GENEVA: The UN Human Rights Council is heading in the direction of a divisive vote on Wednesday (Jul 11) on non secular hatred following latest Quran burnings, with some Western nations reluctantly feeling the draft decision encroaches too far on free speech.
Pakistan and different Organisation of Islamic Cooperation international locations secured an pressing debate on the UN’s high rights physique on Tuesday after a Quran was burnt outdoors Stockholm’s important mosque, triggering a diplomatic backlash throughout the Muslim world.
Pakistan’s draft decision condemns all manifestations of non secular hatred, together with “public and premeditated acts of desecration of the Holy Quran”, and underscores the necessity to maintain these accountable to account.
It urges states to undertake legal guidelines to “handle, forestall and prosecute acts and advocacy of non secular hatred that represent incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”.
It additionally desires the UN rights chief Volker Turk to determine gaps in international locations’ legal guidelines in gentle of Tuesday’s Quran burning debate.
Fearful about freedom of expression – nevertheless distasteful – some Western nations on the 47-member council have been holding out for revised wording that will enable all of them to succeed in a consensus.
However with Pakistan submitting its decision, the European Union international locations, america and Britain – whereas condemning Quran burnings – resigned themselves to a vote as an alternative, with London and Washington saying they might vote towards the draft decision.
After 4 hours of debate, the council in Geneva was on the point of voting on Tuesday. Nonetheless, it narrowly ran out of time, which means they are going to return at 10am on Wednesday.
“The deliberate desecration of the holy Quran has continued beneath authorities sanction and with a way of impunity,” Pakistan’s Overseas Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari instructed the council, through video-link.
“Free speech is as indispensable as hate speech needs to be indefensible. Our vigour to guard free speech should not lose sight of the crucial to reject hate speech.”
Indonesian Overseas Minister Retno Marsudi added: “These provocations deeply insult Muslims around the globe. You can not disguise behind freedom of expression.”
In a short intervention, Sweden’s consultant stated Stockholm “strongly rejects any Islamophobic acts”.
Some international locations really feel present resolutions go far sufficient.
France’s ambassador Jerome Bonnafont famous: “Human rights shield individuals – not religions, doctrines, beliefs or their symbols.
“It’s neither for the United Nations nor for states to outline what’s sacred.”
Opening the controversy, UN rights chief Turk stated latest Quran-burning incidents seemingly “manufactured to precise contempt and inflame anger”.
“Powered by the tidal forces of social media … hate speech of each sort is rising, in all places,” he stated.
Turk stated that “individuals must act with respect for others”, with inflammatory acts towards religions being “offensive, irresponsible and improper”.
However, he harassed, limitations on free speech “should, as a matter of basic precept, stay an exception”.
WESTERN HOPES FOR CONSENSUS
US ambassador Michele Taylor stated she had “so hoped” the council might “communicate with one consensus voice”.
“Whereas we abhor expressions of non secular hatred, we don’t imagine freedom of expression can or needs to be abridged to outlaw them. Accordingly, we remorse that we should vote towards this textual content,” she stated.
British ambassador Simon Manley stated it was tough to find out the place free speech turns into unacceptable.
“We do not settle for that, by definition, assaults on faith, together with our non secular texts or symbols, represent advocacy for hatred,” he concluded.
Belgium’s ambassador Marc Pecsteen, talking for the EU, deeply regretted there was “no will” to maintain negotiating for a consensus and the bloc subsequently “has no different selection than to ask for a vote”.
On June 28 in Stockholm, Salwan Momika, 37, who fled from Iraq to Sweden a number of years in the past, stomped on the Muslim holy guide and set a number of pages alight.
His actions got here as Muslims around the globe started marking the Eid al-Adha vacation.
The Swedish authorities condemned the Quran burning as “Islamophobic”, however added that Sweden had a “constitutionally-protected proper to freedom of meeting, expression and demonstration”.