Even as more atheists are targeted in Bangladesh, leaving a secular publisher hacked to death at his place of business, the government responds by dismissing the killings as “isolated incidents” and blaming political opponents. As fears grow that the authorities have completely lost control of the situation, Islamist groups claim responsibility, and broaden the spectrum of targets they consider as “blasphemers”. End Blasphemy Laws looks at the aftermath of yet another machete attack in Bangladesh…
In Pakistan, rare sort of progress at the Supreme Court on ‘blasphemy’. In Turkey, another rare victory, at the Court of Appeals.
In Indonesia, “sole”-searching leads to a ‘blasphemy’ court case. In India, two distinct ‘blasphemy’-type claims have the Sikh community in turmoil. In Argentina, Barbie and Ken stoke controversy. While the Catholic Church seems to have an internal “heresy” problem.
And in comment and opinion pieces, there’s a reminder of the violence stalking Bangladesh, Roger Scruton defends “the right to insult”, and somewhere between Canada, India and Pakistan, hardliners selectively celebrate liberalism when it suits them.
Pakistan gives a life sentence to a son accused by his own father of “desecrating the Holy Quran”.
However, there’s also an unprecedented spike in the number of “blasphemy” cases receiving bail (well, three people in two weeks – but that’s a lot more than the usual zero). Is it possibly a sign of reform?
Meanwhile, anti-“blasphemy” protests by Sikhs continue in India, score a victory, and spread to Pakistan!
There were a lot of cases of ‘blasphemy’ in Pakistan last year, 1,400, and that’s just the formally registered ones. In another case this week, a Pakistani Christian father has had to flee with his sons after being told he couldn’t use the village’s only clean water tap unless the family converted.
India under Prime Minister Modi is sliding into the same cycle of ‘blasphemy’ violence, as cow protection laws prompt persecution and vigilante killings, one author argues. Meanwhile, an internal Sikh “blasphemy” protest escalates and police raid houses.
Egypt upholds a TV presenters’ “blasphemy” conviction, meaning he may face five years in jail for questioning Salafi Islamism on air. While in the UK, campaigner Maryam Namazie writes on the need to tackle Islamism head on.
And, following a controversial stage performance, there are shock new claims that “Literally Madonna is Lucifer”.
Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal considers the countries ‘blasphemy’ law – and says it is valid, unfortunately. Bahrain’s new ‘anti-hatred’ laws aren’t a valid way of combating hatred but will instead further criminalize free expression on religion, say experts. Pakistan’s Supreme Court decides it’s not valid to murder people because you think you have a ‘religious duty’ to implement a death-for-blasphemy norm. There are more ‘blasphemy’ victims in Pakistan, and even the United Kingdom doesn’t escape social discrimination. And an Iranian culture minister decides that Salman Rushie speaking about free speech at a book fair is a violation of freedom of expression.
In Pakistan, a judge confirms death sentences for two brothers, saying that in addition to being accused of ‘blasphemy’ they “also have no belief in Allah Almighty”. Pakistan is also reportedly negotiating with Youtube about a blasphemy-free service so they can un-ban the banned video-sharing platform, and there’s a warning that ISIS may be about to target Pakistani Christians. In United Arab Emirates a man is dragged before court because a strange said he thought he heard him “curse God”. And the BBC interviews players in Bangladesh’s crisis of anti-atheist violence. This is the thirty-fourth of our weekly round-ups of blasphemy news from around the world.
A new “blasphemy” law proposed in Bahrain worries government opposition (and anyone in favour of free expression), Iran’s blasphemy prosecution forces spiritual leader into hunger strike, Pakistan persecutes Hindus and considers amendments, Thailand reacts badly to refugee Christians from Pakistan, India sees a fatwa against a musician for working on the Iranian Muhammad film, and there’s a seriously confused cleric in Morocco.
- Bangladesh Prime Minister imagines land of social harmony, if only everyone would never have a debate about religion again
- Pakistan: “Hasty” and “brutal” blasphemy charge against Christian labourer accused by business competitors
- Courageous Pakistani human rights lawyer of 33 years: “my work is for humanity”, and re blasphemy law “There is a big problem”
- Richard Dawkins does not like the sound of Quebec Canada’s proposed new quasi-blasphemy law
- International Blasphemy Rights Day approaches (30 September)
This is our 31st weekly round-up of “blasphemy” news from around the world. This week: Saudi Arabia versus Iran, ISIS versus history, Russia versus Mephistopheles. There’s murder in India, arrests in Egypt and Gambia, some Muslim groups in Canada are questioning Quebec’s proposed anti-‘blasphemy’ law, and is there a “blasphemous” cult developing around ex-Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga?
- “Saudi Arabia’s top cleric slams Iran’s movie on Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)”
- ISIS thugs continue to maraud around, blowing up cultural treasures (and stealing some of them for profit), as well as torturing and killing people for no good reason
- Russia: Historical facade on building destroyed by “religious thugs”
- India: Campaigner against superstition shot dead in his own home
- Egypt: Christian arrested for giving out Bibles
- Gambia: Man faces possible jail sentence for Facebook post featuring Muhammad picture
- Canada: Concerns on Quebec’s Bill 59 widen
- Kenya: Cult worshiping recent former Prime Minister is “blasphemy”