Iceland decriminalises blasphemy after Charlie Hebdo attack

Iceland's parliament on Friday voted widely in favour of decriminalising blasphemy, in the name of freedom of expression in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Reykjavik: Iceland's parliament on Friday voted widely in favour of decriminalising blasphemy, in the name of freedom of expression in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

The bill was adopted after 43 of 63 members of parliament voted in favour. One lawmaker voted against, 16 were absent and three abstained.

The bill had been put forward by the Pirate Party in February, after the January attacks in which 12 people were gunned down in the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

"Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of democracy. It is a fundamental point in a free society that people can express themselves without fear of punishment of any kind, whether on behalf of the authorities or others," the Pirate Party said in presenting its bill.

Article 125 in Iceland's penal law, which has now been abolished, had stipulated that anyone "who publicly mocks or dishonours the doctrine or worship of a legal religious group, in this country, shall be fined or jailed up to three months."