How Blasphemy Divides the Arab World From the West

September 30, 2012

From the Boston Globe:

“It’s misframing the issue to ask whether any speech is ‘proper,’ or ‘disrespectful,’ ” says Michael De Dora, policy director of the Center for Inquiry, the secular advocacy group that sponsors and organizes the Blasphemy Day. “People have a right to say a lot of things that are profoundly stupid and wrong.”

He pointed out that anti-incitement laws are even more common, and more easily invoked, in Muslim countries than in Europe. In the Islamic word, not causing offense is widely viewed as a pillar of how societies function. So when intentional provocation occurs, the state is often prepared to react swiftly.

“What you see in these countries is that they might not have blasphemy laws but they do have laws against insulting people’s feelings, because insulting them will incite them to violence,” De Dora said. Merely stating aloud that one is an atheist, for example, might trigger an arrest. “We find that unfortunate.”

You can read the entire article here.