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Blasphemy Day

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Blasphemy Day
Observed byVarious countries, mostly European and North American - none officially
SignificanceA day celebrating blasphemy (as defined in the various national, state or religious laws)
CelebrationsEducating about the importance of freedom of expression, even opinions contrary to religions or offensive to religious people
DateSeptember 30
Next time30 September 2024 (2024-09-30)

Blasphemy Day, also known as International Blasphemy Day or International Blasphemy Rights Day, educates individuals and groups about blasphemy laws and defends freedom of expression, especially the open criticism of religion which is criminalized in many countries. Blasphemy Day was introduced as a worldwide celebration by the Center for Inquiry in 2009.[1]

Events worldwide on the first annual Blasphemy Day in 2009 included an art exhibit in Washington, D.C., and a free speech festival in Los Angeles.[2]


Blasphemy Day is celebrated on September 30 to coincide with the anniversary of the 2005 publication of satirical drawings of Muhammad in one of Denmark's newspapers, resulting in the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. Although the caricatures of Muhammad caused some controversy within Denmark, especially among Muslims, it became a widespread furor after Muslim imams in several countries stirred up violent protests in which Danish embassies were firebombed and over 100 people killed (counting the deaths from police opening fire on protesters).[3] The idea to observe an International Blasphemy Rights Day originated in 2009. A student contacted the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York, to present the idea, which CFI then supported.[1]


Ex-Muslims protest by tearing apart Quranic verses they disagree with on Blasphemy Day 2018.

During the first celebration of Blasphemy Day in 2009, Center for Inquiry President and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay stated in an interview with CNN: "[W]e think religious beliefs should be subject to examination and criticism just as political beliefs are, but we have a taboo on religion."[4] According to USA Today's interview with Justin Trottier, a Toronto coordinator of Blasphemy Day, "We're not seeking to offend, but if in the course of dialogue and debate, people become offended, that's not an issue for us. There is no human right not to be offended."[2]

Criminal punishment for blasphemy[edit]

In some countries, blasphemy is punishable by death, such as in Afghanistan,[5] Pakistan,[6] Iran and Saudi Arabia.[7]

Nine member states of the European Union have laws against blasphemy or religious insult: Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.[8][9] In addition, blasphemy has recently been repealed in a number of other countries: Denmark (repealed 2017), France (Alsace-Moselle region only, repealed in January 2017[10][11]), Iceland (repealed 2015), Ireland (ended January 2020), and Malta (ended 2016).

In 2009 six US states still had anti-blasphemy laws on their books: Massachusetts, Michigan, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming, but law professor Sarah Barringer Gordon states that they are "rarely enforced".[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "CFI's Campaign for Free Expression and International Blasphemy Rights Day : An Origin Story". Center for Inquiry. 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  2. ^ a b Larmondin, Leanne (2 October 2009). "Did you celebrate Blasphemy Day?". USATODAY.com.
  3. ^ Chivers, Tom (30 September 2009). "International blasphemy day: from Danish cartoons to Jerry Springer". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010.
  4. ^ Basu, Moni (September 30, 2009). "Taking aim at God on 'Blasphemy Day'". CNN.com.
  5. ^ "2008 Report on International Religious Freedom – Afghanistan". United States Department of State. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  6. ^ Thames, Knox (28 August 2012). "The Ravages of Pakistan's Blasphemy Law". Freedom House. Archived from the original on 7 October 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  7. ^ McCormick, Ty (17 July 2012). "Why is Saudi Arabia beefing up its blasphemy laws?". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 30 September 2013.(subscription required)
  8. ^ "Countries".
  9. ^ In EU, calls to repeal blasphemy laws grow after Paris attacks: IPI research: blasphemy, religious insult still a crime in half of member states Archived April 22, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, International Press Institute (January 16, 2015).
  10. ^ Charlie Hebdo has controversial history, CBC News, 8 Jan 2015
  11. ^ Blasphemy law abolished in Alsace-Moselle region of France End Blasphemy Laws Retrieved 2 November 2016
  12. ^ Freedman, Samuel G. (20 March 2009). "A Man's Existentialism, Construed as Blasphemy". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2009.

External links[edit]