As predictable as the sun rising in the east, the United Nations has voted to assault religious liberty. Islam, however, is to be protected from criticism since Muslims are said to be under vicious attack in the West.
The offending resolution, which denounces the “defamation of religions,” had its genesis in the UN Human Rights Council, created in 2006 to replace the long-discredited Commission on Human Rights. The inmates again have taken over the asylum as human rights violators joined the panel to insulate themselves from criticism. The only country certain to be denounced is Israel.
Unfortunately, the Council is now busy distorting the concept of religious liberty. Religious persecution is distressingly common around the globe. The perpetrators are obvious: while persecuting states vary greatly in their practices, most are either Communist or Islamic.
There are a few outliers — Hindu India and Buddhist Burma, for instance. But most Communist states — think China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam — oppress believers. Similarly, most Muslim states, from Saudi Arabia to Iran to Pakistan to Indonesia, persecute or allow private persecution.
The Communist states generally use artful diplomacy to deflect criticism. For instance, in 2007 the Council voted to drop its special Rapporteur for Cuba, as if Fidel Castro had suddenly converted to the cause of liberal democracy. (Not to worry, though: the Council remained on the case regarding Israel, approving numerous condemnatory resolutions and making that nation a permanent agenda item.)
THE MUSLIM STATES have taken a more aggressive position, reflecting the maxim that the best defense is a good offense. So Pakistan, where religious minorities face legal discrimination and private violence, led the battle against the “defamation” of religion.
The underlying philosophy is simple: people do not have a right to practice their chosen faith. Only Islam is valid. Thus Christians, Baha’i, Jews, Hindus, and others deserve whatever treatment they receive in Islamic societies. For apostates the penalty usually is death. Blasphemers risk lengthy prison terms. Evangelism often is a criminal offense.
Even if the state extends minimal toleration, minority believers should expect no protection from beatings, bombings, and murders meted out by devout Muslims.
Not every Islamic nation is inhospitable. Several of the Gulf sheikdoms, such as Kuwait, are generally tolerant. So is Turkey, despite occasional violent attacks. The situation in Indonesia is mixed, but not as bad as in Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, while many “Christian” states in the West avoid acknowledging their religious heritage, most Muslim societies violently suppress other faiths.
The Islamic states which lobbied so vigorously on behalf of the resolution obviously did not mean to criticize persecution of Christians, especially by their own governments. Rather, the measure indulged in guilt-mongering over nonexistent Western crimes against Islam.
There have been isolated assaults on Muslims in the West as well as larger-scale reciprocal violence on occasion in Nigeria and Indonesia, but even in the latter cases Muslims played the dominant role. There has been no significant discrimination, and especially persecution, against Muslims in a Western state for decades if not centuries.
Thus, the real purpose of the UN defamation resolution (as well as the introduction of religious intolerance in UN discussions and forums involving xenophobia and racism) is to insulate Islam from criticism.
Most nations already have laws against violence, fraud, and defamation, but they apply to individuals, not religions. Muslim activists want more.
The resolution technically covers all faiths and is filled with the usual boilerplate about “mutual respect and understanding.” The measure also criticizes “instances of intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence based on religion or belief” as well as “physical attacks and assaults on businesses, cultural centres and places of worship of all religions as well as targeting of religious symbols.”
In fact, the UN measure mentioned only Islam by name: “Alarmed at the continuing negative impact of the events of 11 September 2001 on Muslim minorities and communities in some non-Muslim countries, the negative projection of Islam in the media and the introduction and enforcement of laws that specifically discriminate against and target Muslims.”
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