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Is Critique Secular?Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech$
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Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251681

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251681.001.0001

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Free Speech, Blasphemy, and Secular Criticism

Free Speech, Blasphemy, and Secular Criticism

(p.14) Free Speech, Blasphemy, and Secular Criticism
Is Critique Secular?

Talal Asad

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines discursive oppositions between Islam and secular Christianity on issues of free speech and blasphemy, and between a political Islam linked to aggression and death and a secular West associated with rationality and life. Focusing on the Danish cartoon controversy—the protests and debates sparked by the publication of twelve editorial cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper in 2005 and in several European newspapers in 2008—it questions conventional ordinances of secularism, religion, insult, injury, blasphemy, dissent, and criticism. It also considers secular criticism, which is identified with freedom, truth, and reason, and religious censure, which is associated with obscurantism, intolerance, coercion, and arbitrary dictum.

Keywords:   free speech, Islam, Christianity, blasphemy, Danish cartoon controversy, Prophet Muhammad, secularism, religion, secular criticism, religious censure

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