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“Islamic law is increasingly used by authoritarian governments and extremist forces in the Muslim world to acquire and consolidate power, experts say, which is becoming an increasing threat to religious minorities, especially Christians,” the Christian Post reports.
By Luiza Oleszczuk
2/10/2012 Middle East (Christian Post) – Islamic law is increasingly used by authoritarian governments and extremist forces in the Muslim world to acquire and consolidate power, experts say, which is becoming an increasing threat to religious minorities, especially Christians.
On Jan. 23, a trial of a man accused of blasphemy taking place in post-revolutionary Tunisia caught the attention of the West. The man was Hamadi Redissi, a television director who reportedly faces as many as five years in prison for broadcasting the French animated movie “Persepolis,” which contains a brief scene depicting God that many Muslims have deemed blasphemous.
The trial struck a nerve for a good reason – Redissi’s case might serve as proof of what some see as the increasing Islamization of Arab countries, especially following the demise of dictators during Arab Spring uprisings. Blasphemy laws, prohibiting offense to Islam and Muslims in any way, are, alongside apostasy, the most controversial codes of Islamic law. These laws have been on the rise in recent years, and are increasingly posing a threat to free speech and human rights as well as religious freedom across the Middle East as well as, occasionally, in the West, experts claim.
Paul Marshall and Nina Shea, in their recent book, Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide, argue that Islamic law is increasingly used by authoritarian governments and extremist forces in the Muslim world not for religious reasons, but to acquire and consolidate power – a chilling assumption given that Muslim political parties are cherishing great popularity in post-revolutionary Arab countries, like Egypt.
Moreover, Marshall, who along with Shea is a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told The Christian Post recently that the controversial laws are causing a threat to religious minorities in the Muslim world, and in particular, Christians.
The area where laws of blasphemy and apostasy are practiced is vast, covering the regions of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey and Yemen, as well as parts of Africa and South and Southeast Asia.
Marshall emphasized that the laws, which are vulnerable to free interpretation by local authorities, in most cases, are increasingly used for political reasons, but often also by common people, to accuse one another, for example for the purpose of revenge. Muslims can sometimes accuse other Muslims, but Christians are victims to these accusations most often, Marshall told CP.
The punishment for breaking these controversial legal codes can range from a death sentence (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan) to years-long prison sentences (Egypt).

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