By Bob Unruh, WorldNetDaily
Dozens of nations dominated by Islam are pressing the United Nations to adopt an anti-"defamation" plan that would make Christians criminals under international law, according to a United States organization that has launched a campaign to defend freedom of religion worldwide.
"Around the world, Christians are being increasingly targeted, and even persecuted, for their religious beliefs. Now, one of the largest organizations in the United Nations is pushing to make a bad situation even worse by promoting anti-Christian bigotry," the American Center for Law & Justice said yesterday in announcing its petition drive.
The discrimination is "wrapped in the guise of a U.N. resolution called 'Combating Defamation of Religions,'" the announcement said. "We must put an immediate end to this most recent, dangerous attack on faith that attempts to criminalize Christianity."
The "anti-defamation" plan has been submitted to the U.N. repeatedly since about 1999, starting out as a plan to ban "defamation" of Islam and later changed to refer to "religions," officials said. It is being pushed by the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference nations, which has adopted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, "which states that all rights are subject to sharia law, and makes sharia law the only source of reference for human rights."
The ACLJ petition, which is to be delivered to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, already had collected more than 23,000 names in just a brief online existence.
The ACLJ's European division, the European Center for Law & Justice, also has launched its work on the issue. It submitted arguments last month to the U.N. in opposition to the proposal to institute sharia-based standards around the globe.
"The position of the ECLJ in regards to the issue of 'defamation of religion' resolutions, as they have been introduced at the U.N. Human Rights Council and General Assembly, is that they are in direct violation of international law concerning the rights to freedom of religion and expression," the organization's brief said.
"The 'defamation of religion' resolutions establish as the primary focus and concern the protection of ideas and religions generally, rather than protecting the rights of individuals to practice their religion, which is the chief purpose of international religious freedom law."
"Furthermore, 'defamation of religion' replaces the existing objective criterion of limitations on speech where there is an intent to incite hatred or violence against religious believers with a subjective criterion that considers whether the religion or its believers feel offended by the speech," the group continued.
Interestingly, in nations following Islam, the present practice is to use such laws to protect Islam and to attack religious minorities with penalties up to and including execution, the brief noted.
"What should be most disconcerting to the international community is that laws based on the concept of 'defamation of religion' actually help to create a climate of violence," the argument explained.
For example, just two months ago an Afghanistan court following Islam sentenced to death a 23-year-old apprentice journalist who had downloaded an article from an Iranian website and brought it to his class, the ECLJ said. Other instances include:
Award-winning author Mark Steyn has been summoned to appear before two Canadian Human Rights Commissions of vague allegations of "subject[ing] Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt" for comments in his book, "America Alone," the group said.
In Pakistan, 15 people were accused of blasphemy against Islam during the first four months of 2008, the organization said.
Another Pakistani man sentenced to life in prison for desecrating the Quran was jailed for six years before being acquitted of the charge.
In Saudi Arabia a teacher was sentenced to three years in prison plus 300 lashes "for expressing his views in a classroom."
In the United Kingdom, police announced plans to arrest a blogger for "anti-Muslim" statements.
In the United States, a plaintiff sued his Internet service provider for refusing "to prevent participants in an online chat room from posting or submitting harassing comments that blasphemed and defamed plaintiff's Islamic religion."
The ECLJ said, "The implementation of domestic laws to combat defamation of religion in many OIC countries reveals a selective and arbitrary enforcement toward religious minorities, who are often Christians. Those violations are frequently punishable by the death penalty."
The newest "anti-defamation" plan was submitted in March. It specifically cites a declaration "adopted by the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers" at a meeting in Islamabad "which condemned the growing trend of Islamophobia and systematic discrimination against adherents of Islam."
It also cites the dictates from the OIC meeting in Dakar, "in which the Organization expressed concern at the systematically negative stereotyping of Muslims and Islam and other divine religions."
It goes on to cite a wide range of other practices that "target" Islam, but does not mention any other religions, and urges all nations to provide "adequate protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from the defamation of any religion."
According to published reports, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights' 53 members voted to adopt the resolution earlier this year, with opposition from the United States and the European Union.
At the time, Cuba's delegate, Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez, said: "Islam has been the subject of very deep campaign of defamation."
"They're attempting to pass a sinister resolution that is nothing more than blatant religious bigotry," the ACLJ said in its promotion of its petition. "This is very important to understand. This radical proposal would outlaw Christianity … it would make the proclamation of your faith an international crime."
"In his recent dissent on the Supreme Court's ruling on Guantanamo Bay, Justice Scalia said, 'America is at war with radical Islamists.' Never has this rung more true than today. Never have Christians been more targeted for their religious beliefs. And never have we faced a more dangerous threat than the one posed by the OIC," the ACLJ said.
On the Grizzly Groundswell blog, the author described the situation as, "The United Nations: 160 cannibals and 17 civilized people taking a majority vote on what to have for dinner."
The U.S. State Department also has found the proposal unpalatable.
"This resolution is incomplete inasmuch as it fails to address the situation of all religions," said the statement from Leonard Leo. "We believe that such inclusive language would have furthered the objective of promoting religious freedom. We also believe that any resolution on this topic must include mention of the need to change educational systems that promote hatred of other religions, as well as the problem of state-sponsored media that negatively targets any one religion.