President of Nigerian humanists, Mubarak Bala, arrested on ‘blasphemy charge’

Humanist Society Scotland has expressed severe concerns for the president of its sister organisation – the Humanist Association of Nigeria – after he was arrested for ‘blasphemy’.

Headshot of Mubarak Bala in 2014

Mubarak Bala in 2014

Mubarak Bala was arrested on 28 April by two police officers who took him from his home. According to local sources his arrest could be in connection with a charge of blasphemy for his activities on social networking sites. There is international concern that if the charge is confirmed and he is found guilty, Mubarak could face the death penalty.

Mubarak Bala is well-known within the global humanist community after he was detained in a psychiatric ward on the grounds that he was an atheist. With the support of Humanists International and its members including Humanist Society Scotland, Mubarak was freed on 3 July 2014.

Photo of Leo Igwe

Leo Igwe

Leo Igwe, founder of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, said:

“All of us at the Humanist Association of Nigeria are deeply worried by the arrest and detention of our president, Mubarak Bala.

“Mubarak will likely be handed over to the Kano state police command, that will prosecute him for blasphemy, a crime that carries a death sentence under Sharia law. We urge the Inspector General of Police, the governor of Kaduna, Mallam Elrufai to ensure his immediate release.”

Fraser Sutherland, Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland said:

A photo of Fraser Sutherland from 2019

Fraser Sutherland

“We are extremely concerned for the welfare of Mubarak and for the freedom of humanists in Nigeria as a result of this arrest. We will do everything we can to support our partners at the Humanist Association of Nigeria and Humanists International to release Mubarak as quickly as possible.

“This case comes just days after the Scottish Government announced legislation that would repeal Scotland’s common-law offence of blasphemy and underlines the much-needed campaign to rid the world of unjust blasphemy laws around the world.”

Gary McLelland, CEO of Humanists International, commented:

Gary McLelland

“News of Mubarak’s arrest is of serious concern to the international humanist community. Mubarak is a well known and hugely respected activist.”

“We are working with our Members, Associates and Supporters to coordinate a global response to have Mubarak freed.”


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