Violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of speech have dramatically increased over the past few years in Bangladesh. This year, four secular and humanist bloggers were hacked to death, apparently for “insulting Islam”. Niladri Chatterjee (Niloy Neel), Ananta Bijoy Das, Md Washiqur Rahman Babu and Avijit Roy were murdered on 7 August, 12 May, 30 March and 27 February 2015 respectively, by Islamist radicals.
Raif Badawi’s third year imprisoned for “insulting religion” begins in Saudi Arabia.
There’s movement, but worrying signs, in the trial of four Coptic Christian teenagers accused of “mimicking Islam” in Egypt.
Pakistan is, maybe, edging toward reform, but Islamic clerics are fighting to preserve Pakistan’s blasphemy laws in no uncertain terms (“those who insult the Muslim prophet Muhammad deserve to be killed”).
And following a concerted effort by Christians offended by cat-based religious imagery, heretical “Virgin Meowy” socks have been clawed from sale by their online retailer, PacSun.com.
Anti-Christian violence in Egypt as well as in Pakistan, a children’s book about the Koran is cancelled due to death-for-blasphemy fears, there’s a woman in a fake beard in Russia, and again in Pakistan the health of death row inmate Asia Bibi – sentenced to hang back in 2010 – is reportedly seriously deteriorating.
Saudi Arabia confirms Raif Badawi’s sentence – let’s increase the pressure, this is the only action left. Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin relocated in the US after serious threats to her safety. Pakistan blasphemy laws could soon be modified to combat increasing “misuse”. But is that a real progress? New charges of “blasphemy” and “insult to religion” in Egypt and Myanmar against a TV presenter and a writer. Last but not least, a new resolution calling for the repeal of “blasphemy” laws worldwide is on track at the US House of Representatives.