- Published on Thursday, 02 June 2011 06:39
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 1290
Islamic countries like Pakistan have laws banning blasphemy and even countries like Ireland still do as well. These laws are meant to have the same kind of effect as Canada’s laws against hate crimes although they focus on religion. Whatever way you look at it, anti-blasphemy laws are strongly against free speech. Their intent does not always seem so terrible – they ban deeply offending people – particularly the majorities. I suspect the majority would also be deeply offended if someone said “everyone is stupid, except me” so it’s clear that offensive language is not enough. If we were accused of being stupid, most of us would dismiss the speaker as being of no consequence – not worth listening to. His statement would not in fact offend. So why do blasphemous statements offend?
To many people – particularly Muslims, fundamentalists and strong Catholics – Religious beliefs are very personal and emotional. And certain parts of those beliefs are crucial to their faith. Muslims revere their prophet even higher than Allah (or so it seems); Southern Baptists revere the bible as being literally true; Catholics believe that God’s body is truly present in the tabernacle. If any of these is made fun of or disrespected you are essentially saying that not only is their religion wrong (out to lunch even?) but by association, all believers in these things are stupid. I still have a hard time seeing why they care what others think. Are they insecure in their beliefs? Do they think that just maybe they could be wrong? That Mohammed was just a crackpot man; that the bible was concocted by men seeking power and that it’s just a piece of bread in the tabernacle? (Are the intolerant sign-carriers at right just childishly insecure?)
Pakistan has been wrestling with the blasphemy laws for some time. Like any country, the educated people there realise that the blasphemy laws are crazy and they have been trying to water them down if not repeal them altogether. But there are a lot of Muslim idiots in Pakistan and idiots are easily swayed by fanatical imams.
A recent application to the Pakistan Supreme Court wants to ban certain passages of the bible because they are blasphemous – to Muslims! If the court won’t ban passages, then they’ll have to ban the whole bible! The problem is that Muslims believe that Mohammed did not establish a new religion in the 7th century, but was the last in a long line of prophets of Islam stretching back to Adam, and including Moses and Jesus. But the bible describes some of these prophets as behaving immorally – e.g. David, who coveted a man’s wife and so sent him to face certain death on the battle frontlines; and Solomon, who later in life sought out pagan women and their gods. Further, biblical assertions that Jesus is God, that he died and rose from the dead, and that salvation comes through his name only, are all in conflict with Islamic teachings. They, too, could arguably be seen by Muslims as blasphemous – both towards the Qur’an and, indirectly, towards Mohammed, who Muslims believed received the inerrant revelation from Allah.
Why bother now? Citing Florida pastor Terry Jones’ Qur’an-burning act, the leader of the initiative, Abdul Rauf Farooqi, said the campaigners would like to pay back such “blasphemers” by doing the same to the Bible, but would not “follow in their footsteps”.
OK. So it’s payback time. I think revenge is non-Christian (as long as you ignore the old testament eye-for-an-eye thing) – I guess it’s allowed in Islam just like it is in Judaism.
If the bible is blasphemous, they’ll just have to kill all the Christians who read it.
I know (I hope) what our Supreme court would say to an application to hear a case like this (quoting hate laws) – they’d say, “go away and grow up”.