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The right to blaspheme

Hill, Mark and Sandberg, Russell ORCID: 2017. The right to blaspheme. Temperman, J and Koltray, A, eds. Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression: Comparative, Theoretical and Historical Reflections after the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 114-136.

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The place of religion in the public sphere has become increasingly controversial in recent years and there have been many examples of the ‘clash of rights’. Much attention has been afforded to the clash between freedom of religion on the one hand and freedom of expression on the other, leading to moral panics and resulting in the enactment of new laws. A further trend in many Western societies has been the repealing or re-configuring of historic legislation prohibiting blasphemy. English law, for example, has moved from an offence of blasphemy that protected (exclusively Christian) religious beliefs to a clutch of offences of stirring up religious hatred that are intended to protect believers. The move away from traditional blasphemy offences raises a question which forms the focus of this chapter, namely whether there now a right to blaspheme. Analysing the difference between the old blasphemy law and the newer offences, this chapter asks what is now lawful that was previously unlawful. Taking an historical approach, it seeks to describe the contours and limits of the new right to blaspheme exploring a possibly unintended side effect of the changing statutory regime.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781108416917
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 07:35

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