A 29-year-old Nigerian man has been locked inside a mental institution and treated for insanity, according to the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).
Mubarak Bala was apparently committed to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital by his family on June 13. An IHEU-affiliated lawyer reportedly has visited Bala in the hospital and said he has become increasingly desperate. Bala reportedly was also sedated and medicated.
Bala has said on Twitter that he was committed for not believing in God. He has also said he is communicating with the outside world with cell phones that were "sneaked" inside.
According to Bala, his family said he had "psychiatric problems" and took him to a doctor. That doctor dismissed those claims, so his family characterized him as delusional and got a second doctor to commit him last week.
The BBC reported that the second doctor said Bala's atheism was a side effect of a "personality change." In a letter, Bala also wrote that his insanity diagnosis was based on so-called blasphemous statements and his rejection of Islam. He adds that he was given drugs and injections for being a "psycho patient."
Bala's case emerged via social media and blogs.
Bala — who joined Twitter in 2011 and has tweeted extensively about atheism — began reaching out online after he was put in the hospital. The blog Godless Mom reported getting an email from Bala last week and subsequently working to corroborate the story. At the same time, Bala was apparently tweeting pictures from inside the hospital.
Bala's family is Muslim and he lives in Kano state, an area of Nigeria that has had Sharia law since 2000. Bala's confinement has since prompted a petition, and a social media campaign around the hashtag #freemubarak.
IHEU has said that Bala's condition is deteriorating as a result of spending days on medication. As of Friday morning, the petition calling for his release had more than 4,000 signatures.
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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