CALL FOR PAPERS
Workshop on ‘Religion, Hate and Offence in a Changing World’
Cardiff University, School of Law and Politics, 14-15 December 2016
Keynote speaker: Professor Jocelyn Maclure (Université Laval)
This workshop aims to bring together scholars working on the relationship between religion and free speech. This relationship is complex. On the one hand, it has been central to recent discussions of hate speech and offensive speech targeting religious believers, and especially members of religious minorities. For example, the current wave of Islamophobia across Europe, prompted by migratory pressure, an unstable Middle East, and the backlash from the recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium, has brought the issue of hate speech directed at religious minorities back to the forefront of public debate in western liberal democracies. Furthermore, the tension between freedom of speech and blasphemy continues to elicit public and academic debate, as shown by the 2006 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and, more recently, by the Charlie Hebdo controversies and attack. On the other hand, religious believers sometimes defend their use of derogatory and extreme speech against members of other religious faiths, or people with a certain sexual orientation, as part of their religious freedom. Recent examples include Swedish Pastor Ake Green’s likening of homosexuals with ‘cancer’; Tunisian preacher Muhammad Hammami’s anti-semitic remarks; Belfast Pastor James McConnell’s description of Islam as ‘heathen’ and ‘satanic’; and American conservative Evangelical Christian TV evangelist Andrew Wommack’s claim that gay people are ‘not normal’. Religious believers, therefore, can be both victims and instigators of hate speech and offensive speech, and this renders an examination of the relationship between these kinds of speech and religion especially important.