Ireland Halts Prosecution of Stephen Fry for Blasphemy Over Anti-God Remarks
Police could not find enough people outraged at actor’s anti-God remarks on TV after only one viewer complained
Irish police have halted an investigation of Stephen Fry for blasphemy because the Garda Síochána could not find enough people to be outraged over the actor’s anti-God remarks on Irish TV.
Only one viewer made a formal complaint against Fry over comments he made on a programme with Irish broadcasting legend Gay Byrne back in 2015.
One individual complaint alone cannot result in a prosecution under the legislation.
Fry told Byrne he could never respect “a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world … full of injustice”.
The sole man who complained to the Garda under the terms of the 2009 blasphemy law previously told the Irish Independent: “I did my civic duty in reporting it. The guards did their duty in investigating it. I am satisfied with the result.”
Atheist Ireland, which campaigns to have the blasphemy law abolished, said a referendum was now needed to repeal the legislation.
The then Fianna Fáil-led government said it brought in an updated blasphemy law because Ireland’s 1937 constitution only protected the rights of Christians from offence and that the Republic was now a multifaith, polyethnic society.
But Mick Nugent, co-founder of Atheist Ireland, said the dropping of the case against Fry underlined how “dangerous and absurd” the country’s relatively new blasphemy law actually is.
Nugent pointed out that Islamic states such as Pakistan have used Ireland’s blasphemy legislation in arguments at the United Nations for a UN-backed motion denouncing what it says are blasphemous attacks on religious beliefs.
“We don’t know when the next investigation might happen, or what the outcome might be. But we know that it will have to involve a large number of people demonstrating outrage.
“We have already seen around the world what can happen when large numbers of people demonstrate outrage about cartoons that they consider blasphemous,” Nugent said.
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