GENEVA, Sept 13 (KUNA) -- The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), told the Human Rights Council (HRC) Thursday that the report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief called for stronger denunciation of violence by Muslim leaders in order to "de-link" Islam from terrorism. Representing the OIC, Pakistani diplomat Marghoob Saleem Butt said that there had been many such denunciations and a matching response had not been forthcoming. "The ever-growing incidents of religious intolerance and xenophobia in the west were taking the world far from its aim of religious and cultural harmony. The OIC condemned forced religious conversions by majority religious groups, attacks of places of worship, restriction on the display of religious symbols and erosion of rights of parents to ensure moral education for their children, " the diplomat added. The representative of the OIC stressed that the Islamic countries deplored States that linked freedom of belief with freedom of expression and opinion in order to shrug off responsibility. "Unrestricted and disrespectful enjoyment of freedom of expression was contrary to the spirit of peaceful dialogue. Equating religions with extremist terrorism was dangerous and it was essential to de-link terrorist acts from the right to peacefully follow one's faith," the diplomat added. The representative of the OIC said efforts were needed to eliminate intolerance and discrimination, including through education and interfaith dialogue.
While the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, presenting her report, said that in some countries, believers belonging to religious minorities were not allowed to worship or conduct any religious activities without State approval or prior registration. "Furthermore, places of worship or religious properties had been attacked or otherwise subjected to restrictions, and also misused by non-State actors for illegitimate purposes," she added. Jahangir said that the freedom of pursuing one's religion or belief should be protected and respected. "On the other hand, the rights of individuals had also to be protected from being violated on the premise of religion or belief. The mandate had noted, time and again, that victims of religious intolerance belonged to all religions and beliefs. At the same time, the perpetrators were also not confined to one or a few identified religious or belief communities," she said. Jahangir added that freedom of religion or belief was a multifaceted human right. "States should devise pro-active strategies in order to prevent acts of intolerance and discrimination," she stressed. (end) hn.ajs KUNA 131927 Sep 07NNNN