Freedom of speech is allowed in Islam

Blasphemy and the limits of freedom of expression


Section 166 StGB: Insulting creeds, religious societies and ideological associations
(1) Anyone who publicly or through the dissemination of writings (Section 11 (3)) insults the content of the religious or ideological creed of others in a way that is likely to disturb the public peace will face imprisonment for up to three years or a fine fined.
(2) Anyone who publicly or through the dissemination of scriptures (Section 11 (3)) abuses a church or other religious society or ideological association, its institutions or customs in a way that is likely to disturb the public peace, shall also be punished . "

Greens and liberals want to delete the - rarely used - blasphemy paragraph, the CSU, on the other hand, calls for harsher punishments for anyone who insults religious feelings. "Insulting" - that is a kind of disregard for lawyers, which was expressed in a particularly hurtful way. This does not affect freedom of expression and artistic freedom. The critical examination of religions and creeds is still possible.

Jesus as "Balkensepp" - that went through

But also those who risk a quick lip like the "taz" can get away with it. Because of the headline "Crucifix - Bavaria without Balkensepp", the taz was reported in 1998, but acquitted. The German Press Council found that Jesus was made ridiculous by the name Balkensepp. It hurts the feelings of many Christians. Nevertheless: The self-regulatory body of the print media is not a legal entity.

"Koran, the Holy Qur'an" - Limits to artistic freedom

In 2006, a pensioner was sentenced to one year probation for insulting Muslims. Printing toilet paper with "Koran, the Holy Qur'an" and then sending it to mosques and media does not fall under artistic freedom. A judgment that banned the performance of the musical "Das Maria Syndrom" in Trier in 1994 is still in force today. In this homage to Frank Zappa, the virgin "Marie" becomes pregnant through dirty toilet seats.


UN on blasphemous cartoons

The view of the United Nations Human Rights Committee: blasphemous caricatures should not be banned. Because that is incompatible with freedom of thought, a human right. In the case of cartoons that incite discrimination, hostility and violence out of religious hatred, the matter is different.

And this is what the basic law says:
(Article 5 GG)
(1) Everyone has the right to freely express and disseminate his or her opinion in words, writing and images and to obtain information from generally accessible sources without hindrance. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting through radio and film are guaranteed. Censorship does not take place.
(2) These rights are limited in the provisions of general laws, the statutory provisions for the protection of young people and in the right to personal honor.
(3) Art and science, research and teaching are free. The freedom of teaching does not release one from loyalty to the constitution.






United States


In the USA, the media tend to be reluctant to criticize religion - although freedom of expression has a high priority and is anchored in the first amendment to the Bill of Rights, the US Constitution. Solidarity with "Charlie Hebdo" after the bloody attack on Wednesday was great in the USA. And yet leading media such as CNN, New York Times and Washington Post refrained from publishing the Mohamed cartoons in order not to offend religious sentiments.

Because of the deeper religiosity in the USA, criticism on questions of faith is not common. Probably for historical reasons. Religious refugees from Europe founded the United States. This gives priority to religious freedom. Religions are treated with respect - as a rule. There are also exceptions in the USA: It has to be fun. In his cartoon series "Southpark", Bill Maher doesn't mince words when it comes to religious matters. But the radicalism of "Charlie Hebdo" is not achieved in the USA. When the limits of freedom of expression are discussed, the main concern is the protection of minors.




To this day, laws against blasphemy are in the EU DENMARK, GREECE, FINLAND, IRELAND, ITALY, the NETHERLANDS and AUSTRIA in force.

In IRELAND the blasphemy law was even tightened in 2010. A blasphemous statement can cost up to 25,000 euros if it was deliberately provoked and the feelings of believers were hurt. In 2015, however, the Irish can decide in a referendum whether it should stay that way.

In GREECE there are laws against religious crimes and blasphemy - and now and then a court case.

AUSTRIA and the Deix case: the cartoonist Manfred Deix was convicted in 1994 for a drawing of Jesus in the first instance, but acquitted in the next. The following applies: Anyone who denigrates religious teachings can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to six months or to a fine.

In ITALY Blasphemy is considered an administrative offense. Complaints about blasphemy are rare.

In SPAIN it is a punishable offense to offend religious feelings. However, procedures are rare.

In the SWITZERLAND a fine threatens those who express themselves publicly and vulgarly about the beliefs of others.

In Great Britain It is forbidden to stir up hatred of people in connection with religious attitudes. Instead of a blasphemy law, the "Racial and Religious Hatred Act" now applies.

In FRANCE religion is considered a private matter. Church and state have been separate since 1905. There is no blasphemy law - except in Alsace and the Moselle area. The regulation is considered out of date.