Home > international, legal and law enforcement, Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project, religion and spirituality, social and cultural issues > Laws Penalizing Blasphemy, Apostasy and Defamation of Religion are Widespread

Laws Penalizing Blasphemy, Apostasy and Defamation of Religion are Widespread

November 23, 2012

Laws Penalizing Blasphemy, Apostasy and Defamation of Religion are Widespread

Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Several recent incidents have drawn international attention to laws and policies prohibiting blasphemy – remarks or actions considered to be contemptuous of God or the divine. In a highly publicized case last summer, for example, a 14-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan was arrested and detained for several weeks after she was accused of burning pages from the Quran.1 In neighboring India, a man reputed to be a religious skeptic is facing blasphemy charges because he claimed a statue of Jesus venerated by Mumbai’s Catholic community for its miraculous qualities is a fake.2 The man reportedly is staying in Europe to avoid prosecution.3 In Greece, a man was arrested and charged with blasphemy after he posted satirical references to an Orthodox Christian monk on Facebook.4

Pakistan, India and Greece are not alone in actively pursuing blasphemy prosecutions. A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that as of 2011 nearly half of the countries and territories in the world (47%) have laws or policies that penalize blasphemy, apostasy (abandoning one’s faith) or defamation (disparagement or criticism of particular religions or religion in general). Of the 198 countries studied, 32 (16%) have anti-blasphemy laws, 20 (10%) have laws penalizing apostasy and 87 (44%) have laws against the defamation of religion, including hate speech against members of religious groups.

About these ads
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 987 other followers

%d bloggers like this: