Statement on the Copenhagen and Libya Killings

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director - (207) 358-9785

Today, the Center for Inquiry released the following statement on the recent rash of killings in Copenhagen and Libya:

Yet again, we find ourselves faced with more instances of terroristic violence as a response to free speech and religion. Just weeks after journalists and cartoonists were murdered in Paris for criticism of religion, there are killings in Copenhagen and gruesome executions in Libya.

Both recent acts were motivated by a desire to silence others—merely because they believe and speak in ways disagreeable to their executioners. These murders strike at the heart of what we at the Center for Inquiry stand for, namely freedom of conscience and freedom of expression.

It is a deeply troubling commentary that so much blood is being shed because a tiny minority of extremists has decided that they cannot countenance having their ideas challenged in any form, be it in writing, in sketches, or even in the very existence of people who simply believe differently. To resort to violence and murder is to declare oneself incapable of rising to that challenge. It is a confession of the weakness of one’s position that it must be defended with bullets instead of words.

In noting these horrific events on foreign soil, we are not ignoring the recent tragedy in Chapel Hill. Although the exact motivations for the murder of the three young Muslims remains unclear, it is difficult to believe that anti-Muslim animosity did not play some role. But whatever the motivation of the killer, his actions must be condemned.

The recent spate of murders can be disheartening. It can make one wonder whether humanity is progressing or regressing. At the Center for Inquiry, however, it has redoubled our resolve. We will, as we always have, remain steadfast in our pursuit of the right to free expression and belief for all, whether or not we agree with those beliefs. We will continue to champion the right to satire, blasphemy, and all manner of peaceful criticism of religion and other sacredly held ideas. Similarly, we will continue to champion the right to peaceful expression of religion. We will continue to work toward a world in which atheists, humanists, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and people of whatever belief can live together in peace.

We offer our best wishes for a full recovery to those who have been hurt. And we offer our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in Copenhagen and Libya.

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at