April 7, 2008
Canada should repeal blasphemy laws
MCC rejects call by Islamic countries to curtail debate and discussion about religion
TORONTO - The Muslim Canadian Congress has expressed shock and disappointment at the move by Islamic countries to bulldoze the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) into approving a resolution curtailing freedom of speech under the guise of protecting religion.
The resolution approved at the UNHRC and initiated by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is disingenuously titled "Combating Defamation of Religion.” However, the fact is that the OIC resolution is nothing more than a cover to silence opponents of Islamist oppression inside Muslim countries, as well as in the West.
The MCC in a statement said "the UNHRC resolution instead of protecting the right to freedom of conscience and religious expression, will become a tool in the hands of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the world jihadi movement to strike fear among the opponents of Islamic extremism." The move is a retrogressive step greatly undermining the rights of individuals who believe in questioning, evaluating and challenging religious dogma. Many Islamic countries have no qualms in executing their Muslim citizens on trumped up charges of apostasy and using it to instill fear in the hearts and minds of Muslims who reject the tyranny of man-made Sharia law of the 12th century, and it being applied in the 21st.
The MCC statement said the UNHRC's decision has little to do with protecting the rights of such individuals who are already vulnerable to threats by radicals and extremists. Very often these take the shape of death threats over perceived heresies and blasphemies against orthodox belief. It will merely strengthen the hands of fanatics who do not believe in tolerating dissent within religious discourse.
The MCC strongly protests the UNHRC interference in matters related to freedom of expression and conscience as guaranteed by liberal democracies. In this regard, the MCC has welcomed the British government's recent decision to repeal the age-old blasphemy laws that undermine freedom of expression.
As a pre-emptive step, the MCC is asking the Canadian government to follow the example of Britain in repealing blasphemy laws. The Canadian law states:
"At common law, blasphemy and blasphemous libel consisted of the publication of contemptuous, reviling, scurrilous or ludicrous matter relating to God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, or the formularies of the Church of England. It was not blasphemy at common law to attack any religion except Christianity, and an attack on the Christian religion had to be such as tended to lead to a breach of the peace. While it is blasphemy to publish attacks upon God, it may no longer be blasphemous to publish attacks upon the doctrines of Christianity or upon Christian clergy. The publisher must intend to publish, but need not intend that the publication amount to blasphemy. The blasphemous words may be spoken or written."
Such restrictions on freedom of religion are no longer justified in pluralistic societies guaranteeing freedom of belief and conscience , including the right to question religious doctrine, monotheistic or otherwise. It is about time, the Canadian government established parity in such matters by declaring blasphemy laws obsolete.
The MCC is urging Muslim organizations in Canada and the Western world to reject this attack on freedom of expression by the Islamic countries led by the oppressive dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The MCC statement further said that the recent push at the UNHRC by Islamic countries is part of the campaign against the 1948 UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights. Saudi Arabia and Iran have long championed their own "Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI)" which affirms Islamic Shariah as its sole source, while rejecting Universal Human Rights.
The MCC unequivocally rejects man-made medieval sharia law as an alternative to the 1948 Declaration of Universal Human Rights. Laws that justify slavery, polygamy, the second-class status of women and that sanction the death penalty for apostates and gays, should best be reserved as part of our history, not our future. Until capital punishment is abolished in all Islamic countries alongwith theocratic dictatorships and monarchies, the OIC has no moral authority lecturing the international community about the need for “Combating Defamation of Religion.” These regimes must recognize that their very existence and use of Islam as a political tool is a defamation of religion.
The MCC statement called on North American Muslim organizations and the Mosque establishment to reject and condemn this hypocritical call by the Islamic Countries. It said, "Unless Islamic organizations like CAIR, ISNA and their affiliates on campuses distance themselves from the Muslim Brotherhood agenda against democracy and free speech, their supposed struggle for the civil rights of Muslims in North America will be seen at best as hypocritical and as serving the interests of the worldwide Islamist movement against free speech, enlightenment, and democracy.
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For further information or comment, please call the Muslim Canadian Congress at (416) 473-4552