19 September 2008 The United Nations Human Rights Council, currently meeting in its ninth session, discussed racism, racial discrimination and the defamations of religions today in Geneva.
In his first address to the 47-member panel, Githu Muigai, the new Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, presented a report by his predecessor, Doudou Diène.
That report deals with the defamation of religions, in particular the serious ramifications of Islamophobia.
The study deals with the mainstreaming of racist and xenophobic ideas through their adoption by political parties in democratic countries and ongoing efforts to give credence to racist and xenophobic ideas through science, among other issues.
It calls for a universal approach in tackling all forms of discrimination, urging Member States to shift the focus of the discussion, currently framed as solely the defamation of religions, to the legal implications, based on international treaties, of inciting national, racial and religious hatred.
Mr. Muigai stated that the best response to hate speech is more speech, albeit of a different kind: dialogue touting tolerance that both educates people on cultural differences and promotes diversity.
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