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IRD: Don't Let the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Silence Free Speech

"The actions of the OIC are a victimhood campaign used to stifle all criticism of Islam or discussion of such issues as violence against women by Muslims and Islamic persecution of non-Muslims." -- Faith J.H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Director

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- The largest Islamic body in the world is pushing ahead with a planned event "geared towards combating discrimination and intolerance on religious grounds." But while the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is heralding an upcoming June meeting of "the Istanbul Process" in Geneva, free speech advocates are crying foul.

Critics of the OIC charge that it seeks international laws to curb freedom of expression under the guise of criminalizing "incitement to imminent violence," with the actual goal of criminalizing criticism of Islam. The OIC has urged the UN Human Rights Council to pass resolutions "Combating Defamation of Religions" that it interpreted to apply only to Islam. In 2011, the OIC introduced a resolution that dropped the language of "defamation," instead arguing for "combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief."

Founded in 1969 and composed of 57 member states, the OIC claims to represent over 1.5 billion Muslims and is the largest international organization of any kind aside from the United Nations. Although Christians and other religious minorities suffer increasing persecution in many majority Muslim countries, the OIC seems unconcerned about their rights.

IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:

    "At its heart, the OIC's efforts reveal a group that believes it is entitled to control perceptions of Islam everywhere. They are entitled to make their case, but not to create laws criminalizing those who vocally disagree.

    "The agenda of the OIC using the idea of defamation of religion and/or Islamophobia is of utmost importance to all who value individual right to freedom of speech and the communication of truth. We should find this attempted silencing of free speech not only offensive but alarming.

    "For almost 15 years, the OIC has pushed toward its goal of internationally outlawing all criticism of Islam, Muslims, Muslim theocracies, and Islamic extremism.

    "Defamation is a concept that applies to people, not to religions. And although the OIC's defamation religions apply to any perceived insult to Islam or to a Muslim, whether true or false, the dictionary defines 'defaming' as 'issuance of false statements about a person that injure his reputation or that deter others from associating with him.'

    "The actions of the OIC are a victimhood campaign used to stifle all criticism of Islam or discussion of such issues as violence against women by Muslims and Islamic persecution of non-Muslims because this would be to judge or value a religion."

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