UN rights council adopts global religious defamation act

Organization of Islamic Conference addresses what it calls a "campaign" against Muslim minorities and Islam around the world.

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March 30, 2007 19:44
1 minute read.
UN rights council adopts global religious defamation act

Acts of faith 224.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Islamic countries pushed through a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council on Friday urging a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion, a response largely to the furor last year over caricatures published in a Danish newspaper of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The statement proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conference addressed what it called a "campaign" against Muslim minorities and the Islamic religion around the world since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. The resolution, which was opposed by European and a number of other non-Muslim countries, "expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations." It makes no mention of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism or any other religion besides Islam, but urges countries "to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement and religious hatred, hostility, or violence." Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," belongs to the 57-member Islamic conference. The resolution was adopted by a 24-14 vote with nine abstentions. Canada, Japan and South Korea joined European countries in opposition, primarily citing its excessive focus on Islam and incompatibility with fundamental rights such as the freedoms of speech and thought. "The problem of religious intolerance is worldwide and not limited to certain religions," said Brigitta Maria Siefker-Eberle of Germany," speaking on behalf of the 27-nation European Union. Ghana, India, Nigeria, Zambia and some of the council's Latin American countries abstained. There are 17 Muslim countries in the 47-nation human rights council. Their alliance with China, Cuba, Russia and most of the African members means they can almost always achieve a majority. Human Rights Watch said the resolution could endanger the basic rights of individuals. The document "focuses on protection of religions themselves, particularly Islam, rather than the rights of individuals, including members of religious minorities," the New York-based rights group said in a statement.

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