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Another nail in the coffin of free speech - Rebeccafrog
Another nail in the coffin of free speech
This scares the crap out of me. Norway has criminalized blasphemy.
"Law 150-A, which has been approved by parliament, criminalizes blasphemy and clearly prohibits despising others or lampooning religions in any form of expression, including the use of photographs," Norway's Deputy Archbishop Oliva Howika told reporters after a meeting in Doha with Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.

Howika was among a Norwegian delegation that also included the chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council in Norway, Mohamed Hamdan.

"Under the new law, the crime of blasphemy will be punished either by a fine or imprisonment," Howika said, promising Qaradawi to fax him a copy of the law after being published in the country's official gazette.

Hamdan regretted the burning of the Norwegian embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus, but said the government had blamed the magazine for the violent reaction.

"The Norwegian government made it clear more than one time that it would not condone blasphemy," he said.


"Muslims want all people to live in peace, cooperation and love. We don't call for strife. All people are created by God, so there was no need for this strife," Qaradawi told reporters..

"We were deeply hurt by the cartoons. The Danish newspaper could have defused the crisis by offering an immediate apology to the Muslims. Had it apologized, the issue would have been resolved," he said.

He pointed out that there is a difference between "freedom of expression" and freedom of insulting"

"Freedom of expression is all about expressing an opinion. In the cartoons case, there is no opinion or counter-opinion," he said.

Qaradawi called anew on the United Nations to adopt a resolution banning blasphemy to head off similar incidents in the future. He also urged the European Union to criminalize blasphemy against any religion, including pagan religions.
Emphasis mine.

You're damn right there was no need for this strife. If Muslims were as good as taking what they dish out, none of this would have happened. If Muslim leaders had called for a peaceful boycott of the magazine that published the offending cartoons, none of this would have happened. If Muslim leaders had publicly stated that the cartoons were deeply offensive, demanded an apology from the original publication, and urged their people not to react violently regardless of whether said apology was forthcoming, none of this would have happened. If the offense had been against Christians, none of this would have happened. Christians wouldn't have to be told not to blow stuff up. Unlike Islam, normal Christians no longer believe that BEHEADING is an apropriate punishment for blasphemy. Because freedom of expression is in fact synonymous with freedom to insult. Freedom of expression means no one is entitled to do me physical harm, nor can I be fined or jailed, if I call you, your prophet, or your god, rude names. Freedom of expression means you do not have the right not to be offended. If you are offended by my speech, you have an absolute right to boycott my products, uninvite me from a speaking engagement, and tell me to get off your lawn and take my offensive speech else where. You have the right to tell all your friends to do the same. You do not have the right to harm me, my employer, or my country's freaking embassy in a country in which I have never set foot.

And let repeat that first bit. The new law "clearly prohibits despising others" or apparently calling them names, or being rude in any fashion if it's about something that someone might be sensitive about. That's right. Wrongthink is now a crime. It is a crime to despise someone for his religion. I haven't been able to find the text of the law, nor independent confirmation that it has actually been passed. (And I don't know if passing Parliament means it's law, or if it's like getting through Congress.)

And just for fun, a quick rundown of Europe's blasphemy laws. I'm sure something will show up on The Volokh Conspiracy at some point today. I'll post more as I find out more.

Lesson learned: if you scare Europe, Europe will cave to your demands.

UPDATE: Welcome to anyone who wandered over here from Eugene Volokh's post! Please feel free to say hi, even if you don't have anything substantive to add. I don't have a counter, so it'd be nice to see who dropped by.

Tags: , ,
Energy: angry shaking with rage

6 comments or Leave a comment
mcsassypants From: mcsassypants Date: February 16th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Christians would have to be told not to blow stuff up..."
Depends on which Christians you're talking about.
Some think it's perfectly ok to blow up abortion clinics.
Or kill gays
Or Jews
Or Muslims
Or any other group that they don't like/agree with.

rebeccafrog From: rebeccafrog Date: February 16th, 2006 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
What I meant by that phrase was that the odds of a large group of Christians, offended by blasphemous cartoons about Moses, deciding to blow stuff up and kill people, is sufficiently small that if it did happen, no one would be criticizing Christian religious leaders for not advocating a peaceful response. No one could have anticipated a violent response to mere cartoons. If this had happened to Christians, and such a huge number of Christians had responded with violence, the world would have been utterly shocked. As in surprised, not just appalled. This is orders of magnitude larger than anything I could have imagined, but I can't honestly say that I'm surprised by anything other than the magnitude of the crimes being committed on the pretext of defending Islam's precious name.

The fact that so many Muslims (not all, or even most, by any means, but a terrifyingly large number) have participated in the violent response to these cartoons, indicates that the violence could have been anticipated. It is my understanding that it was Muslim clerics who publicized the cartoons in Arab countries in the first place, and that they did not engage in any kind of damage control.
baliset From: baliset Date: February 16th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's dreadful. I didn't realize that Norway would cave like that. I wonder how they're going to define "blasphemy." It's really a shame that they're caving like this. It only teaches the extremists that they're doing the "right thing."
alasatyr From: alasatyr Date: February 17th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi Rebecca, I just wandered over from the Volokh post linking you (you share your name with someone I went to law school with, and I though you might have been her! (No, not the one. Not the one...))

Anyway, I agree totally about free speech being the right to offend. I posted a similar argument myself recently.
rebeccafrog From: rebeccafrog Date: February 17th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for coming by! And thank you for the link to your post.

Where did you go to school? There was a Zoe Davidson in my year at BU. Fortunately, she wasn't in my 1L section, but it did cause a little confusion when we were in a couple of the same classes 2nd and 3rd years. It's funny just how few people in law school shared last names.
alasatyr From: alasatyr Date: February 18th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I went to the University of Auckland, NZ. I realised when I saw your schools list that the odds of us having any mutual acquaintances are quite low!
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