U.N. Rights Council Adopts Resolution Against Religious Defamation At Muslim Prodding
Friday, March 30th 2007, 8:04 pm
News On 6
GENEVA (AP) _ Islamic countries pushed through a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday urging a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion _ a response largely to the furor last year over caricatures published in a Danish newspaper of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
The statement proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conference addressed what it called a ``campaign'' against Muslim minorities and the Islamic religion around the world since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
The resolution, which was opposed by a number of other non-Muslim countries, ``expresses deep concern at attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human rights violations.''
It makes no mention of any other religion besides Islam, but urges countries ``to take resolute action to prohibit the dissemination of racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement and religious hatred, hostility, or violence.''
The resolution was adopted by a 24-14 vote with nine abstentions. Canada, Japan and South Korea joined European countries in opposition, primarily citing its excessive focus on Islam and incompatibility with fundamental rights such as the freedoms of speech and thought.
``The problem of religious intolerance is worldwide and not limited to certain religions,'' said Brigitta Maria Siefker-Eberle of Germany, speaking on behalf of the 27-nation European Union.
There are 17 Muslim countries in the 47-nation human rights council. Their alliance with China, Cuba, Russia and most of the African members means they can almost always achieve a majority.
Human Rights Watch said the resolution could endanger the basic rights of individuals.
The council, which last year replaced the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission, has no power beyond drawing international attention to rights issues and scrutiny of abuses in certain countries.
The move at the council was initiated last year after protests across the Islamic world drew attention to caricatures of Muhammad first printed in Danish paper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005.