Why repealing blasphemy laws might help promote religious freedom

By Brandon G. Withrow teaches religious studies at the University of Findlay. Follow him on Twitter at @bwithrow.

ReligionNews.com: In some countries, uttering, scribbling or texting that statement will get you thrown in jail, beaten with a rod or possibly killed. The “crime” is blasphemy and Wednesday (Sept. 30) is “International Blasphemy Rights Day,” set aside by human rights activists to highlight the blasphemy laws on the books in 22 percent of the world’s nations, according to the Pew Research Center.

Blasphemy laws have been deemed unconstitutional in US since 1952, the world needs catch up. For the Muslim Times' collection of articles on free speech

Blasphemy laws have been deemed unconstitutional in US since 1952, rest of the world needs catch up. For the Muslim Times’ collection of articles on free speech

Among those countries frequently cited by human rights groups with the most aggressive laws banning free expression are China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

“Freedom of conscience is a fundamental right, and it must be valued, protected and advanced everywhere in the world,” says Michael De Dora, director of the Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy — the organization behind Blasphemy Rights Day — and the center’s representative to the United Nations. The Center for Inquiry is a humanistic and First Amendment watchdog group based in Buffalo, N.Y.

Blasphemy laws have been deemed unconstitutional in the United States since 1952, but globally the picture is different.


13 replies

  1. Repealing such draconian laws will be a positive development. But how is that possible when Muhammad went after anyone who dared to differ from him and his followers are to emulate his sunna?

  2. Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God, to religious or holy persons or things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable. Some religions consider blasphemy as a religious crime.

    The word “blasphemy” came via Middle English blasfemen and Old French blasfemer and Late Latin blasphemare from Greek βλασφημέω, from βλάπτω “injure” and φήμη “utterance, talk, speech”. From blasphemare also came Old French blasmer, from which English “blame” came. Blasphemy: ‘from Gk. blasphemia “a speaking ill, impious speech, slander,” from blasphemein “to speak evil of.”‘[7] “In the sense of speaking evil of God this word is found in Ps. 74:18; Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24; Rev. 13:1, 6; 16:9, 11, 21. It denotes also any kind of calumny, or evil-speaking, or abuse.

  3. In the US politics human rights seem to be only for home consumption (if that). The US behavior in Arab countries does not show that they have any idea of human rights. (See Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya etc.).

  4. Rafiq,
    I am not an American, you said you are. It is not my place to defend America, especially now. Be that as it may, it is utterly incongruous that with such ‘appalling human rights record’, millions of you are dying to emigrate to America. Could it be that the motive for such influx is sinister, as many suspect? It seems you have confirmed it.
    You were born a Swiss national but somewhere along the line became a naturalized American. If the record is so bad, why do you still remain American sharing that ‘collective guilt’?
    There will appropriate response to specific allegations of American human rights violations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya. To do otherwise amounts to a wild goose chase.
    Since the truth is an enemy to many, this reply is likely to go the way of many others similar to it.

  5. Rafiq,
    I am accustomed to denials. When I first appeared here, something arose which caused me to ask if you were Pakistani. Your reply was that you were Swiss but with dual American citizenship. If now you say that is no longer the case, then fair and fine. I don’t think the Americans will miss you.
    Americans should have multiple heart attacks as their tax money is squandered on asylum seekers who look for heavens after destroying their countries.

  6. I can’t recall when that conversion took place because time has passed. But do you live or sometime live in America?
    Is America the sole manufacturer of bullets? The muhammadan terrorists are not getting their bullets from America. They have the capacity and capability of manufacturing what they want and those bullets do much of the killing you allude to.

  7. Namelee there are 1.5 billion Muslims and they are not all identical twins.

    Can you begin to make some distinctions among them or are you too old to learn any new tricks?

  8. Zia’
    Tricks are not facts and should not be employed by honest people. Tricks are deceit. That is why some of us do not learn them, old or new.
    Not all twins are identical. Siblings share a number of common traits and that is the case with muhammadans.

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