The Non-Conference 2015, “Ontario’s largest event for supporters of humanism, secularism, and atheism”, will take place in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada on August 22, 2015.
- In Sudan, two pastors await sentencing on “blasphemy” and a host of other charges, facing a possible death sentence
- Someone posts something someone doesn’t like on a Whatsapp page, some idiot runs to the police with a screenshot
- United Arab Emirates: That new ‘anti-discrimination’ law all the human rights groups and commentators said might be used to censor critics, is being used to censor critics
- Pakistan releases blasphemy-accused Arif Yousuf after it turns out that the charges were made by people wiht a grudge and without any evidence and they got his job wrong and how on earth did it ever end up with him in jail in the first place?
- Meanwhile, Asia Bibi is still in jail pending appeal, with new disputes over the status of her health and visits by her lawyer
- Religion must be defended from its own extremism, says a Foreign Policy opinion piece
- And Jesus and Mo accuse those who argue against blasphemy bans of blasphemy
In this our twenty-fifth weekly round-up of “blasphemy” news and views:
- Two new laws, in United Arab Emirates and in Kuwait, sneak in new “blasphemy” bans.
- Charlie Hebdo‘s new editor says they won’t be publishing Muhammad cartoons anymore, and Salman Rushdie says we’ve “learned the wrong lessons” from violence.
- Meanwhile in Pakistan, “justice” comes very, very slowly! Six years after her arrest and detention, Asia Bibi’s death sentence is suspended and an appeal over her conviction is pending, while another “blasphemy” convict, who had also been jailed for six years, has been acquitted and his life sentence overturned. But you win some you lose some: two Christian brothers are facing a brand new “blasphemy” trial. Will Pakistan’s courts never learn to just throw these stupid malicious charges out?!
- Plus… more Malta abolition debate, the Saudi ambassador to the UN’s surprising statement on Raif Badawi, and “homosexual” rainbows in Saudi Arabia…
A young man is on trial for insulting religion in Iraqi Kurdistan after giving a presentation on the Big Bang at school. Two journalists are on trial in Turkey for translating and publishing a small image in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. A relatively wealthy author in Pakistan is sued for money by his own disenchanted family, because he was previously accused of “blasphemy”, even though he was acquitted. The abolition debate continues in Malta. Come on Malta!
Plus: asking loud speaker-brandishing muezzin to keep it down a bit; blasphemous condoms from a very “progressive” seminary; and a holier-than-thou Amazon dispatcher putting notes in your music purchases!
This week, there’s news of another possible “blasphemy” law repeal, this time in Malta. Meanwhile, in areas controlled by militant group ISIS, reports detail ongoing torture and executions, including of young children, for such supposed crimes as “blasphemy”.
In Sudan there’s news of possible death sentences for two “blasphemous” Christian pastors, while in Bangladesh the media has been muddying the water with alleged “disinformation” over the murder of atheist bloggers, and Bangladeshi Islamists have again marched demanding the death of a supposed “non-believer”. In Pakistan, Asia Bibi’s husband, in a tragic and heartfelt interview, talks about his love for his jailed wife, and the anti-blasphemy extremists threatening her life, even if she is ever released.
In cultural news, a Saudi satire on ISIS is branded “heresy” and gets death threats; and in India, a regional Zoroastrian organization is trying to ban a Snoop Dogg video.
This is the twenty-third of our weekly round-ups of blasphemy-related news and views.
There’s good news and bad this week, as Iceland, parliamentarians yesterday abolished the country’s antiquated blasphemy law, and in Pakistan there was some rare positive and timely police intervention saving a Christian couple from being “beaten to death” by a blasphemy mob. But Nigeria has confirmed 9 “blasphemy” death sentences, and New Zealand has a suspiciously broadly-worded new law…
Iceland’s parliament agreed today to abolish the blasphemy provision of the Criminal Code. The Pirate Party’s parliamentarians submitted the proposal in January, which received broad support from all other political parties in Parliament and the matter was unanimously supported by the committee examining the proposal. Icelanders have now taken an important step in guaranteeing human rights and joined other nations which respect freedom of speech and expression.
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.