Denmark scraps 334-year-old blasphemy law

Jun 5, 2017

By The Guardian

Danish lawmakers have repealed a 334-year-old blasphemy law that forbids public insults of a religion, such as the burning of holy books.

Only a handful of blasphemy trials have taken place in the past 80 years, and several high-profile cases have been dropped, including one involving a caricature of the prophet Muhammad published in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005.

Denmark was the only Scandinavian country with a blasphemy law, which called for up to four months in prison upon conviction, although most people were fined instead.

Politicians who wanted to repeal the law introduced in 1683 “do not believe that there should be special rules protecting religions against expressions”, the Danish parliament said on its website.

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3 comments on “Denmark scraps 334-year-old blasphemy law

  • Good on ’em. They’re lucky not to have a constitution which mandates the parliament to have a law on blasphemy. As we know in Ireland, that’s an intractable, divisive and expensive problem.

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  • Meanwhile – In theocracies where the “religion of peace” dominates:-

    A man accused of posting blasphemous content to Facebook has been sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan.

    Taimoor Raza was convicted after allegedly posting remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, his wives and companions within the site’s comments.

    The public prosecutor involved said he believed it was the first time the death penalty had been awarded in a case related to social media.

    Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has described blasphemy as being an “unpardonable offence”.

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  • Meanwhile, in parts of Europe, the religious are no longer able to wave a religion badge, and have people prosecuted!

    Prosecutors have rejected a complaint from a church in the Dutch city of Tilburg after two actors were filmed having sex in the confessional box.

    The video was posted on a Dutch porn website earlier this year.

    Dutch authorities said the pornographic film was offensive but there was no longer a law in the Netherlands against blasphemy.

    The priest at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church, Fr Jan van Noorwegen, said he was unhappy with their decision.

    The film appeared on Dutch porn star Kim Holland’s website in January. She apologised and said the video had been made by an external producer and would no longer appear on her site, according to local broadcaster Omroep Brabant.

    Fr Van Noorwegen then held a Sunday Mass seeking forgiveness for the desecration of his church.
    The church authorities took the case to the public prosecutor, which has now explained its decision not to take the matter further.

    “We find it offensive and disrespectful, but we had a good look at the legal code and do not really see a criminal offence.
    Blasphemy is not a crime and there’s no question here of anyone trespassing,” said a spokesperson.

    It is now up to the church to decide whether to take out a civil case over the video. While that is unlikely, one senior official at the church, Harrie de Swart, was astounded by the prosecutor’s decision, arguing that the film-makers would clearly have had to climb over a fence to reach the confessional box.

    “The justice ministry said we should have hung a no-entry sign on the church entrance. Then we could prosecute people who do this sort of thing. But it’s absurd to stick that sort of sign on the door of a church,” he told Omroep Brabant.

    It seems strange, that churches have a problem with consenting adults having sex behind closed doors, – but for years, did not seem to have that problem with the “desecration of churches” by priests abusing children!

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