World's Press Condemns UN Council¹s Decision on Defamation of Religion

The World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum have condemned a
resolution approved by the United Nations Human Rights Council on
³defamation of religion,² calling the measure an attack on the basic human
right of freedom of expression.

³This decision brings discredit on the UN Human Rights Council, which should
not justify censorship and the stifling of dissenting voices,² said the
Paris-based WAN and WEF, the global organisations of the world¹s press.

³Religion is a legitimate subject for criticism, satire and debate. The
concept of defamation of religion is likely to severely stifle that debate,²
the statement said. "We are seriously concerned that this resolution will be
relied on by authoritarian governments to suppress freedom of expression.²

WAN and WEF called on Council members to "take all steps necessary to ensure
that international standards of freedom of expression are fully supported by
the UN Human Rights Council and not undermined by resolutions such as this."

The Council's resolution, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation
of the Islamic Conference and approved by the Council on Friday, calls for a
global fight against ³defamation of religions.² Islamic countries argue that
criticizing or lampooning religions is a violation of the rights of
believers and leads to discrimination and violence against them.

But such measures also are used to stifle debate and dissent. A list of some
recent cases can be found at

The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry,
defends and promotes press freedom and the professional and business
interests of newspapers world-wide. Representing 18,000 newspapers, its
membership includes 77 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies
and individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and
11 regional and world-wide press groups.

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