Umar Farouk Safe at Last
As previously reported, on January 25, our lawyers collected Umar Farouk from a courtroom in Kano after a judge set aside his blasphemy conviction. With Kano’s history of mob violence, it was essential to keep him safe for the first few days and then to find long-term accommodation for him in a safe location. Immediately after his release we engaged United Nations help to transfer Umar to Abuja where the UN provided temporary accommodation.
The only family members who stood by Umar during his incarceration and trial were his sister and her husband. With enormous generosity, they agreed to relocate with Umar so he will not be completely isolated.
On February 3, Umar was taken to the Registry of Births & Deaths to obtain a copy of his birth certificate—a vital document for his new life. Later that day he boarded an Ibom Air flight to make a new life in Nigeria. This was the first flight Umar has ever taken and, as he settled in his seat, he must have felt safe for the first time in almost a year.
In more good news, the Director of the Auschwitz Memorial, who read about Umar’s ordeal online, sent a message to our lawyers expressing elation that Umar is free and pledged to raise funds to pay for his education.
As I write this, Umar is sleeping safely in a new abode kindly provided through UNICEF, the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, and a partner agency. We are deeply indebted to these agencies, to our lawyers who put themselves at risk by traveling to Kano on multiple occasions, to the Director of the Auschwitz Memorial, and above all, to Umar’s sister who gave up so much to stand by her younger brother. She and her family will join Umar in a few day’s time.