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Image: The Terrors of Blasphemy Laws

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The Terrors of Blasphemy Laws

May 30, 2014

By Asma Uddin, Legal Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

The conflict between religious freedom and blasphemy laws in Pakistan is a source of constant concern for the international community. Not only are the blasphemy laws in Pakistan outrageous in themselves, but they are also applied unfairly by those with an agenda, and even the act of defending someone who has been accused of blasphemy has come to be seen as a crime.

All of these elements are evident in the May 7, 2014 murder of human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman, who was killed for defending poet and Fulbright scholar Junaid Hafeez against allegations of blasphemy. Hafeez, a professor, was accused by his students of insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. The accusations were baseless, but as with most cases of blasphemy charges in Pakistan, no real evidence was needed. He was charged by the police, defenseless without a lawyer. Rehman, special coordinator at Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, agreed to represent Hafeez in court, knowing the decision would put his life in danger.

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Image: Canterbury Medalist Rabbi Sacks’ Stirring Defense of Freedom

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Canterbury Medalist Rabbi Sacks’ Stirring Defense of Freedom

May 21, 2014

By Lori Windham, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

“In America, the tree of liberty has religious roots. Don’t believe you can sever those roots and have the tree of liberty survive.”

Those words came from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, this year’s Canterbury Medalist. Sitting in the room Thursday night, I watched Catholics, Sikhs, Mormons, Jews and Evangelicals stand together to applaud Rabbi Sacks, who gave an impassioned defense of religious freedom. The entire speech is here, and it is well worth your time.

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Image: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

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Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

May 13, 2014

By Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

“To be or not to be?” is a lot tougher question than the one everyone should be asking about Denmark today – “Why did Denmark really ban kosher and halal slaughter?” The answer is sadly quite simple–to discriminate against its Jewish and Muslim citizens. The government claims that it is because it wishes to allow only humane slaughter, but the evidence is at best equivocal. Many countries, including the United States, treat kosher and halal slaughter as definitionally humane methods of slaughter.

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Image: Election Ends Threat from Québec “Charter of Values”

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Election Ends Threat from Québec “Charter of Values”

May 2, 2014

By Adèle Keim, Legal Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

In November we reported on the Québec “Charter of Values”, a proposal by the government of Québec to ban state employees–from doctors to daycare workers–from wearing “overt and conspicuous” religious symbols.  The Charter of Values, which was criticized across Canada and around the world, would have required Jewish employees to remove their kippahs, Sikhs to remove their turbans, and Muslims to remove their headscarves.

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Image: 2013 Canterbury Medal recipient Elder Dallin H. Oaks delivers “message of hope” for religious freedom

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2013 Canterbury Medal recipient Elder Dallin H. Oaks delivers “message of hope” for religious freedom

April 18, 2014

Elder Dallin Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and recipient of the 2013 Canterbury Medal, delivered the keynote address at Utah Valley University’s Constitutional Symposium on Religious Freedom two days ago. Offering mutual understanding, accommodation, and goodwill among neighbors of all faiths as the solution to conflict, Elder Oaks conveyed an encouraging optimism for the future of religious freedom. He also gave a welcome shout out to the Becket Fund.

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Image: European Court of Human Rights rejects Hungary’s attempt to create ”second-class churches”

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European Court of Human Rights rejects Hungary’s attempt to create ”second-class churches”

April 8, 2014

By Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

In an important freedom of religion decision, earlier today the European Court of Human Rights rejected parts of Hungary’s 2011 Church Act that stripped most Hungarian religious groups–including prominent religious groups such as Mennonites, Evangelicals, Reform Jews, and Buddhists–of “church” status that they had held for many years after the fall of Communism.

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Image: Hobby Lobby has a conscience, too

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Hobby Lobby has a conscience, too

March 14, 2014

By Daniel Blomberg, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

This is almost getting old: at the same time that the federal government is arguing that family-owned business can’t have a conscience, it is lauding big businesses for exercising their conscience in a way that the government likes.

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