From Secular Europe Campaign:
Watch out: UK signs agreement on “religious freedom” with OICTerry Sanderson, resident of the National Secular Society, pointed out the following:
Concerns have been raised by the National Secular Society that the UK’s stance on free speech could be compromised by an agreement signed at the United Nations between this country and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC).
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – the new “Minister for Faith” – and pledges that the UK and the OIC will “work together on issues of peace, stability and religious freedom.”
At present, the OIC is agitating at the United Nations for a global blasphemy law that would make criticising or satirising religion a punishable offence....
“In Egypt the blasphemy laws are also used to get rid of political opponents and are sometimes used as a means of revenge by neighbours or colleagues who are in dispute. We do not need this kind of primitive legislation in our democracies...”The UK appears to be considering jumping onto the slippery slope. Is the United States, despite our history of separation of church and state, far behind? Codifying religious blasphemy as part of the civil code is dangerous in the extreme!
And just what is the Islamic definition of blasphemy? According to this source, the definition is nebulous and open to exploitation:
The...Quran, the primary authority in Islamic jurisprudence, offers no explicit definition of blasphemy. The hadiths, a collection of sayings attributed to Mohammed, mention briefly the “abuse of the Prophet” as a capital punishment offence...As I read the above citation, I think of Mona Eltahawy and her zeal as she defaced private property in the NYC subway this week Did she not appear absolutely convinced that she had the right to do what she did?
Proponents of strict implementation of Sharia religious law usually argue that blasphemy should be punishable by death. Muslim clerics that condemn cases of blasphemy sometimes exhort on fellow Muslims to punish the perpetrators, while in some countries, conservative clerics with influence over the state judiciary pursue suspected blasphemers in state courts.
Yet in the Muslim world only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates currently permit blasphemy to be punishable by death. Muslim clerics that condemn cases of blasphemy sometimes exhort on fellow Muslims to punish the perpetrators, while in some countries, conservative clerics with influence over the state judiciary pursue suspected blasphemers in state courts.
[I]t will be up to individual Muslim clerics – with varying degrees of juridical knowledge and reputation – to declare an individual a blasphemer. A wide variety of alleged offences have been branded as blasphemous in different environments, ranging from cultural production deemed offensive to Islam to bizarre allegations of blasphemy such as the Sudanese case of a teddy bear named Mohammed.
I think of Salman Rushdie.
I think of the recent filmifada, too, of course.
And the Danish Cartoons and the ensuing outrage.
I also think of these signs that Muslims carried in the streets of London:
Offense is in the eye of the beholder.
The slippery slope.