Spain Urged to Repeal Blasphemy Laws

Willy Toledo, a Spanish TV and cinema actor who is facing a complaint over a social media post last year criticizing the blasphemy prosecution of three women, has twice failed to show up for questioning. He has been detained for questioning by a judge, police have said.

Toledo’s detention over a blasphemy case is denounced by a group of humanist writers and performers, including Sandi Toksvig, Sara Pascoe, David Baddiel and Eddie Marsan. They wrote a letter for the Guardian urging the prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, to repeal his country’s blasphemy laws.

Their letter says: “At a time when many of the world’s most horrific regimes are using blasphemy laws to punish and persecute religious minorities and the non-religious alike, more and more democracies with blasphemy laws in statute are choosing to repeal these laws, including Denmark, Malta, Norway, Iceland, and France in the last three years. The governments of New Zealand, Canada, and Ireland have all started this process as well.

We ask the prime minister of Spain to show solidarity with the millions of people still persecuted around the world for their beliefs and opinions by looking to repeal, rather than enforce, Spain’s medieval restrictions on the right to think and speak freely.”

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Also, Oscar-winner Javier Bardem has spoken out in support of Toledo, 48, warning that the country risked a return to the repressive era of dictator Francisco Franco.

Let's recall the events of last year - In a July 2017 Facebook message, a Spanish actor Willy Toledo said: “I s*** on God, and I have enough s*** left over to s*** on the dogma of the sanctity and virginity of the Virgin Mary. This country is unbearably shameful. I'm disgusted.” He was defending three women charged with blasphemy for staging a mock-religious procession wielding a giant vagina. Toledo was denounced by the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers for 'covering God and the Virgin Mary with ridicule'.

Though infrequently used, Spain maintains what amounts to a law against blasphemy. Article 525 of the Spanish Penal Code forbids the defamation of any individual’s or group’s religious sentiments, beliefs, or practices. One of the only recent cases of the blasphemy law occurred in 2012, when a famous Spanish artist named Javier Krahe was prosecuted—and eventually acquitted—for blasphemy after a documentary showed him allegedly cooking a crucifix in footage shot 34 years earlier.

Photo Credits: CounterStrike TV

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