Freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental right often violated by both governments and private individuals. Fear of violence—compounded by the lack of trust in state authorities to respond to it adequately—may deter people from venturing out even to places of worship, where they may be attacked.
We however oppose efforts to restrict speech that may be deemed offensive by some believers (this concept is known as ‘defamation of religions’). Instead, we support freedom of expression—which concerns individuals, not religions—along with a strong system of enforcement against hate crimes.
- Antisemitism is a deep-rooted prejudice that resulted in some of the worst human rights in history, our reporting documents recent incidents of antisemitic violence across the globe.
- Violence against Muslims: our latest Fact Sheet reveals a climate of hostility and hatred—dubbed ‘Islamophobia’ in popular culture—against Muslims, which has risen in the aftermath of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks. We call on politicians to Stand Up to Intolerance Against Muslims—help us.
- Defamation of Religions: a harmful concept advanced at the United Nations; in essence, it seeks to restrict speech that may be religiously offensive. Human Rights First advocates against such a “global blasphemy code” and published a recent report exposing the negative effects of blasphemy laws. In over 50 cases across the world, accusations of blasphemy have resulted in arrests and arbitrary detentions and have sparked assaults, murders and mob attacks.