I posted last week about how Nigerian police had arrested Mubarak Bala (below), President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, for “blasphemy” after he allegedly posted criticism of Islam on his Facebook page.
There is a genuine fear right now that Bala will be handed over to authorities in the state of Kano, which is run under Sharia law, which means his alleged blasphemy could be punishable by death.
[Human rights advocate Leo] Igwe said police had denied Bala access to a lawyer and had not said what the charges were, heightening fears for his safety.
“Our worst fear is that he would be taken to Kano because there are many figures who have been threatening him and promising to end his life,” Igwe said. “The Kano police told me he was in their custody, but for days now they haven’t given us any more information.”
Since then, there’s been a remarkable show of support for Bala online, with people asking where they can make donations and how they can help. A number of organizations working with Humanists International have now come together to coordinate a response as part of a “Week of Protest” that begins today.
Want to help out? Here’s what they’re suggesting:
- Take a picture of yourself and insert (or hold up a sign saying) #FreeMubarakBala. Tweet it to @PoliceNG (Nigerian police), @MalamiSan (Nigeria’s Attorney General), and @MBuhari (Nigeria’s President) so they know there’s support for him.
- Sign this Statement of Support to “remind Nigeria that the international community is paying attention.”
- Donate to his legal fund. (If more money is raised than Bala needs, it will be used for future cases like this one.)
With the pandemic, it’s hard for any other story to break through the noise right now, but the more people who talk about this case, the less likely it becomes that Nigeria keeps Bala in custody, hands him over to Kano officials, and puts his life in jeopardy.
As the saying goes, blasphemy is a victimless crime. No one deserves this. Bala must be set free.