A World Movement to End Blasphemy Laws Launches in 2015
On December 22, 2014, CFI Canada and Humanist Canada met with Ambassador Andrew Bennett of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. During that meeting CFI Canada brought Canada’s blasphemous libel law to the agenda and communicated our view that this law is dangerous, problematic and hypocritical for the Canadian government to retain. This first meeting soon led to partnerships across Canada and internationally! CFI Canada is proud to be a co-founder of a new anti-blasphemy coalition (ICABL).
Now hundreds of international organizations are calling for the removal of blasphemy laws wherever they exist. Association humaniste du Quebec, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Ireland, BC Humanist Association, Centre For Inquiry Canada, Humanist Society of New Zealand, International Humanist and Ethical Union and a growing list of organizations have formed a coalition to oppose all global blasphemy laws.
To visit the world’s biggest anti-blasphemy coalition and campaigns visit the End Blasphemy Laws website and find out how you can help.
One of the coalition’s earliest actions was to support member agency, Atheist Ireland, in their petitions and approaches to the Irish government to fulfill it’s promise to hold a referendum on the blasphemy law implemented in 2009. See Atheist Ireland’s Open Letter to the Irish Government. 150206 EKenny(3); pictured to the right are Atheist Ireland’s John Hamill and CFI Canada’s Eric Adriaans with a copy of the International Coalition Against Blaphemy Laws First Charter taken in Mississauga on February 11, 2015.
On February 5, 2014 a core group of representatives of organizers from around the world gathered as the new International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws to finalize its charter. CFIC is proud to provide the text of this charter as adopted:
International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws
1. We are an international coalition of organizations committed to removing blasphemy laws wherever they exist.
2. We will:
(a) Provide public education regarding blasphemy laws around the world.
(b) Advocate on behalf of victims of blasphemy laws.
(c) Lobby governments to act on expert legal opinions, which consistently recommend that these laws be repealed or abolished.
3. We defend people’s right to discuss, criticize and ridicule ideas and beliefs, even when this offends other people. Humans have rights beliefs do not.
4. With regard to freedom of speech laws which are aimed at protecting people rather than ideas, members of the coalition may have different approaches or policies.
5. We argue that blasphemy laws are harmful:
(a) They violate freedom of expression and deny equality.
(b) Actively enforced blasphemy laws infringe on and violate human rights around the world.
(c) Passive blasphemy laws reinforce active blasphemy laws.
(d) They have been repudiated by international law and governance bodies.
(e) Blasphemy laws are sometimes hidden under other language.
Blasphemy laws are not merely theoretical. In Saudi Arabia, blogger Raif Badawi has been sentenced to ten years jail and 1,000 lashes. In Pakistan, Christian mother Asia Bibi is facing execution. In India, rationalist writer Sanal Edamaruku is facing charges and is in exile.
Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland said, “When we observed that organizations in Canada, New Zealand, and Malta were calling for an end to their blasphemy laws just as we are in Ireland, we knew that we had to work together to oppose blasphemy laws throughout the world. People around the world share a deep concern for human dignity and human rights. People can’t believe that their country has a blasphemy law – and they are appalled and ashamed that this law provides a cushion of reinforcement to some of most barbaric human rights violations in the world today.”
The Coalition is also teaming-up with International Humanist and Ethical Union to support the launch of a web resource end-blasphemy-laws.org to provide education regarding the blasphemy laws around the world.
In an email CFI Canada received from a partner organization based in Poland, we learn that Poland has it’s blasphemy law back “after 50 years of absence. And it does not concern Poland only but literally all so called ex-communist countries. It is not the same situation here and deserves a closer look.” For a detailed look at Poland’s situation, this Freedom House report provides a detailed analysis. The Venice Commission report also provides interesting data regarding trends with blasphemy laws around the world.
Coalition member organizations will provide education regarding global blasphemy laws in their home countries, advocate on behalf of victims of blasphemy laws and urge governments to strike these laws from their books.
CFI Canada is proud to be working with organizations around the world to call for an end to all blasphemy laws.
1. In July of 2015, Iceland removed it’s blasphemy law.
Ireland and United Kingdom
3. In May of 2015 Norway repealed its blasphemy law.