GENEVA (AP) — The UN’s top human rights body has overwhelmingly approved a measure calling on countries to do more to prevent religious hatred in the wake of the Quran burnings in Europe, despite objections Western countries who fear that stricter measures by governments will trample freedom of expression.
Applause erupted in the cavernous chamber of the Human Rights Council on Wednesday after the vote by 28 to 12, with 7 abstentions, of a measure brought by Pakistan and Palestine and supported by many developing countries Africa, as well as China and India, and countries in the Middle East.
The resolution follows recent Quran burnings in parts of Europe and, among other things, calls on countries to take action to “prevent and prosecute acts and incitement to religious hatred that constitute incitement to discrimination. , hostility or violence”.
After the vote, Ambassador Khalil Hashmi of Pakistan insisted that the measure “does not seek to restrict the right to freedom of expression”, but tries to strike a “careful balance” between it and ” special duties and responsibilities”.
“The opposition of some in the room emanated from their reluctance to condemn the public desecration of the Holy Quran or any other religious book,” Hashmi said. “They lack the political, legal and moral courage to condemn this act, and that was the minimum the council could have expected of them.
A day earlier, however, Michele Taylor, the US ambassador to the council, said the United States “strongly condemns the actions that precipitated today’s discussion, including the desecration of the Holy Koran on June 28” – a reference to an incident in Sweden. last month, which has stoked protest in some Muslim communities.
After the vote, Taylor said she was “really sorry” that the council was unable to reach a consensus “to condemn what we all agree are deplorable acts of anti-Muslim hatred, while respecting freedom of expression”.