October 2016 Church & State - October 2016

U.S. State Department Criticizes Blasphemy Laws

  AU admin

The U.S. State Department condemned anti-blasphemy laws and beliefs that continue to oppress citizens globally, especially in hardline Muslim countries.

Anti-blasphemy laws have long been the root of violence toward women and religious minorities, even leading to the imprisonment of many. In its annual religious freedom report, released Aug. 10, the State Department stated that “such laws conflict with and undermine universally recognized human rights.”

The report took note of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan and Mauritania as particularly high violators of human rights due to heavy penalties imposed on citizens who don’t abide by religious norms.

“False accusations, often lodged in pursuit of personal vendettas or for the personal gain of the accuser, are not uncommon,” the report read. “Mob violence as a result of such accusations is disturbingly common.”

David Saperstein, the State Department’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said that some U.S. states, alongside a quarter of the world’s 200 nations, still have anti-blasphemy laws on the books. They vary in severity. 

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