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Free To Speak, Free To Blaspheme? Islam And Blasphemy47:18
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Islam and blasphemy. What it is and how it’s used and abused, from Charlie Hebdo in France to Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Pakistani Christians shout anti-government slogans during a rally to condemn killing of a Christian couple, in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. Police in Pakistan said they have arrested as many as 45 Muslims in connection with the killing of the Christian couple for allegedly desecrating the Quran. (AP)
Pakistani Christians shout anti-government slogans during a rally to condemn killing of a Christian couple, in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. Police in Pakistan said they have arrested as many as 45 Muslims in connection with the killing of the Christian couple for allegedly desecrating the Quran. (AP)

The killers at Charlie Hebdo in Paris shouted they had avenged the Prophet Mohammed.  Against the insult, the blasphemy, of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons.  Blasphemy can sound like a very old idea in much of the world.  But in the Islamic world, blasphemy is hot and very political.  In Pakistan, you can get a beating or worse in a hurry.  Saudi Arabia just sentenced a critic to 1000 lashes.  Mauritania has sentenced a blogger to death by firing squad for insulting the prophet.  And then there’s Charlie Hebdo.  This hour On Point:  the blasphemy charge, inside the Islamic world and beyond.
-- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Mustafa Akyol, columnist for Star and Hurriyet Daily News. Monthly opinion writer for the New York Times. Author of the book, "Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case For Liberty." (@akyolinenglish)

Sheikh Dr. Yasir Qadhi, Sunni cleric and dean of academic affairs at the Al-Maghrib Institute. (@yasirqadhi)

Clive Stafford Smith, founder and director of Reprieve, a British human rights legal non-profit. (@clivessmith)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Islam’s Problem With Blasphemy -- "This might seem unremarkable at first, but there is something curious about it, for the Prophet Muhammad is not the only sacred figure in Islam. The Quran praises other prophets — such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus — and even tells Muslims to 'make no distinction' between these messengers of God. Yet for some reason, Islamist extremists seem to obsess only about the Prophet Muhammad."

The Wall Street Journal: Charlie Hebdo Cover Attracts Middle East Condemnation -- "Many Muslims say that visual representations of the Prophet Muhammad are forbidden, in part because the Quran warns against idolatry, or anything that could contribute to the worship of 'false idols.' Ibrahim Negm, an adviser to Egypt’s Grand Mufti, urged for self-control at a lecture in New York, calling on Muslims to correct an increasingly distorted image of Islam, according to an account on Dar al-Iftaa’s website. He said Muslims should also demand that the defamation of religious symbols and beliefs be criminalized."

BBC News: Dieudonne held as France tackles hate speech — "Controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala has been detained by police for a Facebook comment appearing to back Paris gunman Amedy Coulibaly. His is one of dozens of cases opened by authorities in a crackdown on condoning or threatening terrorism. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said words of hatred and contempt had to be fought with the 'utmost vigour.'"

This program aired on January 15, 2015.

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