Virtually every year, a group of predominately Muslim countries tries to get the UN to pass a law making it illegal to insult someone’s religion and the results have been working more and more in favor of freedom rather than repression. But new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is planning to make a major push for such blasphemy laws around the world.
Speaking on Monday, as the Pakistani Senate pledged to crackdown on social media platforms that allow blasphemous content to be shared, Imran Khan announced that he will take up the issue of a global restriction on criticism of religion at the UN General Assembly in September. Over the past twenty years, several attempts have been made by countries who are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to raise motions at the United Nations outlawing the criticism of religion. Each of these attempts has been strongly resisted by humanist and other human rights groups, free speech activists, and some religious groups.In 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee adopted a resolution under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stating ‘prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the Covenant… Thus, for instance, it would be impermissible for any such laws to discriminate in favor of or against one or certain religions or belief systems, or their adherents over another, or religious believers over non-believers. Nor would it be permissible for such prohibitions to be used to prevent or punish criticism of religious leaders or commentary on religious doctrine and tenets of faith.’
Despite this, Khan’s pledge is evidence that his administration is prioritising appeasing domestic religious fundamentalists over its commitment to human rights at home and internationally.
Gee, how shocking. When did Pakistan ever give a damn about human rights? If your religious beliefs are so delicate and fragile that they can’t withstand criticism or mockery, then they sure as hell deserve to be criticized and ridiculed. Blasphemy laws are an appalling violation of our most basic human rights. Religion deserves no more protection than any other type of belief. All ideas are open to criticism and even ridicule. The moment we lose that freedom is the moment we find ourselves living in a theocracy.