12 Feb 2018

Thou shall not photoshop Jesus -- Spanish court rules

A man was found guilty of committing an offense against religion, after he uploaded a photoshopped picture of Jesus to a social network. In the image he replaced Jesus's face with his own.

Tonina Alomar
Tonina Alomar NewsMavens, Spain
Thou shall not photoshop Jesus -- Spanish court rules - NewsMavens
Jesus. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The controversial case is part of an alarming trend -- a record number of sentences for "crimes of opinion" in Spain. Following the introduction of the gag law in 2015, the percentage of those prosecuted for politically incorrect remarks has skyrocketed and reached a peak in the past year.

Theater artists, journalists, musicians have all been sentenced or fined for making satirical comments about the current political situation and the monarchy or for participating in political actions. The widespread prosecution has led international organizations, such as Amnesty International, to severely criticize the Spanish government for limiting the freedom of speech.

In times when many democracies succumb to illiberal practices, Spain is in danger of following suit.

media, illiberalism, human rights

The Jesus story details

  • The court considered the photoshoped image as an offense against religion (which is regulated by the 1995 Spanish Penal Code), nota crime of opinion.
  • The practice of both offense against religion and the crime of opinion have been under severe scrutiny of legal experts, NGOs and opposition parties, who believe that the courts use them to curb freedom of speech.
  • The Spanish Gag law was passed in 2015. It restricts the freedom of political expression and the right to protest.
  • The 1995 Spanish Penal Code mentions as breach of law "offending the feelings of the members of a religious confession". Only 36% of countries worldwide punish such offenses.
  • The young man sentenced will have pay a fine of 480 euros. He declared himself guilty.
  • The photomontage was uploaded to Instagram and features the Cristo de la Amargura, a depiction of Christ popular in the south of Spain.
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