AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Almighty will have to defend his own name from now on: Dutch parliament has accepted a motion that will scrap a law making it a crime to insult God.
A majority of parties said Wednesday the European Union nation no longer needs the law, which hasn’t been invoked in the past half-century.
The movement to decriminalize blasphemy gathered strength in the last decade amid a national debate about the limits of freedom of speech. The climax came at the 2011 trial of far-right politician Geert Wilders, when judges ruled he had the right to criticize Islam, even if his opinions were insulting to many Muslims.
Increased punishment and the expulsion of imams among the efforts aimed at curbing forced religious marriages. The government is stepping up its battle against forced marriages.
TV2 News reported this evening that the government will announce a package tomorrow aimed at curbing forced Muslim marriages, also known as Sharia marriages.
The legislation is expected to further increase the criminal punishments for forced marriages, ban those married under Sharia law from utilising the Danish divorce system, and allow for the expulsion of imams who carry out forced religious marriages.
Everyone should have the same rights when they live in Denmark, regardless of whether one has Muslim parents,” the social affairs and integration minister, Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), told TV2 News. “Everyone should have the same rights to freedom, and that is what we want to help people achieve.”
Although it was reported earlier this year that there had not been a single conviction for forced marriages since the former Venstre-Konservative government increased the punishment in 2008, LOKK, the association of women’s crisis centres, said that the number of women seeking help – either because of a pending forced marriage or the threat of one – rose six-fold between 2005 and 2010 from 101 women to 660.
The Copenhagen Post quickly backtracked so as not to offend any Muslims, changing its headline:
The headline was also changed to reflect that the government was targeting forced marriages, not simply religious Muslim marriages.