6 U. C. Dublin L. Rev. 124 (2006)
A Right to Artistic Blasphemy - An Examination of the Relationship between Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion, through a Comparative Analysis of UK Law

handle is hein.journals/ucdublir6 and id is 136 raw text is: 


University College Dublin Law Review


  A RIGHT TO ARTISTIC BLASPHEMY? AN EXAMINATION OF
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND
     FREEDOM OF RELIGION, THROUGH A COMPARATIVE
                     ANALYSIS OF UK LAW

                           Ellen Wiles*

         '[I]f the decencies of controversy are observed, even the
         fundamentals may be attacked without the attackers being
                     guilty of blasphemous libel'.'

                         I. INTRODUCTION

      Can art violate human rights by causing religious offence? When
does such offence constitute the crime of incitement to hatred? Such
controversial questions have recently re-emerged in relation to a series of
artworks, notably the play 'Behzti' recently performed in Birmingham,
the musical 'Jerry Springer the Opera' which was broadcast by the BBC,
the film 'Submission' written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the Netherlands and
the series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in a Danish
newspaper. They have brought to the fore questions about the scope of
the right to freedom of expression, and its possible conflict with the
individual's right to freedom of religion and protection against
discrimination. This article examines the law in the UK as it applies to
such cases, and compares the UK approach with the position in other
domestic legal systems as well as under the European Convention on
Human Rights (ECHR). The implications of such different approaches,
and the way in which these differences reflect deeper ideological issues
underlying the debate are considered. Throughout, the article will argue
that, although the right of free expression contains certain limitations and
obligations, it is a right of such fundamental importance that any law
which compromises it through prioritisation of religious sensitivities,
particularly in the realm of art, risks greater social damage and tensions
derived from religious differences.




* Ellen Wiles, BMus(Oxon); GDL (BPP), Inner Temple Exhibition; LLM Human
Rights (UCL); BVC (ICSL), Princess Royal Scholarship; Barrister-at-Law. The
Author would like to thank Cohm O'Cinneide for his helpful comments on this article.
1 R v Ransay and Foote (1883) 15 Cox CC 231, 238 (Coleridge LCJ).


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