Combating the Defamation of Religion
October 26, 2009 3 Comments
The world just keeps sliding slowly into a quagmire of human rights abuses. Ireland recently passed a Blasphemy law that prohibits anyone from talking bad about another’s religion and wouldn’t you know it the Muslims are behind it. In most (or probably all) Muslim controlled countries it’s against the law to write or speak against the religion or its founder Muhammad…fact is it’ll probably get you killed.
The United Nations has this non-binding resolution on “Combating the Defamation of Religion” that is intended to curtail speech that offends religion — particularly Islam. Pakistan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference introduced the measure to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 1999. It was amended to include religions other than Islam, and it has passed every year since.
The non-binding Resolution 62/145, which was adopted in 2007, says it “notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of 11 September 2001.” It “stresses the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement of religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently came out strongly against this resolution and laws around the world that make religious defamation a crime, saying that freedom of speech and religion should be equally upheld.
“Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called ‘anti-defamation’ policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion,” she said
“I strongly disagree. The United States will always… stand against discrimination and persecution… But an individual’s ability to practice his or her religion has no bearing on others’ freedom of speech,” Clinton said.
“The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faith will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions. These differences should be met with tolerance, not with the suppression of discourse,” she added.
Other critics of the resolution believe this is a dangerous threat to freedom of speech everywhere. There are some religious groups and free speech advocates banding together to fight this resolution which they say is being used to spread Sharia Law in the Western world and will intimidate those who would criticize Islam.
“It’s obviously intended to have an intimidating effect on people expressing criticism of radical Islam, and the idea that you can have a defamation of a religion like this, I think, is a concept fundamentally foreign to our system of free expression in the United States,” said former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
Kevin Hasson, who is founder and president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm in Washington that opposes the resolution says “It is a slap in the face of human rights law.”
“The whole idea of the defamation of religion is a Trojan horse for something else,” Hasson said. “When you talk about defamation, you talk about people being defamed and people being libeled, but ideas can’t be defamed. Ideas don’t have rights, people have rights.”
He added that “the resolution is a shield for Islamic fundamentalists who retaliate against perceived offenses and want to make Islamic Sharia law the law of the land.” He said the resolution passes under the guise of protecting religion, but it actually endangers religious minorities in Islamic countries.”
“It provides international cover for domestic anti-blasphemy laws, and there are a number of people who are in prison today because they have been accused of committing blasphemy,” said Bennett Graham, international program director with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
We have to remember that many of the governments that are pushing this idea are not democratic governments. Citizens of Egypt or Pakistan who have been two of the prime ringleaders of this movement, are frequently put in prison or arrested for blasphemy or other “crimes” against the Muslim religion, and even if they’re not arrested (rare), the fear of being arrested creates an environment of self-censorship.”
Western democracies are arguing that a religion cannot enjoy protection from criticism because that would require a judicial ruling that its teachings are the “truth.” (I can see fundamentalists jumping all over this)
“Defamation carries a particular legal meaning and application in domestic systems that makes the term wholly unsuitable in the context of religions,” the U.S. government responded on the issue to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
We probably won’t have a problem here in the US with this absurd law because of our Constitutional Right of Free Speech, but you never know, look at what George Bush did to our most precious document. And by the way, it’s still being abused because most of Bush’s presidential decrees that usurped some constitutional laws haven’t been rescinded.
Look out if you travel overseas though.