Deorum iniuriae Diis curae? Offences to the Gods are the concern of the Gods? Analysis of the "defamation of religions" discourse in the United Nations debate

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Knauder, Bernadette
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In the last years, international legal initiatives can be perceived surrounding the issue of ‘defamation of religions’. Even though comprehended as somehow hazily problematic, it is seemingly hard to put the finger on what exactly is the conundrum with that concept both for and in human rights terms. Mocking, ridiculing or defaming a religion is a serious wrongdoing in monotheistic world religions. But how does that problem relate to international law that aims at the protection of people, not belief-sets? This thesis, in the first part, explores the theoretical and legal underpinnings of the ‘defamation of religions’ concept. It will be contended that an artificial conflict between fundamental rights is created to allow the concept of ‘defamation of religions’ entrance to human rights forums. In the second part, the thesis turns to scrutinising the ongoing debate in the realm of the United Nations and tests it against the theoretical assumptions. Both political bodies and treaty bodies are assessed. The thesis concludes by presenting the findings and recommendations on how the concept of ‘defamation of religions’ should be dealt with on the United Nations level in the future.
Second semester University: University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen.
defamation, freedom of expression, religion