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Nigerian Teen Jailed for Blasphemy Talks about That Incident

Omar Farouq had an argument last year with a colleague that would change his life. Insults were exchanged in the heat of the moment, he admits, but Farouq, a teenager, thought nothing of the exchange until he was summoned to the police station and charged with blasphemy against God. When word got out about the nature of his arrest, an angry mob descended on Farouq’s family home forcing his mother to flee to a neighboring village, his lawyer said. Farouq, who was then 16, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor by a Sharia court, in Kano, northern Nigeria. However, his conviction was overturned on appeal by the Kano State High Court on January 22 because Farouq did not have legal representation at his first trial, his counsel Kola Alapinni told CNN. “I’m delighted, I’m in a joyous mood. And I’m grateful to all those who helped and lent support for this outcome with the grace of Allah,” Farouq, now 17, told CNN in his first interview following his release. Alapinni was instrumental in Farouq’s release from prison. His Foundation for Religious Freedom discovered and got involved in Farouq’s case while working on an appeal for Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy at the Kano Upper Sharia Court.