UNITED NATIONS - Islamic countries Monday won United Nations backing for an anti-blasphemy measure Canada and other Western critics say risks being used to limit freedom of speech.
Combating Defamation of Religions passed 85-50 with 42 abstentions in a key UN General Assembly committee, and will enter into the international record after an expected rubber stamp by the plenary later in the year.
But while the draft's sponsors say it and earlier similar measures are aimed at preventing violence against worshippers regardless of religion, religious tolerance advocates warn the resolutions are being accumulated for a more sinister goal.
"It provides international cover for domestic anti-blasphemy laws, and there are a number of people who are in prison today because they have been accused of committing blasphemy," said Bennett Graham, international program director with the Becket Fund, a think tank aimed at promoting religious liberty.
"Those arrests are made legitimate by the UN body's (effective) stamp of approval."
Passage of the resolution is part of a 10-year action plan the 57-state Organization of Islamic Conference launched in 2005 to ensure "renaissance" of the "Muslim Ummah" or community.
While the current resolution is non-binding, Pakistan's Ambassador Masood Khan reminded the UN's Human Rights Council this year that the OIC ultimately seeks a "new instrument or convention" on the issue. Such a measure would impose its terms on signatory states.
"Each time the resolution comes up, we get a measure of where the world is on this issue, and we see that the campaign has been ramped up," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch.
I've got an idea of something we can do with a gun.
I got an idea of something we can do with a gun
Sink load and fire till the empire
Reaps what theyve sown
Shoot shoot shoot till their minds are open
Shoot shoot shoot till their eyes are closed
Push push push till we get some motion
Push push push till the bombs explode
I got an idea
We can do it
All on our own
Nothing to worry
Regret must weigh a ton
Kick kick kick till the laws are broken
Kick kick kick till the boots are worn
Hit hit hit till the truth is spoken
Hit hit hit till the truth is born