End blasphemy laws threatening minorities: U.N. faith expert

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Countries should repeal all laws punishing blasphemy and people who leave a faith, the United Nations' top expert on freedom of religion said on Wednesday, thrusting himself into a debate between many in the Muslim world and the West.


Legislation outlawing apostasy – the act of changing religious affiliation – and insults against religious figures could be used to violate the rights of minorities, Heiner Bielefeld said in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

 
 

The comments from the United Nations' special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief came amid heightened focus on faith-based laws in countries like Saudi Arabiaand Pakistan, where blasphemy carries the death penalty.

"States should repeal any criminal law provisions that penalize apostasy, blasphemy and proselytism, as they may prevent persons belonging to religious or belief minorities from fully enjoying their freedom of religion or belief," he said in the report.

Rights campaigners say the blasphemy law in Pakistan is widely used against religious minorities, including Christians, Ahmadis and more recently Shiah Muslims, usually on flimsy pretexts.

The posting of an amateurish U.S.-made video mocking the Prophet Mohammad, and the publication of caricatures of him in France last year led to violent protests and renewed calls from the Muslim world for a global law against blasphemy.

Speaking on the fringes of the rights council on Wednesday, Bielefeld said criminalizing concepts like blasphemy was dangerous for free speech because there could be no common definition of what it was.

Written By: Robert Evans
continue to source article at reuters.com

16 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by mmurray:

      “Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief”, in order that the position’s name may more accurately capture the need for the Special Rapporteur to protect individuals’s right to change religion or abstain from religious belief.

      This right to freedom of… and more importantly from…. religion might have been better worded, this stinks of prevarication and hiding away the legislation in case it scares the horses,or you know, offends them!
      But the great get out of jail clause is forever on these empty worded declarations…Non-enforceable!.

      That is where the finest words or clearest demonstration of morality always hits the buffers.
      Because it has precisely no teeth to bite theist ass.

  1. Well, duh.

    I suppose it’s important to make an official statement, but this is in the category of ruling that acid throwing is bad, or stoning your children is counter-productive to their development.

    • In reply to #2 by justinesaracen:

      Well, duh.

      I suppose it’s important to make an official statement, but this is in the category of ruling that acid throwing is bad, or stoning your children is counter-productive to their development.

      Yes but sadly these things are not automatic at the UNHRC. In the past they have been under pressure from the Islamic countries to go in the opposite direction and oppose “defamation of religion”.

      Michael

  2. Sometimes it feels like some weird parallel universe where up is down and visa versa…

    That such a no brainer report needs to be ‘officially’ released to the barking at the UN says more about the UN and their savvy, then they should perhaps find comfortable.

    It is almost as if these UN delegates have had a intelligence by-pass.

    This should be an automatic human right enshrined since year dot…or at least since 1945.

    Just shows how much interference religion has wielded in the past, it also shows, to some lesser degree, how much theist gobbly gook seems to be losing traction these days I suppose, but still when it requires legislation or indeed ‘a report’ to highlight the lack of ethical morality in the major worlds delusions one can tell there is yet far, very far to go on the path to rationality…and is seems we are dragging the dead-weight of sheer dumb ignorant, petulant, desultory, dummy spitting theism over every rocky slippery up hill step of the way with them thrashing and fighting and whining, throwing the mutha’ of all tantrums continually.

    We will get there, but occasional chastisement of the brat might be the pragmatic way.

    • In reply to #4 by Jon Snow:

      This should be an automatic human right enshrined since year dot…or at least since 1945.

      It was in 1948 in the UDHR.

      Article 18.

      Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

      But people seem to keep forgetting and many of the Islamic nations thought it was western imperialism anyway I think. All that wishy washy rights stuff when what people really need is a serious stoning:

      Michael

  3. People who organise their lives on preposterous medieval ‘thinking’ and think everyone else should do likewise are not going to pay the slightest bit of attention. However, it’s better than the UN falling off the fence the other way and sanctioning their calls for blasphemy laws.

  4. On reading this article I couldn’t help but put myself in the position of someone in one of the countries which will be called upon to repeal their laws on apostasy, blasphemy and prosletysm.

    Would I as a British citizen like to have a foreign organization dictate my nations affairs? No I would not.

    But that is not in any way, shape or form to oppose the repeal of these divisive, antediluvian, vicious and stupid laws and traditions, which should have been done away with long, long ago, but I think it’s important to see things from the point of view of the enemy. And there is no doubt in my mind that religion is the enemy of freedom and progress.

    So, as with all activities there has to be a trade off, or a price to pay, but they’ll get over it!

    • From Stafford Gordon #10

      Would I as a British citizen like to have a foreign organization dictate my nations affairs?

      It depends on the dictates. When it comes to freedom, rights and justice, I want them no matter where they come from. The source is irrelevant. Most people in Britain forget that the only “rights” Brits have, actually come from Europe.

      • In reply to #11 by old-toy-boy:

        From Stafford Gordon #10Would I as a British citizen like to have a foreign organization dictate my nations affairs?It depends on the dictates. When it comes to freedom, rights and justice, I want them no matter where they come from. The source is irrelevant. Most people in Britain forget that the only “rights” Brits have, actually come from Europe.

        You exaggerate. The fundamental rights of the British were established in the year 1215 with the signing of Magna Carta.

        And one of our most important rights is One Law for All, which will be seriously compromised if Sharia Law ever gets a toe hold in this country.

        As far as Europe’s concerned, there were the small matters of the first and second half of the great slaughter, known as the first and second world wars, which created the need for the Union, but of course what starts off as a good idea can always become silly, and we have to watch it carefully, but it’s also silly to say that all our rights are conferred by Europe.

  5. ‘Bielefeld said criminalizing concepts like blasphemy was dangerous for free speech because there could be no common definition of what it was.’

    um hey hang on.. is this the major/most important reason why there shouldn’t be blasphemy laws? Because blasphemy is difficult to define? How about blasphemy law is a gross violation of the human right to think. Requires thought police. Completely reverses the enlightenment. It would mean the end of science and reason. Just try it religious fruit bats. I’m atheist but not pacifist. I can build barricades and shoot straight.

    Freedom FROM religion please!

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