The paragraph was proposed removed already in 2005 as part of the new penal code, but the new Penal Code has not yet gone into effect because of IT problems in the police.
It has been a law that nobody cared about, and the last person who was sentenced using the paragraph, was author Arnulf Øverland in 1933. Since then Norwegians basically have said whatever they wanted about religion, without any legal consequences.
However, after the attack against the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7 this year, parliament members Anders B. Werp and Jan Arild Ellingsen felt the need for immediate action.
"Although the existence of the blasphemy law obviously does not legitimize violence, this paragraph supports a sense of perception that religion and religious symbols are entitled to a special protection. This is a very unfortunate signal to send, and it is time that society clearly stand up for freedom of speech, even in religious matters", the two wrote in the proposal which was submitted to Parliament on February 10th this year.
The now repealed Section 142 of the Penal Code read:
"Anyone who by word or deed publicly insult or in an offensive or hurtful manner shows contempt for any religion exercised in this country, or who is an accessory thereto, shall be liable to fines or imprisonment for up to 6 months" (shortened)
In other parts of the world, blasphemy is considered a serious crime. The Pakistani actress Veena Malik (30) last fall was found guilty of blasphemy after she appeared in a TV show, and sentenced to 26 years in prison.
In countries where Islamic Sharia law is the penal code, blasphemy is often punishable by death.
As Norway removes a law nobody cared about anyway, Sweden goes in the opposite direction, and in January the country adopted a stricter set of paragraphs.
English Labour has promised to impose a blasphemy law that criminalize "Islamophobia", if they win the election.
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