Polish activist pleads with Buhari, asks to swap spots with 13-year old Nigerian boy jailed for blasphemy

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The director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Piotr Cywinski delivers a speech during a ceremony at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. Heads of State and survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp gathered Monday for commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet army's liberation of the camp, using the testimony of survivors to warn about the signs of rising anti-Semitism and hatred in the world today. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

The head of Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Piotr Cywinski has sent a passionate letter of appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari asking to be jailed in exchange for the release of a 13-year old boy convicted and sentenced to prison for blasphemy.

Piotr Cywiński’s appeal on Friday — a highly unusual intervention in subjects that are not directly related to the Holocaust — concerns the case of Omar Farouq, 13, whom a Muslim Sharia court in the Nigerian state of Kano sentenced last month to 120 months in jail for blasphemy during a conversation with his friend.

As the director of a Polish state museum built on a Nazi camp where “children were imprisoned and murdered, I cannot remain indifferent to this disgraceful sentence to humanity,” wrote Cywiński, who is not Jewish.

Cywiński asked the boy be pardoned because he cannot be regarded as punishable for his words because of his young age.

“However, if it turns out that the words of this child absolutely require 120 months of imprisonment, and even if you are not able to change that, I suggest that in place of the child, 120 adult volunteers from all over the world, gathered by us — myself personally among them — should each serve a month in a Nigerian prison,” Cywiński wrote.

“In total, the price for the child’s transgression will be the same, and we will avoid the worst.”

“If you agree to grant clemency, or to the above proposal in lieu of punishment, I will make an attempt to provide financial help for the boy’s proper education. This way, instead of a destroyed young man, Nigeria will gain an aware and educated young citizen.

“You will undoubtedly agree with the statement that human rights begin with the rights of the child. I kindly ask you to consider my proposal favourably.”

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