Finally! Forward Progress For Mubarak Bala!
On 28 April 2020 Mubarak Bala was arrested in Kaduna, Nigeria for blasphemy after writing a FaceBook post criticizing Islam. The arrest was initiated by a legal firm based in Kano, Nigeria, which is an area that is under Sharia law. Although the Nigerian statutes have designated the proper punishment for blasphemy is up to four years in prison and a hefty fine, under Sharia law, Mubarak could be facing a death sentence.
He was taken into custody by the Nigerian police and held without charge for nearly two months. Our organization, International Association of Atheists (IAA), in tandem with several other atheist and humanist organizations, joined in on a publicity campaign to raise awareness of his plight and also to raise funds for his legal defence.
To date, Mubarak has not been seen and has been denied access to a lawyer, appointed for him by well known humanist activist, Leo Igwe. We are also fairly certain, although we cannot prove that Mubarak may be being abused in custody.
We later learned that Mubarak was moved to a series of secret locations in Kano. We found this to be rather worrying as there had been several very credible death threats made by religious extremists, all of which originated in Kano.
Even Mubarak’s wife has been denied access to him, and as things currently stand, we have no idea of his location, state of health or even if he is still alive.
That's why a recent decision by the courts is so important. After an application was filed by Mubarak's lawyers requesting to see him, it was finally granted. While the meeting has yet to happen, this is clear forward motion and perhaps an indication that Mubarak is, indeed, alive.
The struggle continues, however, to free Mubarak Bala, or at least have him moved to a different area of Nigeria, where he could face a fair trial, something we do not believe he will get if he is forced to attend a Sharia court in Kano.
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In the meantime, our hearts go out to Mubarak's family, friends and colleagues.