Support lower for Muslim-backed U.N. text on defamation of religion
The U.N. General Assembly condemned defamation of religion for the fifth year running on Friday but support continued to erode for a resolution Western countries say threatens freedom of speech.
The assembly passed the Islamic-sponsored resolution with 80 votes in favor, 61 against and 42 abstentions. That compared with 86 votes to 53 against with 42 abstentions for a similar text last year and figures of 108-51-25 in 2007, the last time the measure commanded an absolute majority of U.N. members.
The nonbinding resolution has gone through every year since it was prompted in 2005 by a row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that appeared in a Danish newspaper, sparking bloody protests by Muslims around the world. The only religion the resolution specifically names as a target of defamation is Islam.
Angela Wu of the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said the resolution “provides international cover for domestic blasphemy laws that are overbroad and easy to abuse … The concept of ‘defamation of religions’ undermines the foundations of human rights law by protecting ideas instead of people, and empowering states instead of their citizens.”