Venezuela and Belarus co-sponsor the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) anti-blasphemy resolution at the UN. Critics say it could limit free speech.

NOVEMBER 26, 2008- This week the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) with the support of Venezuela and Belarus in a UN General Assembly committee meeting, “Combating Defamation of Religions,” succeeded in obtaining UN backing for an anti-blasphemy draft resolution by a 85-50 vote, with 42 countries abstaining. The measure calls on all countries to ensure their legal systems provide protection against “acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions.”

Although this week’s vote in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, cultural, and humanitarian issues is, according to the OIC, aimed at protecting all faiths, only Islam is cited by name.

Some critics say “Islamic states are trying to put Islam, and some of the more controversial practices associated with it, beyond censure.”

“It is sad that once again the United Nations has endorsed an anti-blasphemy resolution, designed to curtail any criticism of Islam,” Becket Fund for Religious Liberty spokesman Tom Carter said this past Monday.

Carter has urged the General Assembly to reject the resolution when it comes to a vote next month.

The Becket Fund has openly challenged the attempt to equate acts of defamation of Islam with acts of racism against Muslims.

“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. . .”

The Becket Fund has also noted that, “in Pakistan, Iran and Egypt – leaders in the OIC push to outlaw religious defamation – it is often the state that decides which religious viewpoints are acceptable.”

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