FFRF condemns Nigerian Shariah court’s blasphemy death sentence

Blasphemy

The Freedom From Religion Foundation strongly denounces a Nigerian court’s recent imposition of the death penalty on a young composer for the supposed crime of blasphemy.

A Nigerian Shariah court recently sentenced Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a 22-year-old musician, to death by hanging. The charges come as a result of a song Sharif-Aminu released that allegedly elevated a particular imam above the Prophet Muhammad. After the song was released, protestors burned down Sharif-Aminu’s house and demanded that Nigeria’s Shariah court take action against him.

Blasphemy laws are designed to stamp out free discussion and argument in favor of a particular religion. In this case, protesters specifically argued that a death sentence for Sharif-Aminu was appropriate because it would “serve as a deterrent to others.”

Anti-blasphemy laws create innocent victims by punishing a victimless crime. Dozens of countries have anti-blasphemy laws, according to a 2019 Humanists International report. The crime is punishable by death in six countries, including Pakistan, whose anti-blasphemy law has led to the recent murder of an American citizen, dozens of killings in response to unproven allegations, and government-sponsored vigilante justice. Another seven countries have laws making apostasy punishable by death, according to the report.

Anti-blasphemy laws are cruel and divisive and have no place in a modern society. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is committed to fighting blasphemy, heresy and apostasy laws until they are repealed worldwide. We urge Congress to pass a resolution calling for these laws to be revoked.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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