In a statement to the UN Human Rights Council, Tuesday, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) criticised the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for making renewed calls to suppress freedom of expression in the name of "blasphemy" and "Islamophobia", while ignoring serious and ongoing human rights abuses.

The joint statement by International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), the British Humanist Association and Center for Inquiry, fell under agenda item 4, "Human rights situations that require the Council's attention". The complete text of Roy's speech follows below.

Freedom of Expression and the OIC

Mr President, 

Freedom of expression is once again under sustained attack from the member states of the OIC.

In Saudi Arabia last week, two activists were sentenced to ten years in jail for exposing hundreds of cases of human rights abuse in the kingdom.

In Iran, we have seen protesters imprisoned and even sentenced to death, for "waging war against God". But what strange logic can possibly equate criticism and peaceful protest with waging war? And since when did any government equate itself with God?

In Morocco, a colleague has had to flee for his life because he wrote of his doubts about Islam. [Speech by Kacem Elghazzali, HRC 22, item 4,  11 March 2013]

In Mauritania, two days ago, a group of nine antislavery protesters were attacked and severely beaten by police. [Private communication from IRA Mauritania, 10 March 2013]

In Pakistan, hundreds of Shias have been murdered for holding the “wrong” beliefs.

But we have waited in vain for condemnation by the OIC of human rights abuses carried out by agents of the State within its member States. Instead, we have seen protests against Islamic extremism condemned as “Islamophobia”, which was recently described by the prime minister of Turkey as “a crime against humanity”. 

A crime against humanity, Mr President?  No Sir. We see murder, ethnic cleansing, torture, kidnappings, suicide bombings, and terrorist attacks as crimes against humanity.

It is people that have human rights, Mr President, not beliefs. Protesting against human rights abuse, and pointing out where the responsibility lies, is not a crime, Mr President, it is a duty. And may we respectfully remind the member States of the OIC that it is their duty to uphold the right to freedom of expression, not condemn it.

Thank you Sir.

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