Blasphemy law

A blasphemy law is a law prohibiting blasphemy, which is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, or sacred objects, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable.[1][2][3][4] According to Pew Research Center, about a quarter of the world's countries and territories (26%) had anti-blasphemy laws or policies as of 2014.[5]

  No blasphemy laws
  Blasphemy laws repealed
  Subnational restrictions
  Fines and restrictions
  Prison sentences
  Death sentences

In some states, blasphemy laws are used to protect the religious beliefs of a majority, while in other countries, they serve to offer protection of the religious beliefs of minorities.[6][7][8]

In addition to prohibitions against blasphemy or blasphemous libel, blasphemy laws include all laws which give redress to those insulted on account of their religion. These blasphemy laws may forbid: the vilification of religion and religious groups, defamation of religion and its practitioners, denigration of religion and its followers, offending religious feelings, or the contempt of religion. Some blasphemy laws, such as those formerly existing in Denmark, do not criminalize "speech that expresses critique," but rather, "sanctions speech that insults."[9]

Human rights experts argue for laws which adequately distinguish between protection of individuals' freedoms and laws which over-broadly restrict freedom of speech. Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights obliges countries to adopt legislative measures against "any advocacy of national racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence."[10] However, they also note that such protections must be carefully circumscribed, and do not support prohibition of blasphemy per se.[11]


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