(New York, N.Y.) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) released a new report today, Violence Against Perceived Blasphemers In The West: From Khamenei's Fatwa To The Present, authored by CEP Strategic Advisor Liam Duffy. The report isolates and examines a strand of Islamist violence motivated by perceived acts of blasphemy, its evolution, and the paradoxical responses to both perceived insults and violent responses as well as targets of attacks including Salman Rushdie, Theo Van Gogh, Samuel Paty, and others. It provides analysis of an emerging trend in which perceived Islamophobic politicians, commentators, and even outspoken Muslim critics of Islamism are targeted.
The report also presents a database of threats, plots, and acts of violence and terrorism against individuals and institutions accused of blasphemy against Islam in Western Europe, Turkey, North America, Japan, and Australia, beginning with the 1989 fire bombings of a newspaper and bookshop that respectively defended and stocked Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses. The targets for violence, the report notes, vary greatly, as do their motivations for their perceived acts of insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad.
ISIS, as well as its precursors al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and Islamic State in Iraq (IQI), has put an extreme emphasis on targeting alleged blasphemers, including offering a $100,000 bounty for the assassination of Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for his depiction of Muhammad.
The report warns that a notable decline in artistic and academic exploration of subject matter that could be perceived as blasphemous makes transgressing the norms enforced by blasphemy assassins more likely, as the bar for transgression is lowered further and further with each new controversy or episode of violence.
To read the full report, Violence Against Perceived Blasphemers In The West: From Khamenei's Fatwa To The Present, please click here.