The right to criticise religion is being slowly doused in acid. Across the world, the small, incremental gains made by secularism ~ giving us the space to doubt and question and make up our own minds ~ are being beaten back by belligerent demands that we “respect” religion. A historic marker has just been passed, showing how far we have been shoved. The UN rapporteur who is supposed to be the global guardian of free speech has had his job rewritten: to put him on the side of the religious censors.
Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to “respect” the “unique sensitivities” of the religious, they decided, so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within “the limits set by the shariah (law). It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community”.
In other words, you can say anything you like, as long as it precisely what the reactionary mullahs tell you to say. The declaration makes it clear there is no equality for women, gays, non-Muslims, or apostates. It has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists.
Incredibly, they are succeeding. The UN’s Rapporteur on Human Rights has always been tasked with exposing and shaming those who prevent free speech ~ including the religious. But the Pakistani delegate recently demanded that his job description be changed so he can seek out and condemn “abuses of free expression” including “defamation of religions and prophets”. The council agreed, so the job has been turned on its head. Instead of condemning the people who wanted to murder Salman Rushdie, they will be condemning Salman Rushdie himself.
Anything which can be deemed “religious” is no longer allowed to be a subject of discussion at the UN ~ and almost everything is deemed religious. Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has tried to raise topics like the stoning of women accused of adultery or child marriage. The Egyptian delegate stood up to announce discussion of shariah “will not happen” and “Islam will not be crucified in this council” ~ and Brown was ordered to be silent. Of course, the first victims of locking down free speech about Islam with the imprimatur of the UN are ordinary Muslims.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Thanks to MadPriest for this: