- Religious Freedom
71 of the world’s 195 countries have blasphemy laws. Penalties for violating blasphemy laws in these countries can range from fines to imprisonment and death. USCIRF’s latest report examines and compares the content of laws prohibiting blasphemy worldwide.
Blasphemy is defined as “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God.”
According to the study:
•Blasphemy laws are astonishingly widespread. Seventy-one countries, spread out across many regions, maintain such statutes.
•Every one of these blasphemy statutes deviates from at least one internationally recognized human rights principle. Most of these laws fail to respect fully the human right of freedom of expression.
•All five nations with blasphemy laws that deviate the most from international human rights principles maintain an official state religion.
•Most blasphemy laws studied were vaguely worded, as many failed to specify intent as part of the violation. The vast majority carried unduly harsh penalties for violators.
•Most blasphemy laws were embedded in the criminal codes and 86 percent of states with blasphemy laws prescribed imprisonment for convicted offenders. Some blasphemy statutes even imposed the death penalty.