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.
In a letter to Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane's Justice and Development Party, Isaac Charia requested party membership.
Iskander Van Doorn, 22, followed in his father Arnoud's footsteps by leaving the far-right movement and accepting Islam.
The American Muslim Society and Egyptian Americans demand the release of a U.S. citizen held behind bars in Egypt for "supporting" the government of the country's toppled leader Mohamed Morsi.
Organizers said nearly 10,000 people had attended the opening and hoped that more will come before the spiritual event wraps up on Monday afternoon.
Abdelaziz El Jaouhari, the head of the mosque committee, said in a statement that the letter had called Muslims "cockroaches" and wished new mayor Cyril Nauth good luck in cleansing the "Muslim race".
According to a press statement by Dr. Sevim Erkmen to the Turkish Agency Cyprus (TAK), Shaykh Nazim is receiving the necessary treatment but still remains in a serious condition.
A group of young British Muslim men have come out with their story about how the MI5 threatened to place them on the terror list and hurt their families if they did not spy on their fellow Muslims.
The surveillance program deployed undercover detectives in Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and watch day-to-day activities. Police also infiltrated mosques and student groups.
Alexandroupoli's main church condemned the attack on a mosque that saw unidentified people placing a pig's head outside of it.
Athens mayor candidate Aris Stiliotopulos is reported to have said that issues such as these should be decided by the people, but in classic right-wing rhetoric added that Athens has 'no more room for asylum seekers'.
The plan is part of a wider project by the TDV in building mosques for Muslims who live in the Caribbean.
Thousands of Muslims have been detained in Kenya in recent weeks.
The Syrian Islamic Council, a body made up of prominent Islamic scholars and representatives of Turkmen, Kurdish and Arab groups, said it will focus on dealing with religious matters between opposition groups and work with humanitarian aid foundations.
Imam Magomed Zakaryayev was killed when two masked assailants opened fire on him in the Kizil-Yurt district.
It will be the first time since the Friday sermon is read in Turkish in Erbil since the end of the Ottoman Empire.
Muslim leaders asked the Kenyan government to suspend the security operation on grounds that human rights were being violated.