Blasphemy – Concept, origin of the term and where it is a crime

We explain what blasphemy is, why it is a sin and the origin of the term. Also, in what contexts is it considered a crime.

A blasphemy can be considered a crime in theocratic regimes.

What is blasphemy?

A blasphemy it is an insult or insulting word directed towards God or divine majesty, which is generally considered by monotheistic religions as a serious sin, and even as a punishable offense in theocratic or confessional regimes.

The word “blasphemy” comes from the Greek blaptein, “Injure”, and pheme, “Reputation”, so that initially the term simply described an insult or a form of verbal derision. But the use that has been given to it in general throughout history links it with the divine or the sacred, and therefore considers it as a form of transgression or sacrilege.

In fact, throughout history there have been different laws against blasphemy, born within Christian or Muslim societies, in both cases punishable by death. While in the West these types of crimes were abolished by freedom of expression and freedom of worship, largely as a result of the French Revolution of 1789, in other cultural regions it is still possible to find them in the 21st century.

Now, what constitutes blasphemy or not depends on the codes and the specific doctrine of a religion. Thus, for example, for Islam any form of visual representation of its prophet Muhammad or God is blasphemous or sacrilegious, and radical Islamic groups have been capable of, for example, planting bombs in a French satirical newspaper in retaliation for the publication of caricatures of the prophet.