Defamation of Religion Resolution at the UN

I’m a bit late with this – via Jurist:

The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution against “defamation of religion,” expressing concern about laws that have led to religions discrimination and profiling since Sept. 11. The resolution urges all:

States to provide, within their respective legal and constitutional systems, adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions, to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and their value systems and to complement legal systems with intellectual and moral strategies to combat religious hatred and intolerance.

The full text of the resolution – A/C.3/62/L.35 – can be seen here; it was put forward by Pakistan “On behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference”. The document claims that “defamation of religions is among the causes of social disharmony and leads to violations of human rights”, and calls for freedom of expression to

be subject to limitations as provided by law and necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals and respect for religions and beliefs.

Defamation and incitement against Muslims is mentioned in particular. The resolution comes two years after a UNHCR Resolution on Islamophobia, again raised by Pakistan, which I blogged at some length at the time.

Among the 108 countries which voted in favour of the resolution was Lebanon, which in 2005 banned The Da Vinci Code while allowing Hezbollah to broadcast an anti-Semitic TV programme on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on the grounds the censorship would “be a violation of free speech”. Also on the list were Belarus and Iran, both of which are more laid-back when it comes to the publication of anti-Jewish screeds. There’s also Russia and China, notorious for their pursuit of “totalitarian sects” and “evil cults” – definitions that apply to any religious group which refuses to toe the line.

Meanwhile, the 51 countries opposing the resolution included nations such as Poland and the United Kingdom, both of which have laws against blasphemy…

(Hat tip: MediaWatchWatch and Dispatches from the Culture Wars)