Nigerian Atheist Declared Mentally Ill

A Nigerian man has been detained and hospitalized after being declared mentally ill, apparently because he said he didn’t believe in God. The International Humanist and Ethical Union is advocating on his behalf and BBC News has the story:

Mubarak Bala was being held against his will at the hospital after his Muslim family took him there, it said.

The hospital said it was treating Mr Bala, 29, for a “challenging psychological condition”, and would not keep him longer than necessary.

Kano is a mainly Muslim state and adopted Islamic law in 2000.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) says that when Mr Bala told relatives he did not believe in God, they asked a doctor if he was mentally ill.

Despite being told that he was not unwell, Mr Bala’s family then went to a second doctor, who declared that his atheism was a side-effect of suffering a personality change, the group says.

Mr Bala, a chemical engineering graduate, was forcibly committed to a psychiatric ward at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, but was able to contact activists using a smuggled phone, it says.

IHEU spokesman Bob Churchill said the group was concerned about his “deteriorating condition” and called for his “swift release”.

The situation in Nigeria continues to get worse, it seems, both in the parts controlled by Christians and the parts controlled by Muslims.

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  • Kevin Kehres

    I dunno. I keep getting e-mails from Nigerians who need my help getting 19 MILLION DOLLARS out of the country. There must be plenty of money there for so many people to have 19 MILLION DOLLARS. One a day at least.

  • richardelguru

    I suppose when all about you are insane, sanity looks like disease?

  • theschwa

    Wait, so he does NOT believe an invisible man made the universe 6000 years ago, formed some dirt into a person-shape to create the 1st man ever, then appeared on Earth himself, but was really his son, but was really him (and a third member to be named later) to die for an invisible, un-quantifiable concept called “sin” so we can all go to a magic place and live forever with all our dead relatives?!? Sounds pretty insane to me. LOCK HIM UP!!

  • =8)-DX

    I think that Nigerians need more internet. Then they’d realise that the “… is a mental illness” meme makes any statement like that absurd. Case in point Kevin Kehres.. “19 MILLION DOLLARS is a mental illness.”

  • busterggi

    “The situation in Nigeria continues to get worse, it seems, both in the parts controlled by Christians and the parts controlled by Muslims.”

    Wonder what those two groups have in common?

  • anachronistes

    I’m personally dumbfounded that in this country, people I know look at me like I’m crazy when I express my belief in tangible reality over an invisible magical sky-fairy. I can’t imagine how horrible it must be to be an atheist in more superstitious, religion-drenched cultures.

  • raven

    Just who are the sane ones in Nigeria?

    This is a place where children are accused of being witches and murdered, quite often in horrible ways. The numbers aren’t well known but estimates are ca. 1,000 a year for Africa.

    1. Kill a child (alleged) witch = Nothing happens to you.

    2. Don’t believe in Invisible Sky Fairies = Get sent to a mental hospital.

  • laurentweppe

    1. Kill a child (alleged) witch = Nothing happens to you.

    2. Don’t believe in Invisible Sky Fairies = Get sent to a mental hospital.

    Your assessment is incorrect:

    1. Use an armed mob to kill a child (alleged) witch = Nothing happens to you.

    2. Proclaim your atheism Without the protection of an armed militia capable of doing crippling damage to the neighborhoods where the local upper-class lives = Get sent to a mental hospital.


    Just who are the sane ones in Nigeria?

    The Great Internet Repository of lore and wisdom known as Cracked explained where the sane ones were in Nazi Germany:

    Most Germans were too sane to want to march around like the Demon Boy Scouts and worship racist Charlie Chaplin. The problem was, they were also too sane to start a fight with a bunch of crazy people.

    The same reasoning can be applied to every place where authoritarian bullies hold sway: the sane people always outnumber the crazies: they submit because they’re sane and take very seriously that little thing called self-preservation.

  • =8)-DX

    7 @ raven

    As I hope you know, mental illnesses are specific conditions of the brain that may change the way people are *able* to think, how they are *able* to interact with society.

    Most often, the poeple who burn witches, who believe in sky fairies don’t have any problems with the functioning of their brains. They aren’t mentally ill, they aren’t insane. They have perfectly well functioning human brains, but due to culture, indoctrination and much more prevalently, due to ideology and narrative, think badly, unhealthily, harmfully for the people around them.

    Saying “Nigerians are craaaazy” or “no sane person would” is just completely ignoring the problem. Yes, sane people would and do such things and their reasons are horrible, and their motivations are harmful. Let’s try to change people’s motivations, let’s try to destroy bad ideologies. Just throwing your arms in the air and saying “no sane person!” does more harm than it helps and is ignoring the problem.