Blasphemy

Danish Man Who Burned a Koran on Facebook Will Be Prosecuted For Blasphemy

Denmark's first blasphemy prosecution since 1971.

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It's ok to burn stuff if you paid for it
Ilyas Dean/Splash News/Newscom

A man in Denmark will be prosecuted under the country's blasphemy laws for burning a Koran and posting video of the book's immolation to Facebook in 2015.

The Associated Press reports that the man (whose name was not released) will be the first Dane since 1971 to be charged under a law forbidding "publicly mocking a religious community's religious doctrines or worship," and only the fifth person ever to be prosecuted for blasphemy in Denmark, according to The Independent. The man faces up to four months in prison but, if convicted, will more likely face a fine.

Prosecutors had considered charging the publisher and editors of Jyllands-Postenwhich in 2006 published cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammad that were met with violent reactions in various countries—but ultimately declined to do so.

In recent years, Denmark had considered repealing its blasphemy ban, but in 2015 decided to reaffirm it during a session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. A poll conducted in 2012 found 66 percent of Danish citizens supported the almost-never-used prohibition on blasphemy.

Despite the rarity of blasphemy charges in Denmark, prosecutions against "hate speech" are quite common. Writing for Columbia University's Global Freedom of Expression platform, Jacob Mchangama argues that "scope creep" among such prosecutions appears to be happening in Denmark, and that Denmark's stance at the UN has international implications—especially among certain countries which punish blasphemy with heavy prison sentences, or even death:

The conflation of blasphemy and hate speech goes to the heart of the debate at the UN between (primarily) democracies on the one hand and Muslim states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the other. In 2011 the annual and highly divisive OIC resolutions on "Defamation of Religion" (an attempt to create a global blasphemy ban under international human rights law) were ended by the passing of Resolution 16/18 at the Human Rights Council. The resolution is essentially a compromise brokered by the United States and the OIC and protects individuals, rather than religions, from religious discrimination and intolerance, as well as promoting "open, constructive and respectful debate." Yet, OIC member states have since attempted to interpret the obligation to prohibit certain forms of hate speech in Article 20 (2) of the ICCPR, so broad as to include criticism and mockery of religion.

Mchangama adds:

Undoubtedly these states will have been encouraged by the actions of the Danish police and the District Court of Elsinore. However, the fates Asia Bibi on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan, Raif Badawi serving 10 years for insulting Islam in Saudia Arabia, and Ayatollah Kazemeini Boroujerdi serving a lengthy prison sentence in Iran for "waging war against God," show that criticism of religion is an essential human right for all, including devout religious believers of all faiths.

Watch Reason TV's interview with former Jyllends-Posten editor Flemming Rose below, where Rose talks with Nick Gillespie about "the Worldwide Suppression of Free Speech":

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  1. Ching chang ching noot-ee-lie!

  2. Damn it, if only militant atheists around the world could go around rioting and swearing death upon the Danish for their impudence. Y’all used to have it in you not so long ago, slaughtering innocents by the tens of millions and sponsoring most of the world’s terrorism. Now you just kind of go around annoying people.

    1. Who said anything about atheists?

      1. No one. It was a lighthearted remark. I was suggesting that militant atheists–natural “blasphemers” of religion–might get more “respect” from the ridiculous Danish government if they were a more violent sort of militant like their Muslim counterparts.

        1. Well the Soviet and Maoist atheists tended to be a bit violent. Ditto for the Pol Pot atheists an the Castro atheists. In fact, I’m sure Venezuela could get their economy perking if just they were a bit more atheistic and violent.

          1. Ugh! Am I being teased here? Are people fucking with me? Again, I just fucking said that. I’m getting it from all angles over here; I’m like the Brazilian chick from the other browser tab.

            1. Go on…..

              1. Better alert HM

    2. How about the reverse? Practically all religions blaspheme against atheism. How about some charges for that, Mr Prosecutor?

      1. Everyone with principles blasphemes against nihilism. But then the legal principle of blasphemy itself probably blasphemes against nihilism too.

      2. Blaspheme-two definitions:

        1. speak irreverently about God or sacred things.
        2. to talk about God or religion in a way that does not show respect.

        Scarecrow! You and the nihilist both seem to have no leg to stand on according to the definitions above! Neither one of you have a God; and I doubt if you consider any of your “things” sacred. So, unless you are considering yourselves a religion, you cannot be blasphemed upon! Wow! I’m really sorry about that! What a great thing to be able to protest!

  3. What are you supposed to do if your religion requires you to publicly mock the religions of others?

    1. Isn’t that all religions, one time or way or another? Japanese Zen Buddhists used to have regular gang battles.

      1. That sounds pretty cool actually, where do I sign up for those?

        1. The sengoku period.

      2. They were also really hardline nationalists during the WWII period. Japan having a state cult, and Buddhism on the other hand being a foreign religion from India (and Zen itself being Chinese), they were pretty much bending over backwards to show how on board with the whole “being Japanese” thing they were. Oddly, I don’t think that Japanese Orthodoxy (introduced of course by the Russians) did the same.

        Point is, yeah, Zen Buddhists have never been particularly chill. Beating their students to keep them focused, living in deliberately stark and unpleasant surroundings, having jack-shit to do with vegetarianism–fuck, they’d burn their own scriptures sometimes, just to show their contempt for reverential gesture. Interesting crowd.

    2. Tie goes to the religion with more dickish followers. It’s safer that way

  4. A poll conducted in 2012 found 66 percent of Danish citizens supported the almost-never-used prohibition on blasphemy.

    So all around the world, speech rights have to be protected from the unwashed masses by our betters.

    1. Hey, hey. With all the USA’s flaws, we are still a lot better than most anywhere else in the world. Nowhere else do we see anything nearly as strong and uncompromising as either of our first two Amendments, for one thing. And yes, even today you can see the effects of that on the ground, as much as you might despair about things in the US. You think our university campus atmospheres are bad, for example? Drop in on those abroad. Start with Britain, for instance.

      1. I’m well aware that the United States is exceptional where speech rights are concerned, but even here I read the situation as your average joe having no idea how important it is to defend the rights of those with whom he disagrees. The contrary seems to be true. Using government censorship to settle debate seems to be tempting for too many people.

      2. Yeah, as much as free speech is under attack in the US, it’s still worth acknowledging that it is pretty damn strong still, compared to pretty much any other time or place. And gun rights too. It just flabergasts me how little regard the rest of the world seems to have for those things.

        1. Because they’ve been beaten down and now are trying to get America to be beat down too.

          “Come on, giving up your free speech, guns and health care ain’t so bad. Sure you have to put up with the state but we’re all civilized see? You…want to be civilized, right?”

      3. You know, if everybody just agreed on everything we wouldn’t need the First Amendment anyway.

        1. There’s a great loophole for accomplishing this called “not freedom from consequences” whereby a democratic majority mob in the throes of moral outrage but unable to punish a heretic via govt means, instead simply destroys him themselves via extralegal means.

  5. I just can’t understand the mindset of people who think that criminal penalties for nothing more than being kind of a dick are appropriate.

    And it doesn’t even make sense to accuse someone who is not a member of a religion of blaspheming against that religion. Burning a Koran isn’t blasphemy if you don’t believe the Koran is the word of God. It’s just a fucking book if you aren’t a Muslim.

    1. What about burning the Sacred Flag of Amurika?

      1. You provide the flag and I’ll burn it. Not to make any political statement. Just to annoy the people who think it’s a really big deal.

    2. Burning a Koran isn’t blasphemy if you don’t believe the Koran is the word of God.

      Haven’t you heard? We’re all muslim now.

      1. Ice bin ein Muslimer!

    3. Per the post, what the statute actually punishes is “publicly mocking a religious community’s religious doctrines or worship,” not “blasphemy,” strictly speaking.

    4. Books are people too!

  6. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

    1. It’s the surstr?mming!

  7. This is what happens when you think it is ok to police speech.

    1. It’s also what happens when you have strict gun laws. An unarmed society is a cowardly society.

  8. Anerican exeptionalism, as most countries do not protect freedom of speech and religion the way that the Constitution requires the US government protect them.

    Would Denmark have considered using this law for anything other than a criticism of Islam?

  9. Do progressives still think Denmark is a state to be emulated?

    Who am I kidding, they’re probably celebrating this very prosecution at huffpo.

  10. the first Dane since 1971 to be charged under a law forbidding “publicly mocking a religious community’s religious doctrines or worship”

    No Death Metal folks yet, eh?

  11. Of all the strange crimes that humanity has legislated out of nothing, blasphemy is the most amazing – with obscenity and indecent exposure fighting it out for second and third place.
    [Robert Heinlein, “Notebooks of Lazarus Long,” from Time Enough for Love (1973).]

  12. I wonder if publishing books that are critical and derisive of religion is a crime in that shithole? They could probably find all types of criminals at the library.

    1. I wonder if publishing books that are critical and derisive of religion is a crime in that shithole?

      Yes.

  13. I was just arguing with some moron who is trying to say that Europe is so much better than the US. I said, I’ll keep my freedom of speech, 2nd amendment, and legal weed, thanks. He said, duh Europe has all that. Ha ha! No. Some Americans love to imagine all this great shit about Europe. Well, go move over there and tell me how easy it is to immigrate, get a job, and then afford a place to stay. He said Europe was more affordable to live than the US. Ha ha! Ok. Good god.

    1. What’s the quote, you can’t use logic to dissuade someone of an idea they did not reach logically?

      People support hate speech laws because they want feelings more than they want logical consistency, and they just twist words and definitions to rationalize it. E.g. “hate speech is not free speech”. Just like merely existing as a neo-nazi “is violence”.

  14. Blasphemy laws suggests that the state believes, accepts the teachings of and has faith in the religion in question, no?

  15. A poll conducted in 2012 found 66 percent of Danish citizens supported the almost-never-used prohibition on blasphemy.

    I have some relatives that are Danish. During the past several decades we have visited each other they talked about how more advanced and enlightened Denmark was to the US. Yet to me blasphemy laws seem so medieval and backwards.

    BTW, despite what surveys on which countries have the highest levels of happiness say, I have not found my Danish or Norwegian relatives or people in those two counties in general to be very happy. Perhaps they have a different definition of happiness.

    1. maybe they’re happy b/c they’re content with their shitty little lives. and Americans are never content/happy and that’s why we rule.

    2. Europeans get their news from the same sources Americans do: The American News Media, most of which thinks America is unenlightened, uncouth and backwards.

  16. My mind is painfully at odds lately.

    I have been catching up on seasons of Vikings, yet then go on to read news stories about what these people have actually become.

    So very sad.

    1. I’ve been watching Vikings too. The Danes were certainly different 1200 years ago but not exactly a a swell bunch of libertarians then either.

  17. It’s starts from prosecuting for burning Koran, then they will start prosecute women for not wearing hijab and prosecute Christians and Jews for “mocking the ONLY TRUE religious community’s religious doctrines or worship”. And American left will continue cheering ‘tolerant’ and ‘inclusive’ policies of Europe and will insist on following their example.

  18. Mocking me is blasphemy in the religion of me.

  19. PHOTOSHOPPED! It was PHOTOSHOPPED…
    I swear it was!

    Prove me wrong…

  20. The tyranny of Islam is the ultimate bastion of hate, terror, murder, and evil; and its wicked agenda is readily spread by it’s followers around the world. Muslims following the doctrine of Muhammad as laid out in the Koran have committed the most heinous and criminal acts imaginable throughout history.
    To charge someone for a hate crime of destroying a Koran is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

  21. The tyranny of Islam is the ultimate bastion of hate, terror, murder, and evil; and its wicked agenda is readily spread by it’s followers around the world. Muslims following the doctrine of Muhammad as laid out in the Koran have committed the most heinous and criminal acts imaginable throughout history.
    To charge someone for a hate crime of destroying a Koran is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

  22. The tyranny of Islam is the ultimate bastion of hate, terror, murder, and evil; and its wicked agenda is readily spread by it’s followers around the world. Muslims following the doctrine of Muhammad as laid out in the Koran have committed the most heinous and criminal acts imaginable throughout history.
    To charge someone for a hate crime of destroying a Koran is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

  23. The tyranny of Islam is the ultimate bastion of hate, terror, murder, and evil; and its wicked agenda is readily spread by it’s followers around the world. Muslims following the doctrine of Muhammad as laid out in the Koran have committed the most heinous and criminal acts imaginable throughout history.
    To charge someone for a hate crime of destroying a Koran is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

  24. The tyranny of Islam is the ultimate bastion of hate, terror, murder, and evil; and its wicked agenda is readily spread by it’s followers around the world. Muslims following the doctrine of Muhammad as laid out in the Koran have committed the most heinous and criminal acts imaginable throughout history.
    To charge someone for a hate crime of destroying a Koran is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

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