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Old 03-30-2007, 04:08 PM   #1
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Moral Authority

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations top human rights body condemned “defamation” of religion on Friday and, in an apparent reference to the storm over the Prophet cartoons, said press freedom had its limits.

With the support of China, Russia and Cuba, Moslem and Arab states comfortably won a vote on the 47-state Human Rights Council to express concern at “negative stereotyping” of religions and “attempts to identify Islam with terrorism.”

“The resolution is tabled in the expectation that it will compel the international community to acknowledge and address the disturbing phenomena of the defamation of religions, especially Islam,” said Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

All very well and good to start drawing limits on speech because it hurts these poor peoples feelings, after all their invisible friend never steps in to stop the offence so naturally somebody should, matches up quite well with these sorts of stories
The European Union has drawn up guidelines advising government spokesmen to refrain from linking Islam and terrorism in their statements.

Brussels officials have confirmed the existence of a classified handbook which offers “non-offensive” phrases to use when announcing anti-terrorist operations or dealing with terrorist attacks.

Banned terms are said to include “jihad”, “Islamic” or “fundamentalist”.

The word “jihad” is to be avoided altogether, according to some sources, because for Muslims the word can mean a personal struggle to live a moral life.

One alternative, suggested publicly last year, is for the term “Islamic terrorism” to be replaced by “terrorists who abusively invoke Islam”.

An EU official said that the secret guidebook, or, “common lexicon”, is aimed at preventing the distortion of the Muslim faith and the alienation of Muslims in Europe.

A genuine solution to stop Islamic Terrorism from taking place.

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Old 03-30-2007, 10:25 PM   #2
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Unfortunately the Human Rights Council is probably the single least effective UN body at the moment; it's disheartening that the major achievement of the session they just wrapped up was a resolution expressing "deep concern" over Darfur, but no condemnation of Khartoum, despite their own investigators' extensive findings. And it took extensive diplomatic wrangling just to get that much through, though it did so with unanimous support in the end. However UNHRC has no actual power; its only role is to call attention to human rights violations and make recommendations on how to address them.

Their recap of some of the member states' explanations of their votes on the 'religious defamation' resolution (about three-quarters of the way down this page) is interesting; you can also read an old (but still accurate) copy of the resolution itself by Googling "resolution on combating defamation of religions".
In favour (24): Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Gabon, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

Against (14): Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Abstentions (9): Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Peru, Uruguay and Zambia.
I don't see what the big deal about the EU handbook is; as the story explains it's just a list of suggested, nonbinding guidelines for civil servants and press spokespersons to use when addressing the public. No doubt some of the suggested phrases are jargony media-babble, but it's part of these folks' job not to alienate people after all.
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