The country has been through tumultuous years since the Libyan Revolution in 2011. Continuing political strife between secular and Islamist blocs means the constitution remains suspended. The previous penal code outlawed “blasphemy” but its status and enforceability is in doubt.

The interim constitution provided limited protection of freedom religion or belief, as well as freedom of expression, but other laws and policies restrict these rights. The interim constitution stated that Islam is the state religion and Islamic law is the principal source of legislation, but that non-Muslims are accorded the freedom to practice their beliefs.

However, there is a legal instrument that bans “blasphemy” of a kind.  Article 291 (Insult of the State Religion) of Libya’s Penal Code of 1953 states:

“Whoever publicly abuses the Islamic religion—that being the official religion of the State under the Libyan Constitution—with verbal terms not befitting for the Divine Being, the Messenger, or the Prophets, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.”

(The End Blasphemy Laws campaign has provisionally classed “blasphemy” in Libya as Restricted (as opposed to an Imprisonable offence) while the status of the constitution and penal code remain in question.)