The Volokh Conspiracy

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Blasphemy prosecution in Denmark for alleged Koran-burning


The Associated Press reports:

A Danish prosecutor says a 42-year-old man in northern Denmark has been charged with blasphemy for allegedly burning the Quran and posting a video of it on Facebook.

Jan Reckendorff says it was the first time since 1971 that a person was charged for "publicly mocking a religious community's religious doctrines or worship," adding it is punishable by imprisonment for up to four months or fine.

The Local (Denmark) points to the prosecutor's statement, which says:

»Det er anklagemyndighedens opfattelse, at omstændighederne i forbindelse med afbrænding af hellige bøger som Bibelen og Koranen indebærer, at det i visse tilfælde kan være en overtrædelse af blasfemiparagraffen, der handler om offentlig spot eller forhånelse i forhold til en religion.«

and which the Local helpfully translates as:

"It is the prosecution's view that circumstances involving the burning of holy books such as the Bible and the Quran can in certain cases be a violation of the blasphemy clause, which covers public scorn or mockery of religion."

The Local adds:

This marks the fourth time in history anyone has been prosecuted under Denmark's blasphemy clause: four people were sentenced for posting posters mocking Jewish teachings in 1938; two people were fined for carrying out a fake baptism at a masked ball in 1946; and two programme leaders at Danish Radio were exonerated in 1971 for airing a song mocking Christianity.

The Danish publishers of the Mohammed cartoons in 2006 were not prosecuted under the blasphemy law.