Atheist Alliance International (AAI) urges governments and the international community, in the strongest possible terms, to support freedom of expression and conscience by objecting to any proposed anti-blasphemy resolutions or restrictions on the free exchange of ideas.
Member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are seeking a UN resolution criminalising the defamation of religion, a proposal that has in the past been resisted by organisations and governments concerned with freedom of expression and human rights. These OIC governments are exploiting the recent violence that erupted following the posting of a video on YouTube that many Muslims find insulting to Mohammed.
âAAI is deeply concerned that the UN member states will overreact to recent protests and violence in Muslim-majority countries â violence which itself is a grotesque overreaction to an amateur video of dubious origin â by endorsing anti-blasphemy resolutions during the General Assembly and within the UN Human Rights Council. Such steps would gravely undermine freedoms of expression and conscience, would give unwarranted privilege to religious viewpoints, and - most dangerously - would provide a veil of legitimacy for governments to oppress citizens in the name of protecting religion,â said President Carlos A. Diaz.
âIndeed, many of the countries that have been the vocal in their support for international regulation have been among the most egregious and regressive oppressors of both freethought and minority religions, often using domestic anti-blasphemy laws to persecute individuals with minority viewpoints. Inevitably, when people think for themselves there are going to be disagreements. The only fair response is to protect people's right to express their views, not to favour one view over another," said Diaz.
AAI calls on the international community, concerned individuals and organisations to take a firm stand in support of freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. Religious tolerance and pluralism are strongest when freedom of expression, including the freedom to challenge religious viewpoints, is protected for all people.
Atheist Alliance International
Carlos A. Diaz