Wednesday 19 June 2019

Buttering up the Islamic states

IN JULY 2009, the Dail passed the amended Blasphemy Act, which curtailed the freedom of speech. It came into operation on January 1, 2010.

This law appalled many people, including religious people.

The arch non-believer, Professor Richard Dawkins, described it as a "wretched, backward, uncivilised regression to the middle ages".

He asked: "Who was the bright spark who thought to besmirch the revered name of Ireland by proposing anything so stupid?"

As well as being outraged, many people, myself included, were puzzled as to why it suddenly became so vital to pass this law, especially as Ireland had, in 2008, joined other EU countries in opposing an attempt by Islamic states to have the UN introduce a world-wide law making defamation of religion a crime.

At the time, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin had said: "We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression."

So what had changed to make it necessary to introduce a law against the defamation of religion in Ireland?

Then I happened to read that there was an Irish trade mission, led by the Tanaiste, to Saudi Arabia and Qatar in April 2009.

There was also a market-study visit to Libya for ICT and the construction sector in May of last year. Yet another such visit, this time to the UAE and Qatar and for the construction sector, took place last June. Since these visits, there has been a trade mission to the UAE in November. Recently, it was announced that the Government had been seeking more Islamic financial investments (that's investments that accord with Sharia law) for Ireland.

I am cynical about anything the Government does in the field of business and finance, so I wondered if the new blasphemy law was pushed through in order to butter up the Muslims who have the money?

By the way, I wonder if the "bright spark" who brought in the blasphemy law will glow even more brightly when he finds out that a group of Islamic countries is using it to support a further attempt by Islamic states to have the UN pass a worldwide law making it illegal to defame religion.

Brian Abbott
Bishopstown Road, Cork

Irish Independent

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