Questionable Motives

October 29, 2010

Why are blasphemy laws so dangerous?

Filed under: abuse,blasphemy,civil rights,Criticism,Enlightenment,Human Rights — tildeb @ 10:11 am

The United Nations Human Rights Council and General Assembly regularly adopt resolutions condemning ‘defamation of religions’ as a violation of international human rights and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) member states are attempting to create and adopt a new binding international law prohibiting ‘defamation of religions.’ However, there is growing recognition that such a concept has no place in international law as fewer states have voted for the resolutions each year.

Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy on Human Rights examines how governments use these laws to legitimize crackdowns on minority groups, dissidents and other divergent views under the pretext of maintaining ‘social harmony.’ While Policing Belief uses cases studies of seven countries—Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Poland—the findings are indicative of the danger blasphemy laws pose more broadly, particularly in countries lacking strong democratic safeguards.



  1. Oh, don’t even get me started.

    Ever since the UN got all comfy-cozy with the OIC, all we ever hear from them is Israel this, and Zionism that, and Islamophobia this, and blasphemy that.

    Poo. We should have left the UN a long time ago and ceased to waste billions of tax dollars on that corrupt, useless, poverty-promoting regime.

    Comment by Natassia — October 29, 2010 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  2. We are n not playing shouldhaves. This is real life, and the proponents of liberty are outnumbered and outvoted. The GA & HRC resolutions lack the force of law. But human rights covenants can be enforced. That is why the OIC moved to insert the provisions of the resolutions into ICERD through a binding protocol.

    The ad hoc cmte. charged with the task meets at the end of November. Last year, they bogged down in procedural matters. We have no way of knowing when they will come up with a protocol. We know that it will be passed, it will be signed, it will be ratified and the courts won’t take the case.

    Kiss the First Amendment goodbye forever. Unless you are willing to raise the political cost of censorship above Islam’s threshold of pain.

    We have only one possible counterattack: to demand enforcement of existging provisions of ICERD, ICCPR & CPPCG which require that Islam be proscribed by law because of its egregious violations.

    Please sign, promote, publicize and share the International Qur’an Petition

    Comment by dajjal — October 29, 2010 @ 9:09 pm | Reply

    • How about we defund the UN? Screw ’em. We don’t need their international resolutions and tyranny and waste.

      Comment by Natassia — October 30, 2010 @ 11:53 am | Reply

      • That would be great, Natassia, but thee is not sufficient support for the concept. There is too much support for the failed international forum paradigm.

        Even our chances of stopping the drive to outlaw criticism of Islam though a protocol to Icerd are extremely poor.

        Comment by dajjal — October 31, 2010 @ 5:03 am

  3. The issue here isn’t the UN; it is with a minority of fools who participate in its operation.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — October 30, 2010 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

  4. I suspect the defamation of religions push will not pass, although with enough accommodationists mistakenly thinking such an allowance is a sign of tolerance there is always the threat. And the threat is very real and ongoing.

    Getting rid of the UN for this kind of stuff is like getting rid of a legal system because one doesn’t agree with the judges. We need the process and the opportunity the UN affords us.

    Comment by tildeb — October 30, 2010 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

  5. The UN is not a valid legal system. It’s a waste of billions and billions of tax dollars. It is worthless in preventing regimes like NK, Iran, etc. from getting nuclear weapons. It is worthless in stopping genocide like in Darfur. It is worthless in preventing FGM in Egypt. What the hell good is it? It gives legitimacy to tyrants and human rights violaters. It stirs the pot of anti-Semitism. The UN has got to go.

    Comment by Natassia — October 30, 2010 @ 11:08 pm | Reply

  6. The sooner religious believers realise that the people in power who support their beliefs are manipulating them for their own agenda the sooner stupid ideas such as blasphemy laws will be seen for what they are. The only reason that people want blasphemy laws is to operate censorship of ideas and free thought. The way they will get their laws is by convincing people that their particular religion is true and asking people to support it – good luck to them!

    The UK had blasphemy laws until as late as 2008. These laws were used to ban the Monty Python’s film ‘The Life of Brian’ – I seriously doubt there is any appetite for new blasphemy laws, because it causes too many problems in relation to freedom of speech and expression. In a multicultural ‘global village’ the only way forward is secularism and I think most of the highest funding member states of the UN realise this.

    Real blasphemy is famine, war, poverty, poor health, torture and genocide.

    Without the UN there is no co-ordination in areas such as: Food, Telecommunications, Civil Aviation, World Finances, Education and Science, Postal Services, Health, Weather, Maritime Affairs, Tourism, Disaster Relief and Peacekeeping.

    The UN isn’t just about world peace; it is about co-operation between nations to allow communication to flow on matters of significant importance that allow the international community to function. The UN cannot prevent rogue states from developing nuclear weapons without annihilating them, however I am not sure you would want to live in a world that sanctioned such draconian measures either – this would also go against the human rights agenda of the UN.

    The current operating budget of the UN is estimated at less than five billion dollars, which is less than the British pay for the their entire health service running for two weeks; a further contrast is possible between NASA’s budget which is approximately 15 billion dollars – in other words on the global stage it is small change (people spend more in Walmart and Ebay!). In addition, to this budget a further five billion is set aside for peace keeping missions – like the ones deployed in the former Yugoslavia; that conflict had to be controlled by an international force, if it wasn’t it could have gone global and millions of people would have died as a result.

    The UN is not perfect, but then neither is the world (if it was there wouldn’t be any need for the UN) – the alternative is worse, when nations fend for themselves communication breaks down, barriers to trade and commerce go up, and war looms is ugly head.

    The real issue here isn’t the UN – it is the religious nut jobs who participate in the running of some of the member states, some of who have managed to get nuclear capability – this is the real threat. Religion is the problem, not the due process – all because some deluded people think that their weird beliefs in sky fairies are more important than real lives here on earth.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — October 31, 2010 @ 5:24 am | Reply

  7. I might add here – that the UN is not a failure; the standards we are using here to communicate are developed and maintained by the UN (in part). When you eat your next meal, just think about the work that has happened on agricultural policy that has allowed food stocks to be traded internationally allowing you to eat what you want all year round. Next time you get on a plane and fly through multiple airspaces, imagine what it would be like if there was no operating standard for air-traffic control.

    We all benefit from the services that the UN provides.

    Saying that the UN has failed is both short-sighted, and ungrateful, we should all be thankful that someone, somewhere has the forethought to try and apply a strategy to dealing the problems world faces.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — October 31, 2010 @ 5:33 am | Reply

  8. 5 billion dollars to do what? Nothing.

    And damn right I’m ungrateful…especially when the UN’s human rights commission is headed by some of the top tyrannical regimes in the world and treats Israel like it’s the greatest blight to this planet. They waste time and millions of dollars on climate change fantasies and investigations of Israel and blasphemy legislation. It inflates costs, sucking away foreign aid (tax dollars) on projects that should have cost but a fraction.

    Does no one remember the story this year of 200+ women and babies being gang raped only 20 miles from a UN base in Congo?

    No, of course not.

    The UN is just another “Big Government” — a pricey middle man with a behemoth digestive tract that puts out far less than what it takes in.

    And I don’t know where you’re getting your $5 billion budget from. You’ve got to be joking… In 2006 America alone contributed over $5 billion to the United Nations system to support UN agencies and peacekeeping operations.

    Comment by Natassia — October 31, 2010 @ 11:02 am | Reply

  9. Oh, and do you know why the UN is so incompetent in its “peacekeeping missions”?

    Because they pander to the corrupt regimes they’re supposed to be protecting the civilians from…

    For example, they obeyed dictates that helicopters may not be in the air during a certain time…and then what happened? Massacre when the helicopters left the air.

    Here’s more info on the UN budget:

    Comment by Natassia — October 31, 2010 @ 11:06 am | Reply

  10. 5 billion dollars to do what? Nothing.

    Your ignorance is astonishing – I am gob smacked by how little you understand about world affairs.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — October 31, 2010 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

  11. Let’s just look at Haiti for an example of all the “good” the UN does with all its billions. Or Congo where nowhere else in the world has the United Nations invested so much and accomplished so little.

    Oh, and talk about spending money well: $23 million in Spanish taxpayer dollars spent on a ceiling mural at the UN headquarters.

    And what the heck is up with appointing a “space ambassador” for that potential meeting with E.T.??? And, by the way, the Office of Outer Space Affairs only has a budget of $7 million. Chump change, right?

    Or the World Food Programme corruption?

    The UN does not spend other people’s money as well as those people would have themselves. Private charities are far more efficient than the UN.

    What the UN could have been…. ah, who knows. The potential was there for it to be something great.

    But what it is today is a scandal. Just this year, for example, the United Nations elected Iran to join the Commission on the Status of Women. Iran.

    What more is there to say?

    Comment by Natassia — November 1, 2010 @ 12:04 am | Reply

    • Correction: the Office of Outer Space Affairs actually has a budget of closer to $10 million — but those few million more come mostly from donors like the United States and Germany (among others), whereas the $7 million comes from the regular UN budget.

      Comment by Natassia — November 1, 2010 @ 12:12 am | Reply

  12. Your ignorance is astonishing – I am gob smacked by how little you understand about world affairs.(Ranter)

    Funny thing is I would say the same about you. Most world affairs are about power and money not freaking religion. Even the religious whack jobs are all about the money. Show me a democracy or theocracy that isnt ruled by the one who has the most bucks. More bucks buys bigger and better guns. To think otherwise is as delusional as the religious nut.

    Comment by Titfortat — November 1, 2010 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

    • “Most world affairs are about power and money not freaking religion.”

      I never said they were about religion – I suggest you re-read my earlier comment. The issue with ‘the religious’ (meaning those ‘normal’ people who believe and follow a religion – e.g. most Catholics, Muslims, Hindus etc) is they are blinded by their beliefs – and hence do not see that religion is really about making money, and having power. They muddle up the motives of people like Mother Teresa with motives for doing good; when actually, their motives and ethical standards are pretty shitty. Anyone who is thinking straight can see this because the trail of evidence speaks for itself. Religion claims that there is a god – where is it then? The backlash we see from religious organisations when atheists question the existence of god, isn’t because of any spiritual reason, it is because we are questioning their self-imposed rights to authority with society. Atheists do not see the emperor’s new clothes, and say so, and furthermore refuse to be silenced.

      Let me be clear: I have no real problem with people being spiritual, or wanting to believe in a supernatural agency, so long as they do not force it upon others, or use it to gain authority. The issue for me with religion is that it has a say in the running of my country (and the world), and I do not think it is appropriate to do so at all while there is a substantial number of people who do not believe in the morals and ethics that the religion has, or who believe in the existence of a god for which religious leaders attribute their authority to.

      As for the UN having power, yes it does, as does any government system. Freedom is an illusion in the west; I am more than aware of this – but what is the alternative? A pipe dream about some Star Trek future where we no longer have a fiscal economy? [get real]. War and resources (mainly oil, food and water) make the world go around, and religion is an actor in that equation. I can almost understand people fighting over resources, but to fight over imaginary gods is bloody stupid.

      The reason why Natasha is naïve, is twofold – first she thinks that 5, 10 or 50 billion dollars is a large amount of money relative to the world stage, and second, that the UN is just about peacekeeping; both of these statements are not entirely representative of the truth and are loaded with personal opinion that repudiates the good work that *is* done by the UN and its associated organisations. The only way to assess the cost of the UN for value for money is to compare its costs with other expensive projects – comparing the cost to your own expenditure is false accounting. Compared to blasting a few rockets off the planet a year, I would say the UN is pretty good value for money – taking a holistic view.

      The other thing I take issue with is the statement that the entire UN is a failure – it is not, world order has brought us many benefits, since the Second World War; however, it is not perfect either – things go wrong, we should expect that – why? Because it is fucking hard to get right. What is the alternative? [I have no idea].

      We live like kings in the west, with freedoms, and access to facilities and infrastructure provided to us by our state(s) (which doesn’t have to exist or do anything). Even capitalist states, need infrastructure, and public services to allow the economy to grow upon. So sometimes, we should take a step back and be proud that we do allow an element of freedom, that we do recognise the need for welfare, that we do understand the need to have and support an element of democracy [even if it is an illusion, it is still better than being shot at by the state for protesting against their policy].

      A world without the UN (or similar) or a local government would be considerably worse than one with. Governance is a necessary, and a difficult task to do. But don’t take my word for it – go to a country where they don’t have a functioning government and see what it is like first hand.

      The other thing I take issue with is the assumption that everyone and every organisation just exists to make money. This again is not entirely true. Sure money is important, but EVERYONE is not motivated by greed and excess – there are still jobs that people do regardless of the financial reward, and yet there are plenty of jobs that people do do for nothing.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — November 2, 2010 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

  13. Time for some humour me thinks….

    Blasphemy related:

    UN related… what have the Romans done for us?:

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — November 2, 2010 @ 4:43 pm | Reply

  14. The other thing I take issue with is the assumption that everyone and every organisation just exists to make money. This again is not entirely true. Sure money is important, but EVERYONE is not motivated by greed and excess – there are still jobs that people do regardless of the financial reward, and yet there are plenty of jobs that people do do for nothing(Ranter)

    The problem is that the people who hold the most power are the ones with the most money and they typically are the ones who make policy. Even Bill Gates and his philanthropy cant hide the fact that he tried to monopolize his industry(can you say greed). Capitalism doesnt work, it is just a matter of time for it to falter. I wonder if the west even knows what a Democracy is considering the system it uses now is tainted by capitalism. It’s funny that you try to defend the UN even with all its gross misuse because of “some” people that do good. I think I hear the same retort from the religionists concerning the good people of their faith. We need a new system for the earth and its inhabitants. Were all like a bunch of addicts in denial. Funny thing is, even with that outlook I consider myself an optimist, lmao. 😉

    Comment by Titfortat — November 2, 2010 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

    • I defend the idea of the United Nations for exactly the same reason you point out: We need a new system for the earth and its inhabitants.

      How can we get there if global institutions like the UN are deemed to be too dishonest, too much the left hand of big business, to maintain? It’s like canceling the Olympics because of scandal: it may be justified in the sense of corruption but hardly a way to promote global sports competitions.

      Comment by tildeb — November 2, 2010 @ 5:08 pm | Reply

      • Bad example tildeb, the olympics are games. The UN is not playing for fun. Until we rid our global institutions of Capitalism we are doomed to repeat the pattern. I know its not happening in my lifetime or the lifetime of my child. Maybe in several hundred years we will have become a little more enlightened or at least a lot smaller of a population(BOOM) may make us more accountable to each other.

        Comment by Titfortat — November 2, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

      • The example was merely to show that a good idea badly done doesn’t mean the idea is a bad one. Hoping that capitalism will simply evaporate from such institutions seems a sure-fire way to change nothing.

        Comment by tildeb — November 2, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  15. “The UN is not playing for fun.”

    Neither is the Olympics – there is money to be made in sport, often at the cost of social welfare. It never ceases to amaze me that people will value having a sport complex over providing housing or schools; or they will complain about having to pay higher taxes for healthcare or education, but will gladly buy a season ticket and new shirt for their favourite football team without giving it a second thought. Or will complain about paying road tax, but will buy a BMW (what on earth do they think they would drive the BMW on?).

    “Until we rid our global institutions of Capitalism we are doomed to repeat the pattern.”

    You mean a society that is not based on the monetary system: I agree totally, but I am also a realist! Here, right now (not in dreamland): The UN is the best we can do, for a lot of people it helps, for some people this isn’t good enough. Perhaps, one day enough people will realise this too – and perhaps one of those people will come up with a bright idea, that provides the alternative, and if they do, perhaps people will listen… perhaps… perhaps… perhaps… and perhaps it is just wishful thinking.

    This does not mean that all of the UN is failed, wrong, corrupt or a conspiracy.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — November 2, 2010 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  16. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ddsnorth and ddsnorth, ddsnorth. ddsnorth said: The Impact of Blasphemy on Human Rights – how gov'ts use these laws to legitimize crackdowns on minority groups #laws […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Why are blasphemy laws so dangerous? « Questionable Motives -- — November 13, 2010 @ 2:13 am | Reply

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