U.S. rejects U.N. attempts to ban religious defamation
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said recently that the Obama administration firmly rejects moves that are being made, largely by Islamic nations, to pass a resolution in the United Nations banning statements that slander religion, because it will affect free speech.
Clinton also said the U.S. will oppose any attempts to pass such a rule in the U.N. She did not agree with the claim of proponents of the resolution, that banning statements that slander religion will protect society. Instead, it will inhibit the free expression of ideas and freedom of speech, Forbes Magazine said.
The resolution is being largely propounded by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an umbrella group for 56 Muslim nations. Earlier this year, the OIC succeeded in getting the resolution passed by the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Last year the U.N. General Assembly adopted the resolution, Forbes Magazine said. (For backgrounders, see http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2009/11/islamophobia-and-its-effect-on-other-faiths-10719).
According to The Canadian Press, Clinton said, “Some people propose that to protect religious freedom, we must ban speech that is critical or offensive. We do not agree. The United States joins in all nations coming together to condemn hateful speech. But we do not support the banning of that speech.”
The OIC initiative is being widely viewed as an angry reaction to a print publication in Europe that showed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and which also depicted anti-Muslim stereotyping, The Canadian Press reported.
Clinton pointed out the need for societies to benefit from different faiths, opinions and points of view. She said, “Attempts to stifle them or drive them underground, even when it is in the name of and with the intention of protecting society, have the opposite effect. Societies in which the freedom of religion and speech flourish are more resilient, more stable, more peaceful and more productive,” The Canadian Press reported.
According to the July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 annual report of the State Department, there has been a deterioration in religious freedom in Iran and Afghanistan, AsiaOne News said.
When asked to define freedom of religion, Clinton said it is the ability of people to practice their faith, raise their children in their faith traditions, and publish religious texts freely and without censorship, and to be able to change one’s religion or choose to have no religion at all, AsiaOne News reported.