Reviews | West opposes international attempts to criminalize defamation of religion


For several days, international public opinion has been concerned with Putin’s statements on blasphemy against the Islamic religion, as he stressed that insulting the Prophet Muhammad is by no means a freedom of expression, but rather a violation of freedom of belief. While Putin’s comments are a statement of fact, they are very important and meaningful because they are led by a secular country and by a man who is keenly aware of how extremist political groups have started to use religious fanaticism in the country. over the past two decades to impose themselves on the political scene.

In fact, over the past two decades, the phenomenon of undermining Islamic holies and cursing the Great Quran and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, under the pretext of freedom of speech, which is a legitimate human right. At first, these attempts seemed to be an unwarranted provocation to the feelings of nearly two billion Muslims around the world.

Dr Marwa El Shinawy

But over time and with the continuation of this provocation and the repetition of these abuses, it became clear that it was the hateful political agendas that were deliberately causing these crises with the intention of spreading the spirit of hatred and hampering all attempts at peaceful coexistence between followers. different religions, to oppose the creation of a healthy environment in which everyone lives with their different religions and beliefs. And also to hamper the global efforts led by major religious institutions on the path of interreligious dialogue, which resulted in the signing of the Document of Human Fraternity between the two greatest religious symbols in the world in 2019.

The targets are clear, as there are many fanatic groups and parties of all faiths around the world, such as the Islamic terrorist groups in the East and the far right in the West, which attempt to exploit fanaticism as means of controlling the world with the goal of purely material gains that have nothing to do with religions.

Moreover, all the sages around the world of all religions, civilizations and races assert that contempt for religions is undoubtedly hate speech and has nothing to do with freedom of speech. They also believe that such provocative behavior must be criminalized to prevent violence and extremism and to create a tolerant environment that allows for positive relationships between people in different societies.

Most importantly, article 20, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Human Rights – which is the most important international and United Nations document in the field of human rights and freedoms. – stipulates that freedom of expression must not lead to incitement to hatred. , with a clear and explicit text saying: “The law prohibits any Appeal to national, racial or religious hatred which constitutes an incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

Unfortunately, this article still comes up against a rigid position of Western countries which constantly support these provocative behaviors of Muslims under the pretext of fearing that this paragraph will be exploited to muzzle mouths and undermine freedom of expression, which indicates l arbitrariness and selectivity in the application of international law.

Over the past two decades, countries and international Islamic organizations have made many efforts to urge the United Nations Human Rights Council to pass a UN resolution banning and criminalizing defamation of religion, but Western countries oppose this project, which prevents the adoption of such an important international decision which strengthens peace and coexistence among all human beings and establishes the principle of respect for the religions of others.

So far, none of these attempts has succeeded in making contempt for religion an international right or in incorporating it into international treaties and principles. This is mainly due to the lack of a serious, comprehensive and international legal definition of the concept of defamation of religions. This concept is still ambiguous in all countries and is the subject of wide controversy among various jurists and religious scholars. In addition to this, there is no connection between the defamation of religions and the dissemination of hate speech in various societies.

Despite this and all the profound intellectual and cultural differences between the general Islamic view of religion and the views of non-conservative and non-Islamic societies on religious issues, political risks and the waves of religious terrorism that are sweeping the whole world with its diverse religions now demand from the international community to include hate speech and contempt for religions among the crimes that the Court is competent to examine, especially since recent events on the international scene have indicated the danger of spreading hate speech and discrimination on international peace and security.

Contempt for the sanctity of others is not freedom at all. Rather, it is a crime that is rejected by all standards, and insulting and offending the symbols of other religions is an uncivilized act that harms and affects the feelings of others. Respect for beliefs and religions would make the world safer and more stable. What is most important, however, is that the establishment of respect for religions can overcome the distress of this era, namely the political intrigues that seek to blend religion and politics.

Dr. Marwa El-Shinawy: Assistant Professor at the American International University of Specialized Studies (IAUS)

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