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The US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, John V. Hanford III, has strongly supported freedom of religion and freedom of expression, and opposed the OIC’s promotion of the concept of “defamation of religions” at the UN as incompatible with international human rights law.

In his opening remarks, the Ambassador said, “The United States advocates religious freedom for all faiths, which means we take a leading role in defending the religious freedom of Muslims around the world. However, it is because of this commitment that we take issue with efforts by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its members like Pakistan and Egypt, in promoting the problematic concept of defamation of religions at the United Nations…. this flawed concept seeks to weaken the freedoms of religion and expression by restricting the rights of individuals to share their views or criticize religions; in particular, Islam. The OIC’s approach to defamation of religions is inconsistent with international human rights law, and is an attempt to export the blasphemy laws found in several OIC countries to the international level.”

The comments were part of the Ambassador’s remarks on the release of his 2008 International Religious Freedom Report. In a question-and-answer session, the Ambassador went on to amplify his comments.

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