Posted on February 2, 2006

Norwegian Muslims Want Blasphemy Law

Aftenposten (Oslo), Feb. 1, 2006

Norway needs anti-blasphemy regulations to protect minorities against derisive and hateful expression, says lawyer Abid Q Raja.

“The point is not to restrict freedom of speech but to give it direction so that weak groups do not feel insulted or mocked. If we do nothing the differences within Norwegian society will increase in the future,” Raja told newspaper Dagsavisen.

Raja’s statement comes after the new wave of controversy surrounding caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, first published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September and now recently in the Norwegian Christian weekly Magazinet.

Raja said he perceives the caricatures as a clear insult of Muslims and their faith.

“I would like a new blasphemy regulation that defines limits for what type of offensive expression shall be allowed towards society’s minorities,” Raja said.

Professor of Public Law Eivind Smith at the University of Oslo is skeptical but believes it is high time to discuss views of blasphemy.

Norwegian law already forbids threats and insults to person on the background of their skin color, nationality, outlook on life or sexual preference. Smith believes it is important that any future tightening of the law favors human rights rather than religion.

“The point is to protect people against insult. God should be able to take care of himself,” Smith told Dagsavisen.