Last month Monash University released a report highlighting the appalling atrocities committed due to 'blasphemy' laws.
'Killing in the name of God: State-sanctioned violations of religious freedom' exams the twelve countries where 'apostasy' and/or 'blasphemy' are punishable by death*. Eleven of those countries have Islam as the state religion. The exception, Nigeria, has no state religion but the twelve Nigerian states in which blasphemy is punishable by death operate a sharia law system in parallel to secular courts. The death penalty is justified through statements in Islamic texts calling for those who change religion to be killed.
While actual executions for these 'crimes' are rare, the report explains how the death penalty for religious offences contributes to extrajudicial killings and killings by civilians and extremist groups.
For example, Pakistan pursues high volumes of prosecutions for blasphemy, but it has never conducted a judicial execution on this basis. The report suggested the combination of taking such a strict stance against blasphemy and failing to carry out death sentences encourages mobs and vigilantes to do the dirty work on behalf of the state.
Continue reading @ National Secular Society.