Friday is International Blasphemy Rights Day, a day for atheists, freethinkers, and others to celebrate the right to criticize, satirize and reject religious superstition.
International Blasphemy Rights Day takes place every September 30th. The purpose of this event is to support free speech and to oppose any resolutions or laws that discourage or inhibit free speech of any kind.
Blasphemy Rights Day came about as a result of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. On September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 political cartoons, most of which depicted the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
The cartoons led to Islamic protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence. Damage included more than 100 reported deaths, the bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan, setting fire to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, and the storming of several European buildings.
International Blasphemy Rights Day is a time to to protest any attempt to prohibit free speech, and a day to remember that some countries punish their citizens with fines, imprisonment, and even death if found guilty of blasphemy. The following countries criminalize blasphemy:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Jordan, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan.
The Iowa State Daily reports:
Secular groups across the world will be participating in their own forms of blasphemy, whether it consists of drawing pictures of the prophet Muhammad, claiming that Zeus is god or simply declaring that Jesus is not. This is not done to spend a day making fun of religious beliefs, but to promote the idea that these beliefs can, and should, be questioned.
International Blasphemy Rights Day is, at its core, a day of free speech. It is a day to remind citizens that any idea — regardless of how taboo — still can be criticized, and that ability to criticize any and all ideas is a right granted to us by the First Amendment.
“This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves.”
“Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense”
– Robert Green Ingersoll
“Every great truth begins as a blasphemy.”
– George Bernard Shaw