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September 24 2012

Push to call blasphemy a crime


THE divide in world opinion over what constitutes free speech will be on display again this week at the United Nations, where arguments over a proposed blasphemy law were an annual feature for a decade.

This time it is the global reaction to a YouTube video that disparages Islam's prophet Muhammad that is sure to roil the meeting of the UN General Assembly.

Muslim leaders have vowed to discuss the offensive video from their UN platforms, sowing concern among free-speech activists of a fresh push toward an international law that would criminalise blasphemy. Human rights groups and Western democracies resisted such a law for years and thought they had finally quashed the matter after convincing enough nations that repressive regimes used blasphemy laws to imprison or execute dissidents.

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