilities – is protected in accordance with international law.”
Umm Muhammed Umar