Thursday, November 25, 2010

Evoking tolerance to excuse intolerance at the international level

As it has every year since 1999, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group of 56 Islamic states, has proposed a ban on the defamation of religion at the United Nations.  Last year the vote was 81 to 55 in favor, while this year the vote was a less favorable 76 to 64.  The resolution has changed over years in search of a workable formulation:
The resolution was amended from versions passed in previous years in an attempt to secure support from Western nations. Instead of defamation of religion, it speaks of "vilification." It also condemned acts of violence and intimidation due to "Islamophobia, Judeophobia and Christianophobia."
Last year's resolution, as in previous years, focused on Islam and did not mention Judaism and Christianity.
The United States and the other non-Muslim states have generally opposed these resolutions as a limit on freedom of speech.  As the US envoy to the UN committee noted
"The resolution still seeks to curtail and penalize speech," he said. "The changes ... unfortunately do not get to the heart of our concerns -- the text's negative implications for both freedom of religion and freedom of expression."
Within some of the 56 Islamic states, themselves hardly exemplars of freedom and tolerance, any statement that the beliefs of Islam are not true is vilification and unacceptable.  The argument reduces to one of worldview.  On one side, religious law supersedes secular rights, while the other side reverses the order.  A Humanist would look to secular reasoning above revealed law.  So from a Humanist perspective these seemingly tolerant, accommodating and pacific resolutions are not advisable.

No comments:

Post a Comment