IHEU questions the need for “complementary standards” on freedom of expression

  • post Type / Humanists International News
  • Date / 7 October 2011

The 57 Islamic States and their allies have for several years been pushing the Human Rights Council to tighten international law on freedom of expression by introducing “complementary standards” needed, they claim, to combat new abuses of freedom of expression such as “Islamophobia”. Yet in many Islamic States incitement to religious hatred is allowed to go unchallenged.Delivering a joint statement with the World Union of Progressive Judaism at the Human Rights Council on 27 September 2011, IHEU representative Roy Brown questioned the need for new standards when the existing standards are being so widely ignored.

International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL – 18th session (12 – 30 September 2011)

Joint Statement by Representative Roy W Brown: Tuesday 27 Sept. 2011Joint Statement by Representative Roy W Brown: Tuesday 27 Sept. 2011

Item 9: Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance

Islamophobia and Demonisation of the Jews

Thank you Madam President, 

We have heard much in this Council of the problem of Islamophobia, and certainly the demonisation of Muslims must be universally condemned. But we must also make a clear distinction between demonization of Muslims and valid criticism of the beliefs and practices of Islam or of any other religion, as the Human Rights Committee made abundantly clear in July.[1]

But we have heard very little in the Council of the demonisation of Jews propagated almost daily in the Arab media – such as a call for a new Holocaust, “this time at the hands of the Muslims.”[2]

We also see the most odious books demonising Jews still being widely sold throughout the Middle East: the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (known to be a 19th century Russian forgery but which inspired Hitler); Hitler’s own Mein Kampf (that led directly to the Holocaust); and a book promoting the infamous blood libel against the Jews by a former Syrian Minister of Defence: The Matzah of Zion.[3] Just one quote from this book will suffice:

“The Jew can kill you…and take your blood in order to make his Zionist bread”

Why do the Syrian, Egyptian and other Arab governments not ban these books and silence these preachers of hate – as they are required to do under article 20 of the ICCPR? What need is there for complementary standards when the existing standards are being so widely ignored?

Finally, Madam President, despite 170 years of protests from Jewish communities worldwide, the Holy See has still not ordered the removal of the inscription on the tomb of Father Thomas in the Terra Sancta church in Damascus that perpetuates the medieval blood libel against the Jews.

May we respectfully ask the Holy See to act now to ensure that none of its churches any longer promote hatred of the Jews.

Thank you, Madam

[1]Human Rights Committee, General Comment No 34 on Freedom of Expression, July 2011. 

[3]By Major-Gen. Mustafa Tlass, for 30 years a Syrian government minister.

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