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Berkmann, Burkhard Josef (2018): Blasphemy, Religious Defamation and Hate Speech: A Comparison of the European Court of Human Rights and the Rabat Plan of Action. In: Green, M. Christian; Gunn, T. Jeremy; Hill, Mark (eds.) : Religion, Law and Security in Africa. Law and Religion in Africa Series, Vol. 5. Stellenbosch: SUN MeDIA Stellenbosch. pp. 63-79


Blasphemy as the act of insulting a deity must be distinguished from two other acts: defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred. Depending on the geographic region, the national legislations consider these three categories differently. Therefore it makes sense to compare different approaches. Prof. Berkmann’s article does so, comparing the European Court of Human Rights on one hand - which in Art. 10 ECHR has developed a formula in order to balance the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion with the “obligation to avoid as far as possible expressions that are gratuitously offensive to others and thus an infringement of their rights, and which therefore do not contribute to any form of public debate capable of furthering progress in human affairs” (Appl. no. 13470/87, Otto Preminger / Austria) - and the Rabat Plan of Action on the other hand that is directed against blasphemy laws that hinder interreligious dialogue and privilege majority religions (Art. 19). Prof. Berkmann’s article demonstrates that both the Court and the Rabat plan regard it as necessary that constructive criticism and public debate are possible. Besides other common characteristics, also several differences between the two are further investigated in.