U.S. and Egypt: Partners on Free Expression?

U.S. and Egypt: Partners on Free Expression?

The U.N. Human Rights Council, a body the U.S. only recently joined, passed a resolution on freedom of expression on Friday co-sponsored by the U.S. and Egypt. The Obama administration played up the resolution, which did not include a caveat to allow for the prohibition of religiously defamatory speech. In the past, Muslim countries have insisted on such protections. The Obama administration did try to temper expectations with the understanding that Egypt’s poor human rights record portend a delay before the enactment of change.

Some writers felt the language of the resolution still allowed for restrictions on free speech. The resolution’s condemnation of “racial and religious stereotyping” is an implicit endorsement of limits on free speech, writes Anne Bayefsky, who feels the Obama administration sacrificed too much in an effort to engage Muslim leaders. Eugene Volokh is also worried about the resolution’s anti-hate speech clauses, which he enumerates in a Huffington Post op-ed.