A new report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has revealed the countries that have the strictest blasphemy laws.
In a press release, the Commission revealed that the countries with harshest blasphemy laws are Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Qatar.
Blasphemy laws are set in place supposedly to protect the state-sponsored religion of Islam in these countries, but the consequences for religious minorities are often severe. Discrimination, beatings, abuse, and sometimes even death often result in unchecked accusations of blasphemy, such as in the noteworthy case of Christian mother Asia Bibi.
According to The Christian Post, 71 of the world’s 195 countries have blasphemy laws, and fines for breaking these laws range from fines to imprisonment, and in some cases, death.
Daniel Mark, the chairman of USCIRF said that blasphemy laws greatly restrict religious freedom rights: "Advocates for blasphemy laws may argue that they are needed in order to protect religious freedom, but these laws do no such thing. Blasphemy laws are wrong in principle, and they often invite abuse and lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks. Wherever they exist, they should be repealed.”
Also, although blasphemy laws are most often used to protect Islam, there are exceptions. Italy, for example, has laws against blaspheming the Roman Catholic religion.
"Some countries, including Canada, have such laws but do not actively enforce them. We call upon those countries to set an example for the others and repeal their blasphemy laws. And we call upon all countries to repeal any such laws and to free those detained or convicted for blasphemy,” Mark concluded.
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Publication date: August 17, 2017