[JURIST] Ireland Health Minister Simon Harris [official profile] said Monday that the country’s blasphemy laws [Defamation Act, text] were “embarrassing” and called for their repeal. His comments follow the revelation that an investigation [Independent Ireland reports] had been launched into British actor, Stephen Frye concerning comments he made on RTE in March of 2015. Harris said that the actor “regardless of your own religious views, was clearly making a number of points that he clearly felt very strongly about in his usual witty way. I think we do need a referendum.”
In March Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated [JURIST report] that blasphemy is an “unpardonable offense” and ordered the state to remove such content from social media. Last year a sharia high court in Nigeria sentenced [JURIST report] cleric Abdulaziz Dauda and nine others to death by hanging for committing blasphemy against the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. In October the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye said that governments are “wielding the tools of censorship” and cautioned [JURIST report] that “the freedom of expression is under the widespread assault.” In 2015 a Pakistani man was executed for his part in murdering a politician [JURIST report] who supported a Christian who had been convicted of blasphemy. Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Indonesian Parliament in 2015 to reject proposed amendments to its law on the “eradication of terrorism.” HRW asserted that the proposed amendments are too vague [JURIST report] and would limit the exercise of free expression and directly conflict with Indonesia’s obligations to international human rights, leading to fundamental rights violations. And in 2010 HRW urged the repeal of all such laws [JURIST report].