The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has strongly condemned the recent republication of the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by Charlie Hebdo magazine, considering it an act of intolerance and provocation against the feelings of over 1.6 billion Muslims around the world.
The IPHRC said it had condemned, along with the entire Islamic world, "the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office by some errant French nationals, citing the French government and international community's confirmation that "these attacks had nothing to do with Islam or any other religion."
It added: "The Commission noted with deep regret that Charlie Hebdo magazine had deliberately repeated publication of the most provocative and lampooning cartoons against all Muslims' sentiments, thus betraying the sense of abhorrence against the attack, as well as the sympathy towards the families of the victims.
The IPHRC stressed that the magazine’s act has further exacerbated the existing debate on the limits of freedom of expression by converting the so-called "right to offend" into a "duty to offend", pointing out that the magazine itself has been selective in its treatment of different values and religions. (In 2008 the magazine sacked the renowned cartoonist Maurice Sinet for an allegedly anti-Semitic remark and even asked him to apologize).
The IPHRC urged Muslims around the world to continue to exercise restraint in their reaction to this extreme act of malicious provocation and hatred, based on ill-founded presumption of the right to insult and defame the faith, values and cultures of others in the name of freedom of expression.
IPHRC stressed that in this critical juncture, when the world needs more tolerance, respect for cultural and religious diversity and enhanced dialogue at all levels, such acts are only going to strengthen the hands of extremists on both sides of the cultural divide and further contribute to the growing xenophobia, intolerance and hatred, particularly in Europe and in the world at large.
While expressing its full support to the freedom of speech, the IPHRC hoped that in line with the guidelines of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 16/18, the international community would rise to speak up against this utterly irresponsible and disrespectful act.
Referring to the increasing number of incidents of discrimination and violence based on religion or belief around the world, the IPHRC emphasized the critical need to fully and effectively implementing the UNHRC Resolution 16/18, which provides a comprehensive framework to combat religious intolerance.
It also urged international community to continue to uphold the laudable ideals of dialogue, mutual respect, tolerance and equal protection to freedoms of religion and expression in accordance with international human rights law.