Saudis reject deal to forbid anti-religion offenses

MPs say if they adopted int'l agreement, they would have had to recognize legitimacy of idolatrous religions.

Saudi King Abdullah 88 (photo credit: )
Saudi King Abdullah 88
(photo credit: )
The Saudi Arabian parliament on Monday rejected a recommendation to adopt an international agreement that forbids insulting religions, prophets and clerics, the Saudi daily Al-Watan reported. Seventy-seven members of parliament rejected the recommendation, claiming that if they adopted the agreement, they would have had to recognize the legitimacy of idolatrous religions, such as Buddhism. The recommendation was put forward by MP Muhammad Al-Quweiha's. He wrote that the Saudi Foreign Ministry should cooperate with the Arab and Islamic bloc in the United Nations to adopt the agreement. "The concept of religions varies from one country to the other and from one culture to the other. Buddhism and Bahaism are considered religions in some countries, but must Muslims respect these sects and not condemn them," said MP Khalil Al-Khalil, who rejected the recommendation. Al-Quweiha explained that his incentive was to prevent the ongoing campaign of insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad, in particular the cartoons and films which are shown in the US and Holland. A member of the Saudi Shoura Council who voted against the resolution told The Media Line the question of whether it implied recognition of other religions was not the issue. "To me, this resolution is in conflict with main principles like human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of opinion," he said. Two years ago, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), which Saudi Arabia is a member of, submitted a five-point action plan to the European Union, regarding the controversy over the anti-Muhammad cartoons. The plan included legislation by the European Parliament against the anti-Islam phenomenon in the West and exerting joint efforts by both the EU and the OIC to issue a UN resolution forbidding offenses against religions and prophets.