Blasphemy Open Letter to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD

Blasphemy Open Letter to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD

Irish Blasphemy LawLast October, your government decided that a referendum should be held on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution and that your Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald would lead consultations on a bill to be put before the Oireachtas. The clear implication of this commitment was that the referendum would be held during the lifetime of this Government.

You have also said that you were “shocked and appalled by the brutal and horrific killings” at Charlie Hebdo but you must be aware that those who support murder for blasphemy also include the governments of many nations. The continuing case of Asia Bibi in Pakistan has received global attention and tragically, many others have already been executed for blasphemy.

Ireland is the only European country to have introduced a contemporary blasphemy law. At the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009, Pakistan proposed the adoption of precise wording from the Irish blasphemy law, as part of efforts by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to limit Human Rights on freedom of conscience.

blasphemy referendum irish constitutionAs Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, has advised Atheist Ireland to convey to the Constitutional Convention: “I wouldn’t expect any harsh verdicts being handed down in Ireland, but those countries that continue to have an intimidating anti-blasphemy practice like to quote European countries to unmask Western hypocrisy.”

The distinction between Ireland and those who carry out executions for blasphemy must consist of more than just the severity of the punishment applied upon conviction. Despite your recent prevarication, we the undersigned urge you to lead by example and comply with your promise of a referendum to repeal all Irish blasphemy laws.

It is your duty to take a strong position on behalf of those intimidated into silence in Ireland and more importantly, on behalf of those facing execution by nations who cite Irish blasphemy laws in justification and mitigation of their behaviour.

JOHN HAMILL

AI Campaign Against Blasphemy Laws

MICHAEL NUGENT

Chairperson, Atheist Ireland

RICHARD DAWKINS

Evolutionary Biologist and Author

STEVEN PINKER

Cognitive Scientist and Author

JIM AL-KHALILI

Theoretical Physicist and Broadcaster

LAWRENCE KRAUSS

Theoretical Physicist and Author

MARYAM NAMAZIE

Evolutionary Biologist and Author

JERRY COYNE

Author and Human Rights Activist

CAROLYN PORCO

Planetary Scientist

ED BYRNE

Comedian and Actor

MICHAEL SHERMER

Author and Historian of Science

SEAN CARROLL

Theoretical Physicist at Caltech

DANIEL DENNETT

Cognitive Scientist and Author

AOIFE MCLYSAGHT

Geneticist and Science Communicator

ANDREW COPSON

Chief Executive, British Humanists

TOBY YOUNG

Journalist and Broadcaster

IAIN MIDDLETON

President, Humanist Society of New Zealand

RORY O’NEILL

Gay Rights Activist

ERIC ADRIAANS

National Executive Director, CFI Canada

CHRISTINE SHELLSKA

President, Atheist Alliance International

MICHEL VIRARD

President, Quebec Humanists

SONJA EGGERICKX

President, International Humanist Union

PIERRE GALAND

President, European Humanist Federation

HELENA SHEEHAN

Author and DCU Professor Emerita

HOPE KNUTSSON

President, Icelandic Humanist Association

LONE FRANK

Neurobiologist and Science Journalist

ANNE MARIE WATERS

Sharia Watch UK

PATRICIA CHURCHLAND

Neurophilosopher and Author

NONIE DARWISH

Director, Former Muslims United

KATE SMURTHWATE

Comedian and Activist

NINA SANKARI

Vice-President Atheist Coalition, Poland

MICHAEL DE DORA

Representative to the United Nations, CFI

TASLIMA NASRIN

Author and Poet

DAVID NASH

Author and Blasphemy Law Historian

DAVID NORRIS

Senator and Civil Rights Activist

JOSEPH RUSSEL TETTEH

President, Ghana Atheist Alliance

SÉAMUS DOOLEY

Irish Secretary, National Union of Journalists

ALICE CARR

President, Progressive Atheists

ELIDA RADIG

Broadcaster and Feminist

HEMANT MEHTA

TD for Dublin North

CLARE DALY

Editor of FriendlyAtheist.com

DEBORAH HYDE

Editor of The Skeptic

MICK WALLACE

TD for Wexford

ANN BRUSSEEL

Member of Flemish Parliament

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