Religiously Incorrect Religiously Incorrect <i>Islam, Blasphemy, and Hate Speech in Western Domestic Law</i>

Paul Marshall and Nina Shea

in Silenced

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812264
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919383 | DOI:
Religiously Incorrect Religiously Incorrect Islam, Blasphemy, and Hate Speech in Western Domestic Law

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Many Western countries are creating and amending laws to limit what may be said about religious beliefs. These range from blasphemy bans, originally intended to protect Christianity, to recent hate speech prohibitions, devised primarily as anti-racism measures, but now increasingly applied to religion. While largely anachronistic, blasphemy laws are used to prosecute offenses against Islam; in Finland in 2009, a city politician was convicted of “violating the sanctity of religion” for deriding the Muslim prophet and Islamic child marriage. Most European Union countries, as well as the EU itself, affirm that restrictions on speech should protect individuals rather than religions, but the conflation of insults to the religion with insults to the individual by Muslim complainants is widespread. Those prosecuted include actress Brigitte Bardot in France, writer Mark Steyn in Canada, two Christian pastors in Australia, and others, and involved complaints arising from speech critical of Islam and not personal insults. Hate speech laws have a more widespread chilling effect, and a growing number of publishers, journalists, filmmakers, and artists are acknowledging that they are shying away from Islamic subjects in their work. Religious hate speech laws, which are just as arbitrary and vague as Muslim blasphemy regimes.

Keywords: European Union; Australia; Canada; hate speech; blasphemy; Brigitte Bardot; Mark Steyn

Chapter.  15258 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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