For every action there is at least one opposite overreaction. In both the Middle East and Southeast Asia, violent protests against an anti-Muslim film posted on YouTube have been well-documented. While the film was very distasteful, killing innocent people definitely constitutes a gross overreaction.

United Nations. Since 1999, the OIC has been pushing for the UN to officially denounce blasphemy against religious figures. Taking advantage of the horrid fallout from the film, the OIC has once again called upon the global body to denounce what they call the growing intolerance towards Muslims with an international code of conduct for media and social media to disallow the dissemination of incitement material.

While the OIC puts on a good show about how great a global blasphemy law would be, its usage at the national level leaves much to be desired. Take Pakistan, a country that has had a blasphemy law since the days of British Imperial control.  Ebrahim Moosa, professor of Religion & Islamic Studies for Duke University’s Department of Religion, stated in a Duke press release that Pakistan’s blasphemy law has ruined Pakistan’s reputation for decades.

“Several politicians who had petitioned for the reform of the blasphemy laws were assassinated in the past three years. Courageous religious leaders who called for the moderation of the laws have gone into self-imposed exile,” said Moosa.

According to Moosa, from 1986 to 2007, there were 647 cases of blasphemy brought to Pakistani courts. Of those numbers, vigilantes killed 20 suspects and scores more were thrown in prison for years without trial. The reason why any international body would want to apply this track record globally will be left to individual speculation.

This is to say nothing of the disturbingly broad nature of what can constitute blasphemy, with religious expression and proselytizing being actions that could be banned.  It’s bad enough that in most Middle Eastern countries, one can be legally prosecuted for leaving Islam; to give it an international legitimacy greatly harms any efforts in advancing religious rights in the region.

Like most ideological outrage, the outrage of the OIC over blasphemy is selective. While the OIC wants to use the UN to protect religious figures from ridicule because of a sacrilegious film, their efforts to stop the many lethal attacks on Christians in their member states are far less substantial. For example, there is Nigeria, an OIC member state that has an approximately fifty percent Christian population . Nigeria has seen waves of bombings on churches in its predominantly Muslim north. While OIC officials condemned the attacks, they have yet to introduce before the UN a measure to deal with the violence and Nigeria remains a listed member of the OIC, even with some calling for its removal.

One wonders what should be done. Morocco serves as a good example, with large numbers resorting to prayer rather than sporadic violence.  Anger is just fine; it’s what comes of it that can be morally disputable.

For every action, there seems to be at least one overreaction. The violent protests were one overreaction. Another that could have greater long-term fallout is what the OIC seeks, which would harm both free speech and religious expression.