Arab League calls to criminalize blasphemy
BY Associated Press
Thursday, September 27, 2012
9/27/12 at 6:44 AM
The head of the Arab League called Wednesday for the international community to criminalize blasphemy, warning that insults to religion pose a serious threat to global peace and security. The comments put him squarely at odds with the United States and many of its Western allies, which are resolutely opposed to restrictions on freedom of expression.
The Arab League's Nabil Elaraby told the U.N. Security Council that if the West has criminalized acts that result in bodily harm, it must also criminalize acts that insult or cause offense to religions. He condemned the violence that erupted throughout the Muslim world in response to an anti-Islam film produced in the United States. But, he said that unless blasphemy laws are enacted and enforced, similar incidents could happen again.
Elaraby maintained that the 21-member Arab League valued the freedom of speech but stressed that "we don't see any relation between freedom of expression which aims at enriching culture and building civilization of the one hand and activities that merely offend and insult the beliefs, culture and civilization of others."
Individual members of the Arab League, including Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, have issued similar calls. On Wednesday, Morsi condemned as an obscenity the video that denigrated Islam's Prophet Muhammad. He insisted that freedom of expression does not allow for attacks on any religion.
Morsi also condemned the violence that swept Muslim countries last week in reaction to the video. At least 51 people were killed, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans targeted in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Original Print Headline: League calls for blasphemy law