I’ve added a new category label just for this post: “UN acting badly”. That’s because they act badly very often, especially in their constant funding of Palestine and its terrorists (via UNRWA) and repeated resolutions damning Israel (which also hearten Palestinian terrorists).
From Secularism.org we have a new report that the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) voted to ban Qur’an burnings, which of course is considered free speech in the U.S. They also, to give the impression of fairness, banned burning of other religious books. As for secular books like On Liberty: crickets from the UN.
The National Secular Society has warned a United Nations resolution to ban the burning of religious texts could be detrimental to human rights.
Members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) today voted in favour of a resolution for the “deliberately and publicly” burning of the Quran or “any other holy book” to be prohibited by law.
The UK voted against the resolution. In a statement yesterday, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “we do not accept that, by definition, attacks on religion, including on religious texts or symbols, constitute advocacy for hatred”.
Other states opposed to the motion included France, Germany and the USA, but they were outvoted 28 to 12. [7 countries abstained]
The resolution follows a high profile incident in Sweden last month, when Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika burned a Quran outside a mosque in Stockholm. Momika is an atheist formerly from Iraq’s persecuted minority Christian community.
The resolution was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has long supported efforts to curtail ‘blasphemous’ speech.
The OIC is an intergovernmental organisation of 57 states and claims to be the “collective voice of the Muslim world”. Although it stopped explicitly campaigning for a global blasphemy law in 2011, it has repeatedly spearheaded attempts to install “backdoor” blasphemy laws. The NSS warned the UN of the OIC’s attempts to use ‘hate speech’ laws to restrict free expression last year.
The resolution passed was amended to include the explicit provision that burning the Quran and other holy books should be banned. The original resolution did not include this statement.
This was a deeply divided vote, with most Western countries voting against the resolution and Muslim countries (and other nations like Cuba and UKRAINE) favoring the ban. Here’s how the vote went down:
More background from the Guardian:
Last month, an Iraqi-born protester caused outrage across the Muslim world after tearing pages from the Qur’an, wiping his shoes with some of them and burning others outside a mosque in Stockholm during the Eid al-Adha holiday.
The Swedish embassy in Baghdad was briefly stormed, Iran held off from sending a new ambassador to Stockholm and the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned Sweden’s authorities and asked the Geneva-based UN human rights council to debate the issue.
Turkey also expressed its anger, citing “vile protests against the holy book” in Sweden as one of its reasons for withholding approval of the Scandinavian country’s application to join Nato. On Monday, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had agreed to set aside his veto and support the application.
Several similar protests had previously taken place in Stockholm and Malmö. Swedish police have received applications for more, from individuals wanting to burn religious texts including the Qur’an, the Bible and the Torah.
This of course is an abrogation of free speech (the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that burning the Constitution, U.S. flag, and other such documents is speech protected by the First Amendment). It’s also a form of “blasphemy law”, though I don’t think the UN has any power to enforce it. Still, it shows you how many countries, including UKRAINE, limit freedom of speech when that speech involves criticizing religious delusion. You can burn The God Delusion or God is Not Great, of course, as the UN doesn’t care about that. But keep your matches away from religious scripture!
This is embarrassing in a world becoming increasingly secular. Here’s some pushback from Britain’s National Secular Society:
NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: “Equating the desecration of religious books and symbols with incitement to violence is a pernicious attempt to impose blasphemy laws by stealth. The Islamic nations behind this resolution have long been more interested in protecting religion than protecting individuals.
“Speech and expression must be viewed in context. Crude attempts to impose blanket prohibitions clearly risk capturing and silencing legitimate expression and dissent.
“Democratic societies must find ways to combat intolerance and hatred without further restricting freedom of expression to meet increasing sensitivities of certain religious groups.”
Amen, brothers and sisters!