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Bishop calls for blasphemy laws

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Photo: DPA
14:50 CEST+02:00
A Catholic bishop has called for a blasphemy law in Germany, saying all religions deserved legal protection from attack in order to preserve human dignity.

“Those who injure the souls of believers with scorn and derision must be put in their place and in some cases also punished,” said Bamberg Archbishop Ludwig Schick on Wednesday.

He said there should be a “Law against the derision of religious values and feelings,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

The paper said that German law only criminalises attacks on faith if it threatens to create a breach of the peace.

Satire magazine Titanic raised the topic of blasphemy and respect for religion last month after publishing an image of Pope Benedict with a yellow stain on his cassock in reference to the Vatican leaks scandal.

The Pope took legal action which succeeded in banning further printing of the image, although copies of the magazine already published were not removed from sale. Yet his legal argument was based on his personal rights rather than any protection of religion.

A spokesman for the bishop told the paper his comments were not linked to the Titanic incident specifically, but were part of a discussion that had been going on for some time.

But the idea of a blasphemy law was slammed by the Green Party, whose parliamentary leader Volker Beck said satire and irony could not be banned.

“Bishop Schick obviously feels motivated to move against democratic rights to freedom,” he said.

He said that ironic or satirical statements might not be popular among those targeted, but they could not be forbidden.

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“Believers do not need any greater criminal legal protection against defamation, slander and attack than other social groups,” he said.

Respect for other religions and views should be encouraged socially, not ordered legally he said.

The Local/hc

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