President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Bala was forcibly detained in a psychiatric ward on the grounds of his atheism. Freed later in 2014, Bala was arrested again at his home in April 2020 for blasphemy.
founding the Humanist Association of Nigeria
Mubarak Bala, head of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, has not been seen since his arrest in April 2020 in the state of Kano in Nigeria. Though Mubarak had never been shy about his atheism, the arrest was made for a particular post he had made to Facebook in which he labeled the Prophet Muhammad a terrorist. Despite his arrest, according to the founder of the Humanist Association, Mubarak has not been formally charged with anything.
Having been raised in a prestigious and highly religious family, Mubarak underwent a gradual process of apostasy throughout his life as he met more people from different places. He has written that the turning point for him in declaring his atheism was seeing a video of a beheading online. Mubarak had since always been a vocal defender of secular values and freedom of thought, though he had often received threats and abuse for voicing skepticism in the past -- including from a member of Kano police who threatened to kill him.
"I wish and plan for a society saturated with tolerance, peace, accommodation, reason and harmony. It may not be today that we solve all our problems but we need to see religious indoctrination as the viral programme it is." - Mubarak Bala
Mubarak has apparently been barred from seeing his lawyers, and the legal process has been bogged down by frequent delays. A group of UN experts has signed on to a letter calling for his release, writing that they fear he may unduly face the death penalty.
His situation remains unclear. Rumors began to circulate of his death in October 2020 from injuries sustained while in custody, but Humanists International verified these to be false shortly thereafter.
UN rights experts urge Nigeria to immediately release humanist accused of blasphemy - Humanists International
Concerns for well-being of Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala - Humanists International
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