The U.N. Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution earlier today calling on member states to ban criticism of religions:
The U.N.’s top human-rights body approved a proposal by Muslims nations Thursday urging passage of laws around the world to protect religion from criticism.
The proposal put forward by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic countries – with the backing of Belarus and Venezuela – had drawn strong criticism from free-speech campaigners and liberal democracies.
A simple majority of 23 members of the 47-nation Human Rights Council voted in favor of the resolution. Eleven nations, mostly Western, opposed the resolution, and 13 countries abstained.
The resolution associates criticism of religion with violence:
The resolution urges states to provide “protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general.”
“Defamation of religions is the cause that leads to incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence toward their followers,” Pakistan’s ambassador Zamir Akram said.
I think there is some truth to that theory. When school children in Palestine are taught, for instance, that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs, and are guilty of all manner of outrages, that does indeed incite violence against Jews in the form of rockets, homicide bombers, and so on. Other than that, it’s hard to come up with any really good examples.
Somehow, though, that doesn’t seem to be what the UNHRC has in mind:
Muslim nations have argued that religions, in particular Islam, must be shielded from criticism in the media and other areas of public life. They cited cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as an example of unacceptable free speech.
“Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism,” the resolution said.
Funny how that confusion keeps recurring. Apparently the misunderstanding is all due to defamatory cartoons.
The UNHRC has been a bad joke for a long time, and its resolutions aren’t binding on anyone. This sort of thing does clarify, however, the gulf that separates those who believe in free speech–not a human right, evidently, in the eyes of the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission–from those who don’t.
Via Jules Crittenden.
UPDATE: Those who believe in the power of cartoons to cause violence should consider this diabolical effort by Pat Oliphant, which appeared on Wednesday: