FaithWorld

Islamic bloc drops 12-year U.N. drive to ban defamation of religion

March 24, 2011
(U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the high level segment of the 16th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, February 28, 2011. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud)

(U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the Human Rights Council in Geneva and urges it "to move beyond a decade-long debate over whether insults to religion should be banned or criminalised," February 28, 2011/Valentin Flauraud)

Islamic countries set aside their 12-year campaign to have religions protected from “defamation”, allowing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Genea to approve a plan to promote religious tolerance on Thursday. Western countries and their Latin American allies, strong opponents of the defamation concept, joined Muslim and African states in backing without vote the new approach that switches focus from protecting beliefs to protecting believers.

Since 1998, the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) had won majority approval in the council and at the United Nations General Assembly for a series of resolutions on “combating defamation of religion”. Critics said the concept ran against international law and free speech, and left the way open for tough “blasphemy” laws like those in Pakistan which have been invoked this year by the killers of two moderate politicians in Pakistan. They argued that it also allowed states where one religion predominates to keep religious minorities under tight control or even leave them open to forced conversion or oppression.

bhatti funeral

(Funeral of Pakistan's Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti in Islamabad March 4, 2011. Pakistani Taliban assassinated Bhatti, a Catholic, for urging the repeal of the blasphemy law/Faisal Mahmood)

But Pakistan, which speaks for the OIC in the rights council, had argued that such protection against defamation was essential to defend Islam, and other religions, against criticism that caused offence to ordinary believers. Islamic countries pointed to the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in Denmark in 2005, which sparked anti-Western violence in the Middle East and Asia, as examples of defamatory treatment of their faith that they wanted stopped. However, support for the fiercely-contested resolutions — which the OIC had been seeking to have transformed into official U.N. human rights standards — has declined in recent years.

The new three-page resolution, which emerged after discussions between U.S. and Pakistani diplomats in recent weeks, recognises that there is “intolerance, discrimination and violence” aimed at believers in all regions of the world. Omitting any reference to “defamation”, it condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that amounts to incitement to hostility or violence against believers and calls on governments to act to prevent it.

The U.S.-based Human Rights First campaign group said the new resolution was “a huge achievement because…it focuses on the protection of individuals rather than religions” and put the divisive debates on defamation behind. However, diplomats from Islamic countries have warned the council that they could return to campaigning for an international law against religious defamation if Western countries are not seen as acting to protect believers.

(Supporters of the Sunni Tehreek religious party hold placards in support for Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the gunmen detained for the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, in Hyderabad January 9, 2011. Qadri, said he was angered by outspoken Punjab governor Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law. Taseer, a liberal politician close to President Asif Ali Zardari, had championed the cause of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws which critics say are used to target religious minorities, often to settle personal scores. REUTERS/Akram Shahid)

(Pakistani Islamists march in support of Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the gunmen detained for the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, assassinated because he advocated repeal of Pakistan's blasphemy law, in Hyderabad January 9, 2011/Akram Shahid)

For more on Pakistan’s blasphemy law, see:

Towards a review of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

Pakistan media warn of growing chaos after Christian minister slain

Factbox – Pakistan’s blasphemy law strikes fear in minorities

Christian Pakistani minister shot dead in Islamabad ambush

Guestview: The infliction of the blasphemy law in Pakistan

In Pakistan, a death foretold

Condemned Christian woman seeks mercy in Pakistan

.

Follow FaithWorld on Twitter at RTRFaithWorld

rss buttonSubscribe to all posts via RSS

Comments
6 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

On the dropping of the UN resolution seeking to protect religions (sic) from defamation, I think we all have Pakistan’s blasphemy law to thank for showing the world what such a resolution will do to religious minorities worldwide.

“However, diplomats from Islamic countries have warned the council that they could return to campaigning for an international law against religious defamation if Western countries are not seen as acting to protect believers.”

That’s a fine example of chutzpah. Who needs to be protecting whom is now abundantly clear, yet the onus remains on Western countries to protect the *sentiments* of Muslims. Muslim countries can fail to protect the *lives* of non-Muslims, and that doesn’t matter.

The cynic in me says Islam worldwide will become more moderate when Middle Eastern oil runs out in a few decades. The fuel for jihad is petroleum, literally and figuratively.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

777xxx777 said:

> Islam (it seems) is very weak and brittle and therefore fears run high among all muslims that Islam is under constant threat.

I don’t think it applies to all Muslims. Those who have become used to diversity and do not see the existence of non-Muslims as a threat are probably at peace with themselves and others. (Of course, the “war on terror” has made new enemies even among these people, but for different reasons.)

I think it’s to do with expectations. If you believe that the desirable end-state is the whole wold following your religion, then the fact that this has not happened and is being resisted would be interpreted as a sign that your religion is being threatened by enemies.

If you’re cool with the idea that people of all religions will continue to exist into the indefinite future and no religion will dominate the world, then this “threat” simply disappears.

I think many Muslims, especially those in predominantly Muslim countries where they have no exposure to people of other faiths, are conditioned to think in terms of ultimate conquest. They are probably the most frustrated that this world of 7 billion people has only 1.3 billion Muslims and not 7 billion.

It will take many years of exposure to reality before acceptance finally takes place. There really is no other option. Something has to give, and I think it’ll have to be the dream of worldwide Islamic conquest. A future generation of Muslims will probably look back with curiosity at the idea of jihad and ghazis.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

@Ganesh

Probably you are right or probably not. One hand we have on this blog a name who claims to be German muslim and yet even after tremendous exposure to other religions, even then he is constantly trying to say that Islam (in face of pashtoons) will come hard at (supposedly Hindu) India all because India is threatening Islam (now expect some more stupidity from him). On other hand we have another name who is an Indian muslim with a doctorate in medicine science and is a very open minded person. I have had extensive discussions with both these names and had exactly opposite experiences. And then there is third name who is a Pakistani muslim and is an engineer by profession and almost blind supporter of PA but still an open minded person who once even agreed that India will obviously not and should not give kashmir to pakistan on a platter(despite that sometimes he gets emotional fits of kashmir banega pakistan). I even liked his idea that we should put Kashmir in back burner for some time and first try to resolve other differences between us and build trust between neighbours. So, I do not know whether to agree with you or not. But one thing I am very clear with is that muslims (or for that fact any person) cannot get respect just because he is following a certain religion. Religion can never (and should never) earn respect for anyone. If muslims (of course NOT all, but still a very large %) want respect then first thing they have to do is to come out of their babylonian mind sets and HAVE to start giving respect to others as persons without looking at their faith. I remember that dialogue from Jodha Akbar movie…”Sikka girne par awaaz hoti hai uthhate vaqt nahin”….how true it is in real life as well. Stop calling people of other faiths as Kaafirs and infidels..these are extremely disrespecting words.

But I am happy with the fact that muslims of “Gen Y” of India is not so much in these mental caves and have started to integrate very well (in eyes of cavemen mullahs Indian muslims have ‘assimilated’) with society at large and are doing very well in life. Hope this trend of peace continues. And lets pray (to whatever Gods one follows) that muslims worldwide learn this reality as quick as possible.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive
 

@Ganesh

“The cynic in me says Islam worldwide will become more moderate when Middle Eastern oil runs out in a few decades. The fuel for jihad is petroleum, literally and figuratively”

Yess so you also realize its the Great Oil Wars. And the day any country invents any alternate source of sustainable and green energy that day will be doom for middle east and Islam’s supposed supremacy in general. Race to green energy is ON. Lets see who wins.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive
 

777xxx777 said:

> Yess so you also realize its the Great Oil Wars.

I can’t comment on the conspiracy theory that the West is waging these wars in the Middle East because of oil. I presume you’re referring to that. Your guess is as good as mine.

I’m talking about the fact that Middle Eastern countries would be nowhere without their oil wealth, and whatever influence they (and the other Muslim countries that their oil wealth indirectly supports) have will reduce dramatically when the oil runs out or is largely replaced by other sources of energy.

At that point, all the grandiose talk of Islamic supremacy and eternal jihad will naturally peter out and be replaced by a more realistic and moderate stance of ‘live and let live’.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive
 

@Ganesh
“I’m talking about the fact that Middle Eastern countries would be nowhere without their oil wealth”

Yes I got your point and that’s why I stated in my previous comment that Race to green energy is on.

“I can’t comment on the conspiracy theory that the West is waging these wars in the Middle East because of oil”

Do you think there could be some reason other than oil?? Saudi protests are suppressed with US blessings and Libya protests are encouraged by same US. How do you think this puzzle can be solved.

Posted by 777xxx777 | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/