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. Also see Victims of Apostasy & Blasphemy.


Almaas Elman

Almaas Elman ( -2019)

Almaas Elman was a Somali-Canadian humanitarian aid worker and prominent rights activist, the eldest daughter of a prominent family of humanitarian aid-workers. Her parents were Elman Ali Ahmed and Fartuun Adan. She, her mother and her sisters emigrated to Canada in the early 1990s. Her father was gunned down in 1996. Almaas was shot dead in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on 20 November 2019. She is believed to have been attending a meeting for the Elman Peace Centre, founded in 1990 by her father.   More+

Mena Mangal

Mena Mangal (1992-2019)

Mena Mangal, Afghan journalist and political advisor, who was vocal about women’s rights in the country, has been gunned down in broad daylight, just days after saying she believed her life was in danger. Mena Mangal was shot dead on Saturday morning in a public place while she was on her way to work in the capital city of Kabul. Women’s rights activists have expressed grief and anger that Ms. Mangal was not better protected by authorities despite making her fears clear.  More+



Charlie Hebdo Staff

Charlie Hebdo ( -2015)

On 7 January 2015, two Islamist gunmen forced their way into the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo and opened fire, killing 12: 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.   More+

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. 


Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla

Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla ( -2014)

Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, a journalist who went missing in the Maldives five years ago was killed by a local affiliate of al-Qaeda, an investigator has said, publicly acknowledging for the first time the hardline group's existence and efforts to silence liberal voices in the Indian Ocean island nation. Ahmed was forced into a car at knifepoint outside his home on the island of Hulhumale and taken to a boat out at sea where he was killed, said Husnu Suood, the head of a presidential commission set up to investigate the case.  More+


Punjab Governor Salman Taseer

Salman Taseer (1944-2011)

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+



Shahbaz Bhatti

Shahbaz Bhatti (1968-2011)

Shahbaz 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+



Theo Van Gogh

Theo Van Gogh (1957-2004)

Theo 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+



Annalena Tonelli

Annalena Tonelli (1943-2003)

Annalena Tonelli was an Italian lawyer and social activist. As a Roman Catholic volunteer she worked 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. Also see video Legacy of a Nobody.   More+



Fadime Sahindal

Fadime Şahindal (1975-2002)

Fadime Şahindal was a Kurdish immigrant who moved to Sweden from Turkey at the age of seven. She was murdered by her father, Rahmi, in January 2002 in an honor killing. Fadime was opposed to her family's insistence on an arranged marriage, and instead selected her own boyfriend. At first she kept the relationship secret, but her father found out about it. Fadime then left her family and moved to Sundsvall, where her brother found her and threatened her. She went to the police, who advised her at first to talk to her family. She then turned to the media with her story, after which she turned again to the police and was offered a secret identity. By turning to the media Fadime managed to receive support from the Swedish authorities, but she had also made the "shame" of her family public. She filed a lawsuit against her father and brother, accusing them of unlawful threats, and won.   More+



Haik Hovsepian Mehr

Haik Hovsepian Mehr (1945-1994)

Haik 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

Mehdi Dibaj (1935–1994)

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+



Farag Foda

Farag Foda (1946-1992)

Farag 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

Mahmoud Mohammed Taha (1909-1985)

Mahmoud 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+