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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.