Pakistan Pushes Irish Blasphemy Law Language at the UN

November 23, 2009

This July the Irish Parliament shocked the world by passing a law that imposes criminal penalties and heavy fines for the "crime" of blasphemy.  That law also allows government authorities to forcibly enter and search suspected premises for copies of "blasphemous" statements.  Now Pakistan and a group of Islamic states (the Organization of Islamic Conference, or "OIC") is using the language of the Irish blasphemy law to press the UN Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards to recognize the so-called "defamation of religions" as a new normative principle of international law.

Pakistan and the OIC's submission to the UN Ad Hoc Committee lifts verbatim the Irish defamation law's definition of blasphemy.  Pakistan's submission urges that UN member states prohibit by law "the uttering of matters that are grossly abusinve or insulting in relation to matter held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage to a substantial number of adherents to that religion."  Clearly, the Irish blasphemy legislation is being used to legitimize the "defamation of religions" movement, a dangerous threat to international freedom of expression.

This demonstrates yet again the importance of exposing blasphemy laws as real threats to the rights of religious minorities, religious dissidents, and atheists and agnostics.  If Free Inquiry magazine or Prometheus Books titles were published in Ireland, they would be subject to heavy fines (€25,000 per offense) that could shut them down.  Pakistan and its OIC allies would like the same standards to apply across the globe.  Every reader of Free Inquiry magazine, and every member of the Center for Inquiry, should express their outrage at the Irish government's and the OIC's assaults on freedom of expression and religious liberty.


#1 oldebabe (Guest) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 at 10:04am

This would just be ridiculous if it wasn’t so dangerous.

#2 Ophelia Benson on Tuesday November 24, 2009 at 6:18pm

Oh, jeezis.

The OIC must have changed the language of its previous attempts, yes? I mean obviously, since the previous attempts came before the passage of the Irish law…but is there any paper trail, and is this a big change in wording, and is there any information about the process?

#3 Dajjal (Guest) on Saturday November 28, 2009 at 3:04am

A good offense is the best defense. We need to counter attack. The International Qur’an Petition brings Islam’s doctrinal violations of ICERD & ICCPR to the attention of the World Court. Please make good use of it.

#4 Richard Boyle (Guest) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 at 11:02pm

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.  Was this law in Ireland pushed by Catholics or Protestants or both?  How in the world can this sort of mindless legislation even be proposed in the 21st Century in a part of Western Civilization?  I can understand it in the Islamic world where there is no tradition of freedom of religion but we in the West are at least supposed to be living in a rational universe which recognizes diversity of opinion.  This law is just CRAZY!!  Although I suppose Scalia would support it and his apprentice (Thomas) would sit quietly by trying not to be called upon to recite.

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