Blasphemy Laws for Me, Not Thee
Unbelief Brief
September 11, 2023
A Pakistan court has ruled: Ahmadis do not count.

Number of Iranian executions this year surpasses 500

Iran Human Rights Monitor, which has been reporting on executions within Iran throughout the year of 2023, has now reported that more than 500 people have been executed by Iranian authorities this year.

Iranian authorities have clamped down with increasingly draconian austerity on protests and dissent since last year’s murder of Mahsa Amini in police custody, an event which interacted with various tensions in Iranian to unleash some of the most noteworthy protests in the country in years. Despite blasphemy being a capital offense in several Islamic countries, Iran alone stands out as a country which has actually followed through with executions for the offense, particularly in the last year.

Per reporting from Iran HRM, executions have continued into the month of September as well.

Blasphemy laws for me and not thee

Some countries in the Islamic world purport to have “generic” blasphemy laws aimed purely at preserving religious harmony. The texts of these laws are often taken directly from penal codes of previous colonial administrations (leading also to a widespread myth that blasphemy laws in the Islamic world are a legacy of colonialism and nothing more). However, in practice, they are used to protect Muslims and persecute religious minorities. (Incidentally, India is an example of this phenomenon in reverse, with ostensibly “impartial” blasphemy laws used to persecute its Muslim minority.)

A recent ruling in Pakistan exemplifies this phenomenon. One court has just ruled that one of the country’s blasphemy laws, particularly with regard to defacement of religious sites, does not apply to large swaths of Ahmadi Muslims’ places of worship.

This is unsurprising given the status of Ahmadis as a persecuted religious minority throughout the Islamic world. It is also unsurprising to anyone who recognizes the pretext of the “religious harmony” defense of blasphemy laws for what it is: a pretext.

Iggy Azalea’s blasphemy in Saudi Arabia

Australian rapper Iggy Azalea recently ignited a blasphemy controversy over a performance she gave in Saudi Arabia:

Many have condemned the lyrics as blasphemous, and have called out the kingdom for its double standards in allowing a performance to take place which has been decried as anti-Islamic. 

Azalea's set last Friday at the Gamers8 esports tournament in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, included the song Goddess, which she began by exclaiming to the audience, "Ladies, make some noise, it's a woman's world!"

Her lyrics were widely condemned for contradicting Islamic values, both inside and outside Saudi Arabia, with the lines "preaching about prophets, it ain't no one man can stop us, bow down to a goddess” generating the biggest backlash.

The morbidly curious may read more here.

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