Famous Blasphemy Cases

Believe it or not, it’s International Blasphemy Day!

In light of the day we look at Blasphemy Cases throughout the ages.

Muhammad Asghar

Edinburgh citizen Muhammad Asghar was arrested in 2010 after writing a series of letters claiming to be the Prophet Muhammad.

70 year-old was sectioned under the mental health act in the UK before travelling to Pakistan where blasphemy laws are much stricter.

He was sentenced to death and was shot by a security guard in an extremist protest. He is currently stable in hospital.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

1979 Comedy Film, ‘Life of Brian’ tells the story of a Jewish man born on the same day and next door to Jesus Christ. He is then constantly mistaken for Christ throughout his life.
The film, which starred the cast of Monty Python, was controversial from the outset. EMI Films withdrew the funding early on but former Beatle George Harrison came to the rescue and paid for its completion.
39 UK local authorities banned the film from cinemas while Ireland and Norway banned it country-wide.
Despite this the film grossed fourth highest film at the time.

Jyllands – Posten Muhammad Cartoons Controversy

In 2005 twelve cartoons of the prophet Muhammad appeared in the Christian newspaper Jyllands-Posten. According to the editor this was an attempt to become involved in the conversation about Islam and self-censorship.

They certainly became involved.

Danish Muslim groups complained and this spiralled into worldwide protests, violent demonstrations and even riots. 200 people across the globe died in these clashes.

Sudanese Teddy Bear Case
This 2007 case saw schoolteacher Gillian Gibbons was arrested and charged with blasphemy in Sudan after allowing her class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.
She was sentenced to fifteen days imprisonment and deportation. However much of the country were not happy with the outcome.
10,000 protesters took to the streets, many of with weapons, to demand Gibbons’ execution.

Greek Facebook User
In 2012 a 27-year-old man was arrested on the charge of ‘Malicious Blasphemy’ for setting up a satirical page on Facebook about Elder Paisos, a monk widely believed to be a saint.
The issue was taken to the government by neo-nazi group Golden Dawn. The man wasn’t charged.


Photo by Steven Lively

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