More than three hundred individuals and organisations called for an international day of action on 14 March to defend those accused of apostasy and blasphemy. Blasphemy laws in over 30 countries and apostasy laws in over 20 aim primarily to restrict thought, expression and the rights of Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Countless women, men and children face threats, imprisonment, and execution as a result.
Individuals calling for the day included Iranian Campaigners Mina Ahadi and Maryam Namazie, Lebanese writer and actress Darina al Joundi, Algerian author Djemila Benhabib, Scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, Moroccan atheist Imad Iddine Habib, Algerian Secularist Marieme Helie Lucas, Iraqi Kurd women’s rights activist Houzan Mahmoud, Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, Iranian/German author Siba Shakib and writer Ibn Warraq amongst others. Organisations included Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Foundation of Australia, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Polish Rationalist Society, and The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. The final list of signatories can be found here.
Thousands more defended apostates and blasphemers via acts of solidarity and social media, Tweeted, sent letters of protest, or issued statements and messages of support. Petitions in defence of the ten highlighted cases saw a surge in signatures.
Various acts of solidarity took place throughout the day, including the following:
Victoria Gugenheim, World Award Winning Bodypainter, has painted herself to mark today:
She explains why:
The more we stay silent on the plight of Islam’s apostates and blasphemers and women living under Islamic rules, the more we are allowing evil to flourish by doing nothing. And so I realised today, that I had to do something.
Art has a quality that words sometimes do not. It is visceral, immediate and full of impact when accomplished well. I wanted to lend my skills to today, to the apostates, the blasphemers, the women living under Islamic rules, to CEMB and to One Law for All to spread the message that there is real suffering and torment in Islam, and that our rights and freedoms (one could argue privileges since they can so quickly be taken away again) depend upon being outspoken against this encroaching force for harm.
What bodypaint can do that a veil can’t is show you in detail just how much of the woman is lost when the veil is forced upon her. Here parts of her that are covered are both seen and unseen, and I hope this brings home that an item of clothing forced upon a person is not a liberating garment at all. It reduces a person to an object, dehumanizes them, suffocates their human spirit, and causes them to suffer as a result. And unfortunately, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
My ultimate goal is to make the world a better place to live in for everyone, and I hope that by standing up in my own way, that I encourage other people to do the same.
Moroccan atheist Imad Iddine Habib sent this photo of himself to mark the day:
Maryam Namazie Tweeted “Apostasy and Blasphemy are my right!” and posted an atheist “shahada”:
Palestinian atheist who was imprisoned for a year by the Palestinian Authority marked the day with the below photo:
Atheist Alliance International issued a statement proclaiming “If you are not free to dissent, you are not free.”
Singer Al Grandy dedicated his song One Law for All to this day. The song is about equal rights, free expression and the right to criticise.
The Atheist Foundation Australia issued a statement saying “Blasphemy is Bullshit“.
Vancouver-based Women’s Rights campaigner Zari Asli sent in this photo of herself to mark the day:
“SudoNim” designed the logo for the International Day:
The Polish Rationalist Society started a Facebook Events Page and made a poster.
Jesus & Mo author made the following statement:
In a world where religion repeatedly shows itself to be such a pernicious influence, apostasy and blasphemy cannot be crimes. On the contrary, for the progressive humanitarian, they are moral duties. The people listed here are prisoners of conscience in the truest sense. They deserve our support.
Photographer Ben Hopper Tweeted: As you all (might probably not) know today is the International Day to Defend Apostates and Blasphemers and included the following clip from comedian George Carlin:
Hamid Taqvaee, Secretary of the Worker-communist Party of Iran made the following statement:
Apostasy and blasphemy are just other names for free thinking and open-mindedness! Prosecuting people for these “crimes” is itself a criminal act!
To mark this day, Sandbad wrote:
I remember the day I and my best friend went to Darband,
And while we stood there, here he came, The Muslim Supreme Leader, we didn’t take –
Someone said; on weekends he does it as well! So we waited behind as he climbed the mountains – with his followers, bodyguards and friends…
We similarly liked the mountains – me, my friend and the Supreme Leader himself – But he was the man who would see us dead – if he knew we were apostates…
Fiyaz Mughal wrote a piece entitled: A Day for Compassion and Understanding from a Faith Perspective.
Sarah A Brown wrote a piece entitled: Support Apostates and Blasphemers.
Maryam Namazie wrote a post on Tunisian atheist Nadia El Fani facing threats after her film ‘Neither Allah nor Master” and publicly asserting her atheism here.
Michael Nugent, chair of Atheist Ireland, blogged about the day here.
Gita Sahgal of Centre for Secular Space wrote:
The Jamaat e Islami achieved a blasphemy law in Pakistan which persecutes religious minorities and free-thinkers. Here is their founder Abul Ala Maududi on apostates.
“There are only two methods of dealing with an apostate. Either make him an outlaw by depriving him of his citizenship and allowing him mere existence, or end his life. The first method is definitely more severe than the second, because he exists in a state in which ‘he neither lives nor dies.’ Killing him is preferable. That way both his agony and the agony of the society are brought to an end simultaneously.” (Abul Ala Maududi—Murtad ki Saza Islami Qanun Men – The Punishment of Apostates in Islamic Law)
Why does the British state think they are ‘moderates’ and some on the British left help them get into local government and dominate ‘anti-fascist organisations’?
To see other actions, click here.
A huge thank you to all those who took time out to stand with and for those accused of apostasy and blasphemy.
With your support, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain will continue its efforts to save lives and get rid of these medieval laws.
For more information:
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
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