Denmark abolishes blasphemy law

, Denmark’s Folketing – their Parliament – voted 75–27 to abolish Section 140 of their Penal Code: the blasphemy law.

With this action, Denmark has become the fifth country in Europe to abolish their blasphemy law since 2015.

The Danish blasphemy law has its roots going back to 1683. At that time, they were trying to codify existing law, but in the process they added stuff… including the blasphemy law. It was added in Book 6 of the Danish law, Chapter 1, Provisions 7 and 8, and it made blasphemy a capital offence. There’s no record of anyone actually being executed over it, though.

[Flag of Denmark]

Denmark

In 1866, inspired by the Enlightenment, Denmark created its first modern Criminal Code. Unfortunately, it included a blasphemy law. In the early 1900s, Denmark was once again looking to modernize its Criminal Code, and, remarkably, at first they weren’t going to include a blasphemy law. Unfortunately, the early drafts without the blasphemy law didn’t pass, and a blasphemy law was added at some point. It seems to been added mostly unchanged from the 1866 law, modulo some technical amendments, one of which removed the outlawing of privately-made blasphemy. (So after 1930, only public blasphemy was illegal.) The blasphemy law was now Section 140 of the Criminal Code:

Den, der offentlig driver spot med eller forhåner noget her i landet lovligt bestående religionssamfunds troslærdomme eller gudsdyrkelse, straffes med bøde eller fængsel indtil 4 måneder.
[Indi’s translation:] Anyone who publicly mocks or insults the beliefs or practice of any lawfully existing religious community in this country shall be punished with fines or imprisonment for up to 4 months.

The last certainly successful application of the blasphemy law was in 1946. It was a conviction of a man for dressing up as a priest and performing a “baptism” of a doll at a masquerade party. Prior to 2017 (more on that in a moment), it was last used in 1971, in a case involving a pair of who broadcast a song on public radio mocking Christianity, about a woman’s right to refuse sexual advances from deities. Some sources I’ve read say they were convicted, others say they were acquitted.

Either way, the 1971 case seems to have inspired the earliest calls for its abolition. At the time it was noted that the law had only been used three times – and only twice successfully. But the proposal didn’t gain any traction in their Parliament, and was shelved and forgotten. It came up again in 2002, when a committee recommended reviewing various sections of the Criminal Code, including Section 140.

But no one really took the issue seriously until the 2004 murder of Theo van Gogh. For those who don’t remember, van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who – working with Ayaan Hirsi Ali – produced a film called Submission, which featured a nearly-naked woman with Quran verses on her beaten body. It was shown on Dutch public television, sparking an outcry. Van Gogh was murdered by an extremist, who left a death threat to Hirsi Ali pinned to the body with a knife.

That incident prompted some proposals to abolish the blasphemy law, but it never really went anywhere. Not until a couple years later, when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons of Muhammad.

The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy began as a legitimate journalistic experiment to test whether Danish journalists felt pressured to self-censorship out of fear of offending Muslims. But at some point, the editors realized the experiment was silly and proved nothing (retrospective assessments suggest that the experiment actually proved Danish journalists don’t feel pressured to self-censor), so instead they turned it into an editorial piece, which they published on .

The result was… chaos. There were massive protests all across the world – particularly in Muslim countries – with multiple people killed. A number of the cartoonists involved were forced into hiding – famously, Kurt Westergaard was attacked in his home by an axe-wielding Muslim, and only survived by escaping into his panic room… while his 5 year-old granddaughter was left outside with the axe-man. A small French satirical magazine by the name of Charlie Hebdo caught the attention of Muslim extremists by republishing the cartoons in solidarity… and we all know what happened to them.

There was talk at the time of charging Jyllands-Posten under the blasphemy law, but none of the efforts went anywhere. Yet even all of this, while it certainly put the blasphemy law on notice, wasn’t quite enough to spark its repeal.

What finally did it was an incident earlier this year involving a man who burned a Quran and then posted it on Facebook. The man gave the video a title hinting that burning a Quran was similar to burning garbage or shit (“it stinks when it burns”), and posted it to a Facebook group devoted to hating on Islam. In response, for the first time since the 1970s case, Denmark’s blasphemy law was used to charge someone.

That finally provoked action. The recent flurry of blasphemy law news – featuring Stephen Fry and the Irish blasphemy law, and the conviction of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (aka “Ahok”) in Indonesia for blasphemy in a fairly blatant political charge – probably helped. After only three months, the Danish Folketing got their shit together, and repealed Section 140. The charges against the Quran-burner will be dropped.

So congratulations to Denmark for taking this step out of the Dark Ages, and into the modern era!

What’s the takeaway for us Canucks, though?

Well, as I’ve noted several times, the best way to get a blasphemy law abolished is to try to use it. It’s shameful that our blasphemy law lingers because our prosecutors are too craven to use it when they technically should. People shouldn’t be able to ignore Canadian laws when they are embarrassing or inconvenient… or when they might reflect badly on your case victory statistics. When it comes to laws, the rule should be “use it or lose it”; if it’s never going to be used, it shouldn’t be on the books… but of course, if it’s never going to be used, politicians don’t feel any pressure to repeal it.

However, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has promised a review of the blasphemy law, and the more countries that abolish it, the more pressure there is on Canada to step up.

2 thoughts on “Denmark abolishes blasphemy law

  1. Atheism on rise in Denmark,

    ROOT CAUSE OF ATHEISM IN DENMARK ID DARWINS EVOLUTION THEOPRY
    IF YOU ARE INFECTED BY EVOLUTION THEORY THERE IS A CURE SAY
    I BELIVE IN GOD ALMIGHTY WHO IS ETERNAL NOT AFFECTED BY TIME
    So what is definite proof that God Exist ??? That is a great american word, BULLSHIT….A PIECE OF BULLSHIT CANNOT BE CONFIRMED WITHOUt A BULL, SO HOW YOU JUSTIFY EXISTANCE OF THIS MAGNIFICENT UNIVERSE PASSING BY INFRONT OF YOUR EYES WITHOUT A GOD.

    ” I am in your individuality, but you do not observe”(Sura Dhariyat, 51:21)Quran. Natural selection, Mutaion,billion years Evolutionary process will never change individuality in a Species, You cannot be a monkey and Homosapien at the same time, every atom, electron, cell or species is a single existance and follow their own destiny, A BEGINING AND AN END to curve a historical truth..there will be no new George washington or bush or obama in history again. EVOLUTION THEORY FALLEN SHORT
    Latest thinking comfirm Evolution is invalid or false .SOMETHING over writes Time. (Destiny)
    “I am in your individuality but you do not observe” ( sura dahriyat.Quran 51:21) EVOLUTION is An attempt to change humen thinking in wrong direction based on Time. Humen or Water (h2o) is not product of Time, Time will not change water (h2o). Atomic and molecular weight of all elements or compounds will remain same on earth or distant planets in universe. There is SOMETHING permanent in universe.
    Evolution Theory succumb in concept of Time. Time is relative standard…..(Einstein). In reality Time does not Exist. Time is illusion or 4th Dimension. What will be definite proof that Evolution Theory is invalid or False….?? It is water H2O … In billion years Water H2O remained unaffected by Time…… Water H2O is not a product of Time..Whooooo created water ??No Water, no life, No evolution, No natural selection..Water is a phenomena out of time, a rule over nature. When Time fails Evolution fails. An instant knock out of whole Evolution theory, so called Darwinism.

    If life is an accident Then every incident happening in this world will demand an accident. Even existance of a piece of Bullshit cannot be confirmed without a Bull…So from where two cars will come to cause an Accident. What will be definite proof that life is not an accident, Just throw a bag of rice mixed with vinegar in a dark warm place, within 48 hours you will see bag of rice turned into full of life, ( worms) Throw it again if it happens again then this incident ( life ) is not an accident, example is silly but it points out a big mistake in evolution history. ..life is not an Accident but conditional (Confirmed)

    H20 ( water) is a permanent condition in nature which caused diversity of life on earth. Scriptures says life is created not evolved from water” And God created every animal from water ” ( Quran 24:45 ) . What will be definite proof that life is created and not evolved ?? It is water H2O. Water suffered no evolution from another source as a product of time thus Water lack co ordination and stability with time to aid a billion years evolutionery process . If water is found in another planet, still water cannot be designated as product of Time, H2O is A permanent law or command written by PEN in nature (destiny) which will contnue to display any where in universe where oxygen and hydrogen is available. If life is an Accident then Life may be found in another planet even that planet is made of copper. For An accident cannot be dependent on another factor like water..if a Pre-condition like water is a requirement for an accident (life) to happen,then this life must be A divine plan.

    Time is not a cause Time is not a real entity or quantity. Time is nooothing.. Null…00.. Nada (void of self). To validate evolution theory you must establish A definition of Time, it is not possible. Did you ever think or ask yourself a question WHAT IS TIME ??? your mind will go blank, Time will create a delusion in your psyco, beacuse Time itself is illusion, In mathematical term time is variable,Relative and unstable .To understand Einstiens space time theory you need to grow wrinkles on your forhead likeEinstein.

    1 Kg, 1 Lbs, 1 Km, 1 Mile, 1 Minute, 1 Hour, 1 Year ,100 Years, Million years, Billion years, Time is a relative standard (Einstein) Water is not a product of time, Atomic and Molecular weight of all elements and componds will remain same unaffected and unchanged by Time until eternity. Even number of smallest praticle electrons and protons, will remain same on this earth or another planet. . TIME FAILED HERE AS ETERNAL CAUSE………. Evolution is invalid or false (confirmed).
    Astronomy says,universe has a begining (BIGBANG) and this ever expanding universe will end up on a reverse massacre when gravitational point is zero..(.00)…Since universe has a begining and universe has an end there must be CREATOR. An american scientist said give me time and technology I will create A Man. His intention was to claim A God is not necessary to create a Man, in that case is it not true that american scientist will be creator or God of that Robot. So origin cannot be denied.”Looook” Watch out” what Richard Dawkins a british biologist, an evolution scientist saying “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”I am my own god. Richard Dawkins is actualy confirming God in his own self like pharooh of anciant Egypt,
    so Existance of God cannot be denied,
    Why monky look like Man ?? We know the root confusion is there than observation of species. …Answer is Beacuse God wanted that way,or Man came from God and desperately trying to return to God Amighty.. There is a similarity and contest in creaton or species beacuse they came from same origin and trying to return same origin so Monky looks like Man and Man looks like God or represent God by mastering nuclear power. Superior inferior brain dogma does not fit between an Ant and An Elephant. Yet there is an inbuilt similarity common in all creatures, We all see and hear beacuse God Almighty see and hear all things, it will be more appropriate to say humanity came from a Godlike origin not a monky beacuse our thinking does not support that humanity will ever evolve into a new species diffrent than human . Jesus is a sign from God Almighty that evolution is False and singing of million billion years(evolution) not required for creation of Man…..Prophat Mohammed peace be upon him said Allah The Almighty said:” The son of adam abuses Me. He curses Time and I AM TIME for in My hand is night and day”( Narrated Authentic by Abu Huraira may Allah be pleased upon him.(book of bukhari and muslim

    Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. (quran)
    Let there be light ( genesis) It is confirmed in scriptures that cause of creation started from light, Also science relates BigBang appeared from A POINT OF SINGULARITY
    which was intense light.

    Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
    Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
    He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
    And there is none like unto Him.(Quran 112:1-4.)
    Humanity, will keep searching God in every click, civilization, technology,invention will be product of his searching, perhaps only few will conclude reflection of truth was in his own Self, Darwin in remote galapagos island was not searching origin of species but origin of his own Self. Ameen.

  2. rolling eyes…oh well…to each their own. Just don’t do anything to me or make ME do things that YOUR belief requires and we’re all good. Live and let live and all that.

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