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Interior minister rules out blasphemy law
Photo: DPA

Interior minister rules out blasphemy law

Published: 23 Sep 2012 12:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 23 Sep 2012 12:11 GMT+02:00

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has said he is against demands to tighten blasphemy laws in the wake of the video that ignited protests – violent and peaceful - across the world.

"Freedom in our country is very extensive and I am against the idea of responding to each specific situation with criminal and legislative changes," he told Deutschlandfunk radio station.

There had been calls from within the ranks of Friedrich’s own party for a change to paragraph 166 of the German constitution, which lays out penalties for insulting the customs and beliefs of religious communities.

But Friedrich said that a societal debate was needed. "This is not something that legislation and criminal law can take the place of," said Friedrich.

The video was covered by the right to freedom of expression and artistic freedom, added the minister "whether or not it offends some individuals".

Last week Friedrich had said he would use all legal means to prevent the film from being shown in public by a far-right group in Berlin.

"There is freedom of expression and artistic freedom, that is not to be disputed," he said, adding that he was against allowing the film to be shown in public. "This cannot be in our interest," he said.

The low-budget film made in the US at least superficially prompted violent anti-Western unrest in many Muslim countries. Extremists in Libya killed several US embassy staff including the ambassador earlier this month, while the German embassy in Sudan was stormed.

Yet the situation is complicated - in Libya, extremists who killed were in turn targeted by people furious at the embassy attack.

The film was followed by cartoon mocking the Islamic Prophet Mohammed in French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Thousands protested against the film peacefully in Germany over the weekend.

Friedrich added said there was no evidence that Germany was more at risk of terrorist incidents because of the film or the French cartoons.

Germany’s integration commissioner Maria Böhmer told Sunday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that plans by the far-right group Pro Deutschland to show the film were an obvious attempt to stir unrest.

"It’s not about opinion or artistic freedom for the people that want to do this," said Böhmer, "What they want is to disturb public order."

Similar sentiments were expressed by Berlin’s state interior minister Frank Henkel, who said the planned showing of the film was aimed at nothing more than creating social divisions.

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Your comments about this article

13:50 September 23, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
In a country like Germany which by its own constitution is legally bound to world-view neutrality, blasphemy laws indeed have no place. The government is within its rights to promote peaceful coexistence of religions (and non-religious people), but it must not favor any particular religion.

However, that said, let's not kid ourselves; Germany, and the Conservatives in particular, immensely favor and promote christianity; the church and the German government are interwoven in a way that would be unconstitutional in many other countries, especially in the otherwise god-fearing USA.

If we're serious about world-view neutrality, a lot still needs to be done to secularize Germany.
15:55 September 23, 2012 by IchBinKönig
You Schmucks do realize the Attacks in Benghazi had nothing to do with any video, right? But that the protests were in solidarity with the violence. 'Every' White House claim was wrong.
16:36 September 23, 2012 by realist1961
Passing laws to placate militants will only encourage them to increase their efforts.
16:36 September 23, 2012 by lucksi
Wow, a bit of sanity.
18:01 September 23, 2012 by Englishted
Stop pandering to the thugs and murdering followers of he who must not be insulted.

Tightening blasphemy laws they should be removed from the statute book.
19:13 September 23, 2012 by pjnt
LOL. I guess his comments from last week bit back. Mr. Minister tried to quickly gain some political popularity when this nonsense started but it looks as if his quick BS was shoved back down the way it came up.

What is the lesson here Mr. Minister? Be certain brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear.
09:54 September 24, 2012 by elitebavarian
I wish Germany can implement the freedom of expression in its true sense. Any artist can make and show anything, either it is anti-Islam or anti-semitism.

if Germans can't afford such 'freedom of expression' then stop this BS.
13:07 September 24, 2012 by Onlythetruth
That a blasphemy law was even considered is a sign of how dangerously far Islam has eroded western ideas of liberty and free speech.
20:31 September 24, 2012 by Zubair Khan
Political leaders always evaluate what to say and what ever brings them good fortune they do not feel hesitant to change the statements. German Minister also attempted the same. To me and as rightly stated by the supreme head of International Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in fact, it is the inability of anti Islamic lobby to defeat Islam that is causing it to resort to such vile acts which it tries to justify on the basis of freedom of speech or expression. Let it not be that in the name of freedom of speech the peace of the entire world is destroyed.Since all politicians have double standards so is the German Minister. If he had felt any serious danger he would have never changed the statement.

Each freedom has limits and in our daily life we see its examples. The fact is that anti Islamic lobby has joined hands to degrade Islam and misses no chance to move forward for its assigned goal. Fanatic Muslim Clerics are dancing to the music of this anti Islamic lobby. Ordinary Muslims are innocent and not understanding the ulterior motives of anti Islamic lobby and fanatic mullahs. Those Muslim who have understood this shameful game of this anti Islamic lobby they behave sensibly. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is one living example. In spite having its membership in millions in 202 countries of the world never resorted to violent reaction against any such anti Islamic move. If all other Muslim factions can also follow the path of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community the anti Islamic Lobby will die its own death with in no time.
10:58 September 25, 2012 by Onlythetruth
If the "peace of the entire world is destroyed" over this issue it will be because muslims have chosen to react violently and the fault will be theirs alone.

No one reacts violently because the pope is cartooned. How dare islam claim a special sensitivity, muslims need to get over themselves and apologize to the rest of us in the process.
15:21 September 25, 2012 by jg.
I wonder if it would be blasphemous to Christians to invent a religion in which Jesus Christ is labelled as a minor prophet, instead of the son of God. If so, a lot of Muslims would have some problems under any blasphemy law.

Similarly, it might be blasphemous to those of the Jewish faith to call Jesus Christ the Messiah, in which case, a lot of Christians would have some problems.
23:04 September 25, 2012 by Onlythetruth
The problem is that only muslims have that kind of problem right now. And they are willing to commit mayhem to make the point.
18:22 September 29, 2012 by blackboot11
I prefer this concept....

go to you tube to see this:

watch?v=Xsj1UWol7l8
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