Washington, D.C.—May 17, 2023
Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA) today voiced support for Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin’s recent sponsorship of Mubarak Bala, a Nigerian prisoner of conscience currently serving a 24-year prison sentence for blasphemy.
Rep. Raskin announced his sponsorship of Bala on May 16th, 2023, further urging Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to issue a pardon for the atheist activist. Bala, who served as president of the Nigerian Humanist Association, has been imprisoned since April 2020 on a charge of blasphemy, which stemmed from a Facebook post in which he stated “that he did not believe in an afterlife.”
“We fully support and applaud Raskin’s sponsorship of Mubarak Bala through the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s Defending Freedoms Project,” said Muhammad Syed, President of EXMNA. “We join Rep. Raskin in calling for Bala’s immediate pardon, as he is guilty only of an imaginary crime—openly and honestly expressing views on religion that Nigeria’s Kano State has deemed forbidden.”
EXMNA has long been an advocate for Bala’s release, including at this year’s International Religious Freedom Summit, where Syed gave a presentation on Bala’s plight which included a plea for his release from Amina Ahmed, Bala’s wife. Rep. Raskin’s announcement of sponsorship follows lobbying efforts from EXMNA in which they worked directly with Rep. Raskin’s office to encourage this step.
“We have had a great working relationship with Rep. Raskin and we are extremely pleased that he has taken our advocacy efforts seriously,” said Syed.
Since 2013, Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), an IRS registered 501 (c)(3) non-profit, has stood for the rights and dignities of those who leave Islam. Ex-Muslims of North America advocates for acceptance of religious dissent, promotes secular values, and aims to reduce discrimination faced by those who leave Islam.