Ireland Opposes ‘Defamation of Religion’ Being a Crime

In December 2008 in Durban, the United Nations discussed an Egyptian motion on “combating defamation of religion”. Islamic states supported the motion, while European Union states opposed it. The motion was passed, but a later conference in April 2009 in Geneva removed references to “defamation of religion” from the final document.

Ireland voted with the other EU states that there should not be such a crime as “defamation of religion”. The Minister for Foreign affairs, Micheal Martin, later told the Dail that:

“We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.”

So why is the Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, reviving blasphemy laws contrary to the Government’s stated position?

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