Irish atheists challenge new blasphemy law

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An Irish atheist group has begun a campaign to have a controversial new blasphemy law repealed by publishing 25 quotations it claims are blasphemous on its website.

The new law that came into force on New Year's Day, making blasphemy a crime that can result in a fine of up to 25,000 euros, is "both silly and dangerous", according to Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland. He added that medieval religious laws should have no place in a modern secular republic, where criminal law should protect people and not ideas.


The group, which promotes a "rational, ethical, secular Ireland", has published quotations from the words of Jesus, Mohammed, Pope Benedict XVI, US musician and composer Frank Zappa, Indian-British novelist Salman Rushdie, British comedy troupe Monty Python, singer Björk and former Northern Ireland first minister Ian Paisley.


Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, who introduced the amending law earlier this year to reform a 1961 defamation law which protected Christians only, said that he would have preferred to have abolished it but he could not do so for constitutional reasons. Ireland's 1937 constitution cannot be changed without holding a referendum.


Mr Ahern told parliament earlier he hoped his explanation that he was bound by the constitution "will help to put at rest the minds of all those fantasy conspiracy theorists that have detected dark machinations and bogey men behind this proposal".





Screenshot Atheist Ireland website