Global anti-blasphemy law

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by W.G.Ewald, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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  3. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    Here is the article..........

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday ended the “Istanbul Process,” a three-day, closed-door international conference hosted by the State Department on measures to combat religious “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization.”

    The conference was intended to “implement” last March’s UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, on the same subject. Notwithstanding Clinton’s final speech defending freedoms of religion and speech, the gathering was folly.

    Resolution 16/18 was adopted in the place of one that endorsed the dangerous idea that “defamation of religion” should be punished criminally worldwide. That call for a universal blasphemy law had been pushed relentlessly for 12 years by the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an essentially religious body chartered to “combat defamation of Islam.” It issues fatwas and other directives to punish public expression of apostasy from Islam and “Islamophobia.”
    Clinton: With this week’s conference, foolishly encouraged Muslim-world push to treat dissent from Islam as hate speech or worse.
    REUTERS
    Clinton: With this week’s conference, foolishly encouraged Muslim-world push to treat dissent from Islam as hate speech or worse.

    Leading OIC states behind this campaign — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Pakistan — imprison and/or sentence to death “blasphemers.”

    Resolution 16/18 deplores religious intolerance but doesn’t limit speech — the result of a deft State Department maneuver. The administration should have let matters rest there.

    Instead, while co-chairing an OIC “High Level Meeting” addressing Islamophobia last July in Istanbul, Clinton invited the OIC to Washington to discuss how to “implement” resolution 16/18.

    While the Washington conference ended inconclusively, it should not have been held because:

    * It offered a transnational venue for the OIC to reintroduce its anti-defamation push, just as the issue had been laid to rest at the United Nations. The administration erred in viewing resolution 16/18 as a meeting of minds between the OIC and America on freedoms of religion and speech.

    In Istanbul, Clinton asserted that the United States does not want to see speech restrictions — but her conference announcement immediately reignited OIC demands for the West to punish anti-Islamic speech.

    As the OIC reported it: “The upcoming [Washington] meetings . . . [will] help in enacting domestic laws for the countries involved in the issue, as well as formulating international laws preventing inciting hatred resulting from the continued defamation of religions.”

    * It unfairly held up the American experience for special scrutiny and critique.

    A legal official’s opening keynote address gave a one-sided historical depiction of American bigotry against religious minorities, including Muslims, without explaining our relatively exemplary achievement of upholding individual freedoms of religion and speech in an overwhelmingly tolerant and pluralistic society. He told the participants, some representing the world’s most repressive states, that America can learn to protect religious tolerance from them.

    * By standing “united” (as the OIC head put it in a Turkish Daily op-ed) with the OIC on these issues, America appears to validate the OIC agenda, thus demoralizing the legions of women’s rights and human-rights advocates, bloggers, journalists, minorities, converts, reformers and others in OIC states who look to the United States for support against oppression.

    * It raises expectations that America can and will regulate speech on behalf of Islam, as has happened in Western Europe, Canada and Australia.

    The European Union mandated religious-hate-speech codes after global riots and other similar violence erupted in 2006 over a Danish newspaper’s publication of caricatures of Mohammad. America is facing pressure to conform to this new global “best practice”; this will only intensify it.

    * Clinton on Wednesday naively importuned Islamist diplomats: “We have to get past the idea that we can suppress religious minorities, that we can restrict speech, that we are smart enough that we can substitute our judgment for God’s and determine who is or is not blaspheming.”

    Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi establishment isn’t likely to find such “infidel’” arguments persuasive.

    US diplomats should stop the “Istanbul Process” and begin to energetically and confidently promote the virtues of our First Amendment freedoms. They should be thoroughly briefed about the OIC’s intractable position on blasphemy laws and the extent of atrocities associated with them. They must end signaling that there is common ground on these issues between us and the OIC.

    Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and co-author, with Paul Marshall, of “Silenced: How Apostasy & Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedoms Worldwide.

    Read more: Hillary Clinton boosts Muslim intolerance—Nina Shea - NYPOST.com
     
  4. Nagraj

    Nagraj Regular Member

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    Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide
    The fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the 2005 Danish cartoon fracas awakened many people to the potency of blasphemy accusations in the Muslim world. Accusations and charges such as “blasphemy,” “apostasy,” “insulting Islam,” or “hurting Muslims’ religious feelings” pose a far greater danger than censorship of irreverent caricatures of Mohammad: they are increasingly used as key tools by authoritarian governments and extremist forces in the Muslim world to acquire and consolidate power. These charges, which draw on disputed interpretations of Islamic law and carry a traditional punishment of death, have proved effective in crushing or intimidating not only converts and heterodox groups, but also political and religious reformers. In fact, one reason for the recent growth of more repressive forms of Islam is their use of accusations of blasphemy, apostasy, and related charges to intimidate and silence their religious opponents and make any criticism of their own actions and ideas religiously suspect. The effect of such laws thus goes far beyond what might narrowly be called religious matters. This volume provides the first world survey of the range and effects of apostasy and blasphemy accusations in the contemporary Muslim world, in international organizations, and in the West. The authors argue that we need to understand the context, history, impact, and mechanics of the blasphemy phenomenon in modern Muslim societies and guidance on how to effectively respond. The book covers the persecution of Muslims who convert to another religion or decide that they have become agnostic or atheists, as well as ‘heretics:’ those who are accused of claiming a prophet after Mohammed, such as Baha’is and Ahmadis. It also documents the political effects in Muslim societies of blasphemy and apostasy laws, as well as non-governmental fatwas and vigilante violence. It describes the cases of hundreds of victims, including political dissidents, religious reformers, journalists, writers, artists, movie makers, and religious minorities throughout the Muslim world. Finally, it addresses the legal evolution toward new blasphemy laws in the West; the increasing use of laws on “toleration” in the West, which may become surrogate blasphemy laws; increasing pressure by Muslim governments to make Western countries and international organizations enforce laws to restrict speech; and the increasing use of violence to stifle expression in the West even in the absence of law. Its foreword is by Indonesia’s late President Abdurrahman Wahid.
     

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