Excerpt:

The State Department on Monday launched three days of closed-door talks with representatives of international organizations and several dozen countries with the stated aim of promoting religious freedom and tolerance while ensuring that freedom of expression is not harmed in the process.

"We must denounce offensive speech whenever we encounter it – but our commitment to universal principles makes clear that faith must never be a crime and religion must never be used as an excuse to stifle freedom of expression," U.S. Ambassador at Large for international religious freedom Suzan Johnson Cook told the meeting in Washington.

The Obama administration's initiative, building on a resolution adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) last March, has drawn some criticism, in part because of the key role being played by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has sought for years to stifle speech deemed to denigrate Islam.


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