Mubarak Bala, an activist and atheist, has been arrested by the Nigerian Police in Kaduna state for “blasphemy”.
Bala, who is the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, and advisory board member of the International Association of Atheists, was arrested due to his Facebook posts questioning the existence of God.
One of his posts reads: “Religion is not a person, long dead people are dead, Gods do not exist, so why fear analysis & critique on works attributed to them?”
Some Muslim lawyers wrote a petition against Mubarak Bala and accused him of “publicly insulting Prophet Muhammad on his Facebook page”.
They wrote in the petition that Bala was “born and raised a Muslim but for his own personal reason decided to leave Islam for atheism sometime in 2014”. They said since then he has been writing things on Facebook that are “annoying to the Muslims”.
A Muslim on Twitter shared the letter and wrote: “Some group of lawyers finally write petition against that animal Mubarak Bala.”
After the petition was written, Mubarak Bala was arrested. His arrest received mixed reactions on Twitter.
Some called for his release with the hashtag #FreeMubarakBala.
However, some defended his arrest and even threatened him with death.
Human rights advocate, Leo Igwe revealed in a statement that he spoke with the Police PRO in Kaduna, where Mubarak was arrested, and he was told that detectives were sent from Kano to arrest Mubarak Bala and Bala will be transferred to Kano where the complaint was lodged.
Leo Igwe and other Twitter users expressed concerns that Bala’s life might be in danger if he’s transferred to Kano.
Meanwhile, Humanist UK has called for the release of Bala in a tweet that reads: “We condemn in the strongest terms the arrest of our humanist colleague @MubarakBala by the Nigerian authorities, who have accused him of ‘blasphemy’. We join with the international humanist community in urging his immediate release.”
Andrew Copson, the President of Humanist International also condemned Bala’s arrest, writing: “The police should release President of Nigerian Humanists @MubarakBala immediately. Persecution of humanists for expressing their beliefs is a violation of international law and of the human right to freedom of religion or belief.”
A BBC article about Mubarak Bala, published in 2014, disclosed that Bala’s father drugged him and kept him in a psychiatric hospital when he stopped believing in religion and became an atheist.
Below are some tweets from Nigerians reacting to Bala’s arrest.