Laws against religious hatred urged
Muslim foreign ministers called on Friday for laws against incitement to “religious hatred” as they condemned an American-made blasphemous film that sparked deadly protests.
Ministers from the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said that freedom of expression had to be used with “responsibility”.
They called on governments around the world “to take all appropriate measures, including necessary legislation against these acts that lead to incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence” based on religion.
OIC foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, where the “Innocence of Muslims” film has been widely condemned, along with the death of four US diplomats killed in the wake of violent protests in Libya over the US-made video.
In a statement, the ministers condemned “intolerance, discrimination, profiling, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, religious hatred and violence against Muslims, as well as denigration of their religion” caused by the release of the film and blasphemous cartoons.
“These Islamophobic acts stand in violation of the freedom of religion and belief, guaranteed by international human rights instruments, and have deeply offended” Muslims around the world, the statement added. “We acknowledge the importance of freedom of expression, but at the same time stress the need to ensure that this freedom should be exercised by all with responsibility and in accordance with the relevant international human rights laws.”
The ministers called for “global awareness about the dangerous implications of incitement to religious hatred, discrimination and violence”. The alleged maker of the video, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was arrested on Thursday in Los Angeles for breaching the terms of his probation for a 2010 banking fraud conviction.
US President Barack Obama condemned the film but made an impassioned plea for freedom of speech at the UN summit. Several Muslim ministers have called for international legislation to prevent religious attacks.
“The alarming increase in the number of acts that defame religions and thereby people who adhere to such religions, have now serious implications for international peace and security,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. The “time has come to establish denigration of all religions and their followers as a hate crime. We have to take swift measures”, he added.
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