Saskatoon Freethinkers Observe Blasphemy Day

Blasphemy laws are a serious problem. Ireland just reintroduced one.  The united nations Muslim dominated Commission on Human Rights has passed a resolution banning the defamation of religion.  The punishment for blasphemy in Pakistan includes death, and 4000 people have been charged since 1986.  These laws can be used to quash all sorts of dissent and are especially dangerous in a theocratic country were criticism of the government can be defined as criticism of religion.

Even Canada still has blasphemous libel on the books.

Blasphemous Libel

Offence

296. (1) Every one who publishes a blasphemous libel is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

Question of fact

(2) It is a question of fact whether or not any matter that is published is a blasphemous libel.

Saving

(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious subject.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 260.

September 30 has been declared International Blasphemy Day.  The date was chosen to mark the anniversary of Danish newspapers publishing cartoon images of Mahmoud.   The resulting riots and protests throughout the world resulted in a chill in the news media.   Very few media outlets would reprint the cartoons that cause the conflagration.

To support the ideal of free speech the Saskatoon Freethinkers held a Blasphemy Day celebration. The Star Phoenix has a quite positive article describing it.  John Gormley also discussed the event in less than flattering terms.  Rebekha, one of the organizers phones in around the 9:00 minute mark and she has more details on her blog.

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