A leading advocate for religious rights says an Islam-sponsored religious anti-“defamation” resolution pushed in the United Nations appears to be losing support but still remains a rattlesnake to Christianity around the world.
“U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based organization that monitors the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, acknowledged what we have stated all along that the resolution is ‘aimed at the Western world to intimidate anyone from criticizing radical Islam,'” said Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law & Justice.
As WND reported, the organization raised alarms about the plan supported by the 57 member -nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
The group repeatedly has lobbied since 1999 for the plan, based on the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, “which states that all rights are subject to Shariah law, and makes Shariah law the only source of reference for human rights.”
The ACLJ has launched a petition effort to raise awareness of the campaign, to be delivered to the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights.
According to the ACLJ’s European division, the European Center for Law & Justice, “The ‘defamation of religion’ resolutions establish as the primary focus and concern the protection of ideas and religions generally, rather than protecting the rights of individuals to practice their religion, which is the chief purpose of international religious freedom law.
“Furthermore, ‘defamation of religion’ replaces the existing objective criterion of limitations on speech where there is an intent to incite hatred or violence against religious believers with a subjective criterion that considers whether the religion or its believers feel offended by the speech,” the group continued.
The ECLJ said, “The implementation of domestic laws to combat defamation of religion in many OIC countries reveals a selective and arbitrary enforcement toward religious minorities, who are often Christians. Those violations are frequently punishable by the death penalty.”
The newest “anti-defamation” plan was submitted in March. It cites a declaration “adopted by the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers” at a meeting in Islamabad “which condemned the growing trend of Islamophobia and systematic discrimination against adherents of Islam.”
But no such references are made for the protections of any other religions.
He said this week a vote revealed the impacts of the work by the ACLJ and ECLJ.
“The U.N.’s Third Committee voted on the ‘Defamation of Religions’ resolution and here’s the breakout: The resolution received 85 ‘yes’ votes, 50 ‘no’ votes and 42 abstentions. By comparison, last year the resolution received 95 ‘yes’ votes, 52 ‘no’ votes and 30 abstentions. [The] vote confirmed what I have been sensing for some time now – the resolution is losing steam. For the first time ever, the ‘no’ and ‘abstention’ votes totaled more than the ‘yes’ vote,” Sekulow said.
“What’s encouraging is the country-by-country vote. The ECLJ team tells me that several of the countries we met with actually backed away from supporting the resolution and changed their votes in committee yesterday. Of the 12 countries that our team met with, seven nations changed their votes after encouragement from our team: Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, and Uruguay all voted to ‘abstain’ after voting ‘yes’ last year. And, St. Lucia, which voted ‘yes’ last year, did not vote at all in the committee.”
Sekulow said the proposal, while purportedly to protect against “defamation of religions,” actually “constrains it, and frequently this resolution is used as a weapon to silence religious minorities – including Christians in many countries.”
“It would target anyone who speaks negatively in any way about Islam. Sharing your faith would become an international crime punishable by imprisonment or death,” he said.
“We know that if dangerous resolutions like this are enshrined as international law, it will come at the price of countless Christian lives,” he said.
Sekulow said the next battle will be at the U.N. General Assembly, where the “Defamation of Religions” resolution will receive a vote sometime before the end of this year.
The U.S. State Department also has found the proposal unpalatable.
“This resolution is incomplete inasmuch as it fails to address the situation of all religions,” said a statement from Leonard Leo. “We believe that such inclusive language would have furthered the objective of promoting religious freedom. We also believe that any resolution on this topic must include mention of the need to change educational systems that promote hatred of other religions, as well as the problem of state-sponsored media that negatively targets any one religion.”