I have covered this before but I don’t think it can be overstated how dangerous the UN now that this unelected bloated bureaucracy has been pretty much bought off by the OIC (Organization of Islamic Councils) is to the essential freedoms that created the matrix around which our secular and liberal democracies where formed.
The fact that the UN and for that matter, the EU are passing, have passed and are feverishly working on laws that would make criticism of any irrational religious authority a crime is at best begging for a return to the worst parts of the middle ages and more likely utter cultural and even historical suicide. How can you commit historical suicide? watch the Muslims in Gaza and the west bank dig up relics of ancient Israel and destroy them so that any evidence that Jews lived there will be utterly erased and you will know.
Here is another gem on the matter of free speech, and the UN
July 31, 2008 – The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) is an Islam-Marxist-dominated entity that is working to criminalize or suppress any public criticism of Islam around the world.
In a recently-concluded session, the Council ruled that any criticism of Islam in the Council proceedings was to be off limits. This decision resulted from the attempts by David Littman who testified on behalf of the Association for World Education and the International Human and Ethical Union.
Littman criticized the Islamic practices of female genital mutilation, stoning for adultery, and child marriages permitted under Islamic Shariah law. His attempts to talk were repeatedly interrupted by the representatives from Egyptian, Pakistan, and Iran. Videos of this debate were provided by U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group. A transcript is also available on the U.N. Watch site.
Islamists demanded that Littman not be permitted to speak – and the President of the Human Rights Council, Doru Romulus Costea of Romania, eventually ruled: “Statements should refrain from making judgments or evaluations of a particular religion. . . I can promise that at the next evaluation of a religious creed, law, or document, I will interrupt the speaker and we’ll go on to the next one.”
The Pakistani representative protested the statement by Littman. He told the Council:
Mr. President, the voices which we hear in this council and the issues they raise are not unfamiliar. There is an agenda behind it, and you have already given a ruling on the discussion of Shariah law in this council. We have strong objections on any discussion, any direct or indirect discussion, any out of context, selective discussion on the Shariah law in this council. I would request the president to exercise his judgment and authority and request the speaker not to touch the issues which have already been deemed barred from discussion in this council. Thank you very much.
I would like to state again that this is not the forum to discuss religious sensitivities. It will amount to spreading hatred against certain members of the council. I mean it has happened before also that selective issues were raised in the council to demonize a particular group. So we would again request you to please use your authority to bar any such discussion again in the council.
The representative from Egypt protested against criticism of Islamic law. He said: I appeal to my colleague from Slovenia not to accept any discussion of Shariah law in this council, because it will not happen! And we will not take this lightly. This is not about NGOs participation in the council! …
The representative of Iran raised a point of order during the discussion. He stated:
… the statement and the references made by the speaker [Littman] in this statement is false and has nothing to do with the realities in my country. I just wanted for the record to say that. “The stoning of women occurs regularly in Iran” — that’s not true. It’s completely false and out of question. Thank you.
Yet, as of July 20, 2008, at least eight women were awaiting stoning in Iran for adultery. A male music teacher was awaiting stoning for having sex with a student. According to a recent BBC story, under Iran’s strict penal code, men are to be buried up to their waists for stoning; women are to be buried up to their chests. The stones to be used are not to be large enough to kill the person immediately.
While Christians view adultery as a sin, it certainly isn’t worthy of a death sentence by stoning.
Radical Efforts To Stifle Criticism Of Islam
What occurred in the Human Rights Council proceedings in late June, 2008, is a microcosm of what Islamists intend to do to criminalize public criticism of Islam.
As TVC reported on July 23, the United Nations has already passed a resolution condemning the “defamation of religion.” The resolution supposedly covers all religions but only Islam is named in the resolution.
The resolution “expresses deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.” The resolution was pushed by Pakistan and won by a 108-51 vote.
The Human Rights Council passed the same sort of resolution in March 2008. The resolution campaign is organized by the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, which is openly admitting that it is fighting “Islamophobic” worldwide.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the American Center for Law & Justice through its European Center for Law and Justice have submitted reports to the Human Rights Council to protest this free speech attack against critics of radical Islam.
The European Center report says this:
The position of the ECLJ in regards to the issue of “defamation of religion” resolutions, as they have been introduced at the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly, is that they are in direct violation of international law concerning the rights to freedom of religion and expression. The “defamation of religion” resolutions establish as the primary focus and concern the protection of ideas and religions generally, rather than protecting the rights of individuals to practice their religion, which is the chief purpose of international religious freedom law. Furthermore, “defamation of religion” replaces the existing objective criterion of limitations on speech where there is an intent to incite hatred or violence against religious believers with a subjective criterion that considers whether the religion or its believers feel offended by the speech.
The state and the international community are not competent to decide matters of truth or belief for religious questions, nor should they be in the business of being the enforcer of religious laws or penalties. Many of the problems in the areas of defamation of religion arise not in the ways that competing claims to religious truth are expressed or promoted, but rather because a state has decided that one religious viewpoint is “orthodox”, and that non-orthodox beliefs or speech is punishable as a civil and/or criminal offense.
The clever thrust of the OIC [Organization of the Islamic Conference] position uses the concepts of “defamation of religion” and blasphemy as both sword and shield. In Western countries, defamation of religion is used as a sword against the media, academics, and artists, claiming that any negative depictions, or criticism of, Islam and its followers must be outlawed because it is defamatory or blasphemous. Here, defamation of religion or blasphemy trumps freedom of speech and the press, especially when there is the possibility of negative or violent reactions to the speech.
In Muslim countries, blasphemy laws are used as a shield to protect the dominant religion (Islam), but even more erroneously and dangerously, they are used to silence minority religious believers and prevent Muslims from converting to other faiths, which is still a capital crime in many Muslim countries.
The European Center included an appendix that chronicled a whole range of cases and incidents involving blasphemy, defamation, apostasy, libel, vilification, and hate speech against Islam.
The report notes, for example, that in Pakistan “a total of 892 people have been charged with blasphemy in Pakistan since the laws were introduced. Between January and April 2008, a total of 15 people have been accused of blasphemy.”
And, “In Afghanistan on May 18, 2008, an apprentice journalist appeared briefly in court. 23- year-old Parwiz Kambakhsh was sentenced to death in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of Afghanistan on January 22nd this year for blasphemy. Mr Khambakhsh had downloaded an article from an Iranian website, and brought it into his journalism class.”
In Italy, author and veteran journalist Oriana Fallaci was subject to a preliminary trial in June 2006, charged with defaming Islam in a 2004 book. Fallaci, who lived in New York, did not attend the hearing in Bergamo, northern Italy. Muslim activist Adel Smith filed a lawsuit against Fallaci, charging that some passages in her book, “The Strength of Reason,” were offensive to Islam. Smith’s lawyer cited a phrase from the book that refers to Islam as “a pool … that never purifies.” The Italian judge set the trial date for December of 2006, but Fallaci died in September 2006.”
The Becket Fund report also warns about the dangers of criminalizing criticism of religions – primarily Islam.
Measures combating “defamation of religions” are fundamentally inconsistent with the principles outlined in the United Nation’s founding and legal documents, but more importantly, these measures violate the very foundations of the human rights tradition by protecting ideas rather than the individuals who hold ideas. Further, they force the state to determine which religious viewpoints may be expressed. The empowerment of the state (as opposed to protection of individuals against the state) through “defamation of religions” measures is thus unique in the human rights regime. “Defamation of religions” resolutions at the UN operate as international anti-blasphemy laws and provide international cover for domestic anti-blasphemy laws, which in practice empower ruling majorities against weak minorities and dissenters.
Major criticisms of the “defamation of religions” resolutions include: the protection of a religion (essentially an ideology) instead of an individual; the complete conflation of race and religion; the erosion of freedom of expression as a fundamental freedom in favor of protecting the sensibilities of listeners; the narrow focus on Islam; and overbroad and unclear language, including in the use of the term “defamation.” While religious intolerance and hatred against any religious group are issues that need to be addressed, the passage of “defamation of religions” resolutions at the UN actually restricts more freedoms than it protects.
… there is no basis in international or regulatory law for the concept of protection of religious ideas or collective rights of a sometimes disparate group of people within a larger faith tradition. “Defamation of religions” as a concept undermines the very foundations of the human rights system, which is based on a concept of individual rights. The grounding of human rights in the protection of individuals instead of in the protection of ideas or of group identities is well established in treaty and custom, in general principles, and academia. Attempts to change this paradigm have met with extreme argument and dissent and thus do not have the force of established international law norms.
Enforcement of “defamation of religions” measures, including anti-blasphemy and anti-vilification laws, is typically left to the unbridled discretion of local officials who are free to act on their own prejudices. Ultimately, “defamation of religions” measures empower majorities against dissenters and the state against individuals.
The conflation of race and religion has also complicated both racism issues and religious freedom issues. There is a stark distinction between race, which is immutable, and religion, which, though often exercised and expressed communally, requires and cannot exist without choice guided by individual conscience. Treating racial and religious discrimination as the same thing could lead to the conflation of racist hate speech and the suppression of peaceful, but controversial, discussions of truth claims about and within religions.
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