UN rights body adopts Pakistan’s resolution against desecration of Quran

GENEVA: The United Nations Human Rights Council on Wednesday approved a disputed resolution on religious hatred in the wake of the burning of a Quran in Sweden, prompting concern by Western states who say it challenges long-held practices in rights protection.

The resolution, introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), calls for the U.N. rights chief to publish a report on religious hatred and for states to review their laws and plug gaps that may “impede the prevention and prosecution of acts and advocacy of religious hatred.”

It was strongly opposed by the United States and the European Union, who say it conflicts with their view on human rights and freedom of expression.

An Iraqi immigrant to Sweden burned the Koran outside a Stockholm mosque last month, sparking outrage across the Muslim world and demands by Muslim states for action.

The vote’s outcome marks a major defeat for Western countries at a time when the OIC has unprecedented clout in the council, the only body made up of governments to protect human rights worldwide.

Twenty-eight countries voted in favour, 12 voted against and seven countries abstained.

Michele Taylor, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council, deplored the vote’s outcome, saying the United States’ concerns about the initiative “were not taken seriously.”

“I believe with a little more time and more open discussion, we could have also found a way forward together on this resolution,” she said. –Reuters

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