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Post Blasphemy and Law in France
Created by John Eipper on 01/19/15 4:27 AM

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Blasphemy and Law in France (Randy Black, USA, 01/19/15 4:27 am)

Massoud Malek's 17 January post seems confusing to me. I am not really certain where Massoud is going with this comment.

Massoud called the French Prime Minister a liar for saying that "blasphemy is not in our law, it never will be." Massoud then cited a regional law from the 1870s, wherein that region enacted a blasphemy law in that formerly German region of France.

While Massoud cited that old law, when it has been used to try to prosecute Charlie Hebdo in the past, French courts ruled in favor of the magazine.  In short, it seems to me that Massoud has misinterpreted French law.

See the following facts:

From RFI.com: This (blasphemy law) dates from the period just after 1870 when German law was applied in this part of France (which is on the Franco-German border), but the law has never been in official legal publications in French and is therefore automatically inapplicable. In a strange coincidence, the day before the terrorist killings at Charlie Hebdo last week, representatives of all the religions in Alsace, including representatives of the Muslim faith, had called for the blasphemy law to be revoked, as it had fallen into disuse.

RFI is a French current affairs radio station that broadcasts worldwide in French and 12 foreign languages. RFI is broadcast on 156 different FM frequencies in 62 different countries,


Additionally, "most complaints regarding such matters (blasphemy) in France refer to the 1881 law concerning the press. Article 24 of this law covers offences "incitation to discrimination, to hate or to violence [....] because of affiliation [...] to an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a particular religion."

Article 32 concerns defamation in the same context. The Charlie Hebdo caricatures of Muhammad led to legal actions under article 24 and on each occasion judges ruled in favour of Charlie Hebdo.

JE comments:  This is peripheral to our discussion, but I am surprised that any pre-1918 German laws in Alsace would still be on the books.

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