Countries you can still go to jail for apostasy or blasphemy

A decent chunk of the world still has laws against blasphemy, speaking against God, and apostasy, the act of abandoning your religion.

Last week, Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman, gave birth while imprisoned for apostasy.

But Sudan isn’t the only place where something like this could happen. The Pew Research center recently released a study of global apostasy and blasphemy laws. The map below shows all of the nations that had an apostasy law in some level of government in 2012. Pew found that one-in-ten of the world’s nations have such laws. The punishments for apostasy range from a small fine to the death penalty.


All of the 21 countries that had apostasy laws in 2012 have prodominantly Muslim populations, most have Islam as the official national religion.

The punishments vary. Some places are more religiously strict than others. For example, in the island nation of the Maldives, according to Pew, anyone who wants to be a citizen is required to be Muslim. And converting to another religion can lead to revocation of citizenship.

But before you get to thinking religion-based laws are purely a Muslim thing, check out this map of places with anti-blasphemy laws. The colors represent the dominant religion in the nation. According to Pew, 22 percent of the world’s nations have laws against blasphemy.


Pakistan has gotten the most press recently for it’s blasphemy laws. In 2012, according to Pew, the country filed more than two dozen cases.

While Europe still has laws on the books, they’re not used as frequently. For example, it took until 2012 for the Dutch Parliament to strike it’s blasphemy law even though, according to Pew, it hadn’t been used for more than 50 years.

While the United States may not appear on this map, Pew finds there’s still some traces of anti-blasphemy mentality here. As of 2012, both Massachusetts andMichigan had anti-blasphemy laws. But don’t fret if you’re secular, as the Pew Center notes, “the First amendment to the US constitution would almost certainly prevent the enforcement of any such laws.”

Original article

This entry was posted in Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity, Civil Rights, Government, Hinduism, Islam, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Countries you can still go to jail for apostasy or blasphemy

  1. miraatu says:

    One more thing – no Muslim country today *correctly and comprehensively* applies Shariah law, and in fact many of the cases that have gotten a lot of press were cases where the Shariah laws were *abused*. The solution to this problem is to penalize abuse of the law and implement Shariah properly – that way non-Muslim minorities will be given more security.

  2. miraatu says:

    There are two important points to note in discussions of blasphemy/apostasy:

    1. There is a crucial bit of context missed out in the “blasphemy/apostasy in Islamic law/Muslim countries” discourse. And that is the “Extremely Frightening Laws against blasphemy and apostasy” in the Western and so-called “free” states. The West may do not use the word “blasphemy” but it effectively treats any anti-establishment discussion as blasphemy. For example, please google this: “huffington post journalist or terrorist”. And this is just one recent article, only discussing life imprisonment. There is no dearth of documented evidence of state-sponsored assassinations against those whom the West conceives as a threat. Just because they do not openly claim such laws does not mean they do not actively engage in them. Do keep in mind that Gitmo and the worst torture cells in the world, where people are held *without criminal charges*, mainly for indulging in the “possibility” of what is blasphemous to Western ideology, remember that is a product of Western society, not Islam.

    The fact of the matter is that every authority of every state has the right to prevent rebellion and chaos. The difference between the West’s prevention policies is that the West imprisons or assassinates people for its own hegemony, whereas Shariah law is Divine law for the benefit of humanity. Therefore when Shariah talks about blasphemy/apostasy, it is for the stability and security of the Islamic state and its inhabitants – which include BOTH Muslims and non-Muslim minorities. This is why – according to Shariah – people who turn apostate or blaspheme without knowledge are given time and sent a teacher to help correct their misunderstandings about Islam/God/His Messengers/Books against which they blasphemed, and those who turn apostate or blaspheme without turning it into a political issue are usually NOT punished.

    2. There is a lot of CONTEXT to the apostasy issue in Islam, as applied in a state *correctly and comprehensively* applying Shariah. (By the way – none of the Muslim countries today are correctly comprehensively applying Shariah. In fact, a number of the blasphemy cases are instances of *abusing* the laws of Islam, not using them). For honest, open-minded people who would like to be educated on the context and to be able to see the idea of apostasy and blasphemy from a *very different* perspective from that which is stereotypically projected in the media, please enter the following in Google search: “miraatu of_apostasy_blasphemy_and_islam” and read the attached document that shows up.

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