In November of 2008, the United Nations passed a measure titled Combating Defamation of Religions. Is it possible to “defame” religion? The term has very specific legal meanings, which are entirely inappropriate with regards to questioning religion.
· communication to third parties of false statements about a person that injure the reputation of or deter others from associating with that person
· a false accusation of an offense or a malicious misrepresentation of someone's words or actions
· Act of injuring another's reputation by any slanderous communication, written or oral; the wrong of maliciously injuring the good name of another; slander; detraction; calumny; aspersion.
Note: In modern usage, written defamation bears the title of libel, and oral defamation that of slander. --Burrill.
The act of defaming some-BODY or some-THING requires that the defamed entity can be proven to exist, or to be true, that it has been harmed by what has been said, and most importantly, that the defaming statement can be proven to be false.
Is this really a direction in which humanity should be heading? Have we forgotten that Salman Rushdie has, for years, been in hiding because of religious fatwas that threatened his life, and actually probably still do, for merely writing a fictional book entitle The Satanic Verses?
There is also the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and raised a devout Muslim. In 1992, Ayaan was married off by her father in a ceremony which she refused to attend. In order to escape this marriage, she fled to the Netherlands where she won asylum, and eventually citizenship. After earning a degree in political science at the University of Leiden, she served as an elected member of the Dutch parliament for three years.
She has since become an active critic of fundamentalist Islam, an advocate for women's rights and a leader in the campaign to reform Islam. Her willingness to speak out and her abandonment of the Muslim faith as currently defined have made her a target for violence and threats of death by Islamic extremists. (My emphasis)
Ms. Hirsi Ali was named one of TIME magazine's ''100 Most Influential People'' of 2005, one of Glamour Magazine's Heroes of 2005, and she received the Prix Simone de Beauvoir in 2008. She has published a collection of essays entitled The Caged Virgin (Free Press, 2006) and a best-selling memoir Infidel (Free Press, 2007). She is now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC.
In response to ongoing abuses of women's rights in the name of fundamentalist Islam, Mrs. Hirsi Ali and her supporters established the AHA Foundation
Through education, outreach and the dissemination of knowledge, the Foundation aims to combat several types of crimes against women, including female genital mutilation, forced marriages, honor violence, and honor killings.
Is it really in the best interests of humanity for an international peace-keeping organization such as the United Nations to issue measures in support of silencing intellectual examination of religious beliefs that support assassination of someone simply because they disapprove of, and question, religion?
It seems perhaps a measure denouncing such religions would better serve humanity.