Boris van der Ham, chairman of the Dutch Humanists, spoke today in the UN-Human Rights Counsil. He adressed the importance of abolishing all anti-blasphemy laws worldwide.
Thank you Mr President.
In 1670 my fellow-Dutchman, Benedict de Spinoza asked himself:
“What altar of refuge can a man find for himself when he commits treason against the majesty of reason?”
I recalled Spinoza’s words when reading the excellent report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Unfortunately, the altar of religion is often used to seek refuge for some of the world’s most horrifying crimes.
People who want to debate certain ideas, who use their fundamental rights to make up their own minds, are losing their jobs, are being prosecuted, tortured or even facing the death penalty, because their views are branded as ‘insulting’ and ‘blasphemous’.
Religious minorities are brutally targeted; Humanists and non-believers are often in particular danger.
Some governments - some of whose States are members of this Council – also use these blasphemy-laws to uproot their political opponents, and thus expose the vanity that they believe themselves to be god.
Acting this way is not only inconsistent with international law, these governments also give the worst imaginable example to terrorist groups like Islamic State, Boko Haram and individual jihadists.
Accordingly, the European Humanist Federation and International Humanist and Ethical Union have together launched a campaign to end all those blasphemy laws still in existence in 55 states.
We call upon their governments to make an honest and clear statement, by abolishing these anti-blasphemy laws.
Removing religion as an altar of refuge for hatred, prosecution and violence is of upmost importance.
This statement was made in the time-slot of the British Humanist Association. Many thanks to them for this opportunity!