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.
Following a military coup, Turkey banned all non-Turkish broadcasts between 1983 and 1991.
Crimean Tatars oppose joining with Russia, as they fear a repeat of the events of 1944 when Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ethnically cleansed them from their homeland.
American bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who like Geert Wilders were also banned from entering the UK after being invited to speak to English Defence League members, will also be on the panel.
Legoland Winsor was due to host a private party for Muslim children on Sunday.
Maksat Hajji Toktomushev has been elected as the new grand mufti of Kyrgyzstan.
Chris Johannides, who is of Greek Cypriot origin, was banned by the Conservative Party after he compared Muslim womens' burkas to black dustbin liners.
Quebec survey says a draft law to ban state employees from wearing religious symbols is targeting women who wear a headscarf.
The council had described the killing of endangered animals as "unethical, immoral and sinful", council official Asrorun Ni'am Sholeh.
The opening of the museum was attended by many notables including Yusuf Islam, formerly known as the musician Cat Stevens. “It is a fantastic project and it is going to grow… it is just going to grow”, Yusuf Islam was quoted by SBS.
A former anti-Islamist politician, Arnoud van Doorn, has started a new Islamic party in Holland after accepting Islam.
'It is the strong view of many of those involved in counter-terrorism that there should be a clearer legal position, so that those children who are being turned into potential killers or suicide bombers can be removed into care – for their own safety and for the safety of the public,' Boris Johnson said.
The mosque in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, is due to be open by 2015.
As well as Muslim women, Sikh men, who are also required to cover their hair, will also benefit from the new rule change.
The new scheme, which is currently being tested at the holy mosque in Mecca, may soon make its way to the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Islam's second holiest site.
In the video, which is set in Ancient Egypt with the singer posing as Cleopatra, she was seen zapping a man wearing pendant with the name of Allah on it to dust.
Legoland cancels day for Muslim families after threats from far-right extremists.