The UN General Assembly vote on the Islamic led religious ‘defamation’ resolution is immanent, it may even occur today.
The text, sponsored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has passed at the General Assembly every year since 2005 (and at the U.N.’s human rights body in Geneva every year since 1999.) In 2009 it was approved by a vote of 80-61 in favour with 42 abstentions. Recent years have seen waning support, however: The 2006 and 2007 resolutions passed by a margin of 57 votes, but that dropped to 33 in 2008 and then to 19 last year. Although outright defeat of the measure is the goal any reduction in the majority of 19 would be welcome.
The draft resolution faces a vote by the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, cultural, and humanitarian issues. Although the final and definitive vote for the 2010 text will be taken by the full General Assembly in a month, the Third Committee result will give an indication of the likely outcome.
The OIC, a bloc of 56 countries, argues that Islam and its teachings, symbols and prophetic figures are being denigrated by non-Muslims as a result of ignorance, prejudice or fear, especially over the period since 9/11.
It includes in these acts of “Islamophobia” incidents such as the publication of newspaper cartoons satirising Mohammed, security “profiling,” threats to burn copies of the Qur’an, or claims that Islam’s revered text promotes violence against non-Muslims.
To do this they are attempting to gradually introduce into Western countries acceptance of the same restrictions enforced in Islamic countries. Despite the claims of the OIC the resolution, far from promoting tolerance and protecting religious freedom, does the opposite for Christians, other religions and even Muslims who do not adhere to government backed versions of Islam. In intent and effect the Defamation of Religions Resolution is an international Islamic blasphemy law.
OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu expressed dismay last spring about the diminishing support for the annual resolution, warning against “the loss of a political and legal mainstay in the defence of our faith, our values and our sanctities.” Note that this is ‘our’ faith etc. and not just faith or religious expression itself. In pursuing the resolution the OIC is motivated solely by a desire to shield Islam, Islamic practices and Islamic clerics from scrutiny and legitimate criticism.
The OIC’s annual resolutions do purport to target “defamation” of all religions, however, this year’s text introduced by Morocco on behalf of the Islamic bloc, mentions only one religion by name – Islam.
Any attempt to introduce laws ‘protecting’ religion from defamation, whether in the UN or in Parliament, should be vigorously opposed by Christians, and not just because it would also protect other religions. Such laws are bad for the Church and for society.
When has the message of the gospel spread most effectively? In times such as those of the New Testament when Christians had to stand up in the market place of ideas, make their case clearly and take their lumps for doing so. It is during those times when we cower beneath the skirts of secular protection that we are at our weakest.
Society needs free expression. Speaking of the resolution Secretary of State Hilary Clinton argues that communities are enriched by a diversity of ideas. “Societies in which freedom of religion and speech flourish are more resilient, more stable, more peaceful, and more productive.”
Without freedom of expression, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at times, society loses its vitality and quickly becomes inward looking, concerned only with conformity. The conformity of political correctness is stifling enough, the encroachment of the enforced conformity of Islam would be many times worse.