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Combating Defamation of Religions, or Free Speech Infringement?

A briefing by Deborah Weiss

Sponsored by The Institute on Religion and Democracy

1023 15th Street, NW, Suite 601

Washington, DC

Thursday, February 21, 12-2PM

Lunch will be served. Must RSVP to fmcdonnell@theird.org by 5PM, 2/19/13.

Advocates of prohibiting "defamation of religion" see free speech as "terrorism."

Advocates of prohibiting “defamation of religion” see free speech as “terrorism.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the largest voting bloc in the United Nations, yet most people have never heard of it. Year after year, the OIC proposes and passes UN Resolutions to “combat defamation of religions.” But are these resolutions really just about silencing free speech? silencing the competition, as it were?

Defenders of free speech, as well as some organizations working as advocates for persecuted Christians around the world, realize the disturbing implications that these resolutions have for persecuted religious minorities in OIC countries, turning the traditional understanding of human rights on its head. Traditional defamation laws protect individuals from false truth claims, not ideas. Defamation is a concept that refers to individuals, not religions.

In 2011, when the OIC changed the language in the resolution, many organizations thought the problem was solved and stopped following the issue. Ms. Weiss will explain what has been transpiring with the “defamation of religions” concept, how the United States government has been implementing OIC ideas, and why there is still cause for concern. She will provide answers to such questions as:

  • What is the OIC’s real mission?
  • What do they mean by defamation of religion?
  • Has a change to the language in the resolution resolved the problem?
  • How would this affect minority religious believers around the world?

Our speaker, Deborah Weiss, currently works for “Vigilance”, an organization dedicated to educating the public on terrorism-related issues. She previously served as Counsel for the Committee on House Oversight in Congress, and as Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Giuliani administration. Ms. Weiss is considered an expert in the Defamation of Religions resolutions and is a contributing author to Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).  She is a regular contributor to FrontPage Magazine, The Washington Times, and has written for numerous other publications as well.  Ms. Weiss is a survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City.