There is a need for blasphemy

In the recent BBC documentary on The Fatwa: Salman Rushdie’s Story, writer Hanif Kureishi says:

Rushdie speaks in the book for Muslims. This is an extremely important book. He speaks for their doubts. He speaks the bits of them that they actually think and feel sometimes – do I really believe in all this stuff – but can’t say. He, at considerable personal cost, has spoken a truth that millions of other people want to speak and for which he is being punished. If writers are devils it is because they speak in the face of the religious-Right.

In his new memoir, Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie argues that there is a need for blasphemy:

The writers of the French enlightenment had deliberately used blasphemy as a weapon, refusing to accept the power of the Church to set limiting points on thought.

Blasphemy against Islam is our weapon too. It is our refusal to submit, it is our anti-clericalism and the anti- the Islamic inquisition of our era…


This is the fourth blog post for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty.

The first blog entry was dedicated to 14 year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for demanding that girls go to school. This day is for her and the many like her who refuse and resist despite charges of offence, apostasy and blasphemy.

The second blog entry was entitled It is possible not to cause offence.

The third was a guest post from Marieme Helie Lucas entitled Honour the dissenters.


  1. Tumbledown Survivor says

    If there is no opposition to oppressive regimes (religious or political) then those regimes will continue. Blaphemy is a powerful tool when in the right hands!

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