From the Pope with a dubious stain on his cassock, the Prophet Mohammed as a lustful and bloodthirsty warrior, to the Dalai Lama dressed up as a grinning clown. Newspaper caricatures, films, music, and theater productions make a practice of criticizing, poking fun and even ridiculing the world's religions.
An anti-Islam film posted on YouTube mocking the Prophet Mohammed has spurred violent clashes across the Arab World. In Libya, angry protestors stormed the US consulate - the country's ambassador and three other officials were killed in the ensuing chaos. Other country's embassies have also come under attack from violent mobs.
Some say radical organizations, extremists and politicians throughout the Middle East and North Africa have exploited anger over the film to advance their own political agendas. The fear of violent reprisals has also reached Europe. Leading politicians and representatives from the Muslim and Christian communities there are now considering a ban on the controversial film.
Some say this would be a violation of freedom of speech, one of the cornerstones of democracy. But many religious people, including Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, say people shouldn't be allowed to spread messages of hate. They say blasphemy poses a threat to society and are calling for it to be outlawed.
Should it be against the law to criticize religion if the remarks are clearly offensive or likely to incite violence?
Tell us what you think: Insulting Religion - Time to Prosecute?
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Asiem El Difraoui– The journalist and academic with a BA Honours in Economics and Politics attended the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and taught at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris. He worked as Editor in Chief for IP Productions, a news agency focusing on the Middle East and Arab world and is the author of numerous prize-winning documentaries and news reports. He is currently a part of the Research Group Near/Middle East and Africa at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin.
Alexander Görlach - A journalist with Ph.D’s in theology and German studies. After university, Görlach headed the online desk of the “Cicero” weekly and worked as editor-in-chief for BMW’s “Club of Pioneers” initiative. His work as a journalist has taken him from New York to London and Rome. Görlich also spent 7 years working for Germany’s public broadcaster ZDF. He freelances for the “FAZ” and “Süddeutsche Zeitung” dailies. Today he is both editor-in-chief and publisher of the online-magazin “The European.”
Nicholas Matthew Kulish – The journalist has been the Berlin Correspondent for The New York Times since 2007. Before that, he was a member of the NY Times editorial board. Born in Washington D.C., he studied at Columbia University and worked in Hong Kong and New York City. Starting out as a news assistant, he became a reporter at The Wall Street Journal for which he reportet on the US-invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2007, he published his first novel "Last One In".