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Islamic countries try to ban blasphemy

 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed an effort by Islamic countries to ban religious criticism last week.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference pressured the U.N. Human Rights Council to ban defamation of religion, like this cartoon that inspired the measure. Secretary Clinton fired back, "Some claim that the best way to protect the freedom of religion is to implement so-called anti-defamation policies that would restrict freedom of expression and the freedom of religion," she said. "I strongly disagree."

Although she is opposed to the negative depictions of certain faiths, a blanket ban of discourse isn't the right path, she said; instead countries should focus on tolerance.

Her statement came as the State Department announced its annual report on international religious freedom. The OIC has 56 member states, 18 of which were listed in the report as "countries where violations of religious freedom have been noteworthy."

The ridiculous measure would lump Bill Maher, Monty Python and George Carlin in with the likes of Slobodan Milosevic, Augusto Pinochet and Omar al-Bashir.

ADAM JAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Camorra mafia boss arrested

Yesterday, Italian police arrested Pasquale Russo, the boss of the powerful Camorra mafia syndicate. Russo was arrested alongside his brother, Carmine, and on Saturday the police arrested a third member of the family, Salvatore Russo.

The Camorra's main business is in drug sales, primarily heroin and cocaine, and including everything from ecstasy to hashish. Local police say the business is worth half a million Euros a day; investigators say it's Europe's largest drug market. The Camorra is one of the four largest Italian mafias involved in protection rackets, which draw in about another 250 million Euros a day. Camorra associates have also been connected with crimes ranging from billion-dollar cigarette smuggling operations to illegal sewage dumping. And all of the Camorra's operations have been accompanied by violence; the mafia is allegedly responsible for more than 3600 murders, including an outdoor execution caught on closed-circuit cameras -- Italian prosecutors went so far as to publicly release the video to draw attention to the case.

Angelino Alfano, Italy's justice minister, has described the recent round of arrests as an "extremely hard blow" to the Camorra. But there's reason not to write the syndicate off just yet -- as the Camorra men have been arrested, equally-violent Godmothers have taken their places.  

Photo: GIULIO PISCITELLI/AFP/Getty Images