Cliff May

Bitar enthused: "The idea of European lawyers joining us in the campaign and supporting our efforts is tremendous. We are defending Islam in a civilized way and are trying to hold those responsible for the caricatures accountable according to the law."

Additional legal assistance may be on the way. The United Nations General Assembly is considering a resolution sponsored by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The ostensible purpose of “Combating Defamation of Religion” – yet another inspiring name! – is to stamp out “incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular." As for other religions, rest assured this resolution will guarantee them as much protection and respect as Christianity, Judaism, Baha'i, and Hinduism now receive in Saudi Arabia, Iran or any of the other sponsoring nations.

While General Assembly resolutions do not actually have the force of law, they provide diplomatic cover for tyrants eager to muzzle critics, and they are routinely cited by leftist “human rights” groups and journalists as though they were international law.

Felice Gaer, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal body, says it’s clear that the OIC countries are attempting to “mainstream” prohibitions on any speech that could be considered critical of Islam.

“They are turning freedom of expression into restriction of expression," she said.

And the European Center for Law and Justice has filed a brief with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights warning that such resolutions "are in direct violation of international law concerning the rights to freedom of religion and expression." The brief argues that the resolution is incompatible with any serious conception of free speech, that it substitutes instead “a subjective criterion that considers whether the religion or its believers feel offended by the speech.”

It’s encouraging to know that some Europeans are concerned. It will be instructive to see what they do when it becomes clear – as I’ll bet you a Euro it will – that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – won’t lift a finger.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.