United Arab Emirates minister calls for religious sensitivity

Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Sept 18, 2012.



OTTAWA -- The world needs to be more sympathetic to religious communities, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates told reporters at Parliament Hill Tuesday.

In the capital on an official visit, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan commented on recently renewed calls from Muslim groups and governments to establish international anti-blasphemy laws.

"We have very much seen in the last few days that when people's religion and faith is undermined one way or another, some groups use that to their advantage in exploiting their objectives and goals," he said. "We should be talking, not just between countries but with religious clerics and scholars to look at the best way possible in facing these challenges."

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation recently revived its calls for preventing the non-Muslim world from offending Islam. Authorities in Egypt have indicated they will file an arrest warrant for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula - the man fingered as creating the now infamous film Innocence of Muslims which has sparked protests in 25 countries - with Interpol.  On Tuesday, Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Islamophobia a crime against humanity.

The UAE is ruled under Sharia law and has blasphemy laws in place.

Lydia Miljan, a political science professor at the University of Windsor, cann ot fathom any Western nation agreeing to adopt even a declaration, never mind international laws, against blasphemy.

"In most Western countries, there's the concept of separation of church and state," Miljan said. "It's the people doing the violence who are responsible for it, not the people who made the film. But the protesters really don't get it, they don't know what it's like to be in a country where freedom of speech is not only tolerated, but celebrated."
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