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Your Freedom of Speech Ends at My Religion


Geneva — The Organization of the Islamic Conference has launched a full-throated defense of their effort to constrain freedom of speech at Durban II.


Bahrain, for instance, objects that freedom of expression might permit defamation of religion. That, they say, is dangerous.


Pakistan states that “one of the most insidious forms of contemporary racism is the defamation of religions, in particular Islamaphobia . . . Muslims all over the world are justifiably alarmed at being deliberately targeted in certain countries on the basis of their faith behind the pretense of ‘freedom of expression’.”


Odd how those countries most vociferous in chastising nations that value free speech for allowing “defamation of religions, in particular Islamaphobia” have no qualms about severely constricting freedom of religion in their own states.


Particularly troubling was the OIC statement:

Let me reiterate that OIC stands for defending, upholding, and protecting freedom of expression in accordance with international law. The legal limitations on these freedoms are provided for through international covenants and instruments. I am encouraged to note that these aspects have been reflected in the outcome document of this review conference.

This should raise flags for the U.S. The statement clearly refers to Article 20 of the ICCPR, which prohibits propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence. When the U.S. ratified the ICCPR, it issued a specific reservation “That article 20 does not authorize or require legislation or other action by the United States that would restrict the right of free speech and association protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”


The OIC’s deliberate attempt to impose limitations on freedom of speech and assembly to combat “defamation of religions” is anathema to the U.S. and alone justifies rejection of Durban II.


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