PDA

View Full Version : Religion AP Exclusive: Muslim countries seek blasphemy ban


Donger
11-19-2009, 04:07 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091119/ap_on_re_us/un_banning_blasphemy

GENEVA Four years after cartoons of the prophet Muhammad set off violent protests across the Muslim world, Islamic nations are mounting a campaign for an international treaty to protect religious symbols and beliefs from mockery essentially a ban on blasphemy that would put them on a collision course with free speech laws in the West.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that Algeria and Pakistan have taken the lead in lobbying to eventually bring the proposal to a vote in the U.N. General Assembly.

If ratified in countries that enshrine freedom of expression as a fundamental right, such a treaty would require them to limit free speech if it risks seriously offending religious believers. The process, though, will take years and no showdown is imminent.

The proposal faces stiff resistance from Western countries, including the United States, which in the past has brushed aside other U.N. treaties, such as one on the protection of migrant workers.

Experts say the bid stands some chance of eventual success if Muslim countries persist. And whatever the outcome, the campaign risks reigniting tensions between Muslims and the West that President Barack Obama has pledged to heal, reviving fears of a "clash of civilizations."

Four years ago, a Danish newspaper published cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammad, prompting angry mobs to attack Western embassies in Muslim countries, including Lebanon, Iran and Indonesia. In a countermovement, several European newspapers reprinted the images.

The countries that form the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference are now lobbying a little-known Geneva-based U.N. committee to agree that a treaty protecting religions is necessary.

The move would be a first step toward drafting an international protocol that would eventually be put before the General Assembly a process that could take a decade or more.

The proposal may have some support in the General Assembly. For several years the Islamic Conference has successfully passed a nonbinding resolution at the General Assembly condemning "defamation of religions."

If the treaty was approved, any of the U.N.'s 192 member states that ratified it would be bound by its provisions. Other countries could face criticism for refusing to join.

The United States has declared it won't accept international treaties that restrict the First Amendment right to free speech.

But there are signs the U.S. is worried by the Islamic Conference campaign. Behind the scenes it has been lobbying hard to quash the proposal, dispatching a senior U.S. diplomat to Geneva last month for talks described as akin to trench warfare.

"The U.S. presence can be significant in determining the whole destiny of the process," said Lukas Machon, who represents the International Commission of Jurists at the U.N.

From a legal point of view, "the whole exercise is dangerous from A-Z because it's a departure from the practice and concept of human rights," Machon said. "It adds only restrictions."

In a letter obtained by the AP, Pakistan said insults against religion were on the increase.

The Islamic Conference "believes that the attack on sacredly held beliefs and the defamation of religions, religious symbols, personalities and dogmas impinge on the enjoyment of human rights of followers of those religions," the letter said. It was sent last month to members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards, a temporary committee created to consider a previous anti-racism treaty.

In a separate submission to the committee, Pakistan proposed extending the treaty against racism to require signatories to "prohibit by law the uttering of matters that are grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion."

It's not clear who would decide what is considered grossly abusive, but each country's criminal courts would likely have initial jurisdiction over that decision, according to Marghoob Saleem Butt, a Pakistani diplomat in Geneva who confirmed the campaign's existence and has lobbied for the ban.

"There has to be a balance between freedom of expression and respect for others," Butt said in a telephone interview.

"Taking the symbol of a whole religion and portraying him as a terrorist," said Butt, referring to the Muhammad cartoons, "that is where we draw the line."

One American expert with more than 20 years experience of the U.N. human rights system said the treaty could have far-reaching implications.

"It would, in essence, advance a global blasphemy law," said Felice Gaer, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The independent, congressionally mandated panel issued a report last week warning that existing laws against blasphemy, including in Pakistan, "often have resulted in gross human rights violations."

In Egypt, blasphemy laws have been used to suppress dissidents, said Moataz el-Fegiery, executive director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. Abdel Kareem Nabil, a blogger, was sentenced in February 2007 to four years in prison for insulting Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

He said reformists who reinterpret traditional Islamic texts have also become the target of blasphemy accusations.

More broadly, introducing laws to protect religions from criticism would weaken the whole notion of human rights, said Sweden's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Hans Dahlgren.

"Religions as such do not have rights it's people who have rights," he said, adding that the European Union, whose presidency Sweden currently holds, would oppose attempts to limit freedom of speech.

The treaty goes against the grain of recent efforts by Western and Muslim countries to find common ground on human rights.

Only last month a joint U.S.-Egyptian resolution on freedom of expression won unanimous support in the U.N. Human Rights Council, much to the surprise of seasoned observers. "We will engage, and we're going to keep engaging," said Michael Parmly, spokesman for the U.S. Mission in Geneva.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, the Ad Hoc Committee's chairman, Algerian Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, said concerns the treaty could stifle free speech have been "whipped up into a bugaboo."

Failure to agree on a treaty would boost extremists in the Arab world, said Jazairy, a former envoy to Washington now considered a key player in the U.N.'s human rights forum.

"If we keep hitting this glass wall and say there's nothing you can do about Islamophobia you can do something about anti-Semitism but Islamophobia is out of bounds you give an ideal platform for recruitment of suicide bombers," he said.

NewChief
11-19-2009, 04:15 PM
Uhh, yeah.

They can fuck off.

talastan
11-19-2009, 04:22 PM
Sorry but in my country it is still freedom of speech, so deal with it. At least until the left decides to make it illegal. :D

mikey23545
11-19-2009, 04:23 PM
I can't imagine how anyone would ever get the idea to mock Islam...

NewChief
11-19-2009, 04:25 PM
Sorry but in my country it is still freedom of speech, so deal with it. At least until the left decides to make it illegal. :D

Umm, yeah. The left is all about banning books and censorship. (and I know where you're going that PC is censorship, and I hear you, but the ACLU and Left have traditionally been huge defenders of free speech often in the face of fierce opposition and scorn from certain elements of the right). I do agree that there are elements of the left that are beginning to get a little thought police-esque and enter into backdoor censorship... but that's not historically the way the free speech battle has gone down.

HonestChieffan
11-19-2009, 04:26 PM
I think we should make it a National Sport. Maybe rename a team the Moooohameds

Jenson71
11-19-2009, 04:42 PM
Stuff like this usually ends with a reactionist movement that really pisses off the manifesting countries.

HonestChieffan
11-19-2009, 04:44 PM
Stuff like this usually ends with a reactionist movement that really pisses off the manifesting countries.

Example?

Jenson71
11-19-2009, 04:51 PM
Example?

For instance, when the UN was debating the law against blasphemy this fall, a number of colleges had Blasphemy Day where Freethinker student groups marked the whole campus up in chalk with things like "Fuck Jesus" and anti-religious quotes. It was a big deal on my campus.

I guess the UN wasn't pissed off, but it pissed a lot of other people off.

Reaper16
11-19-2009, 04:54 PM
Fuck them, Fuck Mohammed, Fuck Allah.

HonestChieffan
11-19-2009, 05:15 PM
For instance, when the UN was debating the law against blasphemy this fall, a number of colleges had Blasphemy Day where Freethinker student groups marked the whole campus up in chalk with things like "**** Jesus" and anti-religious quotes. It was a big deal on my campus.

I guess the UN wasn't pissed off, but it pissed a lot of other people off.

I was confused. I didn't equate a bunch of kids on a campus having a shoutfest and using chalk to create grafiti(sp) between classes as a "movement"

Rain Man
11-19-2009, 09:04 PM
**** them, **** Mohammed, **** Allah.


And then take a picture of them. And put it on TV. Next to a woman.

Jenson71
11-19-2009, 09:08 PM
I was confused. I didn't equate a bunch of kids on a campus having a shoutfest and using chalk to create grafiti(sp) between classes as a "movement"

Oh heck yeah

Rain Man
11-19-2009, 09:11 PM
The U.S. should introduce a resolution banning countries from being uncivilized 8th-century barbaric backwaters.

KC native
11-19-2009, 10:49 PM
Yet another arrow in the "religion is stupid" quiver.

mikey23545
11-19-2009, 10:54 PM
I was confused. I didn't equate a bunch of kids on a campus having a shoutfest and using chalk to create grafiti(sp) between classes as a "movement"

I guess to a little college boy it is.

Rausch
11-20-2009, 03:08 AM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091119/ap_on_re_us/un_banning_blasphemy

GENEVA Four years after cartoons of the prophet Muhammad set off violent protests across the Muslim world, Islamic nations are mounting a campaign for an international treaty to protect religious symbols and beliefs from mockery essentially a ban on blasphemy that would put them on a collision course with free speech laws in the West.

Fuck you.
FUCK YOU.

Make whatever fucking 13th century laws you want in your country. That's all good.

Step the fuck off here...