As I predicted last week, the Organization of Islamic Conference has seized on the controversies regarding an anti-Islam video clip on YouTube and satirical cartoons about Mohammed in a French magazine to renew its call for a global ban on "blasphemy." The OIC is, in effect, not only announcing that Muslim states in general have no intention of allowing real freedom of conscience and speech, but they want to bully the West into eliminating those freedoms as well.

OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu called on countries that respect free speech to “come out of hiding from behind the excuse of freedom of expression.” OIC governments apparently cannot resist the populist appeal of perversely posing as "defenders of Islam" by attacking free thought and free speech.

Who, after all, will be authorized to define "blasphemy"? Does anything that offends any religious sensibilities qualify as "blasphemy"? Will a critical mass of objections be seen as legitimate grounds for silencing critics of religious doctrine, scholarly inquiry into their origins, skeptical analysis of superstition and faith, iconoclasm, or mockery of religious claims, symbols, assertions, and shibboleths?

Iran is a member state of the OIC. It has just raised the bounty, issued decades ago, against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. The novel, which is a fine one, is not, in fact, blasphemous by any reasonable definition. It probably would've been an even more interesting book if it had been. But it offended people, most of whom had not read it, was declared and widely considered "blasphemous," and therefore presumably would be banned under the OIC's proposals.