September 30, 2009, will mark, for many freethinkers, the first international Blasphemy Day. The new holiday–or unholyday–is being promoted by the Center for Free Inquiry (CFI). It will be inaugurated by an art exhibit in Washington DC, a soap-box style “speaker’s corner” in Toronto, and a Blasphemy-Fest! film-viewing in LA, all held at CFI centers.
The date September 30 was chosen to commemorate the controversial 2005 publication of cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Though intentionally provocative and probably offensive to many, the event’s purpose is not, organizers insist, meant to promote hate or violence, nor is it “about getting enjoyment out of ridiculing and insulting others.” Rather, CFI organizers argue, it is about promoting and defending free speech. “The event was created,” CFI’s website explains, “as a reaction against those who would seek to take away the right to satirize and criticize a particular set of beliefs given a privileged status over other beliefs. Criticism and dissent towards opposing views is the only way in which any nation with any modicum of freedom can exist.” More specifically, it is a reaction to recent UN resolutions that condemn defamation of religion.
Divergent Approaches to Religion in Modern Islamic Discourses
By Abdulkader Tayob , University of Cape Town
(Vol. 4, February 2009)
Islam in the Age of Globalization
By Bruce Lawrence , Duke University
(Vol. 3, May 2008)