30th March 2017, Iran: Sina Dehghan

sina-dehghan21-year-old Sina Dehghan has been sentenced to death by Iranian authorities for blasphemy. Dehghan was accused of ‘insulting Islam’ through messages he sent on the WhatsApp messenger app when he was a teenager. Prosecutors asked that Dehghan be sentenced to 16 months in prison for ‘insulting the supreme leader’ and also be sentenced to death for ‘insulting the prophet’. Read more

17 March 2017, Pakistan

fireproof-libraryPakistani authorities announced they had asked Facebook and Twitter to help law enforcement identify Pakistanis suspected of blasphemy so that they can be prosecuted or extradited. Under Pakistan’s brutal blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death. Read more

23rd February 2017, Denmark

fireproof-libraryDanish prosecutors have charged a man with blasphemy for a Facebook video in which the unnamed 42-year-old burns a copy of the Quran. The incident marks the first charge of blasphemy by Danish courts since 1971. Read more

1st November 2016, United Kingdom: Louis Smith

Olympic medalist Louis Smith was levied with a two-month ban by British Gymnastics following the release of a video in which along with retired gymnast Luke Carson, mocked the Islamic prayer ritual. Smith was required to admit that his behaviour was a breach of the Standards of Conduct. Carson was issued with a reprimand due to his clean record, which will remain for two years. Critics have likened the ban on Smith to a de facto blasphemy law. Read more


29th October 2016, United States: Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz, along with other activists were targeted in a hit list by the Southern Poverty Law center, which appeared to provide a field guide of anti-Muslim extremists. Ali and Nawaz are both prominent for calling for Islamic reform and for working collaboratively with people from Muslim communities, not against them as claimed by the SLPC. Subsequently, a petition to remove their names from the list was launched, while users on social media platforms called responded with Read more

6th October 2016, Iran: Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was ordered to serve a six-year jail term by Iranian judges for writing about death by stoning in her country. The unpublished fictional story was found during a raid at her home. Iraee was accused of ‘insulting Islamic sanctities’ for which she was sentenced to five years imprisonment and one additional year for ‘spreading propaganda against the ruling system’. Read more

28th September 2016, Singapore: Amos Yee


amos-yeeAmos Yee, aged 17, has been issued a prison sentence after he was found guilty by a Singapore court of “wounding religious feelings”. Yee was said to be deliberately posting videos and comments critical of Christianity and Islam, in a move which Judge Ong Hian Sun told the court  could “generate social unrest”.  Yee was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, as part of his sentence, which has stimulated renewed debate in the region about freedom of expression. Read more

25th September 2016, Jordan: Nahed Hattar

nahed-hatterWriter Nahed Hattar was shot dead at the entrance of the Amman courthouse in Jordan where he was due to stand trial for blasphemy for “insulting Islam”. Hatter had shared a cartoon on his Facebook page, which depicted the Muslim God Allah in paradise. The creator of the cartoon is currently unknown. His killer is believed to be a former Iman. His murder attracted both criticism and praise from public figures in the region. Hattar, a secular Christian, had taken down the offending image before his arrest, stating that the cartoon was a depiction of the beliefs of Islamic State militants and mocked “how they imagine God and heaven, and does not insult God in any way.” Read more

25 July 2016, UK: Faizah Shaheen

Faizah ShaheenFaziah Shaheen a British Muslim, was detained and questioned by police officers, on the basis of a book she was reading, titled, Syria Speaks, an anthology of work by more than fifty Syrian writers, artists and activists. While Shaheen was returning from her honeymoon in Turkey, a cabin crew member saw the book and reported her as suspicious. On her return to London, she was held and questioned for 15 minutes. Shaheen’s job involves working to prevent teenagers with poor mental health from becoming radicalised. Read more

3 June 2016, Nigeria: Bridget Patience Agbahime

fireproof-libraryDuring a tense argument on religion at the Kofar Wambai market in Kano, Agbahime is said to have “blasphemed against the Prophet Muhammad” and was brutally attacked by a mob of Islamist youths, who decapitated her, parading her dismembered head. The murder of Agbahime follows a brutal history of the beheadings of those accused of blasphemy in the Sharia compliant states of Nigeria. Christianah Oluwasesin, Grace Ushang and Gideon Akaluka were murdered in separate incidents for desecrating the Qur’an and for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. Read more

7 May 2016, Pakistan: Khurram Zaki

Khurram Zaki

Secular human rights activist Khurram Zaki was shot and killed in Karachi by Islamists with links to the Pakistani Taliban. Zaki was a campaigner for secularism and democratic values and was an editor of the website Let us Build Pakistan, which condemns sectarianism and promotes progressive values. The gunmen have said they killed Zaki because of his recent campaign against an Islamist cleric at the Red Mosque in Islamabad for violence against Shia muslims in the region. Read more

28 April 2016, Turkey: Ceyda Karan & Hikmet Cetinkaya


Journalists Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Cetinkaya have been sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy after they reprinted a Charlie Hebdo cover above their columns in the secular newspaper Cumhuriyet Daily. The printed column depicted the prophet Mohammad as shown in the Charlie Hebdo front-page, bringing charges of “insulting religious values.” The journalists are to launch an appeal against the ruling. Read more

26 April 2016, Yemen: Omar Mohammad Bataweel

Omar Bataweel

Teenage atheist Omar Mohammad Bataweel was shot and killed by Islamists in Yemen after being outed through social media. Bataweel was abducted from his home in the southern Yemeni city of Aden by gunmen who killed and dumped him in the Sheikh Othman district. Bataweel had received death threats from extremists following his Facebook posts which were critical of Islam. Apostasy and public renunciation of Islam is punishable by death in Yemen. Read more

23 April 2016, Bangladesh: Rezaul Karim-Siddique

Rezaul Karim SiddiqueRezaul-Karim-Siddique, an English professor at Rajshahi University has died in an attack police believe was carried out by Islamists in Bangladesh. Karim-Siddique was ambushed by a gang of assailants one of whom slit his throat, nearly decapitating him as others hacked at his body with machetes. Karim-Siddique’s murder comes after three other professors at RU and atheist bloggers in the country suffered a similar fate in response to their advocacy for secularism. Read more

7 April 2016, Bangladesh: Nazimuddin Samad

nazimuddin samadNazimuddin Samad, a Bangladeshi humanist and blogger was brutally attacked with a machete, and shot and killed by Islamists in Dhaka. Samad was a vocal critic of Islamism whether perpetrated though state violence or within communities hostile to women. Samad, born in 1989, spoke out against Sharia Law, and for justice for women who had been raped with impunity in Bangladesh. In life, Samad had said; “Evolution is scientific truth. Religion and race are [an] invention of the savage and uncivil people”. Read more

21 February 2016, United Kingdom: Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie FatwaA coalition of Iranian media networks have reinstated the quest for the killing of Salman Rushdie for longstanding charges of blasphemy. The network, comprising of 40 organisations have put forward a bounty of $600,000. In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued the initial fatwa against Rushdie on release of his novel The Satanic Verses offering a $3 million reward. The chilling series of events that followed compelled Rushdie to withdraw from public life. The hunt for Rushdie resulted in the attempted assassination of a number of translators and publishers in multiple locations. Hitoshi Igarashi, a professor of Islamic art and history had translated the novel into Japanese. Igarashi was murdered in 1991. Read more

6 January 2016, Nigeria: Abdulaziz Dauda

Abdulaziz Dauda InyassIslamic cleric Abdulaziz Dauda also known as Inyass has been sentenced to death by hanging on charges of blasphemy. The ruling, which took place at a Sharia court in Kano, Nigeria, came after a speech at the the Maulud festival where Dauda compared Prophet Muhammad as equal to the prophet of another religion. Hundreds of Muslim youths responded to Dauda’s speech by rioting and arson, calling for the prophet to be avenged. Nine people, only known as ‘the Kano nine’, who had defended Dauda were also sentenced to death by hanging. While some Nigerian activists took to Twitter with the hashtag #SaveKanoNine, the Kano state government welcomed the ruling as a triumph against blasphemers. Read more

24 November 2015, Saudi Arabia: Ashraf Fayadh
Ashraf Fayadh

Ashraf-Fayadh has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for apostasy [renouncing Islam]. Fayadh, a Palestinian refugee and celebrated poet was arrested by the religious police who detained him in August 2013 after receiving a complaint that he was blaspheming against Allah and the prophet Muhammad, insulting Saudi Arabia and distributing a book of his poems that promoted atheism. Fayadh denied the accusations of blasphemy and told the court he was a faithful Muslim. Fayadh is set to launch an appeal amidst the global outcry against his sentence. Read more

7 August 2015, Bangladesh: Niloy Neel Chakrabarti

niloy neelBangladeshi secular blogger Niloy Chakrabarti, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel has been killed in his home in a gruesome murder in which he was hacked to death by Islamists. Neel, a Hindu humanist was ambushed in his bedroom by the gang who targeted him for speaking out against fundamentalism and for human rights. Imran H Sarkar, head of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network described Neel as an anti-extremist voice of reason, saying “He was the voice against fundamentalism and extremism and was even a voice for minority rights – especially women’s rights and the rights of indigenous people.” Read more

19 May 2015, Iran: Atena Farghadani

Aetna Farghadani28-year-old Iranian satirical cartoonist Atena Farghadani is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for drawing a cartoon criticising proposed draft laws which were aimed at outlawing vasectomies and restricting women’s access to contraception. While on remand, Farghadani was further humiliated by being subject to a forced virginity test. Farghadani protested with a hunger strike and continues to draw in prison on materials such as paper cups. Read more

27 February 2015, Bangladesh: Avijit Roy

Avijit RoyBangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy was murdered by Ansarullah Bangla Islamists in Dhaka, who had published a ‘hit list’ of targets of humanist and secular writers in 2013. Roy, who founded the Mukto-Mona blog was an outspoken advocate of secularism and free expression in Bangladesh. Roy’s killing is the fifth reported incident in a string of brutal attacks against atheists and freethinkers in Bangladesh. Read more

14 February 2015, Denmark: Finn Nørgaard

Finn NørgaardDuring an event on freedom of expression, Finn Nørgaard was murdered by a lone Islamist at a meeting linked to a conference titled “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression” organized by the Lars Vilks Committee and held at the Krudttønden culture center in Østerbro. Vilks had been the subject of death threats sanctioned by numerous Islamist factions including al-Qaeda following accusations of blasphemy. The killer shot Nørgaard, a filmmaker with an assault rifle at close range. A number of officials were also wounded in the same incident. Read more

16 January 2015, Mauritania: Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid

Biram Ould Dah Ould AbeidThree anti-slavery activists in Mauritania have been sentenced to prison for their work which was deemed by the court as illegal activities. Bram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, a prominent politician and head of an anti-slavery group, was convicted along with Bilal Ramdane and Djiby Sow, a civil rights campaigner. Read more

9 January 2015, Saudi Arabia: Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi

In 2012 Raif Badawi wrote on his blog Free Saudi Liberals about the need for secularism and equality between Muslims, Christians and unbelievers alike. He was arrested for insulting Islam and charged with Apostasy. In 2013, he was convicted on several charges and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. In 2014, his sentence was increased to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes and a fine. The flogging was to be carried out over 20 weeks. Badawi was whipped the first 50 lashes on 9th January 2015 and remains in prison. Read more

7 January 2015, France: Charlie Hebdo

Stéphane CharbonnierStéphane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier along with 10 others, were murdered by Jihadists in a mass shooting the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo. The attack came 4 years after their office was firebombed in 2011. Following the incident, the phrase ‘Je Suis Charlie’ came to be a defiant symbol of solidarity against censorship. Read more

25 December 2014, Mauritania: Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir

Mohamed MkhatirMohamed Mkhaitir has been sentenced to death by firing squad in accordance with Sharia Law for the crime of insulting Islam. The 28-year-old journalist wrote an article that was critical of the Prophet Muhammad, drawing links to Mauritania’s discriminatory caste system and continued slavery of black Africans among upper-class Arabs. Mkhaitir remains on death row. Read more

2 November 2004, Netherlands: Theo Van Gogh

Theo Van Gough

Filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered in 2004 following the release of a film he collaborated on with his friend, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In the film, titled Submission Part 1, a veiled woman challenged the subjugation of women under Islam. Shortly after the film was broadcast on Dutch television, Gogh was gunned down in Amsterdam before the second instalment of the film could be produced. His killer, who had fired 8 shots, attempted to decapitate Gogh and pierced his chest with a knife that carried a death threat to Ali. Subsequently, a memorial entitled ‘De Schreeuw’ (The Scream) was installed in the Oosterpark as a monument to freedom of expression. Read more

22 November 2002, Nigeria: Isioma Daniel

Isioma DanielIn 2002, a fatwa was issued against Nigerian journalist Isioma Daniel after she made reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s many wives in reference to a beauty pageant in the country. Her comments were deemed as inflammatory by Muslim clerics and sparked the Miss World riots leading to the mass murders of 220 people, which also left 1,000 people injured and 11,000 homeless. Zamfara state deputy governor Mamuda Shinkafi declared; “Like Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed. It is abiding on all Muslims wherever they are to consider the killing of the writer as a religious duty”. Daniel fled to Europe in exile. Read more