17 April 2009
Members of the Human Rights Council voted 23 in favour of a resolution recently to combat "defamation of religion." Eleven nations, mostly from the West, opposed the resolution and 13 countries abstained.
The resolution is not binding, but versions of it have been passed repeatedly by the Council, at which Muslim countries and their supporters have a built-in majority.
The head of the Vatican permanent observer mission of the Holy See to the UN Archbishop Silvano Tomasi explained the opposition of the Holy See to the resolution, noting that this seemingly good initiative can bring negative consequences.
He stated that the concept of "defamation of religion" must be clarified, as "it can be used to justify laws against blasphemy that, as we well know, are used in some States to attack religious minorities, including violently." The archbishop further asserted that at present the Christian community is the most discriminated against in the world.(see the latest "Report on Religious Liberty in the World" published by Aid to the Church in Need.
In speaking of the struggle against religious defamation Archbishop Tomasi stated "the challenge consists in finding a healthy balance, which harmonizes one's liberty with respect for others' feelings, and the path to attain this objective begins with acceptance of the fundamental principles of liberty, which are inscribed in international treaties."