Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich.
Responding to the Middle East riots allegedly sparked by the retracted Newsweek Quran-in-toilet story, Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. has proposed a congressional resolution that condemns defamation of Islam’s book.
According to Conyers’ weblog, the resolution was drafted to “oppose religious intolerance.”
The bill would have the House “condemning bigotry and religious intolerance, and recognizing that holy books of every religion should be treated with dignity and respect,” according to Conyers, who has one of the nation’s larger Muslim communities in his Detroit-area district.
The resolution recognizes Islam as a religion of “peace” and the Quran as the “holy book for Muslims who recite passages from it in prayer and learn valuable lessons about peace, humanity and spirituality.”
The House of Representatives, therefore, according to the text:
(1) condemns bigotry, acts of violence, and intolerance against any religious group, including our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Islamic faith;
(2) declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith, should be protected;
(3) recognizes that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect; and
(4) calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith.
Conyers announced the proposal at a news conference along with the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations, an Islamic lobby group that has seen several former staffers convicted on terror-related charges.
CAIR’s government affairs director, Corey Saylor, said the resolution is a “winner on every front.”
He added that while Newsweek has retracted its piece asserting U.S. interrogators threw a Quran in a toilet, former detainees in Guantanamo and in Afghanistan have made similar allegations.
But White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters Wednesday the Defense Department had yet to find any substance to the allegations.
“We know that members of al-Qaida are trained to mislead and to provide false reports,” said McClellan, responding to questions about recently reported FBI summaries. “We know that’s one of their tactics that they use.”
He added, “If there’s any abuse of detainees, we take any such allegations very seriously.”
Critics of attempts to enact such laws in the U.S. point to the loss of civil rights experienced in other nations.
Under an Italian law against defaming Islam, best-selling writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci, who resides in the U.S., was ordered this week to stand trial in her home country for what she wrote in a recent book.
Muslim activists accused Fallaci of inciting religious hatred in her 2004 work “La Forza della Ragione,” or “The Force of Reason.”
Fallaci wrote that terrorists killed 6,000 people over the past 20 years in the name of the Quran and said the Islamic faith “sows hatred in the place of love and slavery in the place of freedom.”
Italian state prosecutors originally dismissed accusations brought by a Muslim group, but a preliminary judge in the northern city of Bergamo, Armando Grasso, rejected the advice at a hearing Tuesday.
Specifying 18 sentences in the book, Grasso said some of Fallaci’s words were “without doubt offensive to Islam and to those who practice that religious faith.”
In Pakistan, controversial blasphemy laws carry a possible death sentence for offenses against the Quran and defamation of Islam’s prophet Muhammad.
Critics of the laws, including the Catholic Church, call it a tool in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists in their effort to make the entire country Muslim.
Earlier this year, a Pakistani court sentenced a Christian man to seven years in prison for desecrating the Quran.
Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Ejaz ul-Haq admitted last September that the law has been abused. Between 1927 and 1986 there were only seven recorded cases. But since 1986, more than 4,000 have been brought.
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