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Islamic states push UN to condemn Quran burning

praying MuslimsGENEVA: Islamic states sought on Wednesday to have the United Nations human rights council condemn a US pastor’s suspended plan to burn Qurans, saying it was part of a pattern of global anti-Muslim violence.

A resolution submitted by Pakistan for the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) asks the council to speak out against what it dubbed “the recent call by an extremist group to organise a ‘Burn a Quran Day’.”

The resolution, which diplomats said was likely to be passed as the OIC and its allies have a majority on the 47-nation body, made no reference to condemnation of the plan by President Barack Obama and other US and foreign leaders.

But it said the project, championed by little-known Florida preacher Terry Jones, was among “instances of intolerance, discrimination, profiling and acts of violence against Muslims occurring in many parts of the world.”

The move came amid increasing efforts by the OIC, which has Russia, China and Asian and African states as allies in the council, to have the UN recognise “Islamophobia” as racism and open to challenge under international law.

It also follows widespread demonstrations around the Muslim world in which a number of anti-US protesters have been killed  even after Jones withdrew his proposal to stage the burning on September 11, the ninth anniversary of the hijacking attacks in New York and Washington.

In speeches in Geneva over the past few days, OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu of Turkey has also argued that Jones’ plan underscored his grouping’s long-standing demands for a UN- backed ban on “defamation of religion”.

Western countries and some allies in Latin America oppose both the OIC efforts, arguing that they undermine freedom of expression and freedom to discuss openly religion-based practices that infringe universal human rights.

Last week, a Pakistani-born Canadian Muslim academic, Raheel Raza, told the council, whose members include Libya and Saudi Arabia, that OIC countries systematically abuse the rights of everyone living on their territory, especially women.

European diplomats said they were unlikely to vote against the OIC resolution, as their governments had already condemned the Quran burning idea, but feared it would be used to increase pressure for actions on defamation and “Islamophobia.”

The resolution, together with others yet to be submitted at the council, is likely to be voted on when the body wraps up its current autumn session at the end of next week. -Reuters

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