NEW YORK CITY (Dec. 9, 2010) – On Monday representatives of Open Doors delivered a petition to the United Nations in New York City. It was received by Ivan Simonovic, the UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights
It is anticipated that the United Nations General Assembly will vote on the “Combating Defamation of Religions” resolution in the next few days. The Open Doors “Free to Believe” campaign has encouraged 428,856 people from over 70 countries to urge the national delegations at the United Nations to say “yes” to religious liberty and vote “no” on the resolution.
In 1999 Pakistan was the first country to introduce a bill at the United Nations called the “Defamation of Islam.” It later was renamed the “Combating Defamation of Religions” resolution. Many countries now supporting the resolution are the Islamic-majority countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The group says the bill focuses on promoting tolerance and protecting religious freedom.
However, it does the exact opposite for Christians, other religious minorities and even Muslims who do not adhere to government-approved versions of Islam. In effect, the resolution is an international blasphemy law. If the resolution passes again, it would give international legitimacy to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws and restrictive legislation in other mostly Muslim countries. The resolution actually criminalizes speech and actions deemed to be against a religion. The resolution is non-binding and is voted on every year at the UN.
Dr. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, attended the presentation and said afterwards: “We have worked together across the world on this campaign because we believe that by raising our voices together and praying together, we can play a vital part in standing together with our brothers and sisters who are denied religious freedom and suffer persecution because of their faith in Christ.
“The recent international controversy over Christian believer Asia Noreen (Bibi), who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan under its blasphemy law, is an example of how the resolution legitimizes laws which increase the marginalization of Christians and other faith minorities. We need to keep advocating for religious freedom for all faiths around the world.”
The Free to Believe petition was communicated by email to every one of the 192 UN national delegations, emphasizing that: “We are convinced that it is vital to protect people from violence, abuse and discrimination, whether they are Christians, Jews, Muslims or followers of any other faith. But that protection must be on the basis of their individual and personal rights as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, not on the basis of protection offered to a religion.”
The email to the UN national delegations stressed that: “We must once again emphasize that this call for a ‘no’ vote does not mean that we advocate the defamation of religions or approve in any way of incitement to religious hatred. Our concern is that the human right of religious liberty should be positively and actively protected at all times, regardless of the religious beliefs of the individual.”