Keywords: Defamation of religion - public peace - religious identity - offense principle - ultima ratio principle.
In this paper I will dwell on the following questions: should religious identities be protected by means of the criminal law? Might criminal norms directed against forms of blasphemy serve a legitimate goal or should modern criminal law systems abandon such prohibitions? It has been one of the great achievements of the Enlightenment period to re-assess the blameworthiness of anti-religious acts and the usefulness of criminal sanctions in this area. Nonetheless, many modern criminal codes keep criminalizing forms of blasphemy. Think, for instance, of § 166 StGB on «defamation of confessions, religious associations and ideological associations». I will contend that norms of this kind are at odds with the basic liberal principles, not to say of the specifically criminal law principle that criminalization be the last resort («ultima ratio»).