Free Expression and Women’s Rights

Ronald A. Lindsay

This issue of Free Inquiry highlights two very important concerns: namely, the need to ensure that people throughout the world can freely express their views about religion and the need to promote women’s rights and end sexism, both outside of and within the secular movement. Some might think these concerns are unconnected. They would be mistaken.

There is no mystery about the primary motivation for blasphemy laws. Blasphemy laws are a means (an effective means, if they are enforced) of immunizing religion from criticism. The recent push by various Islamic countries to have the United Nations enact an international law prohibiting attacks on religion makes this clear. As Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi put it, “Egypt respects freedom of expression” but not a “freedom of expression that targets a specific religion.”

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