Groups Hail Changes to Pro-Islam Measure

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Religious rights advocates are praising Muslim nations for dropping a United Nations resolution that restricted free speech.

Since 1999, the U.N. Council on Human Rights annually approved the resolution forbidding "defamation of religions." But critics said the measure mainly protected Islam.

Human rights advocates long opposed the resolution because it targeted speech, not behavior and didn't protect individuals.

The resolution was also sponsored by a Muslim coalition known as the Islamic Conference.

"This defamation of religion has nothing to do with protecting religious freedom," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. "To the contrary, what it does is isolate and protect Islam from criticism which means those that are engaged in the proclamation of the gospel to members of the Muslim faith would be guilty of violating a U.N. resolution."

The American Center for Law and Justice fought against the U.N. resolution for years.  Click play for reaction to the recent improvements from ACLJ Director of International Operations Jordan Sekulow. 

Opponents also said the resolution gave cover to harsh blasphemy laws that forbid criticism of Islam, the Koran, or the prophet Mohammed.

In Pakistan, those laws have been used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities.

"Simple Christian activities like praying, worshipping and sharing one's belief in Jesus Christ with a neighbor can be interpreted as offensive and therefore restricted," explained Carl Moeller of Open Doors USA.

The new resolution emphasizes protecting individuals from discrimination or violence because of their faith.

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