“Defamation of Religion” resolution passes at Human Rights Council

The non-binding “defamation of religion” resolution that has been an annual fixture at the United Nations Human Rights Council was passed again yesterday – but only narrowly. Voting in favour were 20 states, including China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. 17 — mostly Western nations — opposed, including the United States and the Netherlands. Eight states abstained. (Last year the vote was 23 in favour, 11 opposed and 13 abstentions).

The resolution was similar to one passed last year, but also included a section slamming the recent Swiss referendum vote to ban the construction of minarets in the country.

Pakistan introduced the resolution, accusing Western countries of “targeting Muslims” and using “pressure instead of reason” to influence votes. The Pakistan representative maintained that “Enforcing their values as universal values reveals an imperial hubris”. “Torture centres such as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and Bagram are known to all of us. We hope that this Council will vote according to its conscience and not according to political expediency.”

The only religion specifically mentioned as being discriminated against was Islam. Opponents noted tight restrictions on Christians, Jews and others in states such as Saudi Arabia and Libya, which were not mentioned in the adopted text.

The United States opposed the resolution, which it said “failed to galvanize international support for real solutions to improve the lives of people on the ground.” It called the resolution “ineffective” and an “instrument of division.”

Earlier in the week, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (to which the NSS is affiliated) made an impassioned plea at the UNHRC for the resolution to be rejected. See IHEU representative Roy Brown making his case.

And here is what the “Holy See” (aka Vatican) has to say on the topic

Candour must counter Muslim half-truths

“Defamation of religion” bid must be stopped