This article argues that blasphemy laws and a cultural relativist approach to human rights have a political function in authoritarian states. Islamic states use a strong cultural relativist approach to justify their dismal human rights record. The main aim of this approach, however, is survival. The article shows how Islamic countries use religion for their own political survival purposes and how blasphemy laws are often used to silence critique of political, social and religious orders that infringe on basic human rights. From this perspective, blasphemy laws are tools of oppression, not a symbol of cultural and religious difference. By highlighting how blasphemy laws and a cultural relativist approach to religion have been used as tools of oppression by authoritarian regimes, the article underscores the importance of freedom of expression for any functioning democracy.