2015 has been a terrible, appalling year so far. In just a few short months, brave outspoken people have been attacked, tortured and murdered time after time around the world. The list of names, unfortunately, continues to grow.
Aisyah Tajuddin is a journalist with an independent radio station in Malaysia who is facing rape and death threats and investigation by policy for blasphemy – all this, according to The Independent, due to an outspoken video critical of a political party’s proposals. In other words – something Rick Mercer or the crew at This Hour Has 22 Minutes might do without a second thought.
I’ve said that this has been a terrible, appalling year – and clearly I meant that in relation to the issue of blasphemy laws and punishments that have broken into my awareness….and inevitably, I asked myself if it was possible that 2015 has been no different than any other year excepting that I’m paying attention to blasphemy laws this year when I honestly hadn’t given the issue specific ongoing scrutiny in the past.
Is 2015 so very different?
The Independent article seems to offer a hint that 2015 is actually different in Malaysia:
29 people have been arrested or investigated under the law so far in 2015, compared to 23 in the whole of 2014, according to Amnesty International.
On the same page as the article, I found a link to another story with the headline Atheists are being hacked to death in Bangladesh, and soon there will be none left.
Probably the words which I take most seriously and with grave concern in this article by Rory Fenton are in two separate but inseparable paragraphs:
My contact had written for the same blog as Rahman. The message sent by his murder was clear: “This is beyond just insulting the Prophet. They don’t want anyone to question any authority, it doesn’t even have to be insulting; they will silence you”.
Washiqur Rahman was right: words cannot be killed. But a struggling movement can only take so much battering, and Bangladeshi atheism is fighting to survive.
Maybe 2015 is no worse than any other year…and shouldn’t the idea that 2015 isn’t an anomaly be more chilling than the idea that it is?