An inclusive blasphemy law, which Ireland’s law seeks to be, has been historically shown to be inadequate for protecting religious beliefs in conflict with one another.

Infringing on human rights

Blasphemy laws are used to infringe on human rights around the world. They frequently lead to arbitrary arrest, detention, poor treatment in custody including torture, dubious legal procedures and poor application of justice. Examples include Greece, Poland, Algeria (prison sentences of varying length, failure of due process in trials, trials in absentia); Indonesia (longer prison sentences); Sudan (corporal punishment); Egypt (torture); Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (capital punishment).

Some specific examples from recent years: Asia Bibi, a Christian mother, is facing execution in Pakistan for comparing Jesus with Mohammad, and two politicians were assassinated for speaking out on her behalf. Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl with special needs, was charged with blasphemy in Pakistan after a Muslim cleric planted burnt pages of the Quran as evidence against her. Alexander Aan, an atheist civil servant, was jailed in Indonesia after writing on Facebook that ‘god does not exist’.