State Department highlights blasphemy laws in annual religious freedom report
August 11, 2016
The US State Department has issued its annual international religious freedom report and highlighted the relation between blasphemy laws and human rights violations in “deeply conservative Islamic societies.”
“Societal passions associated with blasphemy – deadly enough in and of themselves – are abetted by a legal code that harshly penalizes blasphemy and apostasy,” the report stated. “False accusations, often lodged in pursuit of personal vendettas or for the personal gain of the accuser, are not uncommon. Mob violence as a result of such accusations is disturbingly common.”
The report continued, “In addition to the danger of mob violence engendered by blasphemy accusations, courts in many countries continued to hand down harsh sentences for blasphemy and apostasy, which were used to severely curtail the religious freedom of their residents.”
David Saperstein, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said in an August 10 briefing that “76% of the world’s countries provide the basic conditions for people to freely practice their religion or beliefs.” Nonetheless, he said, nearly three-quarters of the world’s people live in the 24% of countries where religious freedom is severely restricted.
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- International Religious Freedom Report for 2015 (US Department of State)
- Briefing on the Release of the 2015 Annual Report on International Freedom (IRF) (US Department of State)
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