If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out through writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it.

Anais Nin

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Defamation of Religions Resolution" UN to vote in December on latest anti-blasphemy law

A resolution combating the "vilification of religions" was adopted Tuesday by a United Nations committee. The resolution by Islamic countries is scheduled to be considered by the U.N. General Assembly in December.

There was a time not long ago that I would have voiced support for those defending the burqa. With a new proximity to modern-day theocratic state regression, along with help from a good friend experienced in dealing with the very real consequences of Islam's cruel doctrines, Neurilemma, it has become increasingly apparent how little we can afford the rampant political correctness that clears the way for the perpetuation of cultural enslavement.

Atheists stateside are being accused of misrepresenting Islam as well. The American Humanist Association  has begun a holiday season campaign to raise awareness of dangers of religion as well as the prevalence and ethical fidelity of secular view points. (click here for full press release )

A national multimedia ad campaign – the largest, most extensive ever by a godless organization - launches today and will include a spot on NBC Dateline on Friday, November 12, as well as other television ads, that directly challenge biblical morality and fundamentalist Christianity.  The campaign, sponsored by the American Humanist Association, also features ads in major national and regional newspapers and magazines demonstrating that secular humanist values are consistent with mainstream America and that fundamentalist religion has no right to claim the moral high ground.
“Scholars” defending faith have objected to what they consider a misrepresentation of contemporary religious belief, offering nuance to excuse the obvious violence of their doctrines.
For example,  the humanists quote a verse in the Koran that has been used by Islamic extremists to justify terrorism against the West:
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every finger."

Dr. Juhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, says, "It's key to separate history from religion."
The verse the Humanists use, he says, refers to a battle in 632 A.D.
(take our pick? 632: Battles of Zu Qissa and Abraq. Battles of Buzakha, Zafar and Naqra. Campaigns against Bani Tamim and Musailima, the "Liar.")
"Yes, maybe God said that," Jasser says, but "terror is better translated as fear."   ?
"Clearly Islam is not a passive religion, but humanists are exploiting religious scripture that looks at a 7th century just war, and [trying] to use it to portray all religions as bad."
Humanists are using your text, Doctor! They are misrepresenting nothing, simply parroting verbatim that which you claim to believe and which has been employed to poison minds and justify brutal violence.

Christian author and pastor Dr. Timothy Keller says modern people should exercise a little "cultural humility" when reading the Bible and all ancient texts. 
He says people need to understand that there are words, idioms, metaphors and cultural norms in the ancient world that offend many people today, and that many of our modes of language today would be difficult to comprehend centuries from now.
Keller also points out that there's a difference in the Bible between what is descriptive and what is proscriptive, meaning what the Bible describes as happening, did happen, could happen or will happen is different from what God is actually condoning or commanding. The problem here is that the text provides no standard for making these distinctions, and many of the prescriptive statutes are as divorced from reality as those claimed to be descriptive or metaphorical—they are simply less of a political liability. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is a biological and historical absurdity, yet this doctrine is central to Christian belief. To decry the belief system is a perfectly rational act, not slander or misunderstanding.

Defamation of religion is an issue that has been repeatedly addressed by the United Nations since 1999. Several non-binding resolutions have actually been voted on and accepted by the UN condemning "defamation of religion," (an impossible slander.)

The motions, sponsored on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, aim to prohibit expression that would, "fuel discrimination, extremism and misperception leading to polarization and fragmentation with dangerous unintended and unforeseen consequences."

What circumstances are these? What language do they find so assaultive, and find justification to ban under international edict? This body is a PR firm for Islamic states, a lobby that attempts make acceptable the patently oppressive.

And yet now my new home, Britain, is continuing the tradition of accommodation.

In their second meeting in six months, Ihsanoglu and Warsi discussed opportunities for deepening UK-OIC relations. In addition, Baroness Warsi expressed her firm support for the recent agreement between the UK's Department of International Development and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to send a secondment from DFID to the IDB, which was announced during Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell's visit last month.

Islamic states have expressed concerns that Islam is sometimes associated with terrorism and human rights violations, especially after the attack on the twin towers, and argue that the resolutions are necessary to combat Islamophobia.

These resolutions amount to blaspemy laws, which are already exploited throughout the Muslim world. Blasphemy laws in Pakistan have often been abused by Muslims who use them as tools of revenge against Christians and other minorities in disputes over land and other matters. No evidence is needed to accuse someone of blasphemy and have them arrested.
Ruqqiya Bibi and her husband Munir Masih were sentenced on 3 March to 25 years imprisonment under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code for defiling the Quran. They were arrested by Mustafabad police in December 2008 for touching Islam's sacred scripture without ritually washing. Punishment for defiling the Quran is 'life imprisonment', which means 25 years in Pakistan.
The couple were accused of using the Quran for black magic and that in the process Ruqqiya touched the Quran without ritual cleansing. They were also accused of writing the creed of Islam on the walls of their house. The couple's lawyer said the accusation arose from an argument between Muslim and Christian children which turned into a clash between their parents.
Source: Compass Direct News
In Karachi, the Additional District and Sessions Court on 25 February 2010 sentenced Qamar David to 25 years in prison and fined him 100,000 rupees (GBP £1,400) after he was convicted without basis of sending blasphemous text messages in May 2006.

David was convicted under Section 295-A of the blasphemy statutes for "injuring religious feelings of any community", and also under Section 295-C for derogatory remarks against Muhammad. Maximum punishment for violation of Section 295-A is life imprisonment, and for Section 295-C the maximum punishment is death, though life imprisonment is also possible. David received the sentence of life in prison.

His lawyer, Pervaiz Aslam Chaudhry, told Compass that the conviction was without basis as all 16 witnesses at the trial testified that it was not David but the owner of the cell phone, (who is also the subscriber to the SIM card through which they received the blasphemous messages),who was guilty. The SIM card and the cell phone are owned by a Muslim, Munawar Ahmad, who was named with David, said the lawyer.  Ahmad was cleared of all charges despite the evidence against him.

Compass Direct News

Mohammed, by Gustave Dore
Dante's La Divina Commedia

The response of the US delegation is uncharacteristically appropriate:

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations

New York, NY

November 23, 2010


Thank you Mr. Chairman,

as we have done in the past, the United States will be voting against this resolution on “defamation of religions.”

For some time, the United States has participated in a variety of discussions with many delegations about this resolution, in an effort to find concrete cross-regional solutions to the core problems we believe this resolution springs from - religious intolerance and hatred. We share with the sponsors a deep concern about the proliferation of discrimination, and the targeting of individuals based on their religion.

Our goal has always been to find common ground sufficient to overcome our differences and negotiate a resolution that could be adopted by consensus – thus strengthening the voice and power of this resolution. As President Obama said recently in Jakarta, we can either "choose to be defined by our differences, and give in to a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress. [And t]he United States is committed to human progress."

In this vein, we appreciate that Morocco and others in the OIC have made changes to the resolution. There has been some openness to discuss our views with key parties to this negotiation, which is a very welcome and positive development, considering our serious concerns with the approach this resolution takes each year. However we are disappointed to see that despite our efforts and discussions on this resolution, the text once again seems to take us farther apart, rather than helping to bridge the historical divides.

Most importantly, the resolution still seeks to curtail and penalize speech. The changes that have been made from the original tabled version, while representing an important gesture, unfortunately do not get the heart of our concerns - the text's negative implications for both freedom of religion and freedom of expression. For example, the resolution continues to request that governments prohibit or punish offensive speech, including creating laws to do so. It also continues to refer to the problematic defamation concept, excludes many religions or belief systems, and equates defamation to a human rights violation or incitement. Additionally, as we have discussed in this year’s negotiations, human rights are held by individuals - not by governments, institutions, or religions – and language in the resolution that addresses human rights should reflect this.

We look forward to continuing to work with the OIC and all delegations to find an action oriented approach that can inclusively combat religious intolerance, while not penalizing those who exercise the freedoms of speech or religion, keeping in mind that such a consensus must be forged not through negotiations within one group, but through negotiations among groups. Such talks will take time, and demand patience and understanding on all sides. In the meantime, we will continue to cast our vote – and encourage others to do the same - against a resolution that can be used to justify the infringement of human rights under the guise of promoting human rights.

That about says it.
This resolution is not about protecting speech, nor have been any which penalize criticism of an idea.

My good friend Tauriq Moosa addresses this issue with wonderful insight.


  1. We can't allow rhetoric to put a strangle hold on necessary speech.