03/20/2008 07:07 PM | By Mariam Al Hakeem, CorrespondentRiyadh: A resolution calling for the enactment of an international pact to forbid religions from being defamed or insulted as well as their symbols, leaders and prophets has been voted out by the Saudi Shoura (Consultative Council).
A total of 77 members opposed the recommendation while 33 voted in favour. Those who opposed it argued that such a pact would force people to recognise religions, which advocate idol worship, and that “would be unacceptable.”
The rejected resolution stated that “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall work in coordination with Arab and Islamic groups and others at the United Nations to draft an international pact for respecting religions, their symbols and leaders, and prohibit insulting them in any way.”
“This recommendation is creating ‘much ado’,” said Dr Khaleel Al Khaleel, a member of the Shoura.
Opposing the move he said that the concept of religions and their symbols varied from country to country and culture to culture. According to Dr Khaleel, this recommendation would create a dangerous precedent that may produce a negative impact on Muslims rather than followers of other religions.
“Some consider Buddhism, Qadianism and Baha’ism as religions. Can we make it obligatory for Muslims to respect these faiths and avoid criticising them?” he asked.
Talal Bakri, one of the staunch critics of the move, said “if we approve the resolution it will be make it obligatory to recognise some religions and will facilitate establishing places of worship for them in Muslim countries.”
Mohammad Al Quwaihes, who presented the resolution, told reporters that he had not expected that his move would be defeated in such a way as the overwhelming majority of members were in favour of introducing the resolution for deliberations.
“The provocation to move the resolution was the continuous onslaught on Islam in general and the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in particular, say for example, the blasphemous cartoons and films being published in Denmark, the Netherlands, America and the like,” he said.