Archive for the '“Defamation of Religion”' Category

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USA and Canada stand up for free-speech, oppose “defamation of religions” concept

Consultations on the Pakistani-sponsored “Defamation of Religions” Human Rights Council resolution continued today at the U.N. Human Rights Council with the USA and Canada proposing various amendments to significantly change the draft. The UK for the EU said that it was not proposing any textual changes because the Pakistani chair had said in the previous session that he would not consider making “fundamental” revisions.

Continue reading ‘USA and Canada stand up for free-speech, oppose “defamation of religions” concept’

States debate need for “complementary standards” to the racism convention

South Africa, on behalf of the African group, conducted consultations today on its U.N. Human Rights Council resolution: “Elaboration of complementary standards to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).” The purpose of the resolution is to advance the work of an Algerian-chaired committee, “The ad hoc committee on the elaboration of international complementary standards,” in which Islamic states and their African allies are attempting to add new legal prohibitions to existing international law that would define criticism of religion as a violation.

Continue reading ‘States debate need for “complementary standards” to the racism convention’

Summary: Consultations on the “Defamation of Religions” Resolution

· Pakistan as chair and sponsor of the resolution, opened by emphasizing that all religions should be protected from defamation, but there should also be a few references to Muslims and Islam. He said that there should not be a conflation between the problem of terrorist acts of individuals and a particular religion.

U.N. Ruling: Islamic Sharia Taboo in Human Rights Council Debates

In its recently concluded June session, the UN Human Rights Council ruled that any references to Islamic Shar’ia law are prohibited in the council chamber. Even outgoing UN rights chief Louise Arbour, who more than once sought to appease the UN’s anti-blasphemy squads, expressed her concern.

It all started when the heroic David Littman, undaunted by malicious attempts to expel him from the UN, tried to deliver a speech on violence against women and what Islamic scholars can do to prevent it. The Egyptian representative interrupted repeatedly and challenged the council president. “Regardless of the result of the vote — I couldn’t care less if I will win or lose this vote — my point is that Islam will not be crucified in this council!”

The president gave in: “Statements should refrain from making judgments or evaluations of a particular religion. . . I can promise that at the next evaluation of a religious creed, law, or document, I will interrupt the speaker and we’ll go on to the next one.”

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Following is a transcript from June 16, 2008 debate at 8th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. General debate on Agenda Item 8, “Follow up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.” The video archive can be seen here under “Points of Order” (requires RealPlayer).

DAVID LITTMAN, IN JOINT STATEMENT BY ASSOCIATION FOR WORLD EDUCATION, INTERNATIONAL HUMANIST AND ETHICAL UNION

In the context of integrating the human rights of women throughout the United Nations system we wish to draw attention to four examples of widespread violence against women that we believe merits far greater attention from the council. One, regarding FGM [female genital mutilation], we are making available our detailed written statement…

PRESIDENT COSTEA

[Bangs gavel.]  A point of order raised by the delegation of Egypt. You have the floor, sir.

EGYPT –  POINT OF ORDER

Thank you Mr. President. Mr. President, I have a copy of this statement. Continue reading ‘U.N. Ruling: Islamic Sharia Taboo in Human Rights Council Debates’

Free speech resolution watered down to please Islamic states

This UN Human Rights Council will today adopt a resolution on freedom of expression, renewing the mandate of the expert charged with investigating violations. The resolution was initiated by Canada, with the co-sponsorship of Uganda. Another 50 countries joined as co-sponsors, including the US, France, Israel, Germany, Slovenia, UK, Japan, Mexico, and Australia. Several countries sought to water down the text, including China, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Belarus and South Africa. After weeks of debate, including five informal consultations, the West finally conceded what it called a major compromise. The text raises several concerns.

The Resolution weakens freedom of expression. Pakistan for the Islamic group, Egypt, Algeria, Belarus and China demanded restrictions on freedom of expression. In what they described as a major concession, Western states agreed to add a preambular paragraph:

Mindful also that article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that exercize of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but that these shall be only such as are provided by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, or for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or public health and morals, and that article 20 provides that any propaganda for war or advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

 

By expressly stating these restrictions, the mandate is now weakened.

 

 

“Defamation of Islam”

 

The above concession is only a small part in the massive campaign by Islamic states at the UN to make “defamation of religion” — with Islam being the only religion specified — the primary concern of international human rights law. During the debates, supporters of this line — including Pakistan for the Islamic group, Singapore, Russia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Algeria and China — argued that freedom of expression is not absolute. National security, counter-terrorism and protection of religion were cited as grounds for restrictions.

 

Indeed, in this session as before, the council adopted a resolution condemning “defamation of religion,” where freedom of the press was specifically targeted, an apparent reference to the Danish cartoons controversy.

 

Endless compromise?

 

During the informal meeting of March 19, 2008, Pakistan, China and others demanded even further concessions. Russia asked for the following amendment:

 

Recognizing that exercising the right to freedom of opinion and expression may not justify incitement to terrorism, violence, racial or religious hatred, and has to be conducted responsibly and with respect to cultural, civilizational and religious diversity and values.

 

The US and the Czech Republic responded that the text had already made an enormous compromise, and that they were unwilling to make any further concessions.

Iran attacks “Zionist regime,” embraces UN’s Durban II racism conference

Appearing before the UN Human Rights Council today, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki lashed out at Israel, declared unwavering support for the UN’s plans for a “Durban II” anti-racism conference, and attacked the European Union’s stance on freedom of expression.

“I would like to request one minute silence and ask my Muslim brothers and sisters to read the Fatah (from the Koran) for those martyrs in Gaza,” said Mr. Mottaki. After 30 seconds of silence, the Foreign Minister accused Israel of “brutal occupation” and acting in a “horrendous and repressive” manner.

Mr. Mottaki pledged that Iran would play an “active and constructive role” in planning the 2009 follow-up conference to the original Durban conference against racism, a 2001 UN gathering that saw the largest display of anti-Semitism since the end of World War II.

The comments by Iran, which in 2001 hosted a round in Tehran that set the stage for Durban with virulent attacks on Israel and downplaying of the Holocaust, underscore fears that the 2009 conference will repeat the 2001 fiasco.

Foreign Minister Mottaki also called on the world to “prevent the infringement” of “Islamic rights,” specifically asking the European Union to take “appropriate measures” to prevent “any offense” to Islam.

Other highlights from today:

  • Belgium noted its “concern” about the direction of the 2009 Durban II conference.
  • Uzbekistan, Iran, Algeria, and Zimbabwe attacked The Netherlands for comments made by the Dutch Foreign Minister that were highly critical of those countries’ records on human rights.
  • Albania accused Serbia of policies of “genocide and apartheid” in Kosovo.
  • The Foreign Minister of Belarus praised the Council’s decision last year to abolish independent experts who investigated human rights abuses in his country, as well as in Cuba.

Algerian Ambassador: Islamophobia is like Nazism

The Ad Hoc Committee of the UN Human Rights Council on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards — a follow-up group to the 2001 Durban conference against racism — continued its work Wednesday and considered recommendations by a group of five human rights experts. (To read about previous Ad Hoc Committee meetings, click here). The report by the group of experts included recommendations regarding additional conventions, optional protocols and other mechanisms to combat racism.

Egypt found the report “unacceptable,” particularly a section on recommendations to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to combat the nexus of racism and religion, since such recommendations omitted “issues related to defamation of religion.”

Supporting Egypt, committee chair Idriss Jazairy of Algeria likened 20th century Nazism and anti-Semitism to the current wave of Islamophobia. “When I was a young boy in France during World War II,” said Ambassador Jazairy, “I could see the ways Jews were mistreated. [This mistreatment was] not because of the articles of their faith, but because of what they (Jews) were. Muslims are facing acute challenges in this century, like the Jews were exposed to difficult challenges in the last century…We should keep in mind the experience of the 20th century as we try to address the challenges of the 21st century.”

The committee also considered the issue of complementary standards related to racism faced by people “under foreign occupation.” While the report by the group experts concluded that no new mechanisms are necessary, Syria, Pakistan, and Egypt made lengthy interventions on the evils of occupation and the need for a new convention or optional protocol on the matter. Syria argued that such standards are needed as “certain countries force women to give birth at checkpoints” and “raze kindergartens,” while Pakistan and Egypt stated that “foreign occupation is the worst form of human rights abuse.”

Chairman Jazairy said that “if discrimination against some Semites is racism, then such discrimination against a larger group of Semites should also be discrimination.”

Algeria tells UN Durban follow-up session: Islamohobia is the new anti-Semitism

In what may be a portent of things to come, Islamic accusations against the West dominated a UN session today dedicated to follow-up of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, held in Durban, South Africa. 

This week in Geneva saw the first meeting of the “Ad Hoc Committee of the Human Rights Council on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards,” which was created by a UN Human Rights Council resolution on follow-up to the 2001 Durban conference.  Initiated by Algeria on behalf of Africa, it was adopted in December 2006 over the opposition of the EU, Canada and other democratic states on the Council.  The resolution sought to “heed the decision and instruction of the 2001 World Conference against Racism.”

The Ad Hoc committee is not formally part of the planning for the controversial 2009 Durban Review Conference, but is an overlapping entity that treats the same theme and involves the same diplomats.  Its mandate is to elaborate “complementary standards” to the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and to provide “new normative standards aimed at combating all forms of contemporary racism including incitement to racial and religious hatred.”

The EU this week reiterated its unease with the committee but pledged to cooperate. Egypt on behalf of the African Group justified the need for the committee.

Today’s session quickly turned to familiar UN subjects of “foreign occupation,” the Danish cartoon controversy, Islamophobia, and colonialism:

  • Algerian Deputy Permanent Representative Mohammed Bessedik drew thinly veiled comparisons of today’s treatment of Muslims to the Nazi atrocities against Jews.  “The policy of targeting Muslims would actually aim at dehumanizing them by assaulting their identity to legitimize an attitude of racial discrimination similar to the one that targeted another Semitic people in the 20th century.” He described the threat of “reawakening the hydra of the anti-Semitic campaigns of the 20th century, which we now call Islamophobia.”  Click for full speech (in French)
  • Egypt’s representative cited the Danish cartoon controversy as an example of where legislation exists but was not implemented, or has not been updated. He also criticized recent fires and riots in Paris and other European cities. These, he claimed, can constitute threats to international peace and security. “Let this mechanism prevent these phenomena from escalating, so that the Security Council does not have to deal with them,” he urged. 
  • The representative of Belgium asked that specific country cases not be named, but Egypt denied having made references to any particular country, adding “If political exploitation of migrants or religions for political reasons comes from a particular region, if fires and riots come from a particular region, if resistance to combat these phenomena come from a particular region, this is not my responsibility.”
  • Egypt offered the example of the “Da Vinci Code” film, which was deemed insulting “by the Christian Pope and by the 7-8 million Christians in Egypt.” Egypt did not allow this movie to be shown in any movie theater and “even bringing it in as a tourist can get you in trouble.” Christians are not a majority in Egypt and Sharia law is the pillar of Egyptian law, he said, but respect for all religions is paramount. The devout Muslim members of parliament were the first to push for this legislation, he noted.
  • In thinly veiled jibes against Israel, “foreign occupation” was raised repeatedly by Islamic states. Syria and Algeria called it one of the worst forms of human rights violations. Egypt referred to countries that occupy other countries for a lengthy period as “a form of racism by itself” and “a racist regime of occupation.”
  • Egypt accused the Europeans of lacking political will to combat racism.
  • Senegal stressed the need for finding new language for contemporary manifestations of racism — another way of calling for a reopening of the Durban 2001 declaration.
  • Egypt and Pakistan criticized “racial profiling” against individuals of a different religion. Egypt said that this should constitute a complementary standard.

Human Rights Council abolishes expert group monitoring Darfur

The UN Human Rights Council concluded its final session of 2007 by abolishing a group of experts who had reported on Sudan’s massive human rights abuses in the province of Darfur. By turning its back on the victims of Darfur, the council — which is controlled by powerful regional blocs that include many repressive regimes allied to Sudan — is failing to respect its basic mandate. The dream of Kofi Annan’s reform plan has been turned into a nightmare.

Resolution Sacked Darfur Experts

The council did extend the mandate of Sima Sumar, special rapporteur on Sudan, but the far stronger and more influential expert group was eliminated. The resolution on the Darfur expert group (A/HRC/6/L.51) was adopted by consensus, co-sponsored by Egypt on behalf of the African Group, and Portugal on behalf of the European Union. While the resolution “welcome[d] the report submitted by the Group of Experts” and called on the government of Sudan to take action against “serious violations of human rights,” the resolution quietly omitted any reference to their future work, effectively canceling their mandate.

Once again, the European Union has sought to hide the failures of the council, and failed to call a vote on the resolution. It would have lost — but at least the world would know the truth. As was the case when the council sacked the monitors on Cuba and Belarus, the best way to find out about the failures of the Council is to see the latest victory trumpeted in the press of the abusers. Here’s what Sudan’s media had to say:

The European Group and the African Group in the Human Rights Council have reached a consensual decision to end the mission of the committee of the Seven Thematic Rapporteurs on Human Rights in the Sudan and decided to extend the mission of the Human Rights Commissioner Sima Samar for another year provide that she would provide the Council with a report by coming September.

We even learn how the EU diplomats congratulated Sudan:

The Chairman of the European Group in the Council, who is the ambassador of Portugal, contacted the Sudanese Permanent Mission in Geneva to express his congratulations at the end of the meeting that included the European and the African Groups. The decision will be tabled before the Human Rights Council’s closing session to approve it in its final form.

According to Sudan, the matter of the atrocities could be solved easily if only Sudan was given more money:

Dr Ibrahim Mirghani, Sudan’s Representative in Geneva told the Sudan News Agency that the decision reflects the cooperation the rapporteurs have found from the government of Sudan and said the implementation of a number of recommendations that have been agreed upon and to continue with the implementation of the recommendations that have not been implemented due to lack of assistance from the international community, stressing the need to continue providing assistance to the Sudan so that it could continue with the implementation of the remainder of the recommendations. He said it also calls on the rebels in Darfur to respond to the peace call and to join the Darfur Peace Agreement, urging all parties to protect civilians, particularly women and children. Ambassador Ibrahim said he considers the decision an excellent one and that it reflects the strong stance of the African groups and its full backing for the Sudan. He said he expects the Council to commend the cooperation of the government of Sudan with the human rights mechanisms. He said the negotiations were led on behalf of the African Group by the ambassador of Egypt with the full support of the group of Organization of the Islamic Conference in the Council. He said a number of countries have taken the lead to congratulate Sudan on this decision including the ambassadors of China, Russia and Cuba.

The Swiss seem to agree:

He said Switzerland has today announced a donation of 700,000 Swiss Francs as a technical assistance to the Sudan in the human rights domain. He said some other five Western states have also expressed readiness to provide similar assistance to the Sudan. He said the international community has in brief commended the cooperation the Sudanese government has shown with the human rights mechanisms and call on the Sudanese government to continue with this positive attitude. It is to be recalled that the Sudanese delegation to the meetings of the council has included the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Justice Abdul Moneim Zumrawi, and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Assistance, Hassabou Mohamed Abdul Rahaman as well as the Rapporteur of the Sudanese Council for Human Rights, Dr Abdul Moneim Osman Mohamed Taha.

Once again, the Council sends a green light to Sudan. Despite this glaring failure of the Council, most countries were busy congratulating each other on reaching consensus. Declaring victory is always the message from diplomats at the UN, as former US Ambassador John Bolton correctly explains in his latest book. Genuine action is not the goal, but consensus.

In addition, the other Sudan resolution — to renew the mandate of special rapporteur Sima Sumar expert on Sudan — also had its share of disappointments. Rather than holding Sudan accountable, the resolution said the expert’s new role will be to “assess the needs of Sudan…and to mobilize the necessary international technical and financial support for Sudan…”

In other words, the UN expert on Sudan is now a global fundraiser and cheerleader for the government of Sudan, rather than an objective and independent voice for the victims of government-sponsored violence and rape. UN Watch spoke out last week for real scrutiny, but our call fell on deaf ears.

Expert on Freedom of Religion Renewed

There were, however, two rays of light on Friday. The resolution on religious discrimination passed over the objections of Pakistan on behalf of the Islamic group, China and South Africa. While the resolution explicitly condemned “all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief,” Pakistan and others argued that such a resolution did not consider the “need to respect all religions” — a reference to the Islamic attempt to limit freedom of speech in name of combating “defamation of Islam.” The Islamic group also attacked a reference in the text that protected individuals who convert from one faith to another, which, Saudi Arabia said, was “against Sharia.”

In the end, the Islamic states and their supporters abstained rather than voted against the resolution, which can be explained only by the murky game of UN vote-trading (see how they voted).

In a rare victory for human rights defenders, a resolution to maintain the UN expert on the situation in Myanmar was adopted by consensus. Burma rejected the renewed mandate, saying that it represented “pressure from influential and powerful countries.”

Other resolutions that were adopted by consensus without any major debate or discussion included issues related to an “alliance of civilizations,” adequate housing, internally displaced persons, the right to health, the promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, technical assistance to Liberia, and indigenous peoples’ rights.

The Council will reconvene for its major session of the year on March 3–28, 2008.

Islamic bid to amend UN religious intolerance resolution

Islamic states are challenging the draft text of the annual UN resolution on religious intolerance, demanding that deference to religion be allowed to trump freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

During consultations organized last week by the European Union, which will be presenting its draft at the Human Rights Council session that opens on Monday, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) demanded that the resolution:

1) Express alarm at the increased negative projection of religions in the media;
2) Link freedom of expression and freedom of religion;
3) Reject the equation of religions with terrorism (the EU accepted this, but there are still discussions on the exact wording);
4) Protect religions from defamation, attack, or contempt.
5) “Welcome” the “work” of the Special Rapporteur — but not “recognize” it, as is customary.

Specifically, the OIC wants to include a new paragraph:

 alarmed at increasing instances of deliberate and systematic negative projection of religions, their adherents and prophets in media and by influential political parties and groups.

The EU opposes this phrase.

A related disagreement is over whether religions or individuals are the bearers of rights. The EU co-sponsors claim that the OIC language is inconsistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which limits freedom of expression only in very limited cases. The OIC text would create new restrictions for people who show “contempt” for a religion, which is hard to define, and a dangerous precedent. Canada pointed out that the best way to protect religions is by respecting the individual freedom of religion.

Egypt’s new language:

Emphasizes that respect for and protection of all religions and beliefs, consistent with international human rights law and relevant national legislation is a substantial element conducive for the exercise of the individual right to freedom of thought, conscience or religion and the protection thereof.

The OIC seems determined to replace the current UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion, Asma Jahangir. A Pakistani human rights activist, Ms. Jahangir was among those detained by the Musharraf government crackdown.

South Africa told fellow diplomats in Geneva that Christianophobia, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism do not exist in its country. They want this “fact” to be reflected in the resolution.

The resolution is expected to come to a vote on Friday. There is still no consensus. The OIC continues to have reservations and South Africa has indicated that they will table formal amendments.

Complete Documentation:
Original Resolution, Sept. 24
OIC Amendments
Revised Resolution, Dec. 1
Revised Resolution, Dec. 6

Pakistan and UN Islamic Bloc Slam Holocaust Survivors; UN Watch and NGO Coalition Protests

UN Human Rights Council, Sept. 25, 2007

Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC): “In many instances Holocaust survivors, instead of promoting . . . harmony, are campaigning against Muslim symbols in the Western world. They should be the most ardent advocates against discrimination. Islamophobia is also a cruel form of Anti-Semitism.” Click to Read PDF of Full Speech (ed. note: text is dated Sept. 21 2007 but was actually delivered on Sept. 25, 2007)

Algeria: “. . . a worrying upswing in Antisemitism which now targets Arabs and is extended by oversimplification to all Muslims.”

– – – – – – – – –

Joint NGO Response

Sept. 28, 2007

His Excellency Ambassador Masood Khan
Organization of the Islamic Conference
Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN in Geneva
Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Ambassador Khan,

We, the undersigned human rights groups and non-governmental organizations, write to express our grave concern over certain remarks that you delivered before the UN Human Rights Council this past Tuesday, 25 September 2007, which offend Holocaust survivors around the world and harm the cause of equality and human rights for all.

In your statement on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, you addressed the issue of “Defamation of Religions.” As representatives of civil society, we express our firm condemnation of all violations of freedom of religion. We strongly support universal respect for citizens of all faiths without discrimination.

We therefore can neither comprehend nor accept your unprecedented remarks which effectively accuse Holocaust survivors of practicing discrimination and promoting disharmony. In addressing accomodation for Muslims in the Western world and the potential for political and social harmony, you said that “in many instances Holocaust survivors, instead of promoting such harmony, are campaigning against Muslim symbols in the Western world. They should be the most ardent advocates against discrimination. Islamophobia is also a cruel form of Anti-Semitism.”

We are unaware of any such “campaigning” by Holocaust survivors. Moreover, even if it were true that individuals were engaged in such an alleged effort, it would constitute unjustifiable stereotyping to label an entire group — particularly surivors of a genocide — on the basis of the alleged actions of a few.

We believe that Holocaust survivors, elderly men and women who are often frail and suffering from illness, are deserving of our sympathy and respect, not denigration in a speech at the United Nations.

We also regret that the baseless accusation of discrimination on the part of Holocaust survivors was compounded by remarks that effectively deny these and other victims of Antisemitism recognition of their particular form of suffering. Islamophobia, Christianophobia, and Antisemitism are the recognized terms for the hatred of Muslims, Christians and Jews. However, saying that Islamophobia is itself a “form of Anti-Semitism” only serves to corrode and confuse the very meaning and existence of Antisemitism, the term coined in the 1870’s by proto-Nazi Wilhelm Marr as a euphemism for the German Judenhass, or “Jew-hate”. Not only is it nonsensical to claim that groups other than Jews are the objects of Jew-hatred, but it has the pernicious effect of blurring the meaning and impact of any condemnation of Antisemitism. We are gravely concerned that this is not the first time that Pakistan has made such statements at the UN.

Once again, pursuant to the values of the UN Charter, we express our unqualified support for the respect of all religions, and opposition to discrimination of any kind.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration and respect.

Sincerely,

Dr. Theodor Rathgeber
German Forum Human Rights
Switzerland

Angela C. Wu
International Law Director
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
USA

Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director
United Nations Watch
Switzerland

Roy W. Brown
Main Representative, UN Geneva
International Humanist and Ethical Union

Rabbi François Garaï
Chief Representative
World Union of Progressive Judaism
Switzerland

Rene Wadlow
Chief Representative to the UN Geneva
Association for World Education

Klaus Netter
Representative
B’nai B’rith International
Switzerland

Dr Francois Ullmann
President
Ingénieurs du Monde

Anatoly Kanunnikov
President of Social Ecology Foundation
Russia

Reform or Regression? Latest from the U.N. Human Rights Council

Discredited Council Opens Second Year

The UN Human Rights Council is in the middle of a three-week session in Geneva, its first after the conclusion of a year-long process of reform and institution building. The first ten days of the Council were largely technical, with discussion of the council’s mandate-holders, the new Advisory Committee, and of its new mechanism, Universal Periodic Review (UPR), under which all states are supposed to be reviewed. The council debated the appointment process for the experts who will serve on the Advisory Committee and hold the various country and thematic mandates. One issue was how to balance merit factors — education, experience in the field of human rights, and field work — with other considerations such as gender balance and regional diversity. A compromise is expected to emerge later in the session.

Third World Countries to be Reviewed Last

Wednesday the Council tested a system for randomly selecting countries for the UPR mechanism. While the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was selected in the trial session, council secretary Eric Tistounet assured the member states that the least developed countries — a category that includes Sudan, Burma, and Bangladesh — will not be selected for the UPR’s debut review in the spring of 2008.

Islamic Bloc Accuses West of “Defamation of Religion” 

In a clever maneuver, Pakistan on behalf of the Islamic group and Egypt managed to have the report on “religious defamation” placed under the agenda item dealing with the Durban Declaration. Of course, that document says nothing about “religious defamation,” which is the banner under which the 56-strong Islamic bloc seeks to impose its agenda upon all public debate and discourse. Any criticism of Islamic extremism, or any free discussion by Muslims of their own religion — whether in the West or locally in the Middle East — is all liable to be branded as “defaming Islam.”

Continue reading ‘Reform or Regression? Latest from the U.N. Human Rights Council’

Islamic Protesters “Pleased” With Louise Arbour’s Response

When the alliance of fifty-six Islamic states complained to Ms. Arbour in 2005 about the cartoons in a Danish newspaper that they deemed blasphemous—and which eventually served as grounds for bloody riots—she reportedly instructed the UN experts on racism and religion to follow up on their complaint.

“I would like to emphasize that I deplore any statement or act showing a lack of respect towards other people’s religion,” Arbour wrote to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, according to Denmark’s Berlingske Tidende. In her letter, Arbour reportedly directed the UN experts on religious freedom and racism to investigate the matter, saying, “I’m confident that they will take action in an adequate manner.” A diplomat from one of the Islamic countries told the newspaper that the governments were pleased with Ms. Arbour’s answer.




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