Washington, DC – Human Rights First today welcomed the statement by Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), affirming the 57-member organization will not seek a global ban on blasphemy or defaming religion through the United Nations. These words should reflect a collective position of all OIC states to abandon efforts to pursue a global ban that would be a major setback for freedom of expression and freedom of religion. “Laws that seek to criminalize offensive speech allow extremists to set the limits of permitted discourse. This results in restrictions on freedom of speech and denial of freedom of religion,” said Human Rights First’s Joelle Fiss. “The OIC’s public recognition that UN member states will not support such a policy is a welcome step. But beyond the corridors of the United Nations, abuses caused by blasphemy laws continue to cause violence and violate fundamental freedoms in many countries.