Blasphemy bans are struck out in Ireland and reinforced in Austria

20181103_BLP504Source: The Economist

WHEN it comes to basic principles of free speech and freedom of belief, do the nations of Europe form a coherent bloc, determined to apply those principles at home and advocate them round the world? A whole raft of institutions, from the 28-nation European Union to the 47-nation Council of Europe (and its most powerful arm, the European Court of Human Rights) has been built on that assumption. Individually and collectively, Europe’s democracies are supposed to stand for enlightenment freedoms.

In fact, the trends at work in Europe are wildly contradictory, as two recent news reports bring home. On October 26th voters in Ireland opted to strike out their constitution’s requirement for a legal ban on blasphemy, a provision that dates back to the days when a conservative Catholic church dominated the republic’s affairs.

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