From Blasphemy to Sacrilege

Searching for Religion in Controversies about Islam




Islam, Muhammad, Qur’an, blasphemy, sacrilege, religion, insult, injury


Qur’an burnings have come to constitute a subculture in Scandinavia. Why have they focused on sacrilege against Islam’s scripture, while blasphemy against its prophet still dominates polemics in other parts of Europe? This essay traces the emergence of blasphemy as the principal form in which such polemics occur to colonial India. It shows how critics there tried to attribute Muslim protests against insults to Muhammad with a religious language they seemed to be missing. With its globalization after the Cold War, this debate about blasphemy was taken up in Europe. But in the Nordic countries it has been replaced with sacrilege as a way of rehearsing the religious element that remains absent from Muslim demonstrations of offence against alleged insults to Islam.




How to Cite

Devji, F. (2024). From Blasphemy to Sacrilege: Searching for Religion in Controversies about Islam. Temenos - Nordic Journal for the Study of Religion, 60(1), 179–184.