Canada’s Blasphemy Law
Did you know that Canada still has a blasphemy law in its Criminal Code?
Blasphemy is currently regarded as the act of showing contempt (or failing to display reverence and respect) for religious symbols or persons. It is well known that in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan faith-based governments, radical militarized organizations and even individuals use the concept of blasphemy to justify violent implementation of their dogmatic ideologies – they silence criticism or commentary through lawful and unlawful justifications that blasphemy hurts their religious sentiments. Blasphemy laws are also used to settle petty scores between individuals – with the most common victims being relatively powerless and poor individuals.
While Canadians express shock and horror at the chaotic violence of terrorism, the systemic violence of state actors and the sublimated violence demonstrated by individual acts of bigotry – we must ask if Canada is taking a principled position regarding the concept of blasphemy and the fundamental human right to free speech.
Take a Stand against Violence and Bigotry – Repeal Criminal Code Section 296
Canada’s Criminal Code Section 296
296. (1) Every one who publishes a blasphemous libel is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years
- (2) It is a question of fact whether or not any matter that is published is a blasphemous libel.
- (3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious subject.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 260.
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