Archive for the 'Religious Freedom' Category

Sticking up for God? The Case for freedom of expression encompassing religious criticism

Religious defamation as a legal concept was first proposed in 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council on the submission of Pakistan. It broadened the individualistic nature of human rights protection to cover very large groups. The adopted text of the 2009 Resolution stated that:

“Defamation of religious is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence,”

This move was widely criticised at the time as serving the interests of Islamic and African Nations, which comprised the majority of the 23 votes in favour (10 against, 13 abstentions). The resolution itself was very unclear on what religious defamation actually means, ranging from phrases such as: “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism” Which seem to deal with generally offensive statements, to the more familiar territory of incitement to racial and religious violence. Whilst the latter is well known and dealt with under a variety of municipal legal systems through criminal law, the former suggests an extension of forbidden speech into the territory of ‘defamation proper’, that is to say, of private law. Continue reading ‘Sticking up for God? The Case for freedom of expression encompassing religious criticism’

Judge Affirms Freedom Of Expression In Northern Ireland

In 2008 Sandown Free Presbyterian Church placed an advert in a newspaper in Northern Ireland which referred to homosexuality as ‘an abomination’ and invited people to join in a peaceful public prayer witness against acts of sodomy.  After receiving seven complaints that the advertisement was blatantly homophobic, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) suggested that the advert had caused ‘serious offence’ to some readers and ordered that it be removed and not published in the same format again.  The Church challenged the decision of the ASA arguing the ban to be an infringement of their rights to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and it was last month that Justice Treacy agreed with the applicants, that the outright ban on the advertisement infringed their right to freedom of expression.  Continue reading ‘Judge Affirms Freedom Of Expression In Northern Ireland’

Freedom to Blaspheme?

A newly released study by Freedom House, which argues that blasphemy laws fundamentally violate the right to freedom of expression, coincides with a growing debate in recent years over these types of laws.

For example, the United Kingdom abolished its blasphemy law, which was specific to Christianity, in 2008. Meanwhile, in Ireland, a law punishing blasphemy with a fine of up to €25,000 took effect earlier this year amid protests. The Irish law was mean to implement Article 40 of Ireland’s Constitution, which provides that ‘[t]he publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law’. Protests against the law were so widespread, however, that the Irish government plans to hold a referendum on the provision later this year.

Continue reading ‘Freedom to Blaspheme?’

Freedom to incite?

Muslim nations across the world have appealed to the US government to stop plans of a US pastor to publicly burn Korans on the anniversary of September 11. The Indian government has called for a media blackout, urging media outlets not to publish images of the event. Despite widespread criticism, US officials have stated that First Amendment constitutional rights guaranteeing freedom of speech, assembly and religion, prevent them from prohibiting the event.

Pastor Terry Jones, of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, United States, has said that he will go ahead with the event, insisting that the burning is a way to “confront terrorism”. The controversy comes at a time of heightened tensions in the US about the role of Islam, following heated debate about plans to build an Islamic centre close to Ground Zero in New York.

US military commanders have warned that the burning could spark violent retaliation against US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Senior members of the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and leading Christian and Jewish figures have condemned the planned event.

‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Raises Controversy

A building commission in New York City is planning to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, the site where the 9/11 attacks occurred. The construction has raised opposition and fears from locals, politicians, and civil society groups around the country. Many say that building the mosque so close to the where the attacks occurred is insensitive to the victims and their families. The Anti-Defamation League claimed, ‘Building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Centre will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right’. The mosque, which will be part of a 13-story Islamic community centre called the Cordoba House, will include a pool, classrooms, an auditorium, and a 9/11 memorial. Continue reading ‘‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Raises Controversy’

Does the French burka ban really liberate women?

France has voted for the ban on the Muslim veil by a majority of 335 votes for and only one against. The ban, which comes with strong public support, would make it illegal for women to wear garments such as the niqab or burka, which incorporate a full-face veil, anywhere in public. Ignoring the ban could land offending veil-wearers with a fine of up to €150.00.

The ban has come amid a wider debate regarding ‘French identity’ and Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has called it ‘a victory for democracy and for French values… “Values of freedom against all the oppressions which try to humiliate individuals; values of equality between men and women, against those who push for inequality and injustice.”’
Continue reading ‘Does the French burka ban really liberate women?’


RSS Media Law and Freedom of Expression News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 24 other followers