Why the United States Cannot Agree to Disagree on Blasphemy Laws
28 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2019
Date Written: July 1, 2013
At the Boston University International Law Journal’s symposium “Realigning Western Policy and International Law after the Arab Spring,” held on March 25, 2013, Professor Aswad gave the keynote address, where she described the extensive U.S. diplomatic efforts to promote the broadest possible protections for freedoms of expression and religion, even when it comes to speech that is considered blasphemous. A symposium participant asked why the United States cannot just agree to disagree with Muslim majority countries on the treatment of blasphemy given the religious sensibilities in those countries and the number of other pressing equities the United States has pending with those countries. This Article seeks to answer that question. For the reasons expressed in this Article, the authors argue that blasphemy bans and other similar laws violate universal human rights, unfairly target religious minorities, and undermine the very objectives they seek to achieve. They also argue that an additional international mechanism for addressing blasphemy issues can be found in an implementation process for a recent Human Rights Council resolution that seeks to combat religious intolerance without infringing on fundamental freedoms.
Keywords: Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, International Human Rights, Blasphemy
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation