Polish activist writes Buhari, offers to serve sentence for boy jailed in Kano for blasphemy

A polish activist, Piotr Cywinski, has asked to be jailed in Nigeria in exchange for the release of a teenage boy sentenced for blasphemy.

A Sharia court in Kano had convicted 13-year-old Umar Farouq for “using disparaging language on Allah” during a disagreement with his friend.


In a letter dated September 25 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, Cywinski, the director of Auschwitz Memorial and Museum in Poland, sought pardon for Farouq.

He said if Buhari is unable to facilitate the teenager’s release, he and 119 volunteers would serve a month in a Nigerian prison on Farouq’s behalf.

“I permit myself to write to you personally about a young boy named Omar Farouq, who was convicted recently in a Sharia court in Kano State in north-west Nigeria after being accused of blasphemy used during an argument with a friend,” he said.

“I wish to request the pardon of this 13 year old boy. Regardless of what he said, he cannot be treated as fully aware and responsible, given his age.

“However, if it turns out that the words of this child absolutely require 120 months of imprisonment, and even 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.

“In total, the price for the child’s transgression will be the same, and we will all avoid the worst.

“If you agree to grant clemency, or to the above proposal in lieu of punishment, I will make an attempt to provide financial help for the boy’s proper education. This way, instead of a destroyed young man, Nigeria will gain an aware and educated young citizen.

“You will undoubtedly agree with the statement that human rights begin with the rights of the child. I kindly ask you to consider my proposal favorably.” 

Cywinski’s request came days after the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) appealed to the Kano state government to reverse the jail sentence.

The Auschwitz Memorial and Museum is situated on the site of the former Nazi concentration camp in Poland where at least 1.1 million people including children were systematically murdered. Almost one million were Jews.

Adolf Hitler, late leader of Nazi Germany, reportedly oversaw the killing of 6 million Jews during the second world war.

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