Nigerian atheist freed from mental ward, held for blasphemy against Islam, gets death threats

According to Daily Journal, Nigerian atheist released from the mental ward to which his Muslim family committed him by force said Thursday he is getting death threats for blaspheming against Islam.

Mubarak Bala, a 29-year-old chemical process engineer, said he is in hiding in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria where Shariah law holds and some interpretations have blasphemy punishable by death.

He has been incarcerated in a mental health institution by his family after saying he had lost his belief in God.

"People are threatening me, I mean life-threatening threats," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. He said he was too frightened of drawing attention and wouldn't allow an AP video journalist or photographer to come to his hiding place.

Bala said that since he renounced Islam and declared himself an atheist, he has not only lost the trust of his father and elder brother, but many friends.

"Most of my friends condemn me and tell me I am bound for hell and that in an Islamic state, I would be killed. Blasphemy is a serious thing here," said Bala, who describes himself on his Twitter page as an ex-Muslim.

Businessman Bamidele Adeneye, who had been corresponding with Mubarak about humanism through social media before he was committed, saw one of his desperate SOS messages and mobilized help through the #FreeMubarak Twitter campaign and the London-based International Humanist and Ethical Union.

He helped organize help from Kano lawyer Muhammad Bello Shehu, who said he had been preparing to take Bala's case to court when the doctors discharged all patients because of a strike.

Shehu is seeking an independent psychiatric evaluation of Mubarak's health to counter the claims of hospital doctors that he has psychological problems and family claims that he suffered a "personality change" that led to his renunciation of Islam, he said.

For more details please check Daily Journal