Free to Believe: NO to suppression of religious freedom.
This is a crucial year in the fight to preserve religious freedom worldwide. The Defamation of Religions Resolution seeks to criminalize words or actions as attacks against a particular religion, namely Islam. As incredible as it sounds, passing this resolution could allow a Christian to be persecuted under UN approval. We need you to voice your protest of this resolution by signing the petition below.
Free To Believe!
Who: The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), an inter-governmental organization of 57 states with majority or significant Muslim populations, has been working for several years through the United Nations system to justify and advance the Defamation of Religions Resolution.
What: The Defamation of Religions Resolution, introduced in the UN, seeks to criminalize words or actions that are deemed to be against a particular religion, namely Islam. Although proponents justify the “defamation of religion” concept as protecting religious practice and promoting tolerance, it really promotes intolerance and human rights violations of religious freedom and freedom of speech for religious minorities in these countries.
Why: The Defamation of Religions Resolution provides international legitimacy for national laws that punish blasphemy or otherwise ban criticism of a religion.
When: The OIC is expected to propose to the UN General Assembly another “defamation of religions” resolution this fall.
Where: The UN General Assembly in New York City, New York.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
What is the Defamation of Religions Resolution?
It is a nonbinding but influential statement condemning, in the name of religious tolerance, words that denigrate any religion. In practice, the resolution provides cover for various laws in the Islamic World that restrict religious freedom and freedom of expression, such as Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. The resolution has been introduced and voted on in various forms and under various titles since 1999. It is expected to be proposed again in the UN General Assembly this fall.
What is the Organization of the Islamic Conference?
The Organization of Islamic Conference is an inter-governmental organization of 57 states with majority or significant Muslim populations. The OIC’s original Defamation of Religions campaign had targeted the “defamation of Islam,” but later it was reframed as the “defamation of religions” to broaden support. To this date, Islam remains the only faith mentioned in the resolutions the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly have passed.
What is the reality of this resolution?
Although proponents justify the “defamation of religion” concept as protecting religious practice and promoting tolerance, it really promotes intolerance and human rights violations of religious freedom and freedom of expression. These resolutions have empowered repressive government and religious extremists to suppress and punish whatever they deem to be offensive or unacceptable speech about a particular favored religion or sect. In fact, blasphemy laws in some countries have been used to justify actions that selectively curtail civil dissent, halt criticism of political structures, and restrict the religious speech of minority faith communities, dissenting members of the majority faith, and persons of religious faith. Under these laws, criminal charges have been levied against individuals for defamation, denigrating, insulting, offending, disparaging and blaspheming Islam, often resulting in gross human rights violations.
Is this persecution really taking place?
Pakistan: Two months ago Muslim extremists rampaged over several days through a Christian area in Gojra, Pakistan. The violence resulted in the death of at least seven Christians, 19 injuries and the looting and burning of more than 100 houses, according to Compass Direct News.
The rioting was touched off by an unsubstantiated rumor of “blasphemy” of the Quran, reported Compass. Blasphemy laws in Pakistan have often been abused by Muslims who use them as tools of revenge on Christians and other minorities in land and other disputes. No evidence is needed to accuse someone of blasphemy and have them arrested.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of what is taking place in many countries around the world. Passage of the Defamation of Religions Resolution would certainly increase the marginalization of Christians.
What is the bottom line for Christians?
Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ serving and worshipping in these countries and are severely impacted by these laws. From the right to worship freely to the ability to share the Gospel, the Defamation of Religions Resolution threatens to affirm local persecution. As Americans, we have enjoyed a long tradition of religious liberty as foundational to our society. The Defamation of Religions Resolution prevents religious freedom and ultimately harms the formation of a civil society.
What is Open Doors USA doing?
Open Doors USA will be helping to lead the advocacy effort at the United Nations to prevent this resolution from passing. This includes lobbying important countries, organizing a petition drive, and speaking out on this issue in the media. The campaign is called Free to Believe.
What can I do to help?
Your voice is vitally important to protesting the Defamation of Religions Resolution. Please join the Open Doors advocacy team by signing up at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org. Your voice will be heard by signing the Free to Believe petition to “Say NO to the Defamation of Religions Resolution.” The Open Doors advocacy team will be conveying the level of support by our members against the resolution as we interact with the countries which have abstained from voting on this issue in the past.
Why is this urgent?
While Defamation of Religions Resolutions have been introduced and passed by some countries in the past, it is up again this year for re-authorization. Policy experts at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom believe there is a real opportunity to defeat it this year. Members of Congress and many non-profit organizations are organizing to urge countries to vote against the Defamation of Religions Resolution.
I affirm the universal human right to freely choose and express an individual’s religious beliefs.
Accordingly, I urge fellow Member States of the United Nations to focus on protecting the fundamental freedom of individuals to express their religion or beliefs and to oppose the so called “defamation of religions resolutions.”
These resolutions seek to criminalize dissenting ideas and peaceful expression of non-favored religious beliefs. The “defamation of religions” resolutions are in direct infringement of the guarantees to free speech and belief found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
For these reasons, I ask all Member States to vote NO on “defamation of religions resolutions.”