June 2020 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

A prominent Humanist leader in Nigeria has been detained by authorities after he wrote a social media posting critical of Islam.

Mubarak Bala, the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested April 28 at his home in Kaduna state. Media reports indicate that he was taken to the northern city of Kano. Reportedly, he has been denied access to a lawyer.

Leo Igwe, also a Nigerian Humanist leader, told the U.K. newspaper The Guardian that he fears for Bala’s life.

“We condemn his arrest and are extremely worried because this came after several threats made by the religious community in Kano,” Igwe said. “They are likely to try him under sharia law in Kano, which could lead to capital punishment.”

Nigeria is closely divided between Christians and Muslims. In the northern part of the country, where Muslims dominate, a harsh version of Islamic law operates.

Bala recently posted several comments critical of Islam on his Facebook page. After the posting, he was accused of blasphemy and threatened.

On May 8, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom expressed concern over Bala’s arrest and called on officials in Nigeria to clarify his situation and ensure that Bala is given “the full protections he is guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution and international law.”

Humanist groups in America, the United Kingdom and other nations have started a campaign to win Bala’s release. Learn more at freemubarakbala.org.