At United Nations, Muslim Presidents Argue for Global Blasphemy Ban

Despite their ardor for anti-religious programming in America, the media elite will probably not highlight this story line from Patrick Goodenough of Leaders of the world’s two most populous Muslim countries used their speeches at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday to call for a legally binding, global anti-blasphemy protocol.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, both argued that insults against Mohammed, Islam’s prophet, incite violence and are therefore not legitimate free speech.

Yudhoyono noted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says the exercise of rights and freedoms is subject to “the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.”

“Freedom of expression is therefore not absolute,” he told the annual high-level gathering in New York.

Arguing that religious “defamation” persists – and citing The Innocence of Muslims, a video clip posted on YouTube that disparages Mohammed – Yodhoyono called on member states to adopt a legally-binding instrument banning blasphemy, to serve as “a point of reference that the world community must comply with.”

The Jakarta Globe reports that human rights groups in Indonesia criticized their president and the implementation of Indonesia's 1965 anti-blasphemy law, which perhaps unsurprisingly is used by Sunni Muslims against Shiite muslims, as in the case of Tajul Maluk.

Tajul is a Shiite leader in Sampang, East Java, who was convicted by the district court there of religious defamation on July 12. Prosecutors found him guilty of spreading teachings that contradicted mainstream Islam and had caused “public anxiety.”

Tajul’s followers in Sampang have been attacked multiple times by Sunni Muslims for their adherence to the cleric’s teachings. Two Shiite followers were killed and several others were injured in one mob attack in late August.

Tim Graham's picture