Istanbul: United States Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Friday she`s hopeful a religious
tolerance agreement between the West and Islamic countries
will end efforts to criminalize blasphemy that threaten
freedom of expression.
At an interfaith conference in Turkey, Clinton said an
initiative by the US, the European Union and the Organization
of the Islamic Conference will promote religious freedom
without compromising free speech.
"Together we have begun to overcome the false divide
that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of
expression and we are pursuing a new approach," Clinton said.
"These are fundamental freedoms that belong to all
people in all places and they are certainly essential to
Many Muslim nations have laws that punish perceived
insults to Islam. As a way to rationalize those laws, those
countries have long sought UN action condemning the defamation
In addition, they have promoted measures to combat
instances of what they believe are intolerance directed at
Islam. Examples include the ban in Switzerland on the
construction of new minarets, the publication of cartoons of
the Prophet Mohammed and the burning of the Quran by a small
church group in Florida.
The US and others were concerned that such a step at
the United Nations could stifle legitimate debate and be used
to persecute religious minorities. Earlier this year, the US
brokered an agreement that removed defamation language from a
UN resolution and focused instead on ending religious