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In a joint statement with two other NGOs at the UN Human Rights Council on 12 March, IHEU exposed the hypocrisy of the Islamic States who, while attacking the Swiss referendum banning the construction of new minarets “which are no more central to Islam than spires are to Christianity”, chose to completely ignore the oppression of religious minorities, the murder of Christians, and the burning of churches in several of their own countries.

Here is an extract from the speech given by the Association for World Education (AWE) representative.

We thank Ms. Asma Jahangir for her Report and outstanding work as Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. We are dismayed however by the increasingly strident attacks on freedom of expression in this Council, made in the name of religious freedom by the OIC, and in particular the gross exaggeration of issues such as the recent Swiss vote to ban the construction of new minarets, while the Council is failing to address many real issues of religious freedom, such as the murder of Christians in Egypt and Pakistan, the very recent massacre of Christians on the Jos Plateau of Nigeria, and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians of Iraq.

Sir, minarets are not central to Islam, any more than spires are to Christianity. Banning the construction of new minarets does not impede in any way the ability of Muslims to practise freely their religion, so why the uproar about a democratic Swiss vote, when the OIC allows so much human rights abuse in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere to go unchallenged. And why have we heard no condemnation from the OIC and the Council of the call by Libya for a ‘Jihad’– a Holy War – against Switzerland, forbidden under Article 2: 4 of the UN Charter.

And how to stop the ongoing persecution of Christians, Mandeans and other minorities in Iraq; of Bahais in Iran and now in Egypt; of Copts in Egypt; and of Ahmadis and Christians in Pakistan? How does the OIC propose stopping the constant attacks on churches and the murder or arrest of priests, pastors and worshipers in several of these countries? The OIC condemns Islamophobia on the slightest grounds, but makes no effort to do the same for Christianophobia, and rampant Judeophobia in the press, radio and TV in their own countries. Surely, Mr President, these are the questions the Council should be asking under the heading of freedom of religion.

Note: The spokesman for AWE went on to add further comments that had not been agreed by IHEU and are not reproduced here.

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