Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for a virtual hearing about new findings from USCIRF’s upcoming report on the enforcement of global blasphemy laws and the multiple ways they mobilize violence against religious communities.
Blasphemy laws often criminalizes any form of expression that allegedly insults or offends religious doctrines, making it essentially illegal to express religious views different from the majority, including the right not to believe.
They are often misused to target faith communities. For example, in Indonesia, where Ahmadi Muslims and Chinese Indonesians are targeted for allegedly committing blasphemy, enforcement is used as a political tool along religious and ethnic lines.
The enforcement of blasphemy laws often sparks incidents or threats of mob violence. In Pakistan, vigilantes target not only the alleged blasphemer, but also attack lawyers, family members, and the surrounding faith community. The public statements of support for Asia Bibi resulted in the two high-profile murders of Shahbaz Bhatti, a cabinet member, and Salman Taseer, then Governor of Punjab.
Witnesses will provide an overview of blasphemy laws around the world, along with the trends in their enforcement, and present policy recommendations to the U.S. government.
• Senator James Lankford, R-OK
• Gayle Manchin, Chair, USCIRF
• Tony Perkins, Vice Chair, USCIRF
• Anurima Bhargava, Vice Chair, USCIRF
• Joelle Fiss, Member of the Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief, ODIHR, OSCE; and co-author of USCIRF’s new report on blasphemy laws
• Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum, Associate Professor of Clinical Law, Cardozo School of Law; and co-author of USCIRF’s new report on blasphemy laws
• Amjad Mahmood Khan, Lecturer in Law, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School
• Shaan Taseer, son of Salmaan Taseer, the former governor of Punjab province killed for blasphemy; co-founder of Pakistan for All