The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) is appalled by the recent repeated publication of sacrilegious caricature of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and squarely condemns this act as an intolerant, disrespectful and manifest expression of hatred as well as insensitivity towards the feelings of more than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world.
Last week, the entire Muslim world, as well as this Commission, had expressed strong profound shock and revulsion at the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office by some errant French nationals.While condemning these acts, the Government of France as well as the international community overwhelmingly stressed the fact that the attacks had nothing to do with Islam or any other religion for that matter. However, the Commission has noted with deep regret that the first edition of Charlie Hebdo after the attack, deliberately carried the most disrespectful and provocative caricature offensive to all Muslims, thus betraying the sense of abhorrence against the attack, as well as the sympathy towards the families of those killed during the incident.
Manifest stereotyping and ridiculing the most revered personality of a pristine religion is nothing but an extreme form of racial discrimination. Indeed the act has further exacerbated the existing debate on the limits of freedom of expression by converting the so-called “right to offend” into a “duty to offend”. On the other hand, the magazine itself has been selective in its treatment of different values and religions (In 2008 it sacked the renowned cartoonist Maurice Sinet for an allegedly anti-Semitic remark and even asked him to apologize).
The Commission urges Muslims around the world to continue to exercise restraints in their reaction to this extreme act of malicious provocation and hatred based on ill-founded presumption of the right to insult and defame the faith, values and cultures of others in the name of freedom of expression. IPHRC stressed that in the present difficult times, when the world needs more tolerance, respect for cultural and religious diversity and enhanced dialogue at all levels, such acts are only going to strengthen the hands of extremists on both sides of the cultural divide and further contribute to the growing xenophobia, intolerance and hatred in Europe in particular and world at large.
The Commission hopes that in line with the guidelines of UNHRC Resolution 16/18, the international community would rise to speak up against this utterly irresponsible and disrespectful act. IPHRC fully supports the freedom of expression and the need to discuss all ideas and issues in an open, well informed and frank manner including criticism on sacred beliefs. However, insults and negative stereotypes have never produced any positive results. On the contrary, its negative impact on targeted communities is well known to the world in general and Europe in particular.
Referring to the growing number of incidents of discrimination and violence based on religion or belief around the world, IPHRC emphasized the critical need to fully and effectively implementing HRC Res. 16/18, which provides a comprehensive framework to combat religious intolerance. It also urged international community to continue to uphold the laudable ideals of dialogue, mutual respect, tolerance and equal protection to freedoms of religion and expression in accordance with international human rights law.