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Welcome to the Official Schedule for RightsCon Toronto 2018. This year’s program, built by our global community, is our most ambitious one yet. Within the program, you will find 18 thematic tracks to help you navigate our 450+ sessions

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Last updated: Version 2.3 (Updated May 15, 2018).

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Friday, May 18 • 09:00 - 10:15
Free Speech Is Not Blasphemy

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In a study by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, 71 countries have blasphemy laws on the book, with a significant number of these laws found in national penal codes. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has contested the legality of these blasphemy laws because of their inconsistency with universal human rights, yet member countries persist with repressive and discriminatory legislation. These laws infringe upon the freedom of speech, and often cause religious minorities to suffer disproportionately. Digital mediums should allow for open debate, instead online discourse on religion is highly volatile and can lead to harassment, censorship, abduction, and death.

The gravity of these laws can be highlighted by the cases of missing bloggers in Pakistan in 2017 (Salman Haider, Asim Saeed, Waqas Goraya, and Ahmed Raza Naseer) who were abducted for their stances against religious extremism. Another extreme case of an allegedly blasphemous post on social media led to the death of a Pakistani university student, Mashal Khan, by a violent mob of his peers. In 2015, Bangladeshi activist Dr. Avijit Roy was hacked to death by a member of an Islamic militant organisation for being an “atheist blogger”.

This session of RightsCon 2018 aims to bring together international organisations that monitor human rights violations in the digital sphere with activists fighting for shrinking online spaces in South Asia - where countries have contentious laws and severe criminal punishments for blasphemy. The panel seeks to address questions and concerns around the protection of the freedom of speech online, as well as strategies to circumvent the manipulation of new media, and the use of UN mechanisms to bring international attention to these issues.

Speakers
avatar for Nighat Dad

Nighat Dad

Founder and Director, Digital Rights Foundation


Friday May 18, 2018 09:00 - 10:15
204C

Attendees (25)