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Martyrs for Freedom

  These Martyrs for Freedom stood courageously against the oppression of Apostasy and Blasphemy codes in Islam. They were willing to give their lives for the freedom of thought, conscience, and the freedom of speech. They stood firmly for these principles for the sake of the future generations. This page is to honor them and to serve as a reminder for us to stand with them, follow their steps in their struggle for freedom and to finish what they have started.  
     
 

Charlie Hebdo (2015)

Charlie Hebdo Staff

On 7 January 2015, two Islamist gunmen forced their way into the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo and opened fire, killing twelve: staff cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous and Wolinski, economist Bernard Maris, editors Elsa Cayat and Mustapha Ourrad, guest Michel Renaud, maintenance worker Frédéric Boisseau and police officers Brinsolaro and Merabet, and wounding eleven. During the attack, the gunmen shouted "Allahu akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic) and also "the Prophet is avenged". President François Hollande described it as a "terrorist attack of the most extreme barbarity". The two gunmen were identified as Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, French Muslim brothers of Algerian descent.

Thank you Charlie Hebdo for your stand for freedom of speech, for your courage, for your persistence, for your willingness to sacrifice. When the media outlets shrank back because of fear and political correctness, you did not. Your stand brought a breath of hope for freedom for the oppressed and the deprived from freedom of speech in the Middle East and the World - for over 1.3 billion Muslims who do not have freedom of speech, like Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia and Asia Bibi in Pakistan. You stood in solidarity with victims of freedom of speech, with Theo Van Gogh in Holland, Mohammed Qatta, Syrian teenager, Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer and many others who were murdered for blasphemy. In spite of all your pain and grief you worked hard to publish the next edition. Your stand was a tipping point. A million thanks. Long live freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there is no freedom. Our condolence for your great loss. It was not in vain.

 

Salman Taseer (1944-2011)

Punjab Governor Salman Taseer

Salman Taseer was a Pakistani businessman and politician who served as the 26th governor of the province of Punjab from 2008 until his assassination in early 2011. A member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), he had served also as a minister in the caretaker cabinet of Prime Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro under Pervez Musharraf. Taseer was also the chairman and CEO of the First Capital and Worldcall Group. He was appointed to the post of governor on 15 May 2008, in place of outgoing governor Lt Gen Khalid Maqbool, by then-President Musharraf at the request of the PPP establishment. On 4 January 2011, Taseer was assassinated in Islamabad by his own security guard Mumtaz Qadri, who disagreed with Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law. More +

 

Theo Van Gogh (1957-2004)

Theo Van GoghTheo Van Gogh was born in The Hague, Netherlands. He was the great-grandson of Theo Van Gogh, the brother of the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh. His father, Johan Van Gogh, was a member of the Dutch secret service ('AIVD', then called 'BVD'). Theo's uncle, also named Theo, was executed by the Germans as a resistance fighter during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II. Van Gogh was a Dutch film director, film producer, columnist, author and actor. He worked with the Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali to produce the film Submission, which criticized the treatment of women in Islam and aroused controversy among Muslims. On 2 November 2004 he was assassinated by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim. More +


Farag Foda (1946-1992)

Farag FodaFarag Foda was born near Damietta in the Nile Delta. He worked as professor of agriculture. He wrote numerous books and contributed as a columnist to the Egyptian magazine October. Based in Cairo, Foda was noted for his critical articles and trenchant satires about Islamic fundamentalism in Egypt. In many newspaper articles, he pointed out weak points in Islamist ideology. Foda felt that he was defending Islam against its distortion by Islamists. Shortly before he was assassinated, he had mocked an ongoing dispute among ulamas about sex in paradise. On 8 June 1992, after leaving his office, Foda was shot dead by two Islamic fundamentalists. His son and other bystanders were seriously wounded in the attack. The jihadist group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya claimed responsibility. One of those involved in Foda's murder, Abu El'Ela Abdrabu (Abu Al-'Ela Abd Rabbo), was released from prison in 2012 under Mohamed Morsi's government having served his sentence. More +

 

Mahmoud Mohammed Taha (1909-1985)

Mahmoud Mohammed TahaMahmoud Mohammed Taha was a Sudanese religious thinker, leader, and trained engineer. He was born in Ruffaa, a town on the eastern bank of the Blue Nile. He was educated as a civil engineer in a British-run university in the years before Sudan's independence. After working briefly for Sudan Railways he started his own engineering business. In 1945, he founded an anti-monarchical political group, the Republican Party, and was twice imprisoned by the British authorities. On 5 January 1985 Taha was arrested for distributing pamphlets calling for an end to Shari'a law in Sudan. Brought to trial on 7 January he refused to participate. The trial lasted two hours with the main evidence being confessions that the defendants were opposed to Sudan's interpretation of Islamic law. The next day he was sentenced to death along with four other followers (who later recanted and were pardoned) for "heresy, opposing application of Islamic law, disturbing public security, provoking opposition against the government, and reestablishing a banned political party." More +

Shahbaz Bhatti (1968-2011)

Shahbaz BhattiShahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's federal minorities minister, a Christian, was gunned down in the capital city of Islamabad on 2 March 2011. This was the second killing of a senior government official who had spoken out against the nation's stringent blasphemy laws. Bhatti predicted that he would be a Taliban target after speaking out against blasphemy laws. He was driving from his mother's house in Islamabad when gunmen pumped more than 20 bullets through the door and windshield of his car, according to eyewitnesses and the police. The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, called Bhatti a "Pakistani patriot and a voice for understanding" who was dedicated to making his country "a beacon of democratic tolerance." More + 

 

Annalena Tonelli (1943-2003)

Annalena TonelliAnnalena Tonelli was an Italian lawyer and social activist. A Roman Catholic volunteer she working for 33 years in East Africa, where she focused on tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, campaigns for eradication of female genital mutilation, and special schools for hearing-impaired, blind and disabled children. In June 2003, Tonelli was awarded the Nansen Refugee Award, which is given annually by the UNHCR to recognize outstanding service to the cause of refugees. In October 2003, she was killed in her hospital by a gunmen. Her murder remains unsolved. See video "Legacy of a Nobody"More +

 

 

 
Haik Hovsepian Mehr (1945-1994)

Haik Hovsepian MehrHaik Hovsepian Mehr was the boldest of the Christian church leaders in defending Christian rights in Iran. He disappeared in Tehran just days after one of his church members, Mehdi Dibaj, was freed from prison. Dibaj had been sentenced to death on charges of 'apostasy' (converting from Islam to Christianity) and Hovsepian Mehr had been instrumental in bringing Dibaj's plight to the attention of the world. Hovsepian Mehr apparently died the day after his disappearance, and his body was identified from photographs shown to his family on Sunday. Iranian police denied that he had been detained by the country's security forces, but international human-rights groups are treating the death with suspicion and have demanded an inquiry. More +

 

 

Mehdi Dibaj (1935–1994)

Mehdi Dibaj Mehdi Dibaj was an Iranian Christian convert from Sunni Islam, pastor and Christian martyr. Dibaj became a Christian as a young man and joined the Jama'at-e Rabbani Church, the Iranian branch of the Assemblies of God. After the 1979 Iranian revolution he encountered difficulties. In 1983 he was arrested and imprisoned without trial in Sari and systematically tortured. He was finally tried by an Islamic court in Sari on 3 December 1993 and sentenced to death on charges of apostasy. At his trial Dibaj declared: "I am not only satisfied to be in prison for the honour of His Holy Name, but am ready to give my life for the sake of Jesus my Lord." Following a worldwide outcry initiated by his friend and colleague Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr, Dibaj was finally freed in January 1994, although the death sentence was not lifted. Just three days later, Haik Hovsepian Mehr was abducted and murdered. Dibaj was abducted on Friday, 24 June 1994. His body was found in a west Tehran park on Tuesday, 5 July 1994. More+