Mubarak Bala in his hospital bed.

Mubarak Bala in his hospital bed.

According to several reports, Mubarak Bala, a Nigerian man, is being held against his will in a mental institution in Nigeria’s Kano state after renouncing Islam and declaring he no longer believes in God.

Bala’s Muslim family had him committed to the intuition after learning he was an atheist. The hospital said it’s treating the 29-year-old man for a “challenging psychological condition,” but will not keep him longer than necessary.

Bala’s story has caught the attention of the international press, with the BCC, Huffington Post, ABC, and Vice reporting on his imprisonment.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) , who has been working to free Bala, said his ordeal began when he told his family he did not believe in God. After taking him to a doctor who informed his family atheism wasn’t a mental disorder, they took Bala to another physician who said his views were a side effect of a personality change.

Bala, a chemical engineering graduate, contends he is mentally healthy and does not suffer from a personality disorder. IHEU spokesman Bob Churchill said he was concerned about Bala’s “deteriorating condition” and asked for his “swift release.”

Bala and his mother.

Bala and his mother.

Mohammed Bello, Bala’s attorney, said he would push for an independent evaluation of his client, given conflicting accounts of his health.

Bala reached out to the blog Godless Mom to share his story via a cell phone his mother smuggled to him. In a sprawling email, he claimed hospital officials at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital had kept him drugged and that he was “beaten to a pulp” by his father and brothers after informing them he was an “ex Muslim.” Bala said he wrote to the blog because “there’s nothing like autopsy in Nigeria,” and he wanted to leave a record of his imprisonment “in case [he’s] killed and made to appear a suicide of a psycho with issues.”

Bamidele Adeneye, secretary of the human rights group the Lagos Humanists, explained why Bala may have been detained.

“Kano is a Sharia state and there are many similar cases occurring, where people are forcefully oppressed just because of their beliefs or for conservative religious reasons, or for the ‘honor’ of their family,” Adeneye said. “Often though you only hear about it afterwards, if at all. This is a rare chance to intervene while someone is in dire need and is still alive.”

Find out more information on Mubarak Bala’s story on the IHEU site (here).

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