OIC seeks penalizing insults to all religions
GENEVA - Reuters
UN chief Ban Ki-moon (R) shakes hands with OIC head Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu.
A leading Islamic organization signaled on Sept. 19 that it will revive long-standing attempts to make insults against religions an international criminal offense.
The bid follows uproar across the Muslim world over a crude Internet video clip filmed in the United States and cartoons in a French satirical magazine that lampoon the Prophet Muhammad.
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the international community should “come out of hiding from behind the excuse of freedom of expression,” a reference to Western arguments against a universal blasphemy law that the OIC has sought for over a decade.
He said the “deliberate, motivated and systematic abuse of this freedom” were a danger to global security and stability.
Separately, the Human Rights Commission of the OIC, which has 57 members and is based in Saudi Arabia, said “growing intolerance towards Muslims” had to be checked and called for “an international code of conduct for media and social media to disallow the dissemination of incitement material.”
Western countries have long argued that such measures would run counter to the U.N.’s core human rights declaration on freedom of expression and could even open the door to curbs on academic research.
France fears for nervous Friday
Tens of thousands of French expatriates in Muslim countries face a nervous Friday and weekend amid fears they could be swept up in a rising tide of anger over controversial depictions of Mohammed.
Embassies, consulates, cultural centers and international French schools in around 20 Muslim countries will be closed on foreign ministry orders today for fear of retaliatory violence following weekly prayers.
Protests that have left over 30 people dead in the last week have, until now, largely been targeted at the United States, which has had to carry the brunt of responsibility for the highly-controversial film “Innocence of Muslims.” But French ministers fear the focus could shift to Paris’ overseas outposts following a satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons featuring obscene images of the founder of Islam.
The government has been forced to deploy riot police to protect Charlie Hebdo’s offices, which were fire-bombed last year following the publication of an edition “guest-edited” by Mohammed that they dubbed “Sharia Hebdo.”
Meanwhile, a legal complaint against Charlie Hebdo was filed on Sept. 19 by an organization called the Syrian Freedom Association, which was registered earlier this year in France but appears to be little-known among Syrian expatriates. It accuses Charlie Hebdo of “throwing oil on the fire by disseminating a cartoon against the Prophet Muhammad,” BBC reported.