By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
This October twenty-sixth, voters in Ireland will decide at the polls if the country’s prohibition on blasphemy should be removed from the nation’s constitution. It comes for me as a welcome sign of some progress against what otherwise was a trend in Western Europe toward establishing an international blasphemy standard that many regard as censorship and a vehicle for possible criminal prosecution of speech and expression.
While the Irish government has insisted that no persons have been successfully prosecuted for blasphemy since the 1850s, the existence of any such statute serves as leverage by the state to control what its citizens may say or what behavior it considers objectionable. The time for repeal I believe has arrived.
Continue reading “Ireland To Hold Referendum On Removing Anti-Blasphemy Offenses From Constitution”
Our erstwhile ally Egypt has again violated the most basic civil liberties in a criminal case involving blasphemy. An Egyptian court has sentenced student Karim al-Banna, 21, to three years in jail for announcing on Facebook that he is an atheist and for insulting Islam. His own father testified against him and denounced his son for “was embracing extremist ideas against Islam.” Of course, neither Egypt nor the father view criminalizing someone’s mere speech about religion to be an “extremist idea.”
Continue reading “Egyptian Student Sentenced To Three Years For Announcing On Facebook That He Is An Atheist”