Denmark, which is predominantly Lutheran and agnostic or atheist, has until now been the only Nordic nation to have a valid blasphemy clause in its code of laws. The recently abolished version of the blasphemy law threatened to penalize offenders with fines or up to four months in prison, Danish Radio reported.
The law was introduced in 1683 and has long remained in force despite undergoing minor amendments. The abolition of the centuries-old anachronism was made possible after a somewhat surprising change of opinion by Denmark's ruling Liberal Party. Following the turnabout, all of the parliamentary parties except the Social Democrats voted to abolish the blasphemy clause. The lawmakers who were against the contentious law cited "special rules protecting religions against expressions," the Danish parliament reported on its website.
"Religion should not dictate what one may and what one may not say in public," MP Bruno Jerup told Jyllands-Posten, stressing that such provisions gave religion "a totally unfair priority in society."
Denmark's final blasphemer was a 42-year old man who purposefully burned the Quran on ideological grounds in 2015. The man uploaded a video of himself torching the book to an anti-Muslim public group on Facebook and was initially charged with racism; the accusation was later altered and he stood accused of blasphemy. Incidentally, the man also claimed to have burned the Bible, which made no sensation whatsoever. By contrast, the Quran burning led to an overwhelming reaction, as the man started to receive threats and was forced to change his Facebook account, address and telephone number.
According to the current legislation, the burning of religious scriptures is therefore no longer punishable, unlike remarks and acts that threaten or demean certain groups of people because of their religious beliefs.
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