Islamic Nations Want to Pass Global Blasphemy Law November 23, 2009

Islamic Nations Want to Pass Global Blasphemy Law

This doesn’t look like anything to worry about, but it is a disturbing proposal to the U.N. General Assembly and it needs to be stopped.

Four years after cartoons of the prophet Muhammad set off violent protests across the Muslim world, Islamic nations are mounting a campaign for an international treaty to protect religious symbols and beliefs from mockery — essentially a ban on blasphemy that would put them on a collision course with free speech laws in the West.

Of course, free speech should win out and religion should be ripe for the mocking.

Does that mean religion should always be mocked? Not necessarily. I would argue (even though most of you don’t like it) that it’s a bad idea to mock religion with no real purpose in mind. In other words, blasphemy may be victimless and it should not be a crime, but doing it just for the sake of being a jerk serves no real purpose. We ought to pick our battles more wisely.

Anyway, this law doesn’t look like it has a chance of even being put to a vote. Which is good. Let’s work on protecting people, not their silly ideas.

(Thanks to Jeffrey for the link!)

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  • Honestly, it’s kinda hard to NOT mock religion. I mean, belief in a magic sky man? Violent reaction to criticism and their percieved enemies? And it’s not just Islam, either.

    It’s hard to not mock someone or something when they make it so easy…

  • qwertyuiop

    Four years after cartoons of the prophet Muhammad set off violent protests across the Muslim world, Islamic nations are mounting a campaign for an international treaty to protect religious symbols and beliefs from mockery

    Talk about bass-ackwards priorities.

    The violence is the problem, not the cartoons.

  • Unfortunately, they won’t listen to reason, so comedy is often all we have left.

  • David D.G.

    Many of both the leaders and followers of Islam responded to cartoons criticizing them for being violent with violence — with no sense of irony whatsoever.

    I try to be civil in discussions with religious believers, and I know that not every Muslim is a terrorist; I figure that most are just ordinary people minding their own business. But it’s pretty hard to respond to that sort of mindset with anything other than mockery and derision, because for people like that, the light of reason obviously has been shot out.

    ~David D.G.

  • The last part of this article is more than a little chilling:

    Failure to agree on a treaty would boost extremists in the Arab world, said [Algerian Ambassador Idriss] Jazairy, a former envoy to Washington now considered a key player in the U.N.’s human rights forum.

    “If we keep hitting this glass wall and say there’s nothing you can do about Islamophobia — you can do something about anti-Semitism but Islamophobia is out of bounds — you give an ideal platform for recruitment of suicide bombers,” he said.

    He’s saying that we have to go along with this or risk more terrorist attacks. As far as I’m concerned this is a threat … and because of that, all the more reason to adamantly oppose it. The last thing we can afford is to do things because the terrorists want us to do them and they’ll blow us up if we don’t.

  • So, being scared of Muslims is Islamaphobia. To stop Islamaphobia we have to stop being scared of Muslims or else they’ll give us something to be scared about. Not only is that warped logic, it’s also a threat, and perfect justification for being utterly terrified of people who make such statements.

    I have nothing against individual Muslims. All the ones I know are pretty nice, and there does seem to be a correlation between how religious they are not, and how nice they are.

    I do however have a problem with the religiopolitical force known as Islam, and those that use it to subjugate men, women, children and reason.

  • Sandra S

    Didn’t they already issue a non-binding resolution?

  • Revyloution

    I have nothing against Muslims. I have some as friends and Ive even had some of them over to my house, and I let them use the bathroom.

  • i would be interested to see how they respond to the concept that the swastika is actually a holy symbol to one of the four largest religious bodies in the world…

  • GreyTheory

    I respect your argument against pointless mockery of religion Hemant, but must say I strongly disagree. Systems of morality and beliefs are not equal.. the acid-burned Afghani women you linked to earlier are testimony to this. Fred Phelps and his ilk display this fact every time they shout profane interpretations of Leviticus at a dead soldier’s funeral.

    Mockery is better than physical confrontation.

  • Pointless mockery is indeed pointless and negative. However, I don’t see all mockery as without reason or method. Humour and mockery are often very powerful tools especially in the case of religion.

  • Here’s the important issue in this. If this resolution passes it will help them to cover for the insane abuses of those in their own countries who make any sort of blasphemous utterances, or for the capital crimes of apostasy to another religion and the State will defend itself in court by saying that their laws are protected by the UN. I am not worried about those of us in the U.S. being affected, and this issue is not about “being nice to Muslims,” it is about using the U.N. to abuse human rights in countries where religion is the the authority.

    This is horrifying.

  • Not again!? We just told them no back in March. Grow a thicker skin, for goodness sake!

  • Jen

    I remember rolling my eyes at Blasphemy Day, but then I belatedly heard DJ Grothe explain it and I thought it seemed like a great idea. I think we need to combat the idea that religion is sacred or otherwise off the table when it comes to critiques. Indeed, being able to do so makes us Americans*. It is a fundamental human right to be able to discuss ideas, and those that put up sacred cows over those freedoms deserve to mocked, a little.

    *USA! USA! USA! Damn it!

  • Insignificant Speck

    I wonder if these same Islamic nations want to take action against the Taliban for blowing up the Buddhist statues? I’m guessing no

  • Insignificant Speck

    BTW We’ve been killing muslims in 2 Islamic countries for a combined 14 yrs now. Don’t they love us / fear us yet?

  • Jay

    There is nothing pointless about my mockery of religion. The taboo against criticizing/mocking religion needs to be obliterated. Why would I treat a belief differently because it’s labelled as ‘religious’? If it’s ridiculous, then it’s ridiculous…

  • DemetriusOfPharos

    I would argue (even though most of you don’t like it) that it’s a bad idea to mock religion with no real purpose in mind.

    I would actually agree with that, keeping in mind that the ultimate purpose (at least in my mind) is specifically to use mockery as a device to show just how ridiculous the majority of the religious beliefs are.

    Nice callback.

  • Ashley Moltzan

    I proofread an article about this for the newspaper last week. It is strange.

  • “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” – Martin Luther King

    I’d like to see them try to enforce such a law.

  • Twin-Skies

    This was probably brought up before, but every time I hear of this attempt at an “Anti-Blasphemy” Law, the first thought that comes to mind is that the next time some asshole in the Middle East decides to have their wife, daughter or kin raped/killed/or maimed for whatever offense they concoct, they can simply shrug off any repercussions from the authorities by claiming that they were simply following “religious law,” and arresting them would be questioning this religious law, which in turn equates to blasphemy.

  • Anticontrame

    I agree that mockery can be an effective rhetorical device, but as a whole, the atheist web presence seems completely unthinking as to its application. We need to put ourselves in our audience’s shoes. Is throwing in a barb more likely to convince them that we’re right, or is it more likely to convince them that we’re jerks and best ignored? I’d say the vast majority of the time an insulting remark only takes away from the reception of a good argument, and that a medium saturated with unnecessary barbs only renders the few well-placed digs invisible.

    Mockery is polarizing. It’s useful for shoring up solidarity among people who already share our views. It might win over undecided folks hovering on the edge if it’s used thoughtfully. On the other hand, it further alienates us from the people who demonize or disagree with atheists. That last group makes up the majority of the audience in most settings, so why is so much unfocused derision coming from our side?

  • Twin-Skies


    The problem is that fundies can’t seem to tell the difference between fair criticism of their belief, and outright mockery.

    You try to be honest with your thoughts, and they already think you’re being offensive.

  • DSimon

    Twin-Skies, that’s true, but I think that the correct solution needs to be more subtle than “Well, screw it, being reasonable isn’t working, so let’s make sure to ask all religious people nothing but questions about how they could be so stupid as to believe in a Magical Mystical Sky Daddy.”

    It may be that some religious people cannot tell the difference between criticism and mockery, but we owe it to those who can to use the former civilly and the latter only as a last resort.

  • Twin-Skies


    True that

    Flame-baiting nontheists are just as annoying and repulsive as religious fundies, based on my personal experience.

  • Brian Macker


    “I have nothing against Muslims. I have some as friends and Ive even had some of them over to my house, and I let them use the bathroom.”

    Yeah, just don’t use the public drinking fountain in front of some Muslim’s lest they beat you. Also don’t drink tea from the muslim cup or they beat you to death.

    I think you have things backwards here. You see to many Muslim’s and according to their religion, we non-Muslim’s are the kafir (Islamic equivalent of nigger).

    Being against Islam is like being against the KKK or any other supremacist group like Nation of Islam. You seem to be on the side of the bigots on this.

  • Brian Macker

    Oh, and I think there is plenty to worry about here. Instead of fighting Islamic bigotry, misogyny, oppression of non-Muslim’s, etc. we end up on the defensive against Muslim attempts at tyranny.

  • Angie

    How fragile is someone’s religious belief system if it can’t stand up to light-hearted mockery or criticism? This call for a blasphemy ban says volumes about the fragile egos of some religious believers.

    In all seriousness, such a blasphemy ban would be dangerous, and I hope that no such ban comes into being.

  • “Four years after cartoons of the prophet Muhammad set off violent protests across the Muslim world…”
    WRONG, four years after several radical clerics added there own inflammatory cartoons and traveled the Muslim world creating outrage and fanning the flames. Lets keep history straight here.


    I agree we need not launch unnecessary barbs but the forces of unreason must be beaten one way or another.

  • Alexis

    Have the sponsor’s of this ban on blasphemy shown good faith by effectively combatting ALL blasphemy in their own nations? Specifically anti-Jewish and anti-Christian blasphemy, not just blasphemy against their own religious tenets? Hmmm, I thought not.

    I still see reports of anti-Sunni hate speech by Shiites, anti-Shiite hate speech by Sunnis, and anti-Bahai, anti-Jain and anti-Hindu hate speech by both.

  • Abimbola

    Mockery itself is not an objective expression…some people (especially when it comes to Religion) cannot differentiate between it from humorous criticism. i personally think that i have the inalienable right to declare something absurd if i think it is…and we are not even talking about something funny here! this is a religion that continues to foster murder in the name of a holy obligation to rid the world of its non-adherents! i would say mere mockery is not enough; they should be on trial for murdering other human beings in the nonsensical name of an obscure belief!

  • muggle

    Why may I ask should I give one modicum of respect for this proposal? Coming from fucktards who react to cartoons with bloodshed? Fuck them and, if they get it enacted, I’ll be mighty fucking tempted to send cryptic notes to the UN on a daily basis reading Allah sucks donkey balls. Though I’d have to take precautions to not wind up like Theo Van Gogh.

    I’m sorry but I disagree that we shouldn’t mock religion. We are mocked constantly, stereotyped as amoral but we have to mind our manners? I will for theists who treat me with respect but feel no need to do so to those who don’t or if religion is discussed. How can I be anything but scornful of adult belief in imaginary friends?

    Of course, I’m not out to win converts. What is this new thing like we have to convince people to disbelieve? Please. That’s as obnoxious as the theists who try to force their belief on us.

    I am content to live and let live. But, once, a religion isn’t — and Islam largely isn’t — well, time to stand up and fight. And blasphemy/mockery is weapon number one.

  • muggle

    What the hey? I wasn’t given the opportunity to edit.

    I wanted to add this at the end:

    Islam gives us the perfect chance to prove that the pen is mightier than the sword. In fact, they have proved it for us by their overreaction to some pen and ink drawings.

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