Introduction by Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan on behalf of Member States of OIC to resolution on ‘Combating Defamation of Religions’ L.9, 15 April 2002
I have the honour on behalf of Member States of the OIC to introduce draft resolution L-9 entitled Combating defamation of religions.
This initiative was inspired 3 years ago by the invidious campaign to misrepresent and defame Islam and Muslims in various parts of the world.
Unfortunately, over the past years, this campaign against Islam and the Muslims has intensified, specially after September 11.
Islam has been deliberately associated with terrorism. Terrorists belongs to other religions do not invite epithetic like "Islamic terrorism".
The massacres of hundred of Muslims in so-called democracies do not even evoke mention by prime defenders of human rights and democracy. For them, Muslims seem to be "the children of a lesser God"
The war against terrorism has been misused by some to deny Muslim people under foreign occupation – alien domination their right to struggle for self-determination and freedom. Witness this most vividly in Palestine as I speak
In this Commission the timeless validity of sacred Sharia has been called into question by calling it incompatible with international covenants on human rights.
The Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in his report to the Commission E/CN.4/2002/24 cites the verbal and physical attacks on Islamic minorities in a number of countries. This report refers to frightening examples of extreme level of racial abuse, attacks and vilification against "Muslims, Arabs and other Middle Eastern population groups and number of countries. It goes on to say: There were reports of an increase in insults, physical assaults against members of those communities and destruction of their property."
In one European country the Special Rapporteur states that "politicians, the mass media in public discourse gave a broadly negative representation of Muslims…Posters with the message "holy war against Islam" were posted in the cities of this country. Muslims received death threats, their houses and properties were torched and attacked. Fire bombs were thrown in immigrant neighbourhood. The Special Rapporteur cites glaring examples of discrimination on the basis of the Islamic dress code and head scarf.
I will not even mention the on-going massacres of Muslims in one so-called democracy in our region. There must be a recognition of these shameful realities before there can be a healing process.
The current draft resolution is an expression of Islamic countries deep concern about the phenomenon of defamation of all religions in particular the selective and deliberate targeting of Islam and Muslim people. The resolution is based mostly on the language agreed in the past. New concepts reflects the expression of globally shared concerns. It seeks to promote a global dialogue to promote a culture of tolerance and requests the Special Rapporteur on Racism to examine the situation of Muslims and Arab peoples in various parts of the world.
Regrettably, despite several rounds of open-ended consultations the countries where this phenomenon has been most pronounced have opted to repeat their unreasonable demands that the co-sponsors withdraw the draft resolution without offering any substantive comments or amendments that could help in achieving a consensus.
Nevertheless, in a spirit of accommodation and in response to the concerns of some friendly delegations the co-sponsors have made certain revisions to the draft resolution in L.09. Preambular paragraph 9 has been amended to read "some non-Muslim countries". In preambular 10, the words "that the tragic events of September 11 underline" have been deleted.
Operative paragraph 3 has been amended to read as follows "Noting with concern the intensification of campaign on defamation of all religions, and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities, in the aftermath of tragic events of September 11".
Operative paragraph 12 has also been amended to read as "Requests the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to examine the situation of Muslim and Arab peoples in various parts of the world with special reference to physical assaults and attacks against their places of worship, cultural centers, business and properties in the aftermath of September 11 and to present a preliminary study on his findings for consideration by the Commission at its next session".
The OIC hopes that this draft resolution, as amended, will be adopted with the widest possible support.