A United Nations resolution that protects against defamatory statements about Islam and other religions has sparked international debate.
The resolution, called “Combating Defamation of Religion,” has been approved annually by the world body since 2005 and is up for renewal this fall.
The most recent version of the measure passed by the world body in December “stressed the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular.”
The new wording of the resolution, sponsored by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), “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,” according to a brief by the European Center for Law and Justice, an offshoot of TV preacher Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice.
The Bush administration, European governments and religious rights organizations are working to defeat the resolution because it restricts free speech and has been used to justify harsh blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan and Afghanistan, according The Washington Times.