Today (Friday) is International Blasphemy Day, a day on which people are encouraged to voice their opinions against repressive laws that outlaw criticism of religion.
The day comes just a month after a report on religious freedom was released from the U.S. State Department, saying that blasphemy and apostasy laws undermine human rights.
“All residents of countries where laws or social norms encourage the death penalty for blasphemy are vulnerable to attacks... This is particularly true for those who have less power and are more vulnerable in those societies, like women, religious minorities, and the poor,” the report said.
One of the most recent and noteworthy cases of punishment for blasphemy and apostasy is the case of Christian mother Asia Bibi in Pakistan.
Bibi had been on death row since 2010 after being accused by her former colleagues of blaspheming the Prophet Mohammad.
In 2015, she was placed in solitary confinement. Next month, she will face an appeals court.
In Algeria, Slimane Bouhafs was sentenced to three years in jail for “insulting Islam” on Facebook.
In Egypt, four Coptic Christians are seeking asylum in Switzerland after they were convicted of blasphemy earlier this year for pretending to pray while reciting verses from the Qur’an.
Then, in the most recent case, an elderly pastor’s wife in Nigeria was beaten to death in June by a mob, following reports that she had blasphemed.
Publication date: September 30, 2016