A Blog of Reason From a Godless Liberal

UN Labels Religious Defamation a Human Rights’ Abuse

In atheism, Culture Wars, editorial, religion on April 15, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Though Upset Over Defamation, Torture, Genocide, and Oppression of Women Still Cool

Peter Singer of The Guardian wrote a great article about the free speech debate as it pertains to religion. Regular readers will know that I often chastise society for affording religion a privilege not given to any other idea or person. The privilege of course is the notion that religion ought to be free from outside criticism. In March of this year, the United Nations Humans Rights Council passed a resolution labeling “defamation of religion” as a human rights abuse. It should be noted that defamation of religion and religious persecution are not the same thing. What defines defamation is unclear, but I suspect this will lead to theocratic governments claiming legitimacy in efforts to blunt opposition and secular groups by saying they are defaming the beliefs of the majority.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) originally came up with this idea in response to the cartoons of Muhammad that were published in a Danish newspaper, and then republished throughout western civilization after they caused fervor. Pakistan, a member of the 56-Nation OIC, brought the issue to the UN, which surprisingly it found wide but not universal support. Apparently the suppression of free speech and a free press aren’t just on the Islamic global agenda anymore. Honestly I’m shocked the UN would even consider this resolution, never mind passing it. However, I must give credit to Germany for it’s opposition…

Germany opposed the resolution. Speaking on behalf of the European Union, a German spokesperson rejected the concept of “defamation of religion” as not valid in a human rights context, because human rights belonged to individuals, not to institutions or religions.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference says this resolution is a necessity as “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.” Hmm, what would lead anyone to associate a ‘Religion of Peace’ with which such things? Any blind, deaf, mute, and dumb observer can see there clearly is no connection between violence, the suppression of human rights, and Islam. Perhaps the OIC’s time would be better spent worrying less about how we see Islam, and more about why it has that image in the first place


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