A number of Muslim leaders called upon the nations to enact laws that criminalize blasphemy during this week’s UN General Assembly.
“Before I take up my speech, I want to express the strongest condemnation for the acts of incitement of hate against the faith of billions of Muslims of the world and our beloved Prophet,” announced Pakastani President Asif Ali Zardari. “Although we can never condone violence, the international community must not become silent observers and should criminalize such acts that destroy the peace of the world and endanger the world security by misusing freedom of expression.”
Afghanistanian President Hamid Karzai said that America must resist Islamophobia.
“I call upon leaders in the West, both politicians and the media, to confront Islamophobia in all its many forms and manifestations,” he stated. “As we speak today, the world is shaken by the depravity of fanatics who have committed acts of insult against the faith of over 1.5 billion Muslims. … We strongly condemn these offensive acts, whether it involves the production of a film, the publication of cartoons, or indeed any other acts of insult and provocation.”
Nabil Elaraby of the Arab League made similar statements during the U.N. Security Council session.
“We are warning that offending religions, faiths and symbols is indeed a matter that threatens in international peace and security now,” he said. “The League of Arab States calls for the development of an international legal framework which is binding … in order to confront insulting religions and ensuring that religious faith and its symbols are respected.”
Elaraby opined that if a nation criminalizes bodily injury, it should also prohibit offending religions.
“If the international community has criminalized bodily harm, it must just as well criminalize psychological and spiritual harm,” he declared.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of Indonesia, added that the UN should adopt ordinances that serve as “a point of reference that the world community must comply with.”
As previously reported, Barack Obama addressed the General Assembly on Tuesday, calling for all religions to be tolerant of one another. He defined “the voices of tolerance” as those who speak out against expression that is believed to be slanderous.
“[T]he strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech – the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect,” he stated. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims and Shiite pilgrims. It is time to heed the words of Gandhi: ‘Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.’”
The summit continues until October 1st as other national leaders are expected to make similar statements calling for the criminalization of blasphemy worldwide. Currently, countries such as Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and Poland all have laws against blasphemy on the books.