The Fall and Rise of Blasphemy Law
This collection centers around two trends that currently influence freedom of expression. The first trend confirms the fact that many Western countries have become, over a long period of time, less strict about sacrilegious expression. In the process, many repealed their blasphemy laws or became less harsh in their punishment of blasphemy, hence “the fall of blasphemy law”.
The second trend manifests an opposite movement, hence “the rise of blasphemy law”. Over the last decades, namely, Western societies have witnessed multiple attempts to suppress speech that defames religion. To be sure, one particularly vicious way of re-energizing these interdicts against blasphemy has come from radical believers intent upon removing blasphemy from the public domain by violent means.
With contributions by scholars from a wide range of disciplines, this volume seeks to offer an examination of topical issues relating to freedom of expression, censorship, and blasphemy in contemporary multicultural democracies.
Foreword by Flemming Rose.
Paul Cliteur is Professor of Jurisprudence at Leiden Law School. His areas of expertise include freedom of expression, secularism, and political theory.
Tom Herrenberg is a PhD candidate at Leiden Law School and a visiting researcher at the University of Oxford in 2016.
“A stimulating and well-argued book.” – Eric Barendt, author of Freedom of Speech (2nd ed. 2005) and Emeritus Professor of Media Law, Faculty of Law, University College London.
“Freedom of speech cannot flourish alongside laws criminalizing blasphemy, since criticism of religion is among the most fundamental of freedoms. The trend against blasphemy laws, documented in this fine book, must be extended beyond the West, and most especially to Muslim countries if their citizens are to be free.” – Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School.
“A most welcome volume on one of the important issues of our time. A rich and impressive collection of articles.” – Menachem Mautner, author of Law & the Culture of Israel (2011) and Professor of Comparative Civil Law and Jurisprudence, Tel Aviv University.
The contributors to this volume oppose this drive of an Islamic policing of speech worldwide. The contributors rightly argue for the freedom to criticize all religions, and Islam is no exception. The authors of this volume are to be congratulated for their courage to revive freedom of expression and to dismantle any curtailing of this freedom as a new authoritarianism.” – Bassam Tibi, founder of Islamology and a Professor Emeritus of International Relations at the University of Göttingen, formerly Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University, and Bosch Fellow of Harvard University.