The Aug. 6 Notable Numbers included percentages of countries that criminalize blasphemy and apostasy. It is troubling that 90 percent of Muslim nations and over a fourth of the entire world live under such unreasonable laws.
Sept. 30 is International Blasphemy Day, a day set aside to remember the thousands of people who have been persecuted, tortured and murdered simply for believing differently or not believing at all and having the courage to say so.
Blasphemy laws are rarely enforced in “civilized” nations but can take a brutal and barbaric form in Muslim-dominated countries. Raif Badawi is in a Saudi prison recuperating from the first 50 of the 1,000 lash penalty he received for “insulting Islam.” The lashings are to be spread over 20 weeks, and then he will serve a 10-year prison term. Aasia Bibi, a middle-aged woman, is awaiting hanging in a Pakistan prison for “insulting Mohammed.” Five secular bloggers have been hacked to death by machete-wielding thugs in Bangladesh. The government blames these men for causing their own deaths.
U.S. laws offer us an internationally unrivaled right to speak whatever we believe without fear of religious reprisal. So on Sept. 30 remember those who suffer under barbarous, medieval religious tyranny and celebrate your freedom.
Curtis A. Bass