Religion, Ethnicity, and Race in Finnish Legal Cases on Insults Against Religion
This article scrutinizes the Finnish religious insults and the related legal practice during the 21st century. It examines how the Office of the Prosecutor General, the courts, as well as the defendants construct the category of religion – i.e. that, which is a target of a special protection – and how the discourses on ethnicity and race play a part in that process. It is found, that ways in which the defendants construct the targeted groups with terms considered to be about religion, ethnicity or race affects the ways the officials construct these groups. This includes the practical abolishment of the formal category of religion, found in the letter of law, in favour of the popular one. Furthermore, it is argued, that while being part of the established religion discourse improves the chances for benefitting from the religious insult legislation, the said law, applied quite inconsistently, is found to be relatively ineffective avenue for groups seeking justice amid speech or actions considered to be religiously offending. More generally, the article demonstrates that the discursive study of religion can benefit from a perspective where empirically nearby categories (such as ethnicity and race) are incorporated into the analysis.
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