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UN to monitor defamation of Islam

By Ehtasham Khan in Geneva
April 13, 2005 00:05 IST
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The United Nations' Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday adopted a resolution to monitor defamation of religions, particularly Islam.

The votingªon the resolution took place at the ongoing 61st session of the UNCHR in Geneva, Switzerland.

Thirty-oneªcountries voted in favour of the resolution, 16 voted against and five abstained from voting.

United States, United Kingdom and Israel voted in the negative. Russia and China voted in favour of the resolution. India was among those who abstained.

The resolution was pushed forward by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Conference. It was put under Agenda Item 6 thatªdeals withªracism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination.

According to this resolution, the Special Rapporteur of the UN will "examine the situation of Muslims and Arab peoples in various parts of the world, the discrimination faced by them with regard to access to justice, political participation, respect of cultures, physical assaults and attacks against their places of worship, cultural centres, business and properties."

The Special Rapporteur will submit a report on this issue next year and give recommendations to improve the situation.

Though the resolution talks about right of all religions, it has special reference to Islam and Muslims. Therefore, some countries opposed it seeking the deletion of words Islam and Muslims. They called the resolution "biased."

However, OIC nations managed to gain majority support in the voting after month-long diplomatic negotiations with other countries. A similar resolution moved by the OIC was defeated in voting last year.

The OIC pushed this resolution alleging "discrimination against Muslims in the aftermath of the September 11 attack in America."

It said Islam was continuously targeted and defamed by many countries, individuals and the media at several fora, including the United Nations.

The resolution expresses "deep concern" regarding the "intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions, and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities, in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001."

The resolution urges all states to "take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and their value systemÂ…"

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Ehtasham Khan in Geneva