Muslim countries seek blasphemy ban

Published November 19, 2009 8:01AM (EST)

Islamic nations are mounting a campaign for an international treaty to protect religious symbols and beliefs from mockery -- essentially, a ban on blasphemy.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that Algeria and Pakistan have taken the lead in lobbying to bring the matter to a vote in the U.N. General Assembly.

Such a ban would face great resistance in Western nations that enshrine freedom of expression as a fundamental right.

The countries that form the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference are currently lobbying a Geneva-based U.N. committee to accept its plan, a first step for it to eventually be put before the General Assembly.

If that occurs, Muslim countries and their allies in the developing world would stand a decent chance of mustering the simple majority needed in the General Assembly to adopt such a treaty.

By Frank Jordans

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