Thursday, November 13, 2008

Global Blasphemy Laws?

This op ed piece from the Christian Science Monitor says that the special session of the UN being held this week was initiated by Saudi King Abdullah to develop a global law to punish blasphemy and apostasy.

The UN session is designed to endorse a meeting of religious leaders in Spain last summer that was the brainchild of King Abdullah and organized by the Muslim World League. That meeting resulted in a final statement counseling promotion of "respect for religions, their places of worship, and their symbols ... therefore preventing the derision of what people consider sacred."

The lofty-sounding principle is, in fact, a cleverly coded way of granting religious leaders the right to criminalize speech and activities that they deem to insult religion. Instead of promoting harmony, however, this effort will exacerbate divisions and intensify religious repression.

Such prohibitions have already been used in some countries to restrict discussion of individuals' freedom vis-à-vis the state, to prevent criticism of political figures or parties, to curb dissent from prevailing views and beliefs, and even to incite and to justify violence.

If this analysis is correct it will give UN sanction to the complaints from India that Christians disparage Hindu gods with their conversion materials. And it will give sanction to Islamic countries for prohibiting conversion and punishing apostasy from Islam with death.

H/T Little Green Footballs

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