Christian convert granted restraining order following death threats from family
18-year-old Nigerian Christian convert Mary Olowe has been granted a court order protecting her from her father and brothers, who have been threatening to kill her for leaving Islam.
According to Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADF), the religious freedom organization that assisted Mary’s mother smuggle her to the safety of a Christian community, appealed for a restraining order after her male relatives started bombarding her with death threats.
The appeal to the high court requested a perpetual injunction against Olowe’s father and brothers to restrain them from “threat and attempt on the life of the applicant following her decision to change from the practice of Islam to Christianity”. They were also commanded “not to breach her fundamental rights as to the choice of her religion or beliefs”.
Olowe’s legal representative from ADF international reported that the family had not opposed the order. Legal Counsel Sean Nelson expressed his hope that the outcome will help others facing similar threats because of their Christian faith: “We are relieved that Mary has found protection from these credible threats and that the court recognized her fundamental right to convert from Islam to Christianity”. Nelson added that no one should be persecuted for their faith, emphasizing that Nigerian Christian converts from Islam often are targeted and discriminated against for their change in religion.
According to a recent U.S state department report on religious freedom, Nigeria has no official state religion. Denominations are split between Muslims and Christians; with just over half the 230 million population following Islam, while 46 per cent follow Christianity.
Based on a report by Open Doors UK, an estimated 5,621 Christians worldwide were killed for their faith last year. Ninety percent of those atrocities happened in Nigeria, making the country the sixth worst places where Christians suffer extreme persecution for their faith. Christians are subject to abduction and sexual violence from Islamist militant groups such as Boko Haram, ISWAP and Fulani militants, which have increased their attacks over the past 8 years. In northern Nigeria – where states operate under Sharia Islamic law Christians face particular discrimination and exclusion, particularly if they come from a Muslim background.