International (MNN) — Do you know what a blasphemy law is? How about apostasy?
These may be unfamiliar terms to you, but they can hold the power of life and death for Christians around the world. The enemies of Christ frequently use blasphemy laws to target and persecute believers.
“In an Islamic country, ‘blasphemy’ can be anything that disrespects Mohammed, the Quran, disrespects Islam. That can be something you say verbally; it can be a text message that you send; it can be mishandling a Koran,” The Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton says.
According to Pew Research, 40 percent of the world’s nations and territories had these laws on the books in 2019.
Blasphemy laws were most common in the Middle East/North Africa region, but in every location, “the blasphemy laws are often used simply as a weapon to settle disputes [or] as a weapon to get rid of someone,” Nettleton says.
For example, in Pakistan, “if you want to get rid of somebody, you simply say, ‘Well, I heard them commit blasphemy.’ That person will be arrested [and imprisoned],” he continues.
“Eight or nine years from now, they’ll be set free, and the High Court will say, ‘Oh, actually, there wasn’t any blasphemy.’ But in the meantime, you’ve had eight or nine years to take over their property, steal something from them, or get them out of your way.”
Join us tomorrow as we explore how blasphemy laws work against believers in Nigeria.
“Oftentimes, blasphemy laws are part of Sharia law. In places like northern Nigeria, you have a government court system, but then side by side with that, you also have a Sharia court system,” Nettleton says.
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Tayeb MEZAHDIA/Pexels.