Netherlands scraps anti-blasphemy law

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- An anti-blasphemy law in the Netherlands should be replaced by an anti-discrimination law due to concerns of religious favoritism, officials say.

Officials in several Dutch political parties have argued that the anti-blasphemy law unjustly offered religious groups unfair protection and instead are supporting an anti-discrimination law that protects all groups evenly, Radio Netherlands said Saturday.


The anti-blasphemy law dates back to the 1930s in the Netherlands and had been the focus of controversy as a number of comedians faced possible censure under the law for making jokes about the Islamic faith.

Opponents of the law such as Socialist Party official Jan de Wit argued that the law unfairly protected religious followers while ignoring others' right to free speech.

"The law was already a dead letter, but it is was principally wrong that believers should have more protection than non-believers," de Wit said after Parliament voted against the law. "Thank goodness this has now come to an end. And anyway, who decides if God feels offended or not?"

Radio Netherlands said the law's removal comes despite the fact three ruling coalition members are Christian parties who likely would benefit from the law.


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