YAHOO! - GENEVA – The United Nations opens its first global racism conference in eight years on Monday with the U.S. and at least six other countries boycotting the event out of concern that Islamic countries will demand that it denounce and ban criticism of Islam.
The administration of President Barack Obama, America's first black head of state, announced Saturday that it would boycott "with regret" the weeklong meeting in Geneva, which already is experiencing much of the bickering and political infighting that marred the 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa.
The Netherlands and Germany announced their boycotts Sunday, while Australia, Canada, Israel and Italy already had said they would not attend.
"I would love to be involved in a useful conference that addressed continuing issues of racism and discrimination around the globe," Obama said in Trinidad on Sunday after attending the Summit of the Americas.
My boy Benedict knows what's up though:
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI said the conference is needed to eliminate racial intolerance around the world. Asia News, a Catholic news agency that is part of the missionary arm of the Vatican, said of the pope's comment: "The Holy See is distancing itself from the criticisms of some Western countries."