Laws Restricting First Amendment Already on the Books


In light of the jihadi attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the attacks on the Muhammad Art Exhibit in Garland, Texas, the right to free speech has become a hot topic. As progressive Democrats debate whether or not restrictions should be placed on the First Amendment, very few are aware that such restrictions are already on the books.

In 2011 and 2012, the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. General Assembly passed anti-religious tolerance legislation in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The legislation, known as Resolution 16/18, makes any expression that incites hostility towards a religion illegal. Co-sponsored by the White House and Egypt, the resolution was considered by the Hillary Clinton State Department to be “a triumph of diplomacy,” CNS News reports. Unbeknownst to most, the resolution was passed by the U.N. Human Rights Council in April of 2011 and then by the U.N. General Assembly in December of that year. Former federal prosecutor and author of Islam and Free Speech Andrew C. McCarthy says the following:

“[The resolution] calls on all governments to outlaw ‘any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.’ In arrant violation of the Constitution, the resolution would accomplish what Obama has sought since his first days in office: speech suppression predicated on mob intimidation.”

In drafting the resolution the United States worked with co-sponsor Pakistan and with members of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation(OIC). Considered the world’s largest body after the U.N., the OIC is a conference made up of 57 member states. The organization itself states that it functions as the “collective voice of the Muslim world.”

University of Tennessee law professor Robert Blitt explains in USA Today the OIC acted as the driving force behind the resolution’s passage and worked directly with the United States on the resolution’s drafting. The Obama administration called the resolution an improvement over previous “defamation of religion” measures.

The measure’s objective, however, is a far cry from “defamation of religion,” says Patrick Poole of PJ Media.

“The OIC’s push to criminalize ‘defamation of Islam’ goes back to the OIC’s 10 Year Plan of Action adopted in 2005. Under the section ‘Countering Islamophobia’ (VII), the plan says:

  1. ‘Endeavor to have the United Nations adopt an international resolution to counter Islamophobia, and call upon all States to enact laws to counter it, including deterrent punishments.'”

The section quoted above, Poole says, does not so much express the OIC’s intent to combat “defamation of religion” but rather to criminalize Islamophobia itself. With the help of the Obama administration, the OIC now has international laws on the books making illegal any speech it deems hostile to Islam.

Why are so few of us aware of us aware of this? Most likely because it has not been implemented yet. Even after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the U.N. representative for the OIC called for a more thorough implementation of the 16/18 Resolution.


One does not need to look past the White House, however, to see the scorn brought upon those who criticize a particular religion, and most importantly, Islam. In a September 2012 address to the U.N. Assembly, President Obama notably said:

“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied.”