National Laws on Blasphemy: Germany

Blasphemy is illegal under Article 166 of the German criminal code, the Strafgesetzbuch. This law prohibits any speech or disseminated writing that defames—in a manner capable of disturbing the public peace—the “religious or worldview convictions” of others, or the institutions or customs of any religious group or worldview association established in Germany. To some extent, the presence of such a law is a reflection of the country’s past as Nazi Germany (1933-1945), which systematically killed 6 million Jews and millions of other ethnic, religious, and ideological minorities in the Holocaust. The prescribed punishment for such defamation of religion is a fine or imprisonment for up to three years. While blasphemy cases are fairly rare in Germany, one prosecution occurred in 2006 against a man who had distributed rolls of toilet paper that had the words “Koran, the Holy Koran” stamped on them to German mosques and television stations.