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By Muhammad Zafrulla Khan
This concisely written text presents the teachings of Islam and their distinct superiority over various Articles that make up the Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations and universally acclaimed as the greater charter of freedom. The author explains how 1400 years ago, Islam emancipated the poor and oppressed and gave the world the basic prescription for the respect and value of all human beings irrespective of class, colour or creed. Those instructions contained in the Holy Qur'an remain as relevant today as they were at the time that it was revealed. However, with the passage of time, some parts of Muslim society neglected Qur'anic teachings with an inevitable decline in moral standards. The author however concludes on an optimistic note that the revival of Islam is happening and with it a close adherence to the values laid out in the Holy Qur'an
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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Persecution of the Ahmadiyya …
Persecution Of The Ahmadiyya Community In Pakistan: An Analysis Under International Law
IV. THE ANTI-BLASPHEMY PROVISIONS
UNDER REGIONAL INSTRUMENTS

B. Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam

The Charter of the Islamic Conference formed the Organization of the Islamic Conference (“OIC”) in 1972, opening membership to every Muslim state in the world, roughly 50 in all. The Conference aimed to offer an Islamic conception of human rights and express Muslim solidarity in international human rights norms. Members of the OIC passed the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam on August 5, 1990. *76 The Declaration makes no guarantee of freedom of religion, nor offers any of the explicit safeguards found in the UDHR, ICCPR, and U.N. Declaration of 1981. The closest it comes to the language of the above instruments is in Article 10, which prohibits “any form of compulsion on man in order to convert him to another religion or to atheism.” *77 The language of this Article resembles that of Article 18(2) of the ICCPR, which provides, “No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of his choice.” *78 Where Article 18(2) prohibits compulsion as it relates to basic religious freedoms for minorities, Article 10 of the Cairo Declaration merely prohibits compulsion as it relates to conversion to a religion other than Islam or to atheism. In other words, the Cairo Declaration does little to advance international customary human rights law in the Muslim world.

The anti-blasphemy laws do not seem to run counter to the basic Articles of the Cairo Declaration. Indeed, they seem wholly consistent with them: they are laws restricting blasphemy against the Prophet of Islam in accordance with “the tenets of the Shari'a” and for the preservation of the unspoiled nature of Islam. Though, in fact, the Cairo Declaration appears as Pakistan's best, and perhaps only, chance to justify its anti-blasphemy provisions under an extra-territorial covenant, it is important to recognize that the Declaration itself came well after the issuance of the anti-blasphemy provisions. Indeed, a retroactive attempt at reconciling legal persecution of religious minorities with the precepts of a fledgling regional instrument not endorsed by the majority of the world *79 is but a contradictory and perfunctory attempt at saving Pakistan's once leading commitment to religious freedom while still advocating a debilitating, strictly Shari'a-based legal system.


76
An English translation of the Declaration is included in U.N. GAOR, World Conf. on Hum. Rts., 4th Sess., Agenda Item 5, U.N. DOC. A/CONF.157/PC/62/Add.18 (1993).
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77
Id.
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78
ICCPR, supra note 52, art. 18 § 2, 999 U.N.T.S. 171.
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79
For a discussion of the intractability of the Cairo Declaration as a statement of international law, see Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Universal Versus Islamic Human Rights: A Clash of Cultures or a Clash With a Construct?, 15 MICH. J. INT'L L. 307, 327 - 51 (1994).
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