Sunday, November 21, 2010

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Clamping down on bashing of religion sounds like good way to stop hate crimes, discrimination; in Muslim world it’s excuse to do opposite.

  Earlier this month, several thousand people took to the streets of Brussels to raise the red flag against the ongoing Muslim violence against Christians. The demonstration was triggered by a massacre in Baghdad which left at least 52 dead after the al-Qaida linked “Islamic State of Iraq” stormed a Catholic church during Sunday Mass. This appalling attack is just the tip of the iceberg of the ever-growing Muslim intolerance. It has many people worried – and rightfully so.

For years, many Muslim countries have not just looked the other way when individuals or groups sought to carry out jihad against “infidels”; they have laws on the books making it illegal to do anything even remotely inflammatory against Islam. This witch-hunt atmosphere has, of course, lead to arbitrary detentions, assaults, mob attacks and murders.

Just recently, it reached yet another zenith of malice after a Christian-Pakistani woman and mother of five was sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly speaking ill of Muhammad. She rotted in jail for 17 months before the verdict. She, her husband and lawyers have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. They’re now filing an appeal.

The whole premise is based on the infamous blasphemy laws which have been adopted in many Muslim nations. A recent report from the Human Rights First organization cites dozens of cases in which Christians and other nonbelievers have been persecuted, jailed, maimed or executed in countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

What many people don’t know is that since 1999, Muslim countries have been looking to legalize such laws on the international level through the UN. The initiative is called the “Defamation of Religions” resolution, and will basically make it the norm to legally discriminate against any citizen who believes in a religion different than the official one of the state. It’s due to come up for a vote again in the next few weeks.

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