UN Human Rights Council condemns Quran burnings

This is the direct consequence of the Korans burned in Sweden in recent months. At Pakistan’s request, an urgent debate was held at the UN Human Rights Council and led to the adoption on Wednesday of a resolution condemning the burning of the Koran and other acts of religious hatred. It was approved by 28 of the 47 members of this council, including China, Ukraine and most African countries. Seven members abstained and twelve voted against, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Costa Rica.

The text includes a condemnation of “any advocacy and manifestation of religious hatred, including recent acts, public and premeditated, which have desacralized the Koran” and a call on countries to adopt laws allowing them to bring to justice those responsible for these acts. . It asks the UN to identify countries that do not have such legislation and to organize a round table of experts to examine the subject. The Pakistani ambassador, Khalil Hashmi, felt that it was a balanced text that did not point the finger at any state.

“Islamophobia is on the rise. Incidents involving Quran desecration are happening again and again in some countries,” Chinese Ambassador Chen Xu said, lending his support to the resolution. And “these countries have done nothing to implement their alleged respect for the protection of freedom of religious belief”, he denounced.

Opposition to blasphemy laws

But several countries, mostly Western, expressed during the debates on Wednesday and Thursday their opposition to laws against blasphemy, while strongly condemning the burning of the Koran in Sweden. The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom had called for a vote against the resolution.

“We regret having to vote against this unbalanced text, but it is in contradiction with positions that we have adopted for a long time on freedom of expression”, declared the American ambassador Michèle Taylor.

Some Latin American countries abstained, including Mexico and Honduras, believing – like Western countries – that more time would have been needed to negotiate and reach a consensus. Mexico affirmed on Thursday before the vote that “any critical expression of religions does not in itself constitute incitement to violence and discrimination”.

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