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H.Res. 141 Condemns Blasphemy Laws


The recent assassinations of two prominent Pakistani officials has not escaped the notice of Congress. One of my Google Alerts informed me of the existence of a House Resolution recently submitted by Rep. Trent Franks

The resolution is not limited to the murders, it also covers recent abuses of Pakistan’s blasphemy law and the OIC’s campaign to impose similar laws internationally through U.N. resolutions.

As soon as I read this resolution, I visited http://www.congress.org/ and sent an email to my Representative, urging him to sign onto the resolution and vote for it at every opportunity.  At the same time, I sent emails to my Senators urging them to initiate and vote for a parallel resolution in the Senate.

I have highlighted what I consider to be the most important provisions of the resolution.  Please read it, and if you agree with me, email your Representative & Senators urging them to vote for this resolution.

Art is long and time is fleeting. In past years, similar resolutions have been bottled up in committee, long after they could have had any possible good effect. It is expected that the UNHRC will pass another in their series of defamation resolutions this month.  We need to apply sufficient pressure to get this resolution passed before that happens.

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
H. RES. 141

Expressing condolences for the murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer 
 and Pakistan Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, and calling 
   for a Taseer-Bhatti Resolution in the United Nations Human Rights 
    Council honoring their courage in defense of core principles of 
 Pakistan's democracy, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human 
             Rights, particularly the freedom of religion.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             March 3, 2011

Mr. Franks of Arizona (for himself, Mr. Cleaver, Mr. Shuler, Mr. Duncan 
of South Carolina, Mr. Pitts, Mr. Daniel E. Lungren of California, Mr. 
     Akin, Mr. Lamborn, and Mr. McGovern) submitted the following 
   resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                               RESOLUTION


 
Expressing condolences for the murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer 
 and Pakistan Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, and calling 
   for a Taseer-Bhatti Resolution in the United Nations Human Rights 
    Council honoring their courage in defense of core principles of 
 Pakistan's democracy, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human 
             Rights, particularly the freedom of religion.

Whereas two respected Pakistani officials--Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and 
        Pakistan Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti--were both murdered 
        for their advocacy on behalf of religious freedom for people of all 
        faiths throughout Pakistan on January 4, 2011, and March 1, 2011, 
        respectively;
Whereas both Taseer and Bhatti were actively opposed to the death sentence 
        handed down to Asia Bibi in November 2010 for insulting Islam and called 
        for amendments to the blasphemy laws;
Whereas blasphemy laws under section 295(c) of the Pakistan Penal Code carry the 
        criminal penalties of life imprisonment and the death penalty and have 
        led to increasing acts of harassment and violence against Pakistani 
        citizens, thousands of whom have had cases filed against them often on 
        the basis of false accusations and with little recourse or justice;
Whereas according to the United States Commission on International Religious 
        Freedom, ``Blasphemy laws have been used against members of religious 
        minorities and dissenters within the majority Muslim community, and 
        frequently result in imprisonment on account of religion or belief and/
        or vigilante violence.'';
Whereas more than 30 people have been killed by lynch mobs after being accused 
        of blasphemy in Pakistan since the law was adopted in 1979 and 
        perpetrators are seldom brought to justice;
Whereas Bhatti decried recent attacks by extremist groups on religious 
        minorities saying they allowed intolerance and violence to perpetuate 
        itself;
Whereas only days before he was murdered Taseer warned on Twitter: ``I was under 
        huge pressure 2 cow down b4 rightist pressure on blasphemy, Refused. 
        Even if I'm the last man standing.'';
Whereas the United Nations has repeatedly endorsed blasphemy laws through annual 
        ``defamation of religions'' or ``vilification of religions'' resolutions 
        that call for member states to take measures to prevent criticism of 
        religion;
Whereas Pakistan has been the main sponsor of resolutions through the 
        Organization of Islamic Conference at the United Nations since 1999 
        which attempt to provide an internationally recognized legal 
        justification for their existing blasphemy laws;
Whereas according to the Department of State's 2010 International Religious 
        Freedom Report on Pakistan, discriminatory legislation and the 
        Government's failure or delay in addressing religious hostility by 
        societal actors fostered religious intolerance, acts of violence, and 
        intimidation against religious minorities;
Whereas specific laws that discriminated against religious minorities included 
        the anti-Ahmadi provisions of the penal code and the blasphemy laws 
        which provided the death penalty for defiling Islam or its prophets;
Whereas according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, ``Blasphemy laws 
        empower states against their citizens, protect ideas rather than 
        individuals, and engender violence by condemning peaceful speech. While 
        proponents of the `defamation of religions' resolution and blasphemy 
        laws say they are needed to defend the honor of vulnerable religious 
        believers, in reality they only achieve more violence by creating a 
        culture of impunity where the state officially sides with extremists.''; 
        and
Whereas recalling that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of the Republic, in an 
        historic speech before the constituent assembly in 1947 urged citizens 
        to worship as they choose and stated, ``You may belong to any religion 
        or caste or creed-that has nothing to do with the business of the 
        State.'': Now, therefore, be it
    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
            (1) calls on the Secretary of State and the United States 
        Permanent Representative to the United Nations to introduce a 
        ``Taseer-Bhatti Resolution'' in the United Nations Human Rights 
        Council advocating the repeal of blasphemy laws and condemning 
        their adverse effects on freedom of religion and thought and to 
        continue to work to defeat passage of the annual ``defamation'' 
        resolutions introduced by the Organization of Islamic 
        Conference; and
            (2) calls on the President to initiate a dialogue with the 
        Government of Pakistan to address the blasphemy laws, including 
        engaging in a bilateral review of--
                    (A) the compatibility of all blasphemy legislation 
                with the universally recognized freedom of religion 
                with the intent to repeal or amend such incompatible 
                legislation;
                    (B) the actions against those who make claims of 
                blasphemy that have incited violence;
                    (C) how the Government of Pakistan protects 
                individuals like Taseer and Bhatti and can establish an 
                early warning mechanism to protect all citizens from 
                calls to violence; and
                    (D) the burden of proof used to allow citizens to 
                file claims of blasphemy against other citizens and 
                whether such claims need to meet a certain threshold of 
                evidence before being filed, education provided the 
                general public on the rights of religious minorities in 
                order to create a climate of religious tolerance.
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March 7, 2011 - Posted by | Political Correctness, United Nations | , ,

1 Comment »

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