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: