Ireland’s blasphemy law must be struck out if we are a mature society

It is sad to think that Dr. Ali Selim’s attempt to stifle free speech - through threat of legal action against any Irish publication that reprints Charlie Hebdo’s front page depiction of the Prophet Muhammad – can currently be supported by our nation’s laws. 

Ireland’s blasphemy law must be struck out if we are a mature society

This is evidence, if ever it were needed, that Ireland’s archaic and backward blasphemy law must be stricken from our constitution.

Thankfully, it is likely that the Irish public will be offered the chance to decide in 2015, through a referendum. Along with the vote on gay marriage, this referendum represents an opportunity to show that the principles, upon which Irish society is based, are no longer derived from superstition but rather from compassion and respect.

It’s worth remembering that those champions of free speech, who paid the ultimate price for their art this week at the hands of fundamentalist wretches, would have been potentially subject to a fine of €25,000 for every one of their ‘blasphemous’ cartoons from 2009 to today had they been operating in Ireland.

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of the PEN American Centre said on Wednesday; “Satire is both a privilege and a necessity in a free society. The freedom to question, to expose and to mock ultimately makes institutions, belief systems and leaders stronger.” Those who have voiced support for retaining Ireland’s blasphemy law – a group that includes the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, of which Dr. Selim is a member – would do well to heed this sentiment.

John Hogan

Ballyneety

Co Limerick

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