Thursday, February 05, 2015

End Anti-Blasphemy Laws

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has launched a campaign aimed at abolishing “blasphemy laws” worldwide. The campaign is gaining momentum across Europe and beyond. But there is still no significant support from groups in Africa.

The campaign focuses on getting world leaders to understand that blasphemy laws are incompatible with human rights and democratic values in this 21st century. Campaigners plan to get states to repeal legislations that criminalize “insult to religion”, hurting religious sentiments, or any laws that restrict questions, criticism, or ridicule of religion or religious concepts. Blasphemy laws exist in many states across Africa. They are used as tools to oppress and discriminate against religious minorities. The abolition of blasphemy laws is in the interest of Africa and African emancipation. At the end of the day, blasphemy laws are used to legitimize religious privilege not religious liberty. They are employed to undermine freedom of religion, free press and free speech.

Both Christianity and Islam are foreign religions. These religions promote teachings and doctrines which some people can interpret as insult to indigenous African beliefs or as offensive to traditional African religious sentiments. But no one has called for the prosecution of christian and muslims preachers who ‘defamed’ indigenous African religions. Exercising their freedom of religion and expression, christian missionaries and muslim scholars questioned, criticized, and ridiculed indigenous African religions. Both Christianity and Islam owe their spread and dominance in the region to the blasphemous mission against African traditional beliefs. If there were existing blasphemy laws before the advent of these faiths, there would probably be no Christianity or Islam in Africa or the two faiths would not be as dominant or widespread as they are today. If making mockery of any religion were a crime then most christian and islamic clerics would be in jail. Abolishing blasphemy laws is not just in the interest of non religious or freethinking people but in the interest of religious believers as well.

Yes, let us end blasphemy laws in Africa but also let us end capitalism in Africa.

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