In protection of religion or protection from it?

Cynthia Farahat
2008 / 2 / 24

The medieval atrocities carried on by several Islamic states under the definition of “protecting” religion are the very practices that initially desecrate it.

In Egypt many civil rights activists, writers, or just people that wish to change their religion, or even have a different interpretation than that recognized by the state are being legislatively and judiciary persecuted according to Egypt’s blasphemy law:

Article 98(f) as amended by Law 147/2006:
Confinement for a period of not less than six months and not exceeding five years, or a fine of not less than five hundred pounds and not exceeding one thousands pounds shall be the penalty inflicted on whoever make use of religion in propagating, either by words, in writing, or in any other means, extreme ideas for the purpose of inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it, or damaging national unity.

The definition of blasphemy has always been relative and variable; constructive objective criticism to a religious doctrine can be very much considered as blasphemy as well as most arts and specially sculpture is considered as a whole as an act of blasphemy by Al – Azhar scholars and University, blasphemy in Egypt can simply start by being who you are to go all the way to the use of critical language or imagery depicting what some people can regard as sacred entities or individuals, to the extend that sometimes in Egypt the way some people dress or look, would also be regarded as blasphemy, so it’s very relative and amphibious.

To be more politically incorrect …
Why don’t we see the other side of the argument with the same rights?
Isn’t it possible that actions or traits of some people or holy entities regarded as sacred be offensive to others?
Or is blasphemy only a one way process that can never be reversed?
It is very variable and the presence of blasphemy laws in some countries has a sole purpose to censor freedom of conscious and expression as well as enforcing religiously tinted tyranny that ends up granting the sate the “right” to verbally abuse, imprison, torture, kill or institutionalize the person allegedly carrying on the action of blasphemy.
The process of combating “blasphemy” results to atrocities most of the time that ends up violating basic human rights in the name of “protecting” God, or religion.

But we hardly think, what about the protection from them?
Blasphemy is mainly discussed in the context of whether we should protect God and religion by law enforced “respect” through censorship or blasphemy laws from individuals who non-violently express themselves artistically or verbally on the assumption that blasphemy is only a one way process that can’t be reversed, so is it only a one way process that can’t be reversed?
Aren’t some people allowed to feel violated or offended by a religious doctrine, entity, authority, laws, or just even scripture?
Are we only allowed to protect rite, but not allowed to be protected from it?

If the protection of religion needs to be legislated, then the protection “from” religion needs to be legislated as well.
And not just be criminalized under hate crime bills that don’t even exist in Egypt, oh no, we need to also to suggest an anti-ritual abuse bill. It’s only fair, if we need to protect peoples’ feelings and abstract thoughts by blasphemy laws, we might as well protect other peoples’ lives from deadly yet very popular interpretations!

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