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.
Mohamed Elshenawy, the Egyptian goalkeeper in the FIFA World Cup 2018, has declined a trophy sponsored by Budweiser for religious reasons.
A look at the traditions, ceremonies, food, and community of Ramadan 2018.
Related Docs for Hindu family displays rare collection of Islamic manuscripts in Kashmir
27-year-old student from Benin says he read Quran a few times before converting to Islam
It's Ramadan time! Here are some tips that can help students during this period.
Turkiye Diyanet Foundation (TDV) hands out Quran copies translated in the Spanish language.
Grand Mosque of Granada hosting iftar meals for Muslim community
15th century Quran written by calligraphist Sukrullah Khalifah returned to Topkapi Palace Museum by collector
Muslims all around the world are fasting together for the holy month Ramadan, though they break their fast in ways that highlight the diversity of the global Muslim community.
Necmedin Bushi gives reading lessons while moulding gold at his workshop
Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency sent food aid to 25,000 Rohingya refugees
Turkey's TIKA, Turkiye Diyanet Foundation, Red Crescent provide relief to Rohingya
The holy month of Ramadan starts on 15 May, and is a time of fasting and prayer for millions of Muslims across the world.
Ramadan to begin Tuesday evening with first Tarawih prayer in Turkey
Muslims will also account for 2.1 pct of US population by 2030, says new report on global Muslim diaspora
The Tokyo Mosque, also known as the 'Turkish Mosque', played an important role in promoting Islam in large quantities in Japan