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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Muslim countries seek UN resolution to shield religions

A proposal by 57 Muslim countries says that the “defamation of religions and prophets is inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression”.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The world’s 57 Muslim governments are making good on their word. After announcing their intention to have the United Nations ban mocking religion, they are now pressing to include such a ban in a planned new UN human rights body.

According to the text of the Muslim countries’ proposal, the new body should strive to “prevent instances of intolerance, discrimination, incitement of hatred and violence arising from any actions against religions, prophets and beliefs which threaten the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

In a clear reference to the Muhammad cartoons controversy, the proposal says that “defamation of religions and prophets is inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression”.

To achieve this goal, Egypt for example is trying to persuade the European Union to support the ban. After talks with EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana in Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit said the proposal on banning defamation of religions was discussed.

Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohammad Sayed Tantawi, Sunni Islam’s highest religious authority, told Solana that that the resolution should include “sanctions” that deter.

Solana refused to say whether a resolution would be presented to the General Assembly, but noted instead that a mechanism is under study that would reconcile the principles of a common declaration made by the EU, the UN and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

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