Sunday, March 28, 2010

Freedom Dealt Another Blow

I don't like this at all. I also don't have a problem with my religion being criticised. Not because I have a particularly tough skin but because I understand that a religion is an ideology, and as such must be subject to constructive criticism - for that is how we as people sort the good ideas from the bad; the wheat from the chaff as it were.

Insulating religion - which is just an ideology with a deity - from criticism is dangerous because it shuts down debate on an important topic, and that is threat to Freedom. Of the worst kind. And as we know from experience, it will only protect the bad ideas....

U.N. body adopts resolution on religious defamation

GENEVA (Reuters) - A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning "defamation of religion" as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries.

The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favor and 11 against, with 13 abstentions.

Western governments and a broad alliance of activist groups have voiced dismay about the religious defamation text, which adds to recent efforts to broaden the concept of human rights to protect communities of believers rather than individuals.

Pakistan, speaking for the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said a "delicate balance" had to be struck between freedom of expression and respect for religions.

The resolution said Muslim minorities had faced intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, including laws and administrative procedures that stigmatize religious followers.

"Defamation of religious is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence," the adopted text read, adding that "Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism."

It called on states to ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and symbols are protected, to reinforce laws "to deny impunity" for those exhibiting intolerance of ethnic and religious minorities, and "to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and beliefs."

ISLAMOPHOBIA, CHRISTIANOPHOBIA, ANTI-SEMITISM

The 47-member Human Rights Council has drawn criticism for reflecting mainly the interests of Islamic and African countries, which when voting together can control its agenda.

Addressing the body, Germany said on behalf of the European Union that while instances of Islamophobia, Christianophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination should be taken seriously, it was "problematic to reconcile the notion of defamation (of religion) with the concept of discrimination."

"The European Union does not see the concept of defamation of religion as a valid one in a human rights discourse," it said. "The European Union believes that a broader, more balanced and thoroughly rights-based text would be best suited to address the issues underlying this draft resolution."

India and Canada also took to the floor of the Geneva-based Council to raise objections to the OIC text. Both said the text looked too narrowly at the discrimination issue.

"It is individuals who have rights, not religions," Ottawa's representative told the body. "Canada believes that to extend (the notion of) defamation beyond its proper scope would jeopardize the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of expression on religious subjects."

A separate, EU-sponsored resolution about religious discrimination is due to be discussed by the Council on Friday.

Earlier this week, 180 secular, religious and media groups from around the world urged diplomats to reject the resolution which they said "may be used in certain countries to silence and intimidate human rights activists, religious dissenters and other independent voices" and ultimately restrict freedoms.

Condemnation of defamation of religion had been included in a draft declaration being prepared for an April U.N. conference on racism, known as "Durban II," but was removed earlier this month after Western countries said it was unacceptable.

13 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

The UN is a farce. It has become the Nanny of the world. That countries actually still belong to and listen to their directives is dangerous. That they have the right to decide what may and may not happen in your country is a joke. They should be disbanded - no one needs them anymore. They are a money-sucking mafia - a law unto themselves.

Anonymous said...

"ISLAMOPHOBIA, CHRISTIANOPHOBIA, ANTI-SEMITISM"???

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't "semitism" an ethnicity, while Islam and Christianity are religions?
If so, I don't see the link.

Anonymous said...

@Viking

Do you then also agree that Judaism should not be insulated and allowed to be critisized? After all it is (according to you) just another ideology with a diety.

FishEagle said...

@Anon 15.47. Insult the religion. Not the people.

Viking said...

Yes, Anon, I agree with that statement. You say it as though you expect me not to.

(I just saw FE's response and it's more than adequate.)

The ideological aspects of Judaism? I have a problem with ANY "chosen-people" ideology but an even greater one with circumcising babies. Apart from that I have no criticisms.
But as FishEagle rightly implies, those are not the reasons they are attacked, generally...

Anonymous said...

On the issue of religion vs ethnicity: Just seen headlines that Gaddaffi has reconsidered his earlier desire to see Nigeria split into muslim north and christian south and now believes that "like the old Yugoslavia" it should be "split along ethnic lines (as) there are many peoples in Nigeia who want independence and deserve to (determine their own future)"

HOOR HOOR!

Whoever thought one of the founders of the "State of Africa" concept would wake up realise that Apartheid is the ONLY SOLUTION!
Maybe he's just fed up with trying to work with these guys over the last 30 years, or perhaps he's afraid they'll take over Libya simply by outbreeding the North African Natives and Arabs.
Either way, non-Negroid South Africans have a fantastic opportunity here, but will they take it?

Regards,
Common Sense

FishEagle said...

Gees, this takes me back to my days when I was still an atheist and I was attending a very conservative/religious school. When you can't criticize a religion, there is no defense against it. Religions do cause damage and no religion is perfect. I am appalled at the arrogance shown by the UN, Pakistan and Muslims.

Viking said...

See, FE, what's happened here is that they have accepted the Islamic interpretation of 'offence', whereby when something is said to offend, it is forbidden, EVEN IF IT IS TRUE.
Much ink has been spilled on this so I won't expand, but this idea of slander and offence has been taken up, scarily, by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, where even truth is NO defence against a perceived offence.

Christianity received the full force of the Enlightenment, and in doing so, adapted and changed and led us to secular democracy. We are actually preventing this from happening to Islam, and guaranteeing that they stay, ideologically, in the 7th Century.

FishEagle said...

@Viking. My rights were violated at school simply because I was in the minority. Nobody cared that I was offended by Christianity, at times, being damned to hell and all. In principle it's the same with the UN adoption of this resolution and it'll pan out into a reality with people using pure bully tactics to trump up their religion.

That's another move away from secularism, apart from the violation of gay rights or other minority groups. And I don't think its just a case of preventing Islam from moving towards a secular democracy. It's making us move away from it. The UN will drag us down to Third World standards. It's the vilest organization imaginable.

FishEagle said...

To add on to that, maybe I shouldn't say my rights were violated at school. I'll call it my dignity and integrity. And according to the school, it was ok to violate my dignity and integrity. I don't know if it would have made any difference if I belonged to another religion, other than Christianity. I doubt it very much. The reality was that Christians were in the majority and therefor their right not to be offended was the most important. So it was never about the truth. Just like the case of this UN resolution.

Anonymous said...

@Fish Eagle and Viking. Have you ever read the Talmud? Can I quote from there? I am not going to critisize the people simply the stuff they believe. But I know that even when I quote from their own religious works, I will be branded an anti-semite.

Fred said...

The jews have an ethnic identity, and Judism is their religion. They are one and the same, so when you criticize one you criticize the other as well.
The reason is that only jews practice judism. No one who isn´t a jew is involved in their religion, unlike Christians or Muslims. Any ethnic group can, and do, belong to both those religions.
Anyone who can´t dee the difference is denying reality. Calling someone anti semitic is considered racist. It has nothing to do with religion.
Jews are a relgious group when it suits them, and a race of people when it doesn´t. It´s called having the best of both worlds, or, where I come from, bullshit baffles brains.

FishEagle said...

@Fred. Still, a religion is an idea and not a person. Just pointing out the obvious.