UN to Take Up Measure Suppressing Religious Criticism; Votes Against Sexual Orientation Protection

November 19, 2010

As in previous years, the United Nations General Assembly is preparing to vote yet again on a resolution combating the so-called "defamation of religions." 

The resolution is backed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), an association of some five-dozen states promoting Islamic values and interests.  This year's resolution was introduced before the UN General Assembly by the delegation from Morocco. Upset by a supposed campaign by "the media" to "perpetuat[e] stereotypes about certain religions" and "venerated personalities" (read: Islam and Mohammed), the OIC proposes that the UN condemn "defamation" of religious ideas as a human rights violation. Late last year the UN General Assembly passed a similar, non-binding resolution for the sixth year in a row.

As an NGO with Special Consultative Status to the UN, CFI will again urge UN member states to oppose the resolution. As I noted in CFI's official statement against last year's resolution, the dangerous and misguided concept of "defamation of religions" would subvert longstanding principles of human rights law by empowering those who seek to silence or intimidate religious dissidents, nonbelievers, and human rights activists.  The resolution poses a direct threat to the guarantees of freedom of speech and belief found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Former Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ms. Asma Jahangir, has stated that UN resolutions targeting "defamation of religions" can be used to legitimize anti-blasphemy laws that "punish members of religious minorities, dissenting believers and nontheists or atheists."

Disturbingly, this year's push to protect religious beliefs from "defamation" follows fast on the heels of the UN General Assembly's contentious, 79-to-70 vote to remove sexual orientation from a resolution calling on countries to protect the life of all people and to investigate extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions that are motivated by prejudice and discrimination.  For the past 11 years, the UN has passed resolutions including sexual orientation in its list of categories of persons who have fallen victim to hate-motivated murder.  This year, the General Assembly reversed course under pressure from homophobic theocracies, including Saudi Arabia and Iran; the 53-member African Group, represented by the UN delegation from Benin (and possibly influenced by repugnant American evangelicals, who have supported African legislation imposing the death penalty for homosexuals); and of course, the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Readers might pause to contemplate this horrific irony.  The Organization of the Islamic Conference supports protecting religious ideas and symbols from desecration, yet balks at protecting human beings from hate-motivated violence and death. 

I find it difficult to imagine a more astonishing perversion of human rights principles.


#1 Ben (Guest) on Saturday November 20, 2010 at 4:54am

...but what can I do about it?

#2 Pau Cortès Font de Rubinat (Guest) on Saturday November 20, 2010 at 5:08am

Don’t worry Ben, the human race is so irrational that it will shortly make human life impossible, nothing lost. We will just wait another few million years for a better species to evolve.

#3 Jared Bernard (Guest) on Saturday November 20, 2010 at 9:21am

You said it, Cortès.

#4 waveslider (Guest) on Saturday November 20, 2010 at 12:27pm

Atheists and opposing religions must be free to criticise each other without penalty. How arrogant to think otherwise. I believe in Zeus but I welcome comment and criticism. I consider it weak and spineless if your chosen religion can’t cope with argument. I guess all gods must be really worried.

#5 revolution on Saturday November 20, 2010 at 12:29pm

Antiqued values have little meaning in the modern world. Christians and muslims sadly take their lessons, from a books written 1500 to 2000 years ago. Some christians and muslims think the matarial written in the books are the literal word of god. These gods are nothing more than a fairy tale creature, like a character out of a childrens story or book of fables. These gods are no more real than Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Parts of the bible were written thousands of years before christianity even existed. Ancient books of fairy tales, written by men whose motivations were less than dignified.

Modern society cannot stand with or allow people who believe in fairy tales to lead. A modern civilized society cannot allow people who think magically to govern. The time for debate is long past, christianity and islamism is wrong. Christianity and islamism are immoral. Children who are forced to believe god, in fairy tales, such children are being criminally abused. Christianity and islamism is abhorrent, as is all theism.

Racism, sexism, homophobia amongst many other horrible prejudices are fueled by theism. Our world is almost always at war because of differing religious beliefs! Tens upon millions have died in the name of one theistic fairy tale or another.

When will the atheists, the agnostics, the nontheists realize that they must step to the front? That they must help those who waver, the “occasional” theists, they must help them to see the truth. The occasional theist must be shown and helped to understand their place in a modern society? The occasional theist must be shown the dangers, the tragedy and criminality of theism. Confronting the hardcore theist only serves to confuse the occasional theist and in turn harden the hearts and minds of the true believers. So atheism must concentrate on the occasional theist, as they far out number the true believers. If the majority of the occasional theists can be helped to see reality, to see the value in a society based on rational thinking, science and truth maybe theism will disappear once and for all!

First we must stand up and unite against all forms of magical thinking and theism or all hope will be lost, humanity will go the way of the dinosaur much sooner rather than later. Humanity cannot survive itself if it keeps bringing god along for the ride!

#6 ref (Guest) on Sunday November 21, 2010 at 7:45pm

religion is not the problem. bein unedcated it.
educate christians and msulims dont ask for this thing.
only bakwards iditoci christians lke those in uganda and muslims in strict countries who have not been educated to (look at turkey)

#7 Pau (Guest) on Monday November 22, 2010 at 3:51am

Dogmatic education, such as religion, is one of the biggest problems.

#8 tommy96 on Saturday December 11, 2010 at 3:03am

I think they should adopt this UN idea. Then, at the end of the meeting, they can say a prayer in each religion. The Muslim will get up and begin by praising Allah, the One and True God. Followed by the Christian who will praise Jesus, the One and True God - naturally, this will rile the Muslim. Then the Jew will get up and praise Yahweh, the One and True God - this should ruffle both Christian and Muslim feathers. Then the Hindu will get up and begin the long process of thanking all three hundred and thirty thousand/million? True Gods - this should piss them all off if only because they`ll probably miss lunch and/or dinner.

As already pointed out, the first people to fall foul of this silly proposal will be the religious themselves.

Tommy Jamess
special Education Lecturer
Oxford College

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