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French Muslims sue magazine for blasphemy

In 2009, the UN Council adopted a non-binding resolution condemning religious defamation and calling for respect of all faiths.

Source : IINA / 20 Feb 2014

Accusing it of blasphemy, a French Muslims legal organization is suing a French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after it published inflammatory cartoons insulting Qur’an.

“We know in advance that the trial does not go all the way to the extent that the Muslim religion is not in the arrangement (that recognizes and regulates the Catholic, Reformed Church, Lutheran and Jewish),” Samim Bolaky, a lawyer practicing in Paris and General Secretary of Muslim Judicial Defence League (LDJM), told on Monday. “We took the opportunity to complain to the judge to decide on the question: what is the role of Islam in the concordat?” “Muslims aspire to have the same rights as other believers,” Bolaky added.

Bolaky spoke as a court in Strasbourg on Monday set the hearing into Charlie Hebdo's alleged blasphemy for 7 April. The case, filed by LDJM, seeks the prosecution of a satirical weekly July 10, which, after protesters were killed in Egypt, headlined: “The Qur’an is shit, it does not stop bullets.” The LDJM also sues Charlie Hebdo for “provocation and incitement to hatred on the basis of religious affiliation.” The Concordat of1801 is an agreement between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, which solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France and brought back most of its civil status.

In France the crime of blasphemy has not existed since the Revolution. It was removed from the French law by Articles 10 and 11 of the Declaration of Human Rights and the Citizen of 1789, before being reinstated under the Restoration and again permanently deleted by the law of 29 July 1881 on freedom of the press. The case is not the same in Alsace-Moselle, the three French departments which were annexed by Germany in 1871 and 1940-45 and kept part of the old German legal code when they returned to France.

Charlie Hebdo has a long reputation for being provocative. In September 2012, the French weekly published cartoons displaying a man said to be the prophet as naked. The cartoons came amid turmoil in the Muslim world over an American-made movie defaming the Prophet. In 2011, the office of the magazine was firebombed after it published an edition "guest-edited by Muhammad", which the satirical weekly called Shari`ah Hebdo. Muslims have campaigned for a UN resolution to ban blasphemy following repeated insults against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Islamic sanctities on claims of free speech.

Since 1999, the OIC has annually sponsored a defamation of religions resolution in the UN Human Rights Council. The OIC has pressed the UN to adopt a binding international covenant against the defamation of religions. In 2009, the UN Council adopted a non-binding resolution, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, condemning religious defamation and calling for respect of all faiths. Yet in March 2011, the OIC approved, under heavy pressure from the US, to set aside its 12-year campaign to have religions protected from defamation. The OIC decision was followed by an approval from the UN Human Rights Council on a broader plan on religious tolerance.

The Qur’an is a revelation from God, the creator of the worlds, so He is the original author. The Noble Qur’an consists of 114 Surah (chapters) of varying lengths. There is only one Qur’an which is in Arabic and many translations of the Qur’an in several languages.


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