REP. ENGEL URGES DEFEAT OF U.N.'s DEFAMATION OF RELIGIONS RESOLUTION Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) is leading the fight against the onerous “Defamation of Religions” resolution in the United Nations General Assembly
PoliticalNews.me - Oct 26,2010 - Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) is leading the fight against the onerous “Defamation of Religions” resolution in the United Nations General Assembly. The resolution represents an effort to codify a right protecting religions from “defamation,” but not to protect an individual's right to believe. The UNGA has adopted the “defamation of religions” resolution annually since 2005, but the last two years it passed with only a plurality of votes, meaning more “No” and abstentions than “Yes” votes.
Rep. Engel authored a bipartisan letter which is being sent to over 150 heads of state signed by 42 Members of Congress urging the General Assembly Member States to oppose the resolution. A vote is expected at some point next month. Rep. Engel states in the letter that the resolution which seeks to protect religion would instead lead to more intolerance and violence. It would “threaten individual rights to freedom of religion and expression, and provide international support for domestic blasphemy laws that often lead to human rights abuses.”
"It is commendable for the UN to try and solve the very real problems of religious discrimination and hatred. However, this would accomplish the opposite, as governments would have the ability to suppress and punish what they deem to be offensive speech about a favored religion or sect. That is a very dangerous, very slippery slope to be treading upon and can lead to serious human rights abuses,” said Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“I am pleased to say that our efforts are paying off and more countries are voting against the ‘Defamations of Religions’ resolution each year. Religious intolerance and discrimination can best be fought by encouraging respect for the human rights of each person. By silencing expression through restrictions on belief and speech only further promotes intolerance, discrimination, and all-too-often, violence,” said Rep. Engel.
The 11-term Congressman was the keynote speaker at a luncheon this week hosted by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom where he urged a group of permanent representatives to the U.N. from countries around the world to seek alternative methods to promote religious tolerance. New laws curtailing speech are not the answer. Instead, the implementation of existing laws fighting violence and religious intolerance is encouraged, and cross-faith understanding and respect for human rights and freedom of expression should be the lynchpin of revamped efforts to protect religious rights.
“This cycle of religious intolerance needs to end, and the UNGA has an opportunity to show leadership by rejecting these proposals. I sincerely hope they take it,” said Rep. Engel.
The letter is below:
Dear (Head of State):
We write to respectfully urge your country’s delegation to oppose a resolution on “combating defamation of religions” that the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is expected to consider this fall. Sadly, this misguided resolution, which seeks to protect particular religions, religious symbols, and religious institutions from “defamation” or criticism, would exacerbate rather than solve the very real problems of religious intolerance, discrimination