It is vital that all voices - especially those dedicated to the protection of religious freedom - are heard at the United Nations. And for years now, our international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), has been active providing the U.N. with the kind of expert analysis that protects the views and beliefs of Christians, especially when they represent the minority in countries where the Muslim faith is the majority. In many countries, as you know, Christians face terrible persecution because of their religious beliefs - often jailed, beaten, and murdered.
The ECLJ has just filed an important document with The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) at the UN - a follow-up to testimony we provided nearly three years ago when we began challenging the dangerous, anti-Christian concept known as "defamation of religions."
As you know, for a number of years now, we've been aggressively opposing "defamation of religions" at the U.N. - a concept that's been promoted since 1999 by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in order to limit freedom of expression, provide an international legality to repressive laws working against religious minorities, and prohibit speeches critical of Islam. In recent years, support for this resolution has continued to decline and we're hopeful that the trend will continue.
Now, the OHCHR has once again asked for input from non-governmental organizations and the ECLJ has filed a document outlining our concerns about safeguarding religious freedom as the UN focuses on a workshop 'on the prohibition of incitement to national, racial or religious hatred' in 2011.
Citing the blasphemy laws of Pakistan, where we are active defending Christians who face persecution because of their faith, the ECLJ report states:
"The history of Pakistans blasphemy laws represents how, if 'incitement' is viewed from the perspective of the individual or group claiming offence, the law can be used as a sword against the minority. This perspective defeats the original intent of 'incitement' lawsto shield the minorityand results in the destruction of free expression."
The ECLJ report concludes that as this issue is debated, "it is important to remember that public expressions by those with a sincerely held faith or religious morality should receive a superior level of protection. Those individuals or groups with sincerely held religious beliefs must be free to criticize or comment . . . These public expressions of faith or religious morality should not be liable to prosecution simply because the tenets of the faith oppose certain ideas or practices . . . Society must not fear debate, for it is through open discussion that ideas should be countered and respect given to a diversity of views."
You can read the entire ECLJ report here.
We're working in this country and abroad to ensure that the rights of Christians are protected. We will keep you posted as this issue develops.