Tell the U.S. Government to Stand Firm, Promote Freedom of Expression Around the World

The fundamental right to free expression is under attack around the world. The targets of the assault are those who question, criticize, or satirize religious beliefs, cultural customs, or political figures. These dissidents are not violent insurgents wielding guns or machetes, but writers, activists, thinkers, scholars, and everyday citizens living their lives and speaking their minds. Their weapons are pens, keyboards, and their own human voices.

Consider just a few recent examples:

  • In Bangladesh, four secularist bloggers have been murdered in the streets by Islamic extremists in 2015 alone, while the prime minister reprimands not the killers, but the bloggers, for hurting religious feelings. 
  • In Pakistan, a Christian mother of five has been sentenced to death for allegedly making derogatory comments about Muhammad.
  • In Russia, three feminist musicians were sentenced to two years in prison for performing a protest song at a Catholic Church.
  • In Saudi Arabia, a young man was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes for operating a website featuring content critical of religion.
  • In Egypt, Christians have been subjected to threats as well as actual physical violence for trying to attend church services, while an atheist was recently sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting religion.”
  • In Iran, seven leaders of the Bahá’í faith face twenty years in prison simply for belonging to a minority religion.

For many world leaders, these are not sufficient enough crackdowns on freedom of thought. While some leaders offer vague platitudes that invoke a need to curtail certain forms of sensitive speech, others are far more severe. They seek ironclad global restrictions on what can and cannot be expressed about religion and religious figures, criminalizing on a planetary scale any speech that might offend religious sentiments. Worried about further violence and wary of the appearance of insensitivity or imperialism, many pro-democracy governments and organizations have begun to soften in their defense of free expression.

Yet, the right to freedom of expression is not a luxury valued mainly by some Western elites; it is a widely accepted, foundational principle of civilization. Several important international agreements, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, clearly outline that freedom of expression is a universal right possessed by all persons, regardless of geography or nationality. 

CFI believes no one, anywhere, should face social or legal punishment simply for speaking about his or her beliefs in public, and no topic should be off limits—especially religion, which has such an enormous impact on the lives of billions. Join us today in communicating this message to U.S. government officials, and urging them to make the promotion of the right to freedom of expression an integral part of their legislative and political agenda.

Learn more about CFI's Campaign for Free Expression

Recipients

  • President Donald J. Trump
  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative

Contact

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Message

Please Support Freedom of Expression

Dear [Decision Maker],

I write you today as a friend of the Center for Inquiry, an advocacy organization that has just launched an important new initiative, the Campaign for Free Expression, which focuses on defending one of the most foundational human rights: the freedom to speak our minds.



I believe that no one, anywhere, should face social or legal punishment simply for speaking about his or her beliefs in public. And, importantly, no topic should be off limits -- especially religion, which has such an enormous impact on the lives of billions. Part of the freedom of expression is the freedom to inquire -- to ask questions and seek answers beyond what is dictated by a religious text or cultural dogma.

It's time for us as a unified human species to stand up and declare that jailing or attacking individuals over their peaceful expressions is unacceptable. On behalf of myself and the Center for Inquiry, I urge you to make promoting the right to freedom of expression an integral part of your legislative and political agenda, both domestic and abroad.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

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