While I was watching Nigeria play Argentina (a superb game), another drama was unfolding in that African nation. The Independent and the BBC report that perfectly healthy man has been confined in a Nigerian mental institution simply because he claimed that he doesn’t believe in God.
The Independent notes:
Mubarak Bala is being held against his will and forcibly medicated at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, where he has been kept since 13 June, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) reports.
The chemical engineering graduate is allegedly being held on the grounds of a “personality change” because he declared himself an atheist despite being raised in a Muslim family in Kano, which is a mainly Muslim state.
The organisation says that when Mr Bala told his family he did not believe in God, they took him to a doctor and asked if he was mentally ill.
When this doctor found him to be fit and well, the family are then believed to have taken him to a second doctor who claimed he was suffering with a personality disorder. The family allegedly told this doctor he also made delusional claims that he was a “governor” and other “trivial lies”.
Here’s the value of social media: using a smartphone smuggled into the institution, Bala sent text messages and tw**ts alerting people what had been done to him:
In one of the emails, he wrote:“And the biggest evidence of my mental illness was large blasphemies and denial of ‘history’ of Adam, and apostasy, to which the doctor said was a personality change, that everyone needs a God, that even in Japan they have a God. . . “And my brother added that all the atheists I see have had mental illness at some point in their life.”
The IHEU is pressuring authorities to release Bala immediately.
While there appears to be no national law against apostasy in Nigeria, some parts of northern Nigeria use sharia law, under which apostasy is punishable by death. Kano, where Bala is confined, is in northern Nigeria. That doesn’t mean he’ll die, of course, but does suggest that the sentiments against abandoning Islam run high in that area.
And really, if you’re going to confine people for delusions, it’s the faithful who should be locked up. In this world, it’s truly the inmates who are running the asylum.
h/t: Many readers who brought this to my attention