UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly condemned
defamation of religion for the fourth year running on Thursday,
ignoring critics who said the resolution threatens freedom of speech.
The non-binding resolution, championed by Islamic states and
opposed by Western countries, passed by 86 votes to 53 with 42
abstentions. Opponents noted that support had fallen since last year,
when the vote was 108-51 with 25 abstentions.
The seven-page text urges states to provide "adequate protection
against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion
resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious
hatred in general."
Critics said its provisions strike at basic rights of free
expression and opinion. One clause states that exercise of those rights
"carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore
be subject to limitations."