The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has approved a resolution on religious hatred and bigotry in the wake of a Quran-burning stunt in Sweden.
It led to protests across the Muslim world.
The motion passed, on Wednesday, was, however, opposed by the United States and the European Union.
The U.S. and EU claimed the resolution conflicts with their positions on human rights and freedom of expression.
Pakistan and other Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries secured urgent debate at the UN’s top rights body on Tuesday. The incident gave them concern.
Last month, outside Stockholm’s main mosque, an Iraqi immigrant desecrated the Quran on the Eid al-Adha holiday.
The resolution, among other things, called on countries to take steps to “prevent and prosecute acts and advocacy of religious hatred that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”.
“We must see this clearly for what it is: incitement to religious hatred, discrimination and attempts to provoke violence,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, told the Geneva-based council via video on Tuesday.
He said such acts occurred under “government sanction and with the sense of impunity”.
Ministers from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia also echoed Bhutto Zardari’s remarks.
“Stop abusing freedom of expression. Silence means complicity,” Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.
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UN Human Rights Chief, Volker Turk, told the UNHRC that inflammatory acts against Muslims, as well as other religions or minorities, are “offensive, irresponsible and wrong”.
Sweden has condemned the Quran burning but maintains the country has a constitutionally-protected right to freedom of assembly, expression and demonstration.
On Tuesday, France’s ambassador, Jerome Bonnafont, noted that human rights “protect people – not religions, doctrines, beliefs or their symbols … It is neither for the United Nations nor for states to define what is sacred”.
UNHRC resolutions are not legally binding but are seen as strong political commitments by states.
Tuesday’s motion called for countries to review their laws and plug gaps that may “impede the prevention and prosecution of acts and advocacy of religious hatred”.
Here is how countries voted:
Algeria; Argentina; Bangladesh; Bolivia; Cameroon; China; Cuba; Eritrea; Gabon; Gambia; India; Ivory Coast; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Malawi; Malaysia; Maldives; Morocco; Pakistan; Qatar; Senegal; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Ukraine; UAE; Uzbekistan; Vietnam
Belgium; Costa Rica; Czech Republic; Finland; France; Germany; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Montenegro; Romania; UK; US
Benin; Chile; Georgia; Honduras; Mexico; Nepal; Paraguay. (Aljazeera)
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