The tragic events of the past months, including the Taliban’s murder of 132 schoolchildren in Peshawar, Boko Haram’s mass slaughter of civilians in Nigeria, and Al Qaeda’s massacre of the staff of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, have re-ignited a debate about the root causes of terrorism and its prevention. The debate centers largely on efforts by foreign governments in the Islamic world to effectively execute counter-terrorism measures against known terrorist organizations, including defeating their weaponry and propaganda. But little has been written on what is, arguably, the most potent instrument fueling the perpetrators’ terrorism: anti-blasphemy laws. A closer look at the anti-blasphemy laws of Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nigeria helps illustrate a potentially significant correlation: nations that criminalize blasphemy tend to foster an environment where terrorism is more prevalent, legitimized and insidious.
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