Defamation of religion, part 327

The IHEU is continuing to do sterling work in separating racism from criticism of religion, currently in preparation for Durban II.

In January 2009, the working group reviewed new references to religious matters for the Durban Review Conference outcome document. We note with concern that several of the propositions contained in paragraphs 24 to 28 may conflict with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights concerning Freedom of Expression.

The IHEU doesn’t link to the outcome document; I think this is it, in case you want to consult paras 24-28.

The IHEU continues:

The use of the terms Islamophobia and Christianophobia confuse and conflate opposition to religious beliefs with hatred of the believer. Criticism of any religious belief or practice is permissible within clearly prescribed limits under Article 19 of the ICCPR. It should not be equated with intolerance, hatred or violence towards Muslims or Christians.

Quite. A point whose importance is difficult to exaggerate, given the role that beliefs of all kinds and especially religious beliefs (which are clung to with a fierceness in inverse proportion to their reasonableness) play in human life. If we can’t oppose particular kinds of beliefs, we are well and truly stuck.

As a number of delegations have pointed out in debates in the Human Rights Council, Defamation of Religion is a concept that has no place in Human Rights discourse. We would add that criticism of a religion – even amounting to ridicule or “defamation” – has nothing to do with racism and has no place in the outcome document.

Quite, again.

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