Challenging Anti-theist Ali Rizvi to a Debate on Blasphemy Laws

Last Summer, a statement by new atheist blogger Ali Rizvi caught my eye. He made the outrageous claim that the Koran endorses apostasy laws. I challenged him to a debate, which he initially accepted but shied away from for over a month, giving one excuse after another. Finally, we did have the debate and it is documented here on Huffington Post.

What we found from the debate was that Ali and terrorists (like ISIS/Taliban) flaunted the same narrative on Islam, while the Islam in the Koran that was exemplified by Prophet Muhammad (as followed by us moderates and reformers) was quite the opposite.

Since then, Ali Rizvi has been very bitter. He spends a great deal of his time preaching to his fellow anti-theist new atheists not to engage me, not to speak of his attempts to take down my published work from the Huffington Post, and his recent smear campaign that backfired badly. He made up a lie about me “outing an atheist,” and urged members of a private atheist group to spread it all over the internet. Luckily, some fellow atheists asked him for proof, of which he had none.

Atheist writer David Gamble wrote: “consistent refusal to cite any evidence at all for a claim completely blows away your credibility … “

My response to all this was simple: “Bitter about losing a debate? How about we have another one?” For the the most fitting response to a bad argument is a better argument, not abuse and slander.

So while I was reading a blog by another new atheist blogger, Fathima Nazeer, misrepresenting Islam’s stance on blasphemy, I invited her to an open debate on this topic. This is what I said to her:

“You said Koran 5:33 encourages killing of blasphemers, except that the verse speaks of those who waged war against the Muslims:

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution…”

It is intellectually dishonest to rely on extremist interpretations of Mullahs to make your point when the Koran clearly and explicitly speaks against blasphemy laws.”

Ali decided to rescue her from the situation. He insisted I should accept the terrorist understanding of “war,” where war meant blasphemy laws, and not war. Amusing.


Just as in the case of apostasy laws, he once again relied on the terrorists’ narrative, flaunting it as credible. If terrorists say war means blasphemy laws, why was I not agreeing with them, he bemoaned in frustration. Why would I read the Koran as it is written and not as the terrorists imagine it?


He kept insisting I should take war to mean blasphemy laws, yet refused to debate me on a public forum. Next, he claimed ISIS/other terrorists read the Koran literally, and I was reading it metaphorically.

Very interestingly, he hurriedly deleted the tweet in which he claimed ISIS and other terrorists take the Koran literally on blasphemy laws. He either realized he would be unable to defend that claim, or that it was a dishonest one. Either way, it was yet another proof of his intellectual dishonesty.

Related: Fareed Zakaria’s excellent piece on Blasphemy Laws in The Washington Post. 

He refused to even respond after this moment. For all we know so far, Ali Rizvi believes when Koran mentions “war,” it actually means “blasphemy laws.” My challenge to him still holds. If he is so confident he can prove his point intellectually, he should not be scared one bit. May the best (and honest) argument win.

Regardless of his agreeing or not to take the challenge, I will pen down a piece on Blasphemy laws mentioning his defense. Stay tuned.