For Immediate Release: September 9, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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As atheist bloggers are being murdered with impunity by Islamists in Bangladesh, and nine years after the eruption of violence over “blasphemous” drawings of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish paper, Free Inquiry — the first national U.S. publication to reproduce the “Danish cartoons” — presents a provocative special issue on blasphemy and the global efforts to suppress dissent and criticism of religion. Just as in 2006, Free Inquiry breaks ground as the first national U.S. print publication to publish the controversial first-prize cartoon of the Garland, Texas “Draw Muhammad” contest, which was terrorized by a shooting attack in May.
Free Inquiry commemorates International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD) with a collection of powerful pieces on the absolute necessity of free expression, and the cultural capitulations that too often occur when some believers claim their religious sentiments are offended. IBRD was established by the Center for Inquiry in 2009 as a bold response to the worldwide crackdown on the right to free expression, to be held each September 30, the anniversary of the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten.
Free Inquiry editor Tom Flynn kicks off discussion with an overview of the media’s record of silence and submission when religious criticism has inflamed passions, including Free Inquiry’s publication of the Danish cartoons and subsequent banning by booksellers. The piece includes the prize-winning cartoon by Bosch Fawstin for the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s “Draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas in May of this year. It features an enraged, sword-wielding Muhammad, shown in mid-sketch, shouting, “You can’t draw me!” to which the unseen artist responds, “That’s why I draw you.” See it here.
Plus, Center for Inquiry president Ronald A. Lindsay decries efforts from the theocratic right as well as the progressive left to curtail criticism of religion, declaring, “This journal is not going to be intimidated or cowed into silence about any claim, political or religious…whether the attempt to silence us is based on overt threats or rhetoric derived from the canons of identity politics.”
Also in this issue: Elizabeth Cassidy of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom warns of the dire consequences of blasphemy laws; Stephen R. Welch recounts the lessons yet to be learned from the fatwa on Salman Rushdie and the “veto of the offended”; and Gregory Paul pronounces Jesus Christ to have been a “coward,” backing up his claim with evidence from the gospels themselves.
This issue of Free Inquiry may prove to be the most provocative and hotly debated issue of any journal this year, and it will be available on newsstands soon…we hope!
See Free Inquiry‘s original 2006 article with the “Danish cartoons” of Muhammad.
Free Inquiry is a bimonthly magazine, published by the Center for Inquiry, in association with the Council for Secular Humanism, featuring insightful commentary from such leading political and social commentators as Arthur Caplan, Greta Christina, Nat Hentoff, and Russell Blackford.