Tag Archives: featured

Secular Rescue

Around the world, militant extremists have harassed, attacked, and murdered secularists and dissidents for daring to promote and defend secular government and fundamental human rights. In some countries, including most recently Bangladesh, this problem is particularly severe, and new threats emerge across the globe every day.

Secular Rescue is a program of the Center for Inquiry designed to provide emergency assistance to writers, bloggers, publishers, and activists who face threats due to their beliefs or expressions regarding religion.

Generous public support has allowed the Center for Inquiry to assist more than two dozen individuals and their families in escaping to safety, either temporarily or permanently.

Read about some of our biggest success stories here.

However, many others remain in danger. Through Secular Rescue, CFI will continue to raise funds for this important cause so that we can act quickly and decisively before another individual is attacked. 100 percent of funds donated go to helping those at risk.

Please give now so that we can help these courageous defenders of secularism and freedom of religion, belief, and expression.

Donate Now

*This program was originally launched as the Freethought Emergency Fund in 2015 and relaunched as Secular Rescue on International Blasphemy Rights Day 2016.

Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi, 30, is founder of the website Liberal Saudi Network, which was dedicated to fostering open discussion of religion and politics in Saudi Arabia. He is also an advocate for freedom of religion, belief, and expression, and women’s rights. He is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for insulting Islam.

In 2008, Badawi was detained and questioned on charges of apostasy, but was eventually released. However, on June 17, 2012, Badawi was arrested and formally charged with insulting Islam and apostasy – the latter of which could result in punishment as severe as the death penalty. Badawi was arrested for hosting a website which features content critical of religion, and declaring May 7 as a “day for Saudi liberals.”

While the apostasy charge would later be dropped, on July 29, 2013, a criminal court sentenced Badawi to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for his other offenses. The Court of Appeals struck down that ruling, and sent his case for review to Jeddah’s Criminal Court. He remained in prison during this process.

On May 7, 2014, the Center for Inquiry learned that a Saudi court issued a new sentence for Raif: 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a one million riyal fine. CFI would later release a translated copy of this court ruling.

On January 9, 2015, Saudi authorities gave Badawi the first 50 of his 1,000 lashes, prompting the Center for Inquiry to once again demand that the Saudi Arabian government end this persecution, forego this brutal punishment, and free Raif immediately.

Badawi’s sentence and punishment has been condemned by many prominent political figures, including several foreign governmental and UN leaders and eight U.S. Senators.

News

This section will be updated as news develops on this case.

International Blasphemy Rights Day

International Blasphemy Rights Day, held each year on September 30, is a day to show solidarity with those who challenge oppressive laws and social prohibitions against free expression, to support the right to challenge prevailing religious beliefs without fear of violence, arrest, or persecution.

International Blasphemy Rights Day is observed every September 30 to commemorate the publishing of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons, which angered religious believers around the world, many of whom expressed their disapproval with violent protests, riots, and in some cases, murder.

While many perceive “blasphemy” as offensive, this event is not intended to ridicule and insult others. Rather, it was created 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. Observing International Blasphemy Rights Day is a way of showing opposition to any resolutions or laws, binding or otherwise, which discourage or inhibit freedom of speech of any kind.

Freedom of expression, including the right to criticize any belief, religious, political, or otherwise, is the only way in which any nation with any modicum of freedom can exist. Without this essential liberty, dissent can be suppressed and silenced by labeling it as “defamation” or “blasphemy.” Even rhetoric that uses the guise of sensitivity, such as “hurting religious feelings” can be twisted to stifle opposition by turning popular sentiment against it.

If you support free speech, and the rights of those who disagree with religious views to voice their opinions peacefully, join the cause and support International Blasphemy Rights Day!

The event is administered by the Center for Inquiry as part of its Campaign for Free Expression.

Ideas don't need rights, people do