A Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has written a letter of solidarity to an atheist, Mubarak Bala, who has been in detention for 100 days after allegedly blaspheming Prophet Muhammad.
Mubarak had been in police detention in Kaduna State since April 28, following a petition by a lawyer, Salisu Umar.
In a letter he penned on Thursday and obtained by The Punch, Mr Soyinka noted that he was once detained for his views.
The Nobel Laureate recalled how as a child he lived in peaceful coexistence with other Nigerians regardless of religious or ethnic background.
He said: “I write to you today, on this day, the one-hundredth day of your detention in an undisclosed location without access to your lawyers, your wife, or your newborn son.
“As a child, I remember living in a state of harmonious coexistence all but forgotten in the Nigeria of today, as the plague of religious extremism has encroached. We both have sought to challenge the ascendancy of religious jingoism.
“As a human rights activist, you have sought to promote freedom of belief and expression and grown to serve as President of the noble institution that is the Humanist Association of Nigeria.”
The playwright noted that despite the dangers, Mr Bala had stood firm in his convictions and true to his values.
“Do they not see the futility of their quest? How can they hope to rein in technology, to rein in questioning minds?
“I fear that, if they do not see sense, we shall all be caught in a spiral of reprisals that will obscure the path to rational dialogue,” he said.
The Nobel Laureate said Bala’s arbitrary incommunicado detention over the last 100 days is the cruel reality of this conflict.