The Profanity Of Blasphemy Laws

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 13 2015 @ 12:41pm

Such laws are still common in much of the world:

blasphemy

Doug Bandow calls the murders of Charlie Hebdo staffers “the international cousins of those who murder alleged blasphemers and apostates in Muslim nations”:

Earlier this year the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that victims of the ongoing attack on free expression include people from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey.  Nowhere are blasphemy laws more used and abused than in Pakistan.

In its study on the issue USCIRF explained how the law encourages abuse:

“The so-called crime carries the death penalty or life in prison, does not require proof of intent or evidence to be presented after allegations are made, and does not include penalties for false allegations.”  Judges prefer not to hear evidence, since doing so could be construed as blasphemy.  A claim usually is sufficient to send someone to prison, making the law a common weapon in personal and business disputes.

Non-Muslims are peculiarly vulnerable.  Many people do not reach trial:  mobs have killed more than 50 people charged with the offense. And thugs like those who gunned down the Charlie Hebdo staffers have murdered judges who acquitted defendants, attorneys who represented those accused, and politicians who proposed reforming the laws.

Ireland, at least, is now rethinking its laws against blasphemy:

One article published by the Irish Times newspaper, titled “Why a referendum on blasphemy is long overdue,” specifically cites the words of Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier (aka “Charb”) as justification for an end to Ireland’s blasphemy laws. “Let’s repeal our blasphemy law if we really want to honor ‘Charlie,’ ” read a separate op-ed in the Irish Independent.

Meanwhile, an online poll conducted in response to the Paris attacks by news Web site TheJournal.ie found 64 percent in favor of scrapping the laws as quickly as possible.

Recent Dish on blasphemy laws here.