24 April 2017

It’s time to end Denmark’s blasphemy ban

On April 25, the Danish Parliament will have an opportunity to distinguish itself from countries such as Iran and Pakistan. What does liberal Denmark have in common with these two Islamic republics, you ask?

At first sight, not much. Denmark ranks No. 1 in the 2016 Rule of Law Index, far above both of those two countries. Freedom House puts Denmark in the category of “Free,” noting in particular the country’s strong commitment to a free press. Iran, by contrast, is “Not Free” in every respect. Pakistan is “Partly Free” overall, but “Not Free” when it comes to freedom of the press and Internet.

Yet Denmark, Iran and Pakistan do have one thing in common. They all enforce the criminalization of different forms of blasphemy. On Tuesday, the Danish Parliament will vote on whether to abolish its blasphemy ban, which until recently had been thought of as a dead letter.

The last trial on blasphemy charges took place in 1971, and no one has been convicted since 1946. In 1997, the chief prosecutor, citing freedom of expression, decided not to prosecute when a Danish artist burned the Bible on national television. [The Washington Post] Read more