"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.Emphasis mine.
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.
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.