I fully support the upcoming International Day of Action to Defend Blasphemers and Apostates, as announced by Maryam Namazie on her FtB site :
Countless individuals face threats, imprisonment, and execution because of their criticism of religion and religious authorities. Blasphemy and Apostasy laws as well as uncodified rules imposed by both state and non-state actors aim primarily to restrict thought and expression and limit the rights of Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Such rules exist in a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere.
On 14 March 2012, we, the undersigned, are calling for simultaneous events and actions in defence of the critics of religion in order to highlight medieval laws and exert pressure to save the lives of the women and men facing execution, imprisonment or threats.
I couldn’t agree more, and you should all go and read Maryam’s full post, and familiarize yourself with the names of those highlighted to currently be under threat of death or imprisonment.
But I must take objection to the title of this initiative. It’s not about “defending blasphemers”, this choice of words seems to suggest that there is actually something to the accusation, that someone’s reputation was damaged, that a real person was harmed or offended, by for example sending a lukewarm tweet to the effect that a god might maybe not exist. But this is not the case. Blasphemy and its cousin apostasy are victimless crimes, made-up infringements created by religious zealots who aim to avoid and deflect any criticism, scrutiny or challenge of their untrue claims, their delusions and their established religious bureaucracy.
I think it is important that when we reject the accusation of anyone being guilty of blasphemy or apostasy, we do it for the right reasons. And that is not achieved by arguing technicalities of the claim, but by open and frank rejection of the existence of any basis for the alleged infringement in the first place.