Push To Call Blasphemy A Crime
THE divide in world opinion over what constitutes free speech will be on display again this week at the United Nations
...an international organization whose stated aims of facilitating interational security involves making sure that nobody with live ammo is offended unless it's a civilized country...
, where arguments over a proposed blasphemy law were an annual feature for a decade.
This time it is the global reaction to a YouTube video that disparages Islam's prophet Muhammad that is sure to roil the meeting of the UN General Assembly.
Moslem leaders have vowed to discuss the offensive video from their UN platforms, sowing concern among free-speech activists of a fresh push toward an international law that would criminalise blasphemy. Human rights groups and Western democracies resisted such a law for years and thought they had finally quashed the matter after convincing enough nations that repressive regimes used blasphemy laws to imprison or execute dissidents.
''I expect that we'll regress to where we were a couple of years ago,'' said Courtney Radsch, program manager for the Global Freedom of Expression Campaign at the non-profit group Freedom House.
''Human rights are not about protecting religions; human rights
...which are usually open to widely divergent definitions...
are to protect humans,'' she said. ''Who is going to be the decision-maker on deciding what blasphemy is?''
At one end of the spectrum is La Belle France, where a magazine on Wednesday published cartoons of Muhammad as a naked, cowering man to underscore a point that even the most offensive expression should be protected.
At the other end of the spectrum is the UN Secretary-General, the ephemeral Ban Ki-moon
... of whom it can be said to his credit that he is not Kofi Annan...
, who disappointed many free-speech activists last week by suggesting limitations to freedom of speech when it was ''used to provoke or humiliate''.
For years the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, a 57-member bloc of countries, has proposed a resolution criminalising the defamation of religion. By last year free-speech proponents had persuaded so many countries to ditch the cause that no new defamation-of-religion resolution was proposed.
Now, Turkey heads the Organisation and the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said he would raise the topic in New York next week.
Posted by: trailing wife