A case of a man charged under Denmark’s little-used blasphemy law for setting a Quran on fire and posting a video of it online has raises the question again: Should Danes scrap the law which makes it a crime to insult God?
Lawmakers in this predominantly Lutheran, albeit secular, country have several times debated whether to repeal the two-line legislation. But each time, they ended up keeping it — although no one has been convicted of blasphemy since 1946.
An upcoming trial has brought the issue to the forefront.
John Salvesen, 42, posted a video on Facebook in December 2015, showing the burning of a Quran in his backyard.
“I used my democratic right: freedom of speech,” Salvesen said.
Some have argued that the law clashes with Denmark’s freedom of speech.
Salvesen’s lawyer, Rasmus Paludan, said he’d be surprised if his client could be found guilty. He recalled the 1997 burning of a Bible by artist Soeren Moesgaard: “No one was charged then.”
A 14-member leftwing party is behind the latest proposal to repeal the blasphemy law.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen’s Liberals decided to join a majority of lawmakers, including the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, who support repeal.
It basically leaves the opposition Social Democrats, with only 46 seats in the 179-seat assembly, to stand alone with their desire to keep it.
Repeal would not be retroactive and would not affect the prosecution of Salvesen.