ISLAMABAD: In 2010 and 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed two resolutions to combat the defamation of religions, religious symbols, venerated persons, and even an insult to Islam and the Muslims but when it comes to implementing these resolutions to check the latest anti-Islam American video and the follow-up publication of Prophet’s (SAW) caricatures by French and other European countries, the UN is turning a blind eye to its own resolve.
In 2010, the UNHRC passed a resolution called ‘Combating Defamation of Religions’. In March 2011, another resolution 16/18 called ‘Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatisation of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief’ was adopted.
However, these resolutions are serving as redundant pieces of papers in the present controversy revolving around the blasphemous US-made video that has resulted in widespread protests by Muslims all over the world.
The 2010 resolution ‘Combating Defamation of Religions’ contained certain Islam-specific points, one of which reads as: “Expresses deep concern in this respect that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism and in this regard regrets the laws or administrative measures specifically designed to control and monitor the Muslim minorities, thereby stigmatising them and legitimising the discrimination they experience.”
Otherwise, the same resolution deplored the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the Internet, and any other means to incite acts of violence, xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination towards any religion, as well as targeting of religious symbols and venerated persons.
It also condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means.
The resolution also emphasised that, as stipulated in international human rights law including articles 19 and 29 of UDHR and 19 and 20 of ICCPR, everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference, and has the right to freedom of expression, the exercise of which carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals, and general welfare.
The March 2011 resolution also expressed deep concern at the continued serious instances of deliberate stereotyping of religions, their adherents and sacred persons in the media, as well as programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organisations and groups aimed at creating and perpetuating stereotypes about certain religions, in particular when condoned by the governments.
The provisions of the UNHRC as stated above are enough to seek explanations from the US government, European states and their media involved in anti-Islam campaign like producing blasphemous video and printing caricatures of the Prophet (SAW). However, the UN and its Human Rights Council are insensitive to these devious attacks by sick minds on Islam and its followers.
All the states, under the Charter of the United Nations, are bound to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
The UN is also turning a blind eye to the 2005 World Summit Outcome adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 60/1 of Oct 24, 2005, in which the assembly emphasised the responsibilities of all the states, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and acknowledged the importance of respect and understanding for religious and cultural diversity throughout the world.
The UNHRC through these resolution had also noted with deep concern the instances of intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence against followers of certain faiths, occurring in many parts of the world, in addition to the negative projection of certain religions in the media and the introduction and enforcement of laws and administrative measures that specifically discriminate against and target persons with certain ethnic and religious backgrounds, particularly the Muslim minorities following the events of Sept 11, 2001, and that threaten to impede their full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
These resolutions stress that defamation of religions is a serious affront to human dignity leading to restriction on the freedom of religion of their adherents and incitement to religious hatred and violence. It is also noted in these resolutions that defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, could lead to social disharmony and violations of human rights, and alarmed at the inaction of some states to combat this burgeoning trend and the resulting discriminatory practices against adherents of certain religions and in this context stressing the need to effectively combat defamation of all the religions and incitement to religious hatred in general and against Islam and the Muslims in particular.