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Calls to Release Nigerian Boy Accused of Blasphemy

The director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum in Poland has asked Nigeria’s president to pardon a teenager who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment with menial labor over a blasphemy conviction. And if that doesn’t happen, he also offered to serve part of the boy’s sentence. “He should not be subjected to the loss of the entirety of his youth, be deprived of opportunities and stigmatized physically, emotionally and educationally for the rest of his life,” the director, Piotr Cywinski, wrote in an open letter regarding Omar Farouq, a 13-year-old boy who was convicted on charges that he had blasphemed Allah in an argument with a friend. Since the boy’s sentence was issued in August by a Shariah court in Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city, the case has been condemned by human rights groups, including the United Nations, who say that it violates international agreements on child welfare. The same court also came under scrutiny on Monday when U.N. rights experts called for the release of a 22-year-old musician whom it sentenced to death over a blasphemy charge.