Blasphemy Laws: A Blatant Violation of the International Human Rights Framework on the Freedom of Expression
The most cherished freedom of all freedoms cherished is the freedom of expression. It is common consensus that certain restrictions ought to be placed on the freedom but the extent of these restrictions is a matter of controversy. This controversy leads us to the dissension on the validity of blasphemy laws. Regarded as one of the most abused laws internationally, blasphemy laws have been in existence since time immemorial and in the recent years, their essence has shifted from protecting the deity, which was relevant then, to protecting religious institutions, beliefs, practices and leaders from any criticism or insult, howsoever necessary.
The controversy on the validity of blasphemy laws emerges from whether it constitutes a reasonable restriction on the freedom of expression or clearly hinders the freedom for mere religious vendetta. The paper shall seek to critically analyse the relevance and importance of blasphemy laws in the present pluralistic society, considering the present international human rights framework with major focus on the freedom of expression and put forth suggestions for better enforcement and protection of these basic human rights.
Keywords: Blasphemy, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Belief/ Religion, Human Rights, Public Order.