Sacrilegious film: OIC demands laws against 'Islamophobia'

Published: September 26, 2012
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Pakistan representing OIC says Islamophobia must be acknowledged as a contemporary form of racism and be dealt with as such. PHOTO: Radio Pakistan

Pakistan representing OIC says Islamophobia must be acknowledged as a contemporary form of racism and be dealt with as such. PHOTO: Radio Pakistan

GENEVA: The world’s largest Islamic body called on Tuesday for expressions of “Islamophobia” to be curbed by law, just as some countries restrict anti-Semitic speech or Holocaust denial.

Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the 56 countries that form the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), condemned a video made in the United States that defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), igniting Muslim protests around the world this month.

“Incidents like this clearly demonstrate the urgent need on the part of states to introduce adequate protection against acts of hate crimes, hate speech, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation and negative stereotyping of religions, and incitement to religious hatred, as well as denigration of venerated personalities,” Pakistan’s ambassador Zamir Akram said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council.

The Obama administration has condemned the film entitled “Innocence of Muslims” as “disgusting”. But Western countries remain determined to resist restrictions on freedom of speech and have already voiced disquiet about the repressive effect of blasphemy laws in Muslim countries such as Pakistan.

Akram said the crudely made video, as well as the burning of the Quran and the publication of defamatory cartoons, amount to “deliberate attempts to discriminate, defame, denigrate and vilify Muslims and their beliefs”.

Such acts constitute “flagrant incitement to violence” and are not protected by freedom of expression, Akram said. Rather, he said, Islamophobia must be acknowledged as a contemporary form of racism and be dealt with as such.

“Not to do so would be a clear example of double standards. Islamophobia has to be treated in law and practice equal to the treatment given to anti-Semitism, especially in legislations.”

It was urgent to “establish an internationally acceptable threshold between freedom of expression and incitement to violence and hatred,” Akram added.

Differences over freedom of expression

On Monday, the United States told the Council that it considered freedom of religion inseparable from free expression, countering calls from many Islamic countries for a treaty outlawing blasphemy.

Religious dignity is best protected where there is free speech, US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said. “When these freedoms are restricted, we see violence, poverty, stagnation and feelings of frustration and even humiliation.”

The OIC signalled last week that it would revive long-standing attempts to make insults against religions an international criminal offence.

A resolution submitted by African countries and backed by the OIC calls on states to introduce into domestic criminal law a provision ensuring that those responsible for crimes with racist or xenophobic motivation are prosecuted.

The text, which deplores “the targeting of religious symbols and venerated persons” is one of the most contentious of the 32 resolutions to be voted on by the 47-member forum this week.

Cyprus, speaking on behalf of the European Union in Tuesday’s debate, said an existing international treaty for combating all forms of racism and intolerance was sufficient, and the main goal should be to implement it effectively.

“…In several parts of the world, criminal penalties for hate speech may be used as a means to silence dissidence and suppress freedom of thought, conscience and expression,” Cyprus Ambassador Leonidas Pantelides said.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Sep 26, 2012 - 1:34AM

    There needs to be more freedom of speech not less, the stupid film and those who endorse islamophobia are creating the seed of Islam in peoples minds and its for Muslims to pick that up and engage people in debate/dialogue to explain Islam and the life of our Prophet pbuh – not hide away behind some unIslamic blasphemy law that will only serve the Islamophobes and Mullahs

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  • Joe
    Sep 26, 2012 - 2:08AM

    Will the OIC endorse laws against Homophobia?

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  • Cautious
    Sep 26, 2012 - 2:19AM

    And who is going to determine what’s considered inappropriate – in Pakistan you can’t get the religious zealots to even agree on the position of the moon. Sometimes I wonder whether Muslims understand that over 3/4’s of the Worlds population aren’t Muslims and don’t think you should have a say in what they read, write, say or watch.

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  • gp65
    Sep 26, 2012 - 3:20AM

    First of all, what you are seeking is not laws against Islamophobia but rather reverence for your prophet and holybok from rest of the world. So if the ‘world’ passes anti blasphemy laws, will OIC countries pass laws permitting freedom of worship for Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis, Buddhists and outlawing disrepespect for their religions? What about atheists? Will laws against apostasy be dismantled, so that people can convert both to and from Islam? Will you allow gay rights? Will holocaust denial (which you refer to) become illegal in all Muslim countries? Will it become illegal to burn church and to call non-Muslims kafir? Will it become legal for Muslim girls to marry people of other faith just as it is legal for Muslim men to do so?

    You want a lot from from the world. What are you prepared to give in return?

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  • Colleen
    Sep 26, 2012 - 3:28AM

    Never gonna happen, and if it does… I’m starting my own country…

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  • Observer
    Sep 26, 2012 - 3:56AM

    Will OIC endorse laws in Islamic countries that ban discrimination of non-Muslims. Will it allow non-Muslims to build temples, churches, gurdwaras etc. in their lands? For example, in Saudi Arabia, practice of other religions is prohibited let alone building of a church, temple etc. They don’t even allow religious articles to be brought into Saudi arabia for in-home practice of non-Islamic religions.

    People who live in glass houses must look themselves in the mirror before throwing stones at others.

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  • Moz
    Sep 26, 2012 - 7:24AM

    I can post ton of videos where muslims are found insulting people of other faith, but when have we seen this any action by any government. And juts like any religion, ideology, natianality, Islam will be subjected to criticism.

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  • DarKnight
    Sep 26, 2012 - 8:05AM

    OIC ? A total waste organization……

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  • Gratgy
    Sep 26, 2012 - 8:11AM

    I have one word for the OIC – Hypocrites

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  • John B
    Sep 26, 2012 - 8:31AM

    How about OIC demand implementing the equal rights of all citizens living in their country first.

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  • numbersnumbers
    Sep 26, 2012 - 9:08AM

    The OIC signalled last week that it would revive long-standing attempts to make insults against religions an international criminal offence, but ONLY in non-Muslim countries, of course!

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  • Revolutionary
    Sep 26, 2012 - 9:59AM

    OH I SEE…. Only a deception to the Muslims from stopping them to establish Khilafat.Recommend

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