The Sharia pronouncement of death by hanging for a 22-year-old singer, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu over a song of his which was adjudged blasphemous against Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam is still generating controversy.
Nigerians have spoken up against this. We are being told by lawyers that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu is being kept incommunicado in Kano state without access to his lawyers. Nigerians cannot rationalise why someone has to lose his life just because he expressed some thoughts deemed blasphemous.
Thankfully, the United Kingdom has joined voices condemning the death sentence. PM News reports that the British High Commission in Nigeria maintained that individuals had the right to freely express opinions and peacefully challenge authorities, noting that this was essential to a free and open society.
The statement released by the commission reads in part, “the United Kingdom is firmly committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief around the world, and to being a strong voice internationally in defence of this fundamental right.
“We believe that the rights of individuals to express opinions and peacefully challenge authorities are essential to a free and open society. We will continue to monitor the situation closely. It is a longstanding policy of the UK Government to oppose the death penalty, in all circumstances, as a matter of principle.”
The UK is not the first country to condemn the death sentence. Last week, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom also condemned the blasphemy laws in Nigeria and has faulted the judgment of an Upper Sharia Court in Kano.
The question we may want to ask here is if it is the business of the UK and the US to comment on domestic issues in Nigeria. The answer to that is human rights issues are never a domestic affair. They are a human affair. In this regard, we commend the UK and the US for speaking against this Sharia ruling.