fight blasphemy laws in nigeri

Fight Blasphemy Laws in Nigeria

Picture: Umar Farouk being taken from prison to a place of safety by AAI’s legal team.

Atheist Alliance International opposes all blasphemy laws. In Kano State, Nigeria, we have assembled a legal team to free Umar Farouk and Yahaya Sharif-Aminu; two Muslims who have been convicted of blasphemy. Sixteen-year-old Umar was sentenced to 10 years with menial labour, Yahaya was sentenced to death.


On appeal, Umar was acquitted but Yahaya was ordered to be re-tried in the same Shariah court that convicted him in August 2020. So we have appealed this decision and we will argue that the blasphemy law in Kano State is unconstitutional—Nigeria is a secular state that protects freedoms of religion, thought and expression. Blasphemy laws must be struck down.

Yahaya Sharif-Aminu in prison

Yahaya Sharif-Aminu in prison

With so many religions, we need more tolerance, not less.

Blasphemy laws are institutionalized intolerance.

Why Are Blasphemy Laws so wrong?

Mubarak Bala held without trial for insulting the Prophet.

Mubarak Bala held in Kano state without trial since April 28, 2020 after complaints that a Facebook post insulted the Prophet.

they eradicate fundamental rights

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right in Nigeria. Blasphemy laws take this right away. They encourge intimidation and discourage the free exchange of ideas.

they do not keep the peace

Countries with harsh blasphemy laws (some have the death penalty) have more blasphemy-related violence than countries with no blasphemy laws..

innocent people suffer

Blasphemy laws allow a malicious person with an accomplice to falsely accuse his enemies.

they protect bad leaders

Blasphemy laws can be used by religious leaders to shut down fair criticism.

What Can AAI Do?

AAI’s legal team in Kano awaiting decisions on Umar Farouk and Yahaya Sharil-Aminu’s appeal against their convictions for blasphemy.


We have already appealed 16-year-old Umar Farouk’s 10 year prison sentence for blasphemy and he is now free.

We also appealed Yahaya Sharif-Aminu’s death sentence for blasphemy. On January 21 this year, his conviction was quashed but he was not released—he was sent back to the Shariah court for a retrial.

We immediately gave notice that we will appeal Yahaya’s decision. We’ll argue he should have been released as Umar was.

We’ll take take the appeal to a federal court where we will also argue that the blasphemy law within the Kano Shariah Penal code is unconstitutional.

If we succeed there, or at the Supreme Court, we will have laid the foundations for these terrible laws to be struck down in all 11 Shariah States in Nigeria.

What will you do?

Image credit: Christopher Ross via


To succeed we need publicity and cash for legal costs and expenses. Here are four easy things you can do. Please do at least one!