Michael Nugent provides video and transcripts of three speeches Saturday at the Constitutional Convention meeting about blasphemy law.
A bit from Michael’s:
You have rights, your beliefs do not. That is the essence of freedom of conscience.
You can respect my right to believe that there is no God, while not respecting the content of my belief. And I can respect your right to believe that there is a God, without respecting the content of your belief.
But blasphemy laws discriminate against atheists. They treat religious beliefs and sensitivities as more worthy of legal protection than atheist beliefs and sensitivities.
For example, we were recently at a conference in Limerick about religious pluralism in Irish schools, at which two Catholic theologians said that atheists are not fully human.
A recent edition of the Catholic newspaper Alive quoted an article from the Telegraph that said that “atheists live short, selfish, stunted little lives, often childless, before they approach hopeless death in despair, and their worthless corpses are chucked in trench.”
That’s pretty disgusting. In fact it’s incitement to hatred, and morally (as opposed to legally) speaking, it shouldn’t happen.
Asia Noreen Bibi is the face of blasphemy laws. She is a 43-year-old Christian mother from Pakistan, who faces execution by hanging after being convicted of blasphemy. And two politicians who supported her have been murdered for doing so.
In April 2009, Dermot Ahern told the Dail that the Irish Constitution obliged him to introduce a new law against blasphemy. Two months later, in June 2009, in Pakistan, Asia Bibi went to fetch water while picking fruits in the fields near her village.
Some Muslim co-workers objected to Asia touching the water bowl because she was a Christian and therefore unclean. Five days later, her co-workers claimed that Asia had made critical comments about Muhammad, and a mob gathered to punish her.
Asia was convicted of blasphemy, and sentenced to hang. When the Governor of Punjab questioned her conviction, he was murdered by one of his own bodyguards. The Minorities Minister in the Government, a Christian, defended her and he was murdered too.
We in Atheist Ireland, along with other human rights campaigners, have sought the release of Asia Bibi, and other such victims. We are regularly told that we in Ireland have just passed our own new blasphemy law, so why are we complaining about theirs?
During all of this, the Pakistani Government was leading the Islamic States at the United Nations in calling for an extension of blasphemy laws around the world, using wording taken directly from Ireland’s new blasphemy law.
In today’s world, our actions in Ireland affect real people elsewhere. Please send a message to Asia Bibi, the face of blasphemy laws, and to her captors, by voting to remove the blasphemy clause from our Constitution.
Please do, and without the blasphemy-by-another-name law either.