Blasphemous matter
Friday, 14 November 2008 00:00

New publication: Blasphemous matter - Blasphemy, defamation of religion and Human Rights


Blasphemous matter - Blasphemy, defamation of religion and Human Rights
by Angela Evenhuis. A Magenta Foundation publication, September 2008


'Blasphemous Matter' is a direct response to the international campaign against 'defamation of religion' within international bodies that work on fundamental human rights. It gives a historic insight into the origins and development of the concept of blasphemy and religious defamation in a Judeo-Christian and Islamic context. It shows that blasphemy law was mainly used in order to regulate public expressions with the aim of maintaining public peace and order.

The booklet elaborates on the way in which defamation of religion and blasphemy law negate human rights such as the freedom of religion and belief and the freedom of expression. Contrary to the opinion of some critics that a tolerant society requires blasphemy law, it is argued that the only thing such a law creates is a sphere of religious intolerance wherein one religious view is valued more than another. Moreover, blasphemy law can easily be abused to silence critics of human rights. This is enhanced by the wrong conflation of race and religion that is suggested by the term 'defamation of religion' and blasphemy law, increasingly regarded as an obligatory instrument to protect cultural differences. The booklet offers several recommendations.

Click here to download.