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2018

  • September 2018: 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.

  • April 2018: Half-mast flag during Easter again

As it already happened last year, a controversy has been generated over the decision to fly the national flag at half-mast in all buildings of the Spanish Ministry of Justice during Easter celebrations, to commemorate the death of Jesus-Christ.
Even though this decision was highly criticised last year by parties in the opposition and some sectors of the public opinion, the Minister of Defence decided to proceed in a similar way this year (see The Guardian).
The debate is about the religious or secular nature of the decision and the incompatibility with the neutral character of the secular state.

D 30 April 2018    AJulia Martínez-Ariño

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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