National Laws on Blasphemy: Poland

Though its use has become increasingly controversial, Poland includes anti-blasphemy language in Article 196 of its Penal Code, prohibiting insults to places or objects of worship in any religion. The penalty for such a crime is a fine or up to two years in prison. Because the Polish population is overwhelmingly Catholic, most blasphemy allegations involve offending Catholic sentiments, though minority faiths can also use the law. Most of the few recent blasphemy charges have been against artists, and the conflict between freedom of expression and respect for religious values is in some ways a reflection of the traditionally Catholic country’s integration into the increasingly secular European community. In 2012, a Polish pop singer was fined $1,450 for having said that the Bible was written by “someone drunk on wine and smoking some herbs” in an interview. A heavy metal singer was acquitted of blasphemy charges the same year when it was ruled that his tearing pages from the Bible and insulting the Catholic Church during a concert was protected as an artistic performance.
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