(Photo: AP / Alexandre Meneghini)
A ministry working with persecuted Christians launched a campaign Tuesday against a U.N. resolution that many human rights groups say can be manipulated to oppress religious minorities living in Muslim-majority countries.
The Defamation of Religions Resolution, backed by the 57 Muslim-majority countries that make up the Organization of Islamic Conference, is expected to be proposed next month or later this year. It seeks to criminalize words or actions that are deemed defamatory towards a particular religion.
Rights groups, however, warn the resolution could be used to legitimize anti-blasphemy laws and intimidate human rights activists and religious dissenters. Critics say instead of protecting adherents of religions, including religious minorities, the resolution protects religions themselves.
Open Doors, the group that launched the new campaign, pointed to the recent anti-Christian rampage in Gojra, Pakistan, where Muslim mobs killed and burned Christian homes based on a blasphemy rumor. At least seven Christians were killed and more than 100 homes were looted and burned in the Gojra attack.
“Many Christians living in these countries (OIC) are already severely impacted by restrictive laws – especially those living under strict Shariah law,” said Open Doors USA President/CEO Carl Moeller. “From the right to worship freely to the ability to share the Gospel, the Defamation of Religions Resolution threatens to justify local laws that already marginalize Christians."
“The Defamation of Religions Resolution is a blow against religious freedom,” he added.
The Christian ministry has launched an advocacy campaign aimed at preventing the non-binding resolution from passing at the United Nations. It plans to lobby key countries, which will vote on the resolution, and organize a petition drive against the proposal.
Groups that have protested against the Defamation of Religions resolution in the past include The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Freedom House, U.N. Watch, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
“It is crucial that this resolution is defeated. Join our advocacy team now,” Moeller urged. “We need to stand in the gap for our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
On the Web: www.OpenDoorsUSA.org