It’s official: today the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to adopt a resolution against the defamation of religions. It’s an attempt to abridge the right of free speech in order to protect Islam from criticism and insult.
The UN document archive where the text is supposed to be available is down now, so I haven’t been able to read the full resolution. I assume it’s very similar to last December’s General Assembly resolution. If that’s the case, it singles out Islam, and only Islam, for special mention.
An international and very multicultural list of 188 NGOs — led by UN Watch and including the International Free Press Society — has co-signed a statement objecting to the resolution and calling upon “all governments not to accept or legitimize a Durban Review Conference outcome that directly or indirectly supports the ‘defamation of religions’ campaign at the expense of basic freedoms and individual human rights.”
Here’s what Al-Reuters has to say about this dubious occasion:
A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning “defamation of religion” as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries.
The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favour and 11 against, with 13 abstentions.
Western governments and a broad alliance of activist groups have voiced dismay about the religious defamation text, which adds to recent efforts to broaden the concept of human rights to protect communities of believers rather than individuals.
Pakistan, speaking for the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said a “delicate balance” had to be struck between freedom of expression and respect for religions.
The resolution said Muslim minorities had faced intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, including laws and administrative procedures that stigmatise religious followers.
“Defamation of religious is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence,” the adopted text read, adding that “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.”
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The 47-member Human Rights Council has drawn criticism for reflecting mainly the interests of Islamic and African countries, which when voting together can control its agenda.
The European members of the council must be given credit for standing against this travesty:
Addressing the body, Germany said on behalf of the European Union that while instances of Islamophobia, Christianophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination should be taken seriously, it was “problematic to reconcile the notion of defamation (of religion) with the concept of discrimination”.
“The European Union does not see the concept of defamation of religion as a valid one in a human rights discourse,” it said. “The European Union believes that a broader, more balanced and thoroughly rights-based text would be best suited to address the issues underlying this draft resolution.”
India and Canada also took to the floor of the Geneva-based Council to raise objections to the OIC text. Both said the text looked too narrowly at the discrimination issue.
As you’ll see below, despite its objections, India abstained from voting on the final text. Canada, however, came through:
“It is individuals who have rights, not religions,” Ottawa’s representative told the body. “Canada believes that to extend (the notion of) defamation beyond its proper scope would jeopardise the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of expression on religious subjects.”
CNS has a more detailed breakdown on the voting:
Countries voting in favor on Thursday included 15 of the 16 countries that are also members of the OIC — Burkina Faso alone went against the OIC line and abstained — along with OIC allies China, Russia, Cuba, South Africa, Angola, Nicaragua, Bolivia and the Philippines.
Canada and Chile joined nine European countries in voting against the motion.
Abstaining were Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ghana, India, Japan, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, South Korea, Uruguay, and Zambia.
The allies of the OIC are not all that surprising — Russia, China, Cuba, etc. are always glad to poke a sharp stick into the USA and Europe, and they voted for this monstrosity. But the fourteen abstentions are what really made the whole deal possible.
Why abstain? What makes India think it’s a good idea not to vote?
And Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil — why don’t they want to stand up and give their opinions?
Anybody who thinks their country should be legally bound by this nonsense is a fool, but many Western countries are currently led by fools.
So this may yet make its way into our official jurisprudence.
Hat tip: Vlad Tepes.