At least 52 countries have blasphemy laws codifid into their domestic legal codes. Figure 1 illustrates the global distribution of countries with blasphemy laws. Punishments for violation range from small fies to the death penalty. States with such laws represent arangeof diffrent cultures, histories, religions, and socioeconomic levels.
States range across the majority of regions including the Middle East and North Africa (15), Europe and Central Asia (13), Sub-Saharan Africa (9), East Asia and Pacifi (7), Latin America and Caribbean (5), and South Asia (3). More than 80% of countries with these laws have ratifid the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Half are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. While several states in Europe still have blasphemy laws on their books, the majority does not enforce them and are working on their repeal.
According to research by the Pew Research Center, both the number of countries with government restrictions of religious belief and countries with acts of social hostility regarding religion rose in 2015. Thse increases follow two years of declines aftr reaching an all-time high in 2012. Regions with the highest levels of government restrictions on religion are the Middle East and North Africa and South Asia (see Figure 3 below). Research analyzing the Pew data suggests government restrictions and social hostility regarding religion are correlated – countries with high government restrictions on religious belief tend to have high levels of acts of social hostility and countries with low government restrictions tend to have low levels of acts of social hostility. Pew research supports this, fiding that in those states with laws against blasphemy, apostasy, or defamation of religion, 59% had ‘high’ or ‘very high’ government or social restrictions on religion and 43% experienced ‘high’ or ‘very high’ social hostilities involving religion (compared to 12% in countries without these laws). While this data does not by itself prove the existence of blasphemy laws causes the majority of governments to pass restrictions against religions or a signifiant portion of society to express hostility, it does provide some insight into the use of laws and norms.
Ths report is meant to provide an international context to blasphemy laws as the Indonesian government considers passing legislation on Eliminating Discrimination of Religion/Beliefs (PenghapusanDiskriminasi Agama/Keyakinan). It will demonstrate blasphemy laws do not promote religious harmony and protect public order. Instead, they incite discrimination, hostility, and violence against religious minorities and violate the fundamental rights of citizens’ to freedom of religion and expression. Part I explores the relevant international human rights law related to blasphemy, specifially articles 18, 19, and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Part II analyzes blasphemy laws from a sample selection of countries to discuss their legality in international law. This section synthesizes the information found in the full country reports provided in Annex I which contain local context and the implications of the blasphemy laws on the freedom of religion and the rights of
minorities, the freedom of expression, and the rule of law. Part III explores the international discourse on the subject and its shif in focus from restricting the freedom of expression through blasphemy laws to promoting religious harmony through combating incitement to hatred.
Readmore: Please click Replace Blasphemy With Incitement, How Indonesia should Promote Religious Harmony while Upholding Human Rights.