Mocking religions should be illegal according to Montreal Muslim Council
The article to which Gilmore refers, “Ridiculiser les religions devrait être puni, selon le Conseil musulman de Montréal,” published in Actualité in August 2015, can be translated as “Ridiculing religions should be punished, according to the Muslim Council of Montreal.”
Imam Salam Elmenyawi, the chairman of the Muslim Council of Montreal, Elmenyawi would like the Quebec government to expand the scope of Bill 59 because
“Quand on tourne en dérision une religion, vous vous moquez de moi, vous vous moquez de ma femme, vous vous moquez du prophète. . . . Si votre intention est de protéger des personnes, il faut comprendre que pour un musulman, quand on attaque sa religion, c’est la personne elle-même qui est attaquée.”
“When you deride religion, you laugh at me, you laugh at my wife, you mock the Prophet. . . . If your intention is to protect people, we must understand that for a Muslim, when you attack religion, it is the person himself who is attacked.” (Google)
While Quebec Bill 59 has not been passed, Canada still has a blasphemy law in its Criminal Code. According to Centre for Inquiry Canada’s section on Canada’s blasphemy law,
Blasphemy is currently regarded as the act of showing contempt (or failing to display reverence and respect) for religious symbols or persons. It is well known that in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan faith-based governments, radical militarized organizations and even individuals use the concept of blasphemy to justify violent implementation of their dogmatic ideologies – they silence criticism or commentary through lawful and unlawful justifications that blasphemy hurts their religious sentiments.
While Canadians react with horror when countries use the concept of blasphemy to justify violent implementation of their dogmatic ideologies and to silence criticism and commentary, most Canadians are unaware of Section 296 of Canada’s Criminal Code:
296 (1) Every one who publishes a blasphemous libel is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
(2) It is a question of fact whether or not any matter that is published is a blasphemous libel.
(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious subject.
As Cassandra Martino points out in an article in the winter 2015-2016 issue of Humanist Perspectives, Canada’s Blasphemy Law is Sleeping But Not Dead. This is why
CFIC hopes to bring enough public and political attention to this issue that, if nothing else, a brave MP will sponsor a Private Member’s Bill to repeal Section 296 of the Criminal Code.
Madeline Weld argues, in her editorial to the winter 2015-2016 issue of Humanist Perspectives, that blasphemy laws are “[a]n abomination that continues to plague humanity.” Weld goes on to criticize
the absurdity that is Quebec’s Bill 59, “to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence…” The bill . . . would allow an anonymous procedure for reporting hate speech to the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) and would grant it new powers, including the power to investigate. In addition to targeting hate speech against protected groups of individuals, including those based on race, sexual orientation, and gender, Bill 59 also protects language, social condition, and political convictions.
If Imam Salam Elmenyawi and Pope Francis and other religious leaders had their way, Canada’s Blasphemy Law would no longer be dormant; criticizing, ridiculing, and mocking religion would be illegal and Canadians’ right to free speech and expression would be seriously threatened.
CFIC asks you to support its campaign to take a stand against violence and bigotry by writing a letter to your Member of Parliament asking for a repeal of Section 296 of the Criminal Code.
Additional information and resources can be found on the CFIC’s website.