Tayyip Erdogan U.S. Visit: Obama Must Confornt Turkish Ally On Human Rights Abuses

Joelle Fiss   16 mai 2013

On Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will visit Washington, D.C., to meet with President Barack Obama. Among a range of security issues, the focus will surely be the civil war raging nextdoor in Syria. But President Obama should make sure to highlight a human rights issue with far-reaching consequences for the Middle East and the broader Muslim world: the radioactive effect of blasphemy laws.

Anti-blasphemy laws forbid the criticism or insult of religion, or any perceived contempt of religion. In many countries, alleged blasphemers can be sentenced to jail for such a “crime.” The laws are a tool for suppressing freedom of speech and religious practises. In some countries they are more than that; they are a cause of political instability and violence. Closer to home, they have posed threats to U.S. national security.