Fight for Free Speech - Blasphemy Day

Today (September 30th) is the first annual Blasphemy Day International.

Let me quote the idea behind the idea:

Blasphemy Day International is a campaign seeking to establish September 30th as a day to promote free speech and to stand up in a show of solidarity for the freedom to challenge, criticize, and satirize religion without fear of murder, litigation, or reprisal. The event was created as a reaction against those who would seek to take away the right to satirize and criticize a particular set of beliefs that have been given a privileged status over other beliefs.

Blasphemy Day International is a volunteer-coordinated campaign administered by the Center for Inquiry as part of its Campaign for Free Expression. For more information, go to http://www.centerforinquiry.net/campaign_for_free_expression.

Many of the people who happen by my blog will have seen the news of this campaign already, which I clearly endorse -- especially the emphasis on the freedom of speech.

I have a two news items that I wanted to share to help motivate the day.

First -- Christopher Hitchens' Slate article Yale Surrenders talks about how the Yale Press decided to not print the cartoons in an academic book about the cartoons.

Second -- 20 years for blasphemy in Afghanistan (NY Times) -- the plight of the 24 year old who was sentenced to death for downloading an article. His sentence was reduced from death to 20 years in prison.

The student, Parwiz Kambakhsh, 24, from northern Afghanistan, was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to death for blasphemy after accusations that he had written and distributed an article about the role of women in Islam. Mr. Kambakhsh has denied having written the article and said he had downloaded it from the Internet. His family and lawyers say he has been denied a fair trial.

In 2008, an appeals court in Kabul commuted the death sentence to 20 years’ imprisonment, a decision that was upheld by a tribunal of the Supreme Court last month.

No, it is not ok to sentence a person to 20 years for Blasphemy.

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Help promote free speech in your own way every day, but especially today.

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