World Bulletin / News Desk
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, 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 U.N. Human Rights Council.
The Obama administration has condemned the film entitled "Innocence of Muslims" as "disgusting". But Western countries remain determined to resist changes.
Akram said the crudely made video, as well as the burning of the Koran 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 FREE 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, U.S. 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 efforts 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 32 resolutions are to be voted on by the 47-member forum this week.
Greek 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.
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Local Muslim community in Belgium calls for recruiting chaplains who can educate youth about religion.
Australian Muslim TV studio, Islam TV, aims to counter media 'bias'. Aims to offer opposition to what it sees as negative representations of Islam in country's mainstream media.
Growing up in a large lower middle-class family on his father’s teaching salary, Makbul Patel said he learned early the value of a dollar. In his private practice, he saw that people were in need and wanted to help them, saying that this project is something that is close to his heart
In a historic first for the United States, an American Muslim college has now joined the nation’s community of accredited institutions of higher education.
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Bosnian-American Indira Kaljo has successfully petitioned FIBA to allow the wearing of the hijab in domestic games, but not in international competition, yet.
Certification company boss says online videos claimed he supported terrorism
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New campaign, "Share a Quran" launched to help dispel Islamophobia as well as a guide provided to dispel misconceptions about Muslims.
The attack on Charlie Hebdo has reawakened the controversial issue of depicting Prophet Muhammad which has often angered Muslims across the world.
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