Nigerian atheist Bala Muhammad has been sentenced to 24 years after pleading guilty to charges of blasphemy.
Which laws did he violate?
The 37-year-old Muhammad was accused of making Facebook posts that criticized Islam and its prophet Muhammed, which the court said were capable of breaching public peace in Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated north where sharia law is enforced alongside common law.
Did he really plead guilty to the charges?
Yes, despite objection from his lawyer, James Ibor, who requested that he be allowed to speak with the defendant to ensure that the plea was not made under duress and that the defendant recognized the implication of his plea. The request was granted by the court and the defendant confirmed both, as he pled for “mercy and leniency”.
Muslim By Birth, Atheist By Choice
He was arrested after making a Facebook post calling the Prophet Mohammed a terrorist, and had been detained since April 2020. Born into a muslim family, Bala said he rejected Islam and embraced atheism after seeing a video of the beheading of a Christian woman in 2013 by muslim boys “about my age and speaking my language.”