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Home > Spain > Current issues and debates > 2018 > Freedom of expression, blasphemy, and offense to religious feelings in (...)

Freedom of expression, blasphemy, and offense to religious feelings in Spain

A highly politicised debate related to religion is taking place in Spain nowadays. Police recently arrested a well-known Spanish actor because he refused to attend a court hearing, after the Spanish Association of Christian Layers reported that he had committed a crime of offense to religious feelings. In 2017, he had posted comments on his social media accounts “insulting the Virgin and God”, which this association deems to be violating article 525 of the Spanish penal code. The court admitted the case, and the actor is accused of a crime against religious feelings. Although the specific crime of blasphemy had been erased from the Spanish legal system in 1988, the crime of derision is still included in that article of the penal code of 1995. Supporters of the actor and his political opinions argue that he will be judged for blasphemy as a remnant of the Francoist dictatorship, something they deem unacceptable in a modern democracy.

While this is not a new debate in Spain, it has recently gained relevance. Several cases related to offenses to religious feelings have appeared since 2012. Other cases related to “freedom of expression”, not linked to religious issues, have also generated heated debates and concerns have been raised, among others by Amnesty International, about the restriction of individual freedoms more generally.

27 September 2018