Coalition to defend free speech launched

The American Jewish Congress organized a coalition to fight laws banning speech that defames religion.

The Coalition to Defend Free Speech, launched Oct. 2 in Washington, initially will focus on a campaign by the Organization of the Islamic Conference – the association of all 57 Muslim states – to change international law to ban speech “defamatory of religion.” It will lobby the Bush administration and Congress to oppose the OIC campaign, as well as lobby other nations.

First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, the honorary chair of the coalition, said the coalition had come together to resist “the intolerable effort of one group of nations to determine what may be thought and said throughout the world.”

In addition to the AJCongress, other members of the coalition include Freedom House, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the International Quranic Center, American Values and the Rutherford Institute.

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