UN racism conference off to a rocky start

By April 21, 2009

International (MNN) — The United States and eight other Western countries walked out of the five-day United Nations racism conference.

Remarks by Iran's President
Mahmoud Ahmedinejad denounced Israel as a racist regime, prompting the
delegates from the United States, Israel, Canada, the Netherlands,
Poland, New Zealand,  Australia, Germany
and Italy to shun the proceedings.

Dozens more diplomats from
countries including Britain and France left the hall in protest as Ahmedinejad
made the remarks concerning Israel.

A previous racism conference in
2001 in Durban, South Africa, was marred by anti-Semitic street protests and
attempts to pass a resolution equating Zionism with racism.   

Glenn Penner of Voice of the
says there are significant concerns raised about the fairness of
this conference, dubbed "Durban II." "The conference itself is going to be
approving the statements that were made at the last conference in Durban in
which Arab countries linked Israel's policies to racism. By participating, that
would mean we approve of that statement, and we simply can't do that."

The concerns are not without
merit. Just last month, the United
Nation's Human Rights Council passed the Religion Defamation Resolution. The non-binding resolution urged countries to
provide "protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation
and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious
hatred in general." Muslim
countries urged its passage to protect religion from criticism, specifically

However, Penner believes that
tying race and faith together is not a well-reasoned approach to solving
sectarian trouble. Currently, Islam is the only faith protected
under a recent resolution to protect religion from criticism. "Many of
these Arab countries are now taking this tact of tying the two together and
saying that if you're criticizing Islam, you're being racist. Therefore, 'you're
violating my human rights.' That's a very dangerous precedent; the problem then
becomes tacit approval to persecute Christians, because they belong to a group
that must be intrinsically racist."

Pray that the governments will be
open to allowing full rights and protection for non-Muslims. Pray too, for strength for those who come to Christ
despite the threats they may face.

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