Tuesday 26 September 2017

Membership of blasphemy club is embarrassment for Ireland

Shahbaz Bhatti, who was killed in 2011 after calling for reforms to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Photo: AP
Shahbaz Bhatti, who was killed in 2011 after calling for reforms to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Photo: AP
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are not only part of - but also essential to - a healthy democracy. The offence of blasphemy is incompatible with these freedoms and should be removed from our Constitution.

Blasphemy laws foment intolerance and violence. One need only look to other countries where such laws survive. In Egypt, the blasphemy law has resulted in the death penalty - seven Egyptians were sentenced to death in 2012 for their involvement in an "anti-Islam" video. In Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, blasphemy is also punishable by a penalty up to and including death. In Pakistan, two politicians, Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated because they called for reform of the blasphemy law.

Embarrassingly, Ireland belongs to the blasphemy club and other countries have cited Ireland's prohibition on blasphemy in support of their own laws.

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