Muslim Countries Move To Adopt New Law Allowing The Prosecution Of People Insulting Religion In Other Countries

600px-Emblem_of_Qatar.svgThe effort by Muslim countries to curtail free speech in the name of their religion continues. While the Obama Administration has sought to appease these countries in developing an international blasphemy standard, this case shows how even the more modern Islamic countries (as well as Western countries) are finding blasphemy to be a useful vehicle to control speech and silence critics. The latest attack comes from Qatar which has proposed a ban that would allow for the prosecution of people in other countries. That’s right, our allies are creating laws to allow them to prosecute people for insulting religion outside their own countries.

The use of the term “defamation” is a new twist to satisfy Western sensibilities and make it sound like this is a recognized form of legal action. However, it is the old blasphemy law in a new and more menacing form. The law would actually be broader than blasphemy which already exists on the books of many Muslim countries. This law would allow for the prosecution of people for all forms of defamation, derision or denigration of religions and prophets will be considered crimes.

The selling point of the new law was explained by Ebrahim Mousa Al Hitmi, the Qatari justice ministry assistant undersecretary for legal affairs,“The main feature of the draft is that it gives every state the right to put on trial those who abuse and hold in contempt religions even if they are outside the country.”

However this “legal expert” assured people that there is no danger at all to free speech because insulting religion is not protected speech: “The law does not interfere in any way with the freedom of opinion and expression which is well protected and guaranteed. All penal laws in Arab countries criminalize defamation of religions but there are no specific sanctions when an abuser is outside the country. Therefore, the main goal of this law is to deter all forms of defamation of religions and give each country that ratifies it the right to file lawsuits against those who offend religions, even if they are not residents.” See how simple it is? You first declare denigrating religion as outside of the scope of permitted speech and then when you prosecute people for writing or speaking about religion it is by definition not a question of free speech.

These laws reflect an inherent insecurity among religious extremists running these countries that free speech represents a serious threat to orthodoxy. It is not enough that they prosecute and even execute people for apostasy. They are determined to cut off alternative views being spoken about religion on the Internet or in other countries.

Much of the past writing has focused on the effort of the Obama Administration to reach an accommodation with allies like Egypt to develop a standard for criminalizing anti-religious speech.  We have been following the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.

The continued effort to restrict speech not only in their own countries but now in other countries show again how unwise this effort by the Obama Administration was from the start. The Administration has given credibility to these efforts to curb anti-religious speech. Whatever desire it had to “moderate” such actions by cooperating on an international standard has proven, as many of us predicted, an utter failure. There can be no compromise between free speech and blasphemy. These nations stand against the most basic right of all men and women to speak freely and worship (or not worship) as their values dictate.

58 thoughts on “Muslim Countries Move To Adopt New Law Allowing The Prosecution Of People Insulting Religion In Other Countries”

  1. More travel advisories should be sent out warnign tourists about possible arrest and worse for arbitrary comments about religion. Advise not to visit these countries. Tourist dollars might have some motivating effect. But who knonws.

  2. I guess they have never heard of the International Shoe case or the VW one….some minimun contact….

  3. The United States has previously approved of 1-prosecuting people who were kidnapped from other countries to stand trial in the United States and 2-prosecuting people for conduct outside the country which is legal where that conduct occurred. On what basis do we object?

  4. With the proper level of energy conservation, the US could rely on oil exclusively from North America. We could tell the Middle East to give us a call when they reach the 19th Century.

  5. “These laws reflect an inherent insecurity among religious extremists running these countries that free speech represents a serious threat to orthodoxy.”

    This is the meat of this blog. Free speech is always a threat to any orthodoxy. An orthodoxy is akin to a tautology, which is a necessary construct of cults. When one questions aspects that the cult deems canon the cracks in the tautology begin to appear. People begin to wake up.

  6. I say that Prophet Mohammed was a child molesting pedophile (aka paedophile in the Engish version). Oops, now I can not travel to Pakistan.

  7. As to the story proper, this “legal expert” needs to learn the basics about jurisdiction. Other than countries with a similar theocratic bent, they stand about zero chance of getting a judgement like this enforced in a third country.

  8. If people are so thin-skinned and emotionally immature that hearing some “insulting” language directed toward them or their religious beliefs causes them to have to make a law – enforced by armed goons – to jail or otherwise punish the “offenders,” then I suggest the thin-skinned ones get some kind of psychiatric treatment.

    The actual “crime” here is these fanatics’ forcibly jailing someone whose expressed views “offend” them.

  9. Ben,

    Thanks for the heads up. Sheri Tepper is a good writer. I’ll have to check that out. I love SF stories about the unintended consequences of technology.

  10. Agree with nick spinelli that Obama may be book smart. I wondered about that a long time ago when he repeatedly made offers to the republicans/tea baggers before the discussion even started.
    As for religion I still think it’s a sick joke pulled on the human race. It’s only purpose is control of the masses through fear of the supposed eternal life.
    I don’t think anyone could possibly “blasphemy” this insanity.

  11. Robert Heinlein said it best:

    Of all the strange crimes that humanity has legislated out of nothing, blasphemy is the most amazing – with obscenity and indecent exposure fighting it out for second and third place.

  12. Where is the outrage from the WHITE HOUSE. No where because this WH like others before it support blasphemy laws, not because they beleive in god but because it sooths certain people and makes them happy. Free speech, what’s that! Limited jurisdiction of laws, that is only for US laws applying to corporations that plunder other countries or commit war crimes!

  13. Hitler wanted to rule the world and create one Aryan nation. He wrote about it in Mein Kampf. Neville Chamberlain apparently never read it, thankfully Churchill did. Muslim theocrats want to turn the world into one nation of Islam. They say it every chance they get, as did Hitler. Obama doesn’t have Chamberlain’s excuse because we know he can hear these theocrats rants. Maybe he isn’t the smartest guy in the room. Maybe he’s just book smart.

  14. I look forward to not having my day in court, because I won’t be there. But they will be putting me on trial.

  15. Obama can’t understand why these Muslim countries don’t love him. Valerie Jarrett strokes his head and sneaks him a cig when he’s really blue.

  16. Our friend and commenter laserhaas made a quip the other day that seems appropriate here:

    Only those who are in need of criticism – are the ones most fearful of it.


    The Waters Rising by Sheri S Tepper is set in a post apocalyptic world after we develop killing machines that can read minds. First there were machines that tried to wipe out anyone who had a particular idea, which were brutally effective. But later, they were programmed to wipe out any mind that did not have a particular idea. Unfortunately, this destroyed the animal kingdom too, as most animals do not think in an orthodox way.

    Worth a read, but worrying the plausible.

  18. That is a new one … imaginary jurisdiction.

    “Spanking the neighbors” –an ideology from the minds of those in the land of the universal police.

    Next they will be invading nations to bring them democracy.

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