News / Middle East

Islamic Nations Relinquish Demand for Defamation Laws

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— In the wake of a U.N. resolution condemning discrimination on the basis of religion, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has stopped pushing for an international treaty banning the defamation of religion.  

The 57-member confederation of Muslim countries has lobbied for years for an international treaty that would outlaw blasphemy against Islam and other religions.

Ufuk Gokcen, the OIC's Permanent Observer to the U.N., played a key role in that effort.

But the Turkish diplomat said the OIC is now satisfied with U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 adopted last year.

"I don't see any attempt to go back to the old controversy over defamation and blasphemy," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Resolution 16/18 recognizes that free expression plays an important role in bolstering religious tolerance.

Gokcen says that is correct.

"What Resolution 16/18 achieved is exactly that, that we put the emphasis - instead of the protection of the concept of religion - to protection of rights of individual believers, and I believe this framework is compatible with the First Amendment as well," he said.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects free speech, including blasphemy.
 
Gokcen says he accepts that it prevented U.S. authorities from taking down a recent anti-Muslim Internet video produced in the United States that triggered a wave of violence in Muslim countries.

"I believe that in the age of communication and the Internet you cannot stop this type of insulting or denigrating videos or books or publications by criminalizing. The best way to combat this issue would be to develop a kind of understanding, a mutual understanding among the international community, that we should not insult each other, and we should not defame each other. Of course, this requires a long-term cooperation and promotion of understanding," he said.  

Critics of the OIC say it should focus its efforts on the racist portrayals of Jews in Arab newspapers and school textbooks as well as attacks against Christians in some predominately Muslim countries.

Gokcen says that in its advocacy efforts the OIC treats anti-Semitic and anti-Christian prejudice as seriously as Islamophobia.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

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Comments
     
by: Metehan from: Turkey
October 26, 2012 4:22 PM
For you is your religion, and for me is mine.109:6 Kuran.


by: ron from: USA..USA..USA!!!
October 25, 2012 10:57 AM
Nice try Muslims. All this does is take away our free speach to denigrate their religion. This only protects them. You see, they acknowledge and respect (I think) the writings of the Torah (even though they have changed the stories to their advantage) and of the Christians. Keep in mind, this ruling does nothing to stop the hatred they have for those other peoples of other religions other than theirs. Laws like these only empower them.

How about this ruling, let them follow their rules and we follow ours. We don't force our rules on them and they don't force theirs on us. If they want to speak negatively about our religion or us about theirs, so be it. We will be judged when we stand before the King. And if you don't believe in any of this, do what you want as long as it is within the social law.

In Response

by: ron from: USA
October 26, 2012 10:44 AM
Annonymus: not sure how you interpreted my comments as being a blood thirsty warrior. I never said anything about killin g or war. I believe you did though.

People need to be cautious when groups of people want to impose their will on others in the name of their religion. Enough said on this.

In Response

by: Anonymous from: Palmdale, CA
October 25, 2012 9:14 PM
Stop blaming others, including God for your blood thirstiness. The God I know is the God of life. If killing is your way to heaven I want no part of you or your god. So sad, that's the reason we have Wars. I love all people despite their religion. You don't have to love or hate me because of mine. In my country we have freedom to express ourselves. We cannot outlaw Islam nor can we make rules concerning it. We have to tolerate it and you have to tolerate us. That's America!

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