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This asked why Islamic countries are more corrupt and the question was closed for "being too broad".

Islamic countries tend to be non secular and they often have laws against "blasphemy".

Prohibition against drawing Muhammad, against comparing him to others, would tend to make criticism of Islam difficult. It's difficult to analyze issues if you can't compare that to another. We don't normally consider comparing someone to another as "insulting". However, we may get killed for blasphemy by some terrorists if we do.

People can claim they are "offended" for any reason. It's obviously much easier than pretending to be a murder victim.

So, I wonder if such laws are "useful" for those who want to screw public funds?

Wikipedia writes:

According to one religious minority source, an accusation of blasphemy commonly subjects the accused, police, lawyers, and judges to harassment, threats, attacks and rioting.[5] Critics complain that Pakistan's blasphemy law "is overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas,"[6] but calls for change in the blasphemy laws have been strongly resisted by Islamic parties - most prominently the Barelvi school of Islam.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law_in_Pakistan

In fact, it's not far fetched to think that someone "annoying" to "someone in power" can be eliminated with "vague laws" like blasphemy laws. One possible such sample is https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/commentary-ahok-left-jakarta-legacy-of-reform-8836708

In fact, are there any studies that shows that countries with effective anti-blasphemy laws tend to be more corrupt?

My guess is that democracy requires freedom of speech to function properly. Otherwise the people are not well informed. So, some countries, like USA, go all the way and make blasphemy illegal. Some country, like Canada has a very ineffective blasphemy laws that's rarely enforced with light punishment. Some like Indonesia have effective punishment.

Blasphemy laws can be used to stifle many otherwise legitimate political speech. How true is that?

I think to see the effect I want to see the "intensity" of blasphemy laws instead of just whether such laws exist. You get a slap on the wrist for blaspheming in Canada and death penalty in Pakistan. Also in Pakistan people with no intent to blaspheme or insult a religion are routinely sentenced to blasphemy. I think that may explains why Canada has little corruption and Pakistan has a lot.

  • Esp. where you say "quite often" you should cite at least a concrete example and provide a link to backup material. Otherwise this is just a rant in terms of how the question is put (irrespective of wether the answer may be "yes" or "no"). – Drux Nov 27 '18 at 5:33
  • Somewhat related: psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-secular-life/201410/… – Alexei Nov 27 '18 at 6:31
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    The reasoning that serves as a premise to your question seems quite wrong: "Corruption is high in most Islamic countries and Islamic countries often have anti-blasphemy laws" so "anti-blasphemy laws increase corruption". The first sentence would imply correlation at best. – Taladris Nov 27 '18 at 7:51
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    @Taladris "Democratic" countries usually call corruption "lobbying" or "political donations". – M i ech Nov 27 '18 at 8:55
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    @Taladris, democracy requires freedom of speech to function properly. Otherwise the people are not well informed. Blasphemy laws can be used to stifle many legitimate political speech. – user4951 Nov 28 '18 at 23:22
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It is hard to evaluate the corruption in each countries. What we could use is the CPI (Corruption Perceptions Index).

According to the list, the 5 least corrupted countries are:

  • Denmark: had a Blasphemy law until June 2017 (link)
  • New Zealand: has a "Blasphemy libel" law still valid (link)
  • Finland: has a valid Blasphemy law (link)
  • Sweden: does not recognise Blasphemy as an offence (link)
  • Switzerland: while they do not recognise Blasphemy as such, there are religious protection laws (link)

And the most corrupted countries are:

  • North Korea: does not have any such law (as far as I can tell)
  • Somalia: has some Blasphemy law (link) but to be honest, they don't really have a central government
  • South Sudan: does not have such law (as far as I can tell, contrary to Sudan)
  • Syria: does not have such law (as far as I can tell, and in recent years, excluding ISIS)
  • Yemen: has a valid Blasphemy law (link)

So we should keep in mind that correlation does not equate causation. But from the extreme cases, there isn't even correlation. So, no.

  • It seems that ambiguity and severity of the laws against freedom of speech that cause corruption. Punishment for blasphemy in Denmark is low. In Somalia, the penalty is severe and the law is very plastic. – user4951 Dec 10 '18 at 22:52
  • @user4951 North Korea? Many countries with a lot of corruption are either failed states (Somalia), or Dictatorship. And some of those have blasphemy laws that they use as a political tool. – clem steredenn Dec 11 '18 at 5:46
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    Try blaspheming against King Jong Un in North Korea. It seems that in general, restriction of freedom of speech cause corruption. Blasphemy is just a justification for that. – user4951 Dec 11 '18 at 7:07
  • I think you got a point there – user4951 Dec 11 '18 at 7:07
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Blasphemous libel is statue law in Canada and New Zealand. It is a common law offence in Northern Ireland and many other countries that adopted English Common Law through colonisation. It was crime in England until 2008. These countries are not generally considered to be highly corrupt

There is no blasphemy law in many of the central African countries, such as the DRC or Uganda (Marxist governments tend to repeal such laws) Yet these have high levels of corruption (on various international scales)

The operation of the law of blasphemous libel in Canada differs greatly from the operation of blasphemy laws in (say) Saudi Arabia. But there does not appear to be a particular causative relation between the existence of a blasphemy law and levels of corruption.

  • Perhaps because you can get death penalty for blasphemy in Saudi and a slap on the wrist in Canada? – user4951 Dec 10 '18 at 22:52
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No.

The laws themselves don't encourage corruption.

DISCLAIMER: My answer is not about advocating for or against the laws, and are only attempting to provide context to how blasphemy laws differ from other laws and why there is a nuance that must be looked at.

*For sake of writing clearly, please forgive any religious transgression or mislabel I make. If serious, please comment so I can correct it. I am not a Muslim and am not an expert on the religion.*

Part of the problem is in how to think of blasphemy laws. First, examine laws in general. They are primarily a set of rules for society to live by in a productive manner. They typically try to protect someone from harm.

Blasphemy laws are no different. However, the victim they are designed to protect? That is typically God (or other (possibly many) religious figurehead), not somebody that will show up in a court.

Blasphemy laws are not political. At least not in the same sense that can be viewed through Western ideologies.

It really is not about who is offended. It is about making a direct attack to the religious beliefs of the people. This is what is is about.

Blasphemy laws may be misused like any other. Corrupt people will use whatever they can to their advantage. This includes blasphemy laws. However, you will notice that blasphemy laws don't work as political clubs unless the person's transgression has massive support to be punished or a large number of people do feel religiously threatened by what the political dissident's ideals.

Prohibition against drawing Muhammad, against comparing him to others, would tend to make criticism of Islam difficult. It's difficult to analyze issues if you can't compare that to another. We don't normally consider comparing someone to another as "insulting". However, we may get killed for blasphemy by some terrorists if we do.

Honestly, I don't see how speaking about, drawing, or comparing the Prophet Muhammad to other religions makes criticism difficult. If there is a comparison to make, it would be that the Prophet Muhammad is to be respected when speaking about Islam if you are to make any sort of meaningful conversation. Any criticism towards the Prophet Muhammad would be a theological one, not political, so the debate should exist in a time, place, and manner that respects the blasphemy laws as there are ways to discuss problems with the religion with the religious leaders. It is also very unhelpful to label all who would kill you for blasphemy as being a terrorist. A police officer, judge, and government are not terrorists for executing their laws no matter how much you disagree with the law.

Blasphemy laws can be used to stifle many otherwise legitimate political speech. How true is that?

This would be subjective. It is similar to how hate speech laws may be abused. In London people are arrested over hate facebook posts. Something many Americans finds tyrannical. Are those laws being clearly used as a political club? Are they clearly not? It is hard to say with certainty. You can draw comparisons between hate speech laws and blasphemy laws, the largest difference will be the punishment. But in concept, they are quite similar.

To compare/contrast corruption between countries with blasphemy laws to those without there must be a consideration as to what other factors contribute to corruption and how to define corruption for each of those countries. In my opinion, abuse of blasphemy laws is driven by corruption, not a sign of it existing.

  • Blasphemy laws are usually political. They typically ban saying things about one religion and not others. They hinder religious tolerance to a greater or lesser degree. – David Thornley Dec 11 '18 at 22:26
  • @DavidThornley Yes, they are political as it is done through government. They are not political in the sense that the laws are more akin to a legal extension of religious beliefs. The concept of religious tolerance is not accepted worldwide. That is key to remember here, as we're talking about corruption and how the laws influence it. – David S Dec 11 '18 at 22:42
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Vague laws and draconian measures would presumably reduce corruption, since those methods provide many tools to either:

  1. Crush undesirable corruption.
  2. Incorporate and legalize the practices of the corrupt into the establishment.

...but there's a potentially high cost. The resulting state is made more tyrannical, and therefore less stable. Such a tyrannical regime's errors have fewer means of prompt discovery or remedy, and can therefore snowball into an avalanche of error, so that the regime itself inadvertently and obliviously imperils their own country.

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