Saudi Shura council rejects proposal to ban religious offence
(dpa) - The Saudi Shura council rejected an international recommendation to criminalize offences against all religions, stressing that the suggestion would imply the government's recognition of what it considered as pagan religions, media reports said Tuesday.
Some 77 of the 150 members of the Shura or consultative council, which has limited legislative rights, opposed the recommendation, while only 33 supported it.
The proposal states that the "Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the Arab Islamic group of the United Nations will adopt an international recommendation that prohibits offence of all religions and religious figures by all means."
Talal Bakry, a Shura council member, opposed the move, saying that the recommendation means a full recognition of "the pagan religions" and thus will allow the establishment of non-monotheistic worship places in Muslim countries.
"This recommendation is a trap for the Muslim community, which can result in negative consequences on Muslims above all the others," Khalil al-Khalil, an opponent member, was quoted as saying in al-Watan Saudi newspaper.
He added that the suggestion includes vague wordings like "religions and religious figures" that may vary in definition from one country to another.
Mohammed al-Qowayhas, a supporter of the recommendation, however stressed that the idea of the Shura was to respect the opinions of others.