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Religious Hatred & International Law

Religious Hatred &iilyas-Umar-Holy-Quran-Norway

International Law

Rashad Aslam

In a well-ordered society, not only must all people be protected by the law; they are entitled to live in confidence of this protection. Each person should be able to go about his or her business, with the assurance that there will be no need to face hostility, violence, discrimination or exclusion by others. Hate speech undermines this essential public good. Even when the hate speech comes from isolated fringe elements, themselves despised by a majority of the public, we should not regard the harm as insignificant. The UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights obliges state parties to prohibit any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination or violence. It provides that “[a]ny advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.” Accordingly, this provision does not appear to codify a fundamental right but rather a sui generis state obligation.

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