The United Nations or: Politically Correct Namby-Pambies

On Monday, November 24, 2008, the Combating Defamation of Religions non-binding resolution was passed (85-50) in a UN General Assembly Committee, and is expected to get approval of the plenary later in the year. The resolution was passed with the sponsorship of the 57-country Organization of the Islamic Conference as part of its 10-year action plan to spark a “Renaissance” of the “Muslim Ummah.”

The O.I.C. is seeking a tougher instrument, such as a binding treaty, to impose this resolution on signatories. The ban, observers say, gives cover to domestic anti-blasphemy laws, responsible for the imprisonment and persecution of thousands around the world, and bans criticism of religious beliefs.

It is frighteningly shocking that an international organization such as the UN has become a grave threat to the same human rights that it was supposed to strive to uphold. No one who spinelessly voted for the resolution caught on to the luminous irony of their actions. Alternatively, they knew what they were doing, and just voted for the resolution to quiet the demands of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. In either case, this must cause some one to question the both the intelligence and the integrity of the delegates representing entire nations in matters of global concern.

Apparently, the O.I.C. wants to consider “defamation” as anything offensive, but defamatory statements are not only offensive, but also false. Also the draft of the resolution says, “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.” No one should perceive the untruthfulness of that statement more with any further commentary.

At least, there were Western critics (finally!) of the resolution such as Canada and the United States. “Western democracies argue that a religion can’t enjoy protection from criticism because that would require a judicial ruling that its teachings are the “truth.”” Western democracies claimed that, “one individual’s sincere belief that his or her creed alone is the truth conflicts with another’s sincerely held view of the truth.””

Western countries brought up the clear distinction between giving an “idea” rights and upholding the right of people not to be discriminated against. Canada’s spokesperson for its Foreign Affairs Minister dismissed the “premise that religions have rights; human rights belong to human beings.”

“The focus (here) should not be on protecting religions, but rather on protecting the rights of the adherents of religions, including of people belonging to religious minorities, or people who may choose to change their religion, or not to practice religion at all.”

As a response to criticism of the resolution, Muslim countries said they are only trying to diminish what they interpret as extensive bias against Islam in the West. (There is not enough bias against Islam in the West for Muslim countries to complain about, except for the use of Islamic radicalism as a way of frightening people into voting Republican. One is reminded of the “Obama was a Muslim!” smear.) Leading up to the vote, diplomats discussed the 2005 riots over the Danish cartoons, that satirized the Prophet Muhammad.

“Everybody is aware that there is a campaign in certain media to fuel the fire of incitement to hatred and to disfigure certain persons or figures through caricature,” said one Sudanese diplomat. Actually, the diplomat is wrong that the cartoons incited hatred, they were a satire of the Islamic world’s discontents, which were demonstrated to be accurate once the death threats, censorships, and riots broke out. The cartoons’ point was made even more valid by the subsequent behavior of the Muslim world in reaction to those cartoons.

The West says the resolution contributes to increasing discrimination based on religion (which this post is example of). Bennett Graham, international program director with the Becket Fund, a think tank that supports religious liberty, said, “From the human rights side of things, this is the opposite of what is supposed to be happening…instead of protecting an individual, this resolution protects an idea, and relies on hurt feelings as a source of judgment. It can only lead to a jurisprudence of hurt feelings.”

Canada declared that, “governments have abused laws against defamation or contempt of religions to “prosecute and imprison journalists, bloggers, academics students and peaceful political dissidents.”” For example, Iran is considering a draft amendment that would prescribe capital punishment for apostasy. Many opponents of the UN resolution state that those most at risk from anti-blasphemy laws are Muslims in Muslim countries.

“Pakistan has the (toughest) anti-blasphemy laws, and while they are certainly used against lots of minority religions, they are used mainly against Muslims…they have been used to intimidate business partners, suppress any reformist ideas, jail people who discuss women’s rights,” said Graham. However, anti-blasphemy charges have also been reported in mainly non-Muslim countries.

“There are cases in Russia dealing people suing TV stations for airing South Park and the Simpsons because they see them as defamatory to Christianity,” and, “a lot of the violence in India dealing with Hindus and Christians is being spurred on by accusations that Hindu gods are being defamed, while there are also cases against artists in India for depicting Hindu gods in modernist way.”

Western democracies must get their message across to the Organization of the Islamic Conference that no one has a right to not be offended. Separation of church and state is necessary, and the right for people to believe or not believe what they want should be respected. This in no way entails that beliefs themselves must be respected, and even accorded their own rights (especially immunity from criticism). Criticism of ideas is essential for promoting human rights, and the converse is also true. The West must defeat this measure, and hold true to its Enlightenment values.

– Source: Steven Edwards. Canwest News Service. Published: November 24, 2008. UN anti-blasphemy measures have sinister goals, observers say


~ by jsacc001 on November 26, 2008.

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