Non-Aligned Movement’s Firm Stand against Defamation of Religion

Defamation of religion is an issue that has been repeatedly addressed by NAM member states o in the United Nations (UN) as well as the NAM summits and declaration. Several non-binding resolutions, initiated by NAM member States have been voted on and accepted by the UN condemning “defamation of religion”. NAM leaders have reaffirmed their strong belief in the need to stress moderation of all religions and beliefs and to promote understanding through dialogue within and across religions. In this connection, the movement has been deeply alarmed at the rising trends of discriminatory national laws and policies adopted and exercised against any religion, stigmatizing groups of people on the basis of religions under variety of pretexts relating to security and illegal immigration, particularly people from certain ethnicities and religious minorities following the events of 11 September 2001.
The voting pattern on the UN Defamation Resolution reveals that a clear majority of states in the world support the value of combating defamation of religions. In 2006, 58% member states of the United Nations (192 states) voted for the Resolution, 28% opposed it, and 14% were non-committed. Most members of the NAM supported the Defamation Resolution; and, perhaps as importantly, not a single NAM member opposed it. This voting pattern emerges from a shared understanding in NAM that defamation of religions is being wrongly justified on the ground of the right to freedom of expression.
The Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, held in Tehran on 3 and 4 September 2007, underlined the importance of increasing contacts at all levels in order to deepen dialogue and reinforce understanding among different cultures, religions, beliefs and civilizations, and was vocal in condemning defamation of religion in any form . The outcome of the meeting was acknowledged by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 62/154 dealing with the subject of Combating defamation of religions
The final document of the 2012 Tehran Declaration explicitly mentions about the movement’s emphasis that everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference and the right to freedom of expression, and that exercise of these rights carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights and reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals. The Tehran Declaration further states the importance of promoting full respect of all religions and cultures among all States, with a view to promoting and ensuring the full enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression while preventing abuses and incitement to religious hatred that could contribute to undermining the ongoing efforts to foster a culture of peace based on mutual respect and tolerance among religions, cultures and civilizations, as provided for in the international human rights instruments to which States are parties.
The movement has expressed concerns at the negative stereotyping of religions, insults to and defamation of religious personalities, holy books, scriptures and symbols, which impede the enjoyment of human rights including the right to worship and manifest religion without fear of coercion, violence or reprisal.
The Algiers Declaration of 2014 deplored all acts of ideological and physical violence and assaults, and incitements thereto, against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, and those acts directed against the holy symbols, sites or places of worship of all religions, and underlined the need to address these disturbing instances through appropriate measures at the national and international level, including legal measures, to provide adequate protection against acts of religious hatred that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence resulting from defamation of religions in conformity with existing instruments of international law.
Thus, NAM recognizes the importance of respect and understanding for religious and cultural diversity throughout the world, of choosing negotiations over confrontation and of working together and not against each other. Towards this end, the movement welcomes all initiatives to promote tolerance and respect for religious and cultural diversity and the universal promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of religion or belief. The Movemet has stood firm against any attempt to defame any religion and the elimination of all forms of discrimination based on religion or belief.

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