There’s good news and bad this week, as Iceland, parliamentarians yesterday abolished the country’s antiquated blasphemy law, and in Pakistan there was some rare positive and timely police intervention saving a Christian couple from being “beaten to death” by a blasphemy mob. But Nigeria has confirmed 9 “blasphemy” death sentences, and New Zealand has a suspiciously broadly-worded new law…
Iceland’s parliament agreed today to abolish the blasphemy provision of the Criminal Code. The Pirate Party’s parliamentarians submitted the proposal in January, which received broad support from all other political parties in Parliament and the matter was unanimously supported by the committee examining the proposal. Icelanders have now taken an important step in guaranteeing human rights and joined other nations which respect freedom of speech and expression.
Raif Badawi’s third year imprisoned for “insulting religion” begins in Saudi Arabia.
There’s movement, but worrying signs, in the trial of four Coptic Christian teenagers accused of “mimicking Islam” in Egypt.
Pakistan is, maybe, edging toward reform, but Islamic clerics are fighting to preserve Pakistan’s blasphemy laws in no uncertain terms (“those who insult the Muslim prophet Muhammad deserve to be killed”).
And following a concerted effort by Christians offended by cat-based religious imagery, heretical “Virgin Meowy” socks have been clawed from sale by their online retailer, PacSun.com.
Anti-Christian violence in Egypt as well as in Pakistan, a children’s book about the Koran is cancelled due to death-for-blasphemy fears, there’s a woman in a fake beard in Russia, and again in Pakistan the health of death row inmate Asia Bibi – sentenced to hang back in 2010 – is reportedly seriously deteriorating.
Authors call for justice in Bangladesh. Further sentencing in Afghanistan lynch mob case, but is it justice? Cartoonists face injustice in many parts of the world. In Pakistan there’s limited justice for a couple burnt to death last year, and the assassin of politician Salman Taseer appeals justice on the highly legally sophisticated grounds that he thought his victim was a blasphemer so murder’s fine then isn’t it?
This is our sixteenth round-up of “blasphemy” news and views from the past seven days.
In yet another Pakistan blasphemy case, this time dragged out over multiple years, a young woman known by the pseudonym Esha has been languishing in jail since 2012 after being accused of “desecrating” the Koran by a friend following an argument. Maryam Namazie and others have been highlighting this case against recently, and there is a fundraising appeal for Esha’s legal fees.
This week, the terror against Bangladesh’s atheist, humanist and secularist intellectual community deepens, with another shocking assassination of an atheist blogger, the third such killing in 2015 alone.
Also, Egypt features heavily, with blasphemy law being used to detain or imprison several Christians in three separate cases.
As we reported last week, Norway’s “blasphemy” law has finally been abolished.
Since we’re called “End Blasphemy Laws”, let’s start with the good news: Can you guess which European country has – technically – just repealed its “blasphemy” law this week?
Meanwhile in not-so-good news, a foiled gun attack in Texas; Egypt arrests children of Coptic background for blasphemy – after mocking ISIS of all things!; India convicts a hand-chopping blasphemy mob; Charlie Hebdo gets that award from PEN America!; Pakistan issues a 25-year sentence for “desecrating sacred scriptures”; and the west continues to protest Raif Badawi’s sentence, but it’s not enough.