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Blasphemy laws violate the fundamental human right of free speech. Of the world’s 195 countries, 71 have blasphemy laws. This panel will present the status of blasphemy laws in the world today, and examine the use of these laws in some countries to stifle dissent. This panel will also discuss the origins of blasphemy in Islam and uses and abuses of blasphemy in the Muslim world today.
Elizabeth Cassidy from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) will present the Commission’s findings on the world’s blasphemy laws, demonstrating that rather than protect religious freedom, they often invite abuse and lead to violence. In addition to examining the use of these laws in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the panel will examine more recent trends, such as the Yarovaya Laws introduced in Russia in 2016 ostensibly to counter terrorism.