A private citizen has filed a complaint with the Council of Ethics in Advertising over the atheist bus campaign, which has plastered buses in some cities with atheist slogans.
According to the petition, the cheery ad campaign for atheism is slanderous and breaches UN human rights treaties.
The chair of the Union of Freethinkers, Jussi Niemelä, denies the allegations.
“Our intention is in fact to promote human rights as an organisation advocating the equality of different belief systems,” says Niemelä.
The buses bearing controversial slogans, such as There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life or Enjoy your life as if it’s the only one you’ve got, will continue to stir discusson this week in the capital city region, Tampere and Turku.
The Council of Ethics in Advertising has acknowledged the complaint and says it will assess the matter at its August 19 meeting.
The Atheist Bus Campaign was launched across the UK on January 6, 2009, and now similarly-minded organisations in countries around the world have adopted the idea as well. Comedy writer/journalist Ariane Sherine initially started the campaign in response to evangelical Christian ads on London’s public transport, which sought to remind the public about Judgement Day.
This is a disgrace.
GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning “defamation of religion” as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries.
The U.N. Human Rights Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favor and 11 against, with 13 abstentions.
Western governments and a broad alliance of activist groups have voiced dismay about the religious defamation text, which adds to recent efforts to broaden the concept of human rights to protect communities of believers rather than individuals.
Pakistan, speaking for the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said a “delicate balance” had to be struck between freedom of expression and respect for religions.
The resolution said Muslim minorities had faced intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, including laws and administrative procedures that stigmatize religious followers.
“Defamation of religious is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence,” the adopted text read, adding that “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.”
It called on states to ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and symbols are protected, to reinforce laws “to deny impunity” for those exhibiting intolerance of ethnic and religious minorities, and “to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and beliefs.”
ISLAMOPHOBIA, CHRISTIANOPHOBIA, ANTI-SEMITISM
The 47-member Human Rights Council has drawn criticism for reflecting mainly the interests of Islamic and African countries, which when voting together can control its agenda.
Addressing the body, Germany said on behalf of the European Union that while instances of Islamophobia, Christianophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination should be taken seriously, it was “problematic to reconcile the notion of defamation (of religion) with the concept of discrimination.”
“The European Union does not see the concept of defamation of religion as a valid one in a human rights discourse,” it said. “The European Union believes that a broader, more balanced and thoroughly rights-based text would be best suited to address the issues underlying this draft resolution.”
India and Canada also took to the floor of the Geneva-based Council to raise objections to the OIC text. Both said the text looked too narrowly at the discrimination issue.
“It is individuals who have rights, not religions,” Ottawa’s representative told the body. “Canada believes that to extend (the notion of) defamation beyond its proper scope would jeopardize the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of expression on religious subjects.”
A separate, EU-sponsored resolution about religious discrimination is due to be discussed by the Council on Friday.
Earlier this week, 180 secular, religious and media groups from around the world urged diplomats to reject the resolution which they said “may be used in certain countries to silence and intimidate human rights activists, religious dissenters and other independent voices” and ultimately restrict freedoms.
Holy shit. These guys are seriously talking about making it illegal to defame religion? What. The. Fuck.
Basically, this would mean you cannot say anything negative about any religion. Since nothing in any religion can be proven, anything negative claim can be declared “false” by the religious nutjobs out there. This is one of the worst precedents in the violation of free speech I’ve ever seen. What the hell is this U.N. council thinking? I can’t believe more countries voted in favor than opposed. Fucking madness.
Fuck religion. It’s a bunch of delusional bullshit by people who are too scared to face their own mortality. Deal with it.
GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations top human rights body condemned “defamation” of religion on Friday and, in an apparent reference to the storm over the Prophet cartoons, said press freedom had its limits.
With the support of China, Russia and Cuba, Moslem and Arab states comfortably won a vote on the 47-state Human Rights Council to express concern at “negative stereotyping” of religions and “attempts to identify Islam with terrorism”.
“The resolution is tabled in the expectation that it will compel the international community to acknowledge and address the disturbing phenomena of the defamation of religions, especially Islam,” said Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
The resolution was opposed by Western states which said it focused too much on Islam. The job of the Council was to deal with the rights of individuals not religions, they said.
“The European Union does not see the concept of defamation of religion as a valid one in a human rights discourse,” a spokeswoman for the delegation of Germany, which holds the EU presidency, told the Council.
The resolution urged countries to ensure their laws gave adequate protection against acts of “hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions”.
While everybody had the right to freedom of expression, this should be exercised according to limitations of the law and respect for others, including respect for religions and beliefs, it said.
In 2006, violent protests rocked cities from Morocco to Malaysia over Danish cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad published in September 2005, which Muslims regarded as sacrilegious and an attack on their beliefs.
The vote was 24 countries in favor of the resolution, 14 against and with 9 abstentions.