IBRD 2016: Get Educated

Note: this is the second in a series of five posts leading up to, and marking, International Blasphemy Rights Day on September 30.

Every day, news outlets report on new accusations of blasphemy somewhere in the world. Someone is being charged or defamed with allegations of insulting or criticizing religion, and lives are being ruined. But it can be difficult to understand these individual cases when they pop up in so many different countries with unfamiliar cultures, where what’s considered “offensive” can change from place to place.

And besides, what is the international law on blasphemy? Where do blasphemy laws exist? What are the different kinds of blasphemy laws? What are the punishments? And which governments or groups are the worst offenders?

Don’t worry. CFI has compiled clear and accessible resources that can help you find answers to these questions, and get a solid handle on the issue.

For example, did you know that blasphemy is an internationally protected right? The UN Human Rights Committee, which tracks and interprets the treaty International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, made clear in 2011 that “Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the Covenant.”

Or, did you know that more than one-quarter of the world’s countries and territories (26%) have anti-blasphemy laws or policies, and that more than one-in-ten (13%) nations had laws or policies penalizing apostasy? The legal punishments for such transgressions vary from fines to death. That data comes thanks to the Pew Research Center.

There is much more to learn about blasphemy and laws against it. You can dig into this information on the resources page of the Campaign for Free Expression. Come back tomorrow for even more on this important issue.