Irish Christians hope the change will put pressure on places like Pakistan, where Asia Bibi faces the death penalty for remarks against Muhammad.
An Irish law that could fine individuals up to 25,000 euros (about $28,500) for “the publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter” will be amended to remove the crime of blasphemy.
In a referendum on the old blasphemy law, which came alongside the country’s presidential election last Friday, nearly two-thirds of Irish voters decided to revoke the controversial policy.
Even though no one had been prosecuted for blasphemy under the law, Irish evangelicals joined religious groups and fellow nonprofits campaigning to remove it from the books so that dozens of countries who do enforce such bans can no longer cite their homeland as an excuse.
The change is also seen as another move toward the largely post-religious context of its European neighbors. “Today’s vote is another important step towards a human rights compliant Constitution,” said Ireland’s Amnesty International executive director Colm O’Gorman. “It follows the massive support for the constitutional referenda allowing marriage equality and ending the abortion ban.”
Neither the Catholic Church nor the Church of Ireland opposed the repeal vote. The executive director of Evangelical Alliance Ireland had previously stated that blasphemy bans hurt religious dialogue and religious freedom, particularly for religious minorities. “Those who truly believe in God should realise that He is big enough to look after Himself without needing any assistance from the Gardaí (Irish state police),” he wrote.
At their Autumn General Meeting, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said the law was “largely obsolete, and may give rise to concern because of the way such measures …
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