SEPTEMBER 15, 2010

“Faith and Free Speech: Defamation of Religions and Freedom of Expression”
An International Seminar and UN Side Event

September 16, 2010

International PEN and its national centres are extremely concerned about ongoing processes in the United Nations aiming at combating defamation of religions. We are also concerned about the UN Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards established in 2007 by the Islamic Conference (OIC) and a group of African countries in order to draft a treaty that would ban religious defamation. Human Rights protect individual human beings, not institutions or religions. Criticism of religions and religious practices must be allowed, in particular when religions are viewed from a political point of view. As organizations representing writers, artists and journalists of all faiths and none, we warn against any regulations prohibiting criticism of any religion or any set of ideas.Against this background we have asked a group of high profiled scholars, writers and human rights defender to join us for a side-event in Geneva on the afternoon of 16th September.

The panel:

  • Dr. Agnes Callamard, director, ARTICLE 19 (UK)
  • Professor Tariq Ramadan (Switzerland)
  • Mr. Budhy M. Rahman, Program Officer, The Asia Foundation (Indonesia)


  • Mr. John Ralston Saul, writer, president of International PEN (Canada)

John Ralston Saul To Chair Panel Hosted By International PEN On Religious Defamation (Geneva)