Friday, May 30, 2014

Which countries still outlaw apostasy and blasphemy?



I didn't realize that supposedly advanced countries like Ireland, Denmark, and Germany have blasphemy laws. That's scary!


apostasy laws around the world
Apostasy and blasphemy may seem to many like artifacts of history. But in dozens of countries around the world, laws against apostasy and blasphemy remain even today.
Earlier this month, the U.S. embassy in Khartoum said it was “deeply disturbed” that Sudan had sentenced a pregnant woman to death for apostasy, the act of abandoning one’s faith — including by converting to another religion. (The woman later gave birth in jail.) And in Pakistan, the country’s most popular TV station was the latest target in a rash of recent government accusations of blasphemy, defined as speech or actions considered to be contemptuous of God or the divine.
A new Pew Research analysis finds that as of 2012, nearly a quarter of the world’s countries and territories (22%) had anti-blasphemy laws or policies, and one-in-ten (11%) had laws or policies penalizing apostasy. The legal punishments for such transgressions vary from fines to death.
blasphemy laws around the world
We found that laws restricting apostasy and blasphemy are most common in the Middle East and North Africa, where 14 of the 20 countries (70%) criminalize blasphemy and 12 of the 20 countries (60%) criminalize apostasy. While apostasy laws exist in only two other regions of the world – Asia-Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa – blasphemy laws can be found in all regions, including Europe (in 16% of countries) and the Americas (31%).
We counted and categorized reports of the presence of these laws in 2012 as part of an extension of our research on restrictions on religion around the world. Nearly three-in-ten countries in the world (29%) had a high or very high level of government restrictions in 2012 – these countries include about 64% of the world’s population, according to our report.

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