Blasphemy is now legal in Iceland. The Nordic island nation on Thursday repealed a 75-year-old blasphemy law that made it a crime to “ridicule or insult” the teachings of a legally recognized religious community.
The law, established in 1940, came under fire after the Jan. 7 attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris that killed the newspaper’s editor and 11 others after they published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The bill was sponsored by the majority Pirate Party. According to the new law, it is “essential in a free society that the public express themselves without fear of punishment.”
Anyone found violating the blasphemy law had been subject to a fine and three months in prison.
In a statement after the vote, the party praised parliament for issuing “the important message that freedom will not bow to bloody attacks.”
The BBC reports that the Catholic Church of Iceland, the Pentecostal Church and the Church of Iceland’s eastern province all opposed repealing the blasphemy law.
The Catholic Church wrote in a statement after the successful repeal: “Should freedom of expression go so far as to mean that the identity of a person of faith can be freely insulted, then personal freedom — as individuals or groups — is undermined.”
As Iceland Magazine wrote last month, support for the Pirate Party is soaring. According to a recent Gallup poll, 34.1 percent of the country said it stands behind the insurgent political movement that received just 5.1 percent of the vote in 2013.
In an interview last month, Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson warned of the Pirate Party’s growing popularity, accusing its members of “some very unclear ideas about democracy” and saying its rise “would be cause for concern for society as a whole.”