An Islamic organization that claims to represent “the collective voice of the Muslim world” is trying to get the U.N. Human Rights Council to pass a resolution condemning the highly-publicized and now-defunct plan of a U.S. preacher to burn Qurans.
In a draft resolution submitted by Pakistan, the 57 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) expressed their concern over the “instances of intolerance, discrimination, profiling and acts of violence against Muslims occurring in many parts of the world.”
They also called upon the U.N. Human Rights Council to condemn any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to hatred, discrimination, hostility or violence, and to call upon the international community to stand together against acts that undermine peaceful coexistence between nations and create an environment conducive to violence and reprisal.
Specifically, their resolution asks the council to speak out against “the recent call by an extremist group” to organize a day to burn copies of Islam’s sacred text, the Quran.
The group to which the resolution referred to is the small, 50-member congregation of Pastor Terry Jones, which had planned to burn around 200 copies of the Quran last month on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America.
Though the event was planned to “stand against the evil of Islam,” which Jones’ church regards as a "violent and oppressive religion," the Florida preacher called off the burning shortly before it was scheduled to take place and vowed to not “ever” burn Qurans.
Jones said in an interview on Sept. 11 that he and his church, Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, “feel that God is telling us to stop.”
"We feel that whenever we started this out one of our reasons was to show, to expose that there is an element of Islam that is very dangerous and very radical," Jones stated on NBC's "Today Show." "I believe that we have definitely accomplished that mission."
Though the Qurans were never burned, the plan had set off demonstrations in various parts of the world and even prompted other fringe groups to follow suit, including one in Washington that tore pages from the Quran in front of the White House. The tearing reportedly triggered an eruption of violence in the divided Kashmir area that left a Christian school completely destroyed and other Christian institutions nearby in flames.
The clashes with police that ensued resulted in over a dozen deaths.
Notably, in a statement after the incident in Kashmir, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu expressed "his deep sorrow and grief" over the deaths but made no mention of the destruction caused by the demonstrations.
After "strongly condemning the excessive use of force against the Kashmiri people," Ihsanoglu "offered his condolences to the families of those who had lost their lives in the violence and prayed for the quick recovery of the wounded people," according to OIC.
OIC, which boasts itself as the second largest inter-governmental organization in the world after the United Nations, has been criticized by many in recent years for advocating only for the protection of Muslims rather than defending the religious liberty of all persons everywhere.
Aside from the resolution on the planned Quran burnings, OIC is also trying to push through another resolution that it has brought before the U.N. Human Rights Council every year over the past decade.
The resolution, which OIC has annually sponsored since 1999, seeks to make the "defamation of religions" a human rights violation, saying that “the defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, could lead to social disharmony and violations of human rights.”
It claims there is a “need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred in general and against Islam and Muslims in particular."
Though supporters of the resolution insist that there is a need for the "defamation of religion" to be considered a human rights violation, critics of the resolution, including more than 180 non-government organizations, warn that such a move could be manipulated to justify anti-blasphemy laws and intimidate human rights activists and religious dissenters.
Instead of protecting adherents of religions, including those of religious minorities, the resolution protects religions themselves, critics say. Furthermore, the only religion mentioned in the text of the resolution is Islam.
Despite opposition and fears that they'll be used to increase pressure for actions on defamation and "Islamophobia," OIC's resolutions are expected to pass as the inter-governmental organization and its allies have a majority in the 47-nation U.N. council.
The OIC resolutions, together with others yet to be submitted at the council, are likely to be voted on when the council wraps up its current autumn session at the end of next week.
The council's 15th session, which commenced Sept. 13, concludes on Oct. 1.