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Human Rights Council upholds freedom of belief
The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution recognizing freedom of religious belief abandoning a longstanding concept of religious "defamation".
- March 25, 2011
In a statement, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton welcomed the move.
"The consensus resolution adopted by the Council today represents a significant step forward in the global dialogue on countering intolerance, discrimination, and violence against persons based upon religion or belief," Clinton said.
"We appreciate the leadership shown by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and member states on today's landmark achievement.
"The United States strongly supports todayâ€™s resolution, which rejects the broad prohibitions on speech called for in the former 'defamation of religions' resolution, and supports approaches that do not limit freedom of expression or infringe on the freedom of religion.
"This resolution demonstrates a desire to move the debate on these shared challenges in a constructive and affirmative direction. Our divides can be bridged through an effort to listen to each other and to seek common ground. This resolution is a direct result of this type of engagement with the global community," she said.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also welcomed the resolution as a significant step away from the "pernicious 'defamation of religions' concept", the organization said in a statement.
"The defamation concept undermines individual rights to freedom of religion and expression; exacerbates religious intolerance, discrimination, and violence; and provides international support for domestic blasphemy laws that often have led to gross human rights abuses," the USCIRF statement continued.
"Tragically, it took the assassinations of two prominent Pakistani officials who opposed that countryâ€™s draconian blasphemy laws â€“ Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab governor Salman Taseerâ€“to convince the OIC that the annual defamation of religions resolutions embolden extremists rather than bolster religious harmony,â€ť the statement said.
Adoption of resolution at Human Rights Council combating discrimination and violence (US State Department)
USCIRF Welcomes Move Away from â€śDefamation of Religionsâ€ť Concept (US Commission on International Religious Freedom)