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Should there still be such thing as blasphemy?

Simon Peeks | 12:30 UK time, Friday, 12 November 2010

  

Asia Bibi is 45 and mother of five. She's a Pakistani Christian and she's facing a death sentence for blasphemy.

Walid Husayin is 26; the son a Muslim scholar. He's a Palestinian blogger and he's facing a life sentence for atheistic rants and creating Facebook groups where he spoofed the Koran. Many of his neighbours in Qalqiliya say he "should be burned to death".

At the UN, blasphemy is also being discussed. Countries with large Islamic populations have once again called for the condemnation of what they call "defamation of religions".

And so all of this got us questioning whether blasphemy laws should exist these days? And are there countries where they might be more appropriate? 

Paula Schriefer in the New York Times says the UN vote is deeply flawed and it would be a weak weapon in the fight against "Islamophobia".

And Catholic League president Bill Donohue agrees:

It is not just that this U.N. resolution is poorly worded, it is the intent behind it: it is being promoted by member states that are known for disrespecting human rights, including, most spectacularly, religious liberties... the resolution is not a check on religious defamation: rather, it is designed to give Islamist nations the right to plunder the religious rights of non-Muslims--under the guise of fighting religious intolerance!

Do religions need a law to protect them from criticism or ridicule? If they do, should they have them? And if so, what should the punishment be?

Or should all faiths be strong enough to tolerate any denigration?

Breaking Spells blog makes this point:

If a god truly is all-powerful, then why would someone criticizing it in public be any sort of threat? If the god is real, let the god strike the "blasphemer" down. This is a way for religious hierarchy to police it's followers.

We're obviously addressing this from the point of view of all religions. Some of you though are saying this is about Islam. But with Islam seemingly under a constant spotlight, does it need particular protection?

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