Showing posts with label UN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UN. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

North Korea: Belligerence vs 'Smart Policy'

The following article is an expanded version of
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 248| Wed 19 Feb 2014


NORTH KOREA: BELLIGERENCE VS 'SMART POLICY'
By Elizabeth Kendal

UN Commission of Inquiry Report Confirms Horrific Abuses

On 21 March 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution A/HRC/RES/22/13 which established the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).  The Resolution gave the Commission a 12 month mandate to investigate systematic and widespread human rights abuses in North Korea. North Korean Ambassador So Se Pyong denounced the Resolution as "an instrument that serves the political purposes of the hostile forces in their attempt to discredit the image of the DPRK," adding, "those human rights abuses mentioned in the resolution do not exist in our country".

The Commission of Inquiry's report was released on 17 Feb. It documents "a wide array of crimes against humanity" and details "unspeakable atrocities" to conclude: "The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world." As noted in the report: "The State considers the spread of Christianity a particularly serious threat, since it challenges ideologically the official personality cult and provides a platform for social and political organization and interaction outside the realm of the State. Apart from the few organized State-controlled churches, Christians are prohibited from practising their religion and are persecuted. People caught practising Christianity are subject to severe punishments . . ." (article 31)

Office of the High Commission on Human Rights Press release
North Korea: UN Commission documents wide-ranging and ongoing crimes against humanity, urges referral to ICC (17 Feb 2014)

Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

MANAGING INSTABILITY
-- North Korea balancing reform and risk


The UN Commission of Inquiry report also remarked on what is without a doubt the key dynamic of North Korea today: "Strengthening market forces and advancements in information technology have allowed greater access to information from outside the country as information and media from the Republic of Korea and China increasingly enter the country. The State’s monopoly on information is therefore being challenged by the increasing flow of outside information into the country and the ensuing curiosity of the people for "truths" other than those provided by State propaganda. Authorities seek to preserve their monopoly on information by carrying out regular crackdowns and enforcing harsh punishments". (article 30)

The Kim Jong-un era

Groomed to rule, Kim Jong-un assumed power after his father (the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il) died in Dec 2011. At his father's funeral, Kim Jong-un accompanied his father's casket along with the 'Gang of Seven' -- an inner circle of elites tasked with guiding and mentoring the young ruler.

By the end of 2013, four of the seven had been purged -- including Kim Jong-un's hugely influential uncle, Jang Song-taek -- and one had been demoted. Kim Jong-un is consolidating power and establishing a new order that he hopes will provide him with a better chance of holding on to power through the challenging times ahead. According to analysts, 'the upper ranks of North Korean leadership are now sprinkled with people who hold a known interest in reform'.

Kim (who did his secondary schooling in Switzerland) and his younger clique know that the information seeping in will generate anger and dissent as North Korea's impoverished masses become aware of their plight relative to the outside world. So, in a race against time, the regime is implementing agricultural and economic reforms designed to raise the living standards of ordinary Koreans. The regime is also easing the way for foreign investment and undertaking major infrastructure projects -- highways, theme parks and resorts -- designed to make North Korea more attractive to North Koreans as well as to tourists.

Reforms

In line with the June 28 [2012] New Economic Management Measures, known informally as the "6.28 Policy", agricultural production units may be reduced to between 4-6 people (i.e. family-sized). While set quotas are still in place, the state now takes 70 percent of the quota (rather than 100 percent for central redistribution - military first). The remaining 30 percent is left for the family who are free do with it whatever they wish: eat, trade, store etc. Furthermore, if the family produces more than the quota, they also get to keep the surplus. This actually reverses Kim Jong-il's Songun (military first) policy.

North Korea Pushes Ahead on Agricultural Reforms,
The Diplomat, 17 May 2013

North Korea making visible progress towards reforms.
Institute for Far Eastern Studies, 7 June 2013

Building

". . . to build foreign investor trust, the country has considered allowing 'international law supersede domestic North Korean law regarding investments' . . ."

INSIGHT-Kim Jong Un, North Korea's master builder
Reuters, 23 Nov 2013

Mounting Problems (The Masikryong Ski Resort)
The Economist, 14 Feb 2014 
see also: NK Economy Watch

Recommended articles:

Kim Jong-Un dismisses powerbroker uncle as North Korea inches toward reform
Nathan Vanderklippe in BEIJING, The Globe and Mail, 3 Dec 2013

Kim purges for a new economic dawn
By Sascha Matuszak, 10 Jan 2014

North Korea’s rolling economic reforms
By Ruediger Frank, University of Vienna, 24 September 2013
Excerpts:
Now comes the tough part: finding ways to foster economic development while maintaining the stability of the political system. Reform is the only option for Kim Jong-un, but implementation will not be easy, because he must accomplish many tasks simultaneously. . .

Like painting a masterpiece, reforming North Korea may seem easy in theory but it will be highly complex in reality. Thus, a smart policy by the international community is needed. The obvious strategy for Seoul would be to support positive trends by expanding trade and investment. The many negative and frustrating experiences of the past should be a lesson not to expect (or promise) too much too soon. Transforming a systemically failed socialist economy has never been easy, in particular if it is supposed to take place gradually. Reconciling two parts of a nation that once fought a bloody civil war and have lived separately for almost 70 years is a gigantic task. Accepting that successful reform means prolonging the current regime is a bitter pill for many, but what are the alternatives?


The above paragraph by Frank addresses the very heart of the matter: how to move forward. As Frank states, transforming North Korea is going to be a highly complex and exceedingly delicate operation for which "smart policy" and great patience will be required. The regime will be constantly balancing reform and risk.

Frank's closing sentence is key: "Accepting that successful reform means prolonging the current regime is a bitter pill for many, but what are the alternatives?"

I have long maintained "that an all-round positive outcome for North Korea (reform without bloodshed) can only be achieved through gradual openness alongside a strategy for maintaining stability" (RLM Aug 2007). As unpalatable as this "bitter pill" may be, the alternatives are a return to isolation with unprecedented repression OR a descent in civil war and massive bloodshed.

As one who has been monitoring religious liberty in North Korea for over 15 years now, the current situation leaves me with a strong sense as déjà-vu. What can we learn from history?

Kim Jong-il era

In 2002, Kim Jong-il enacted economic reforms, moving North Korea towards a free-market economy. [Actually, the markets had risen during the famine as people sought means to survive. When Kim Jong-il endorsing them in 2002, he was merely endorsing a trend he could not stop.] Knowing the risks attached to any degree of openness, the regime simultaneously amended the criminal code to stiffen penalties for anti-State crimes. This strongly resembles today's situation.

However, once the darkness is breached, the situation can quickly become very difficult to control. By 2004 the regime was looking for ways to turn the clock back.

See: North Korea's balancing act.
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 16 December 2004
Excerpt
Paik Hak-soon, director of North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute, told the Korea Times [8 Dec 2004] that, "Kim Jong-il is now trying to prevent social problems from drastically undermining his regime."

The free-market reforms have also brought many North Korean traders into contact with the outside world. As noted in a recent Washington Post (WP) article entitled, "For North Korea, Openness Proves a Two-Way Street" (13 Dec 2004), "...diplomats, analysts, intelligence sources and recent defectors say that the once airtight lid on information in what is known as the Hermit Kingdom is gradually loosening."

The WP article states, "Asian intelligence sources estimate that as many as 20,000 North Koreans -- particularly those trading in the newly thriving border area with China -- now have access to Chinese cellular phones, from which they can make undetected international calls in large areas of northern North Korea." Also, at the new Kaesong Industrial Park near the border with South Korea, and the tourist resort at Mount Kumgang, South Korean firms are directly employing and paying North Korean workers for the first time.

The WP quotes Sohn Kwang Joo, managing editor of the North Korea Daily (a Seoul-based website) as saying, "North Korean people and the elite bureaucrats all want more reform. But the faster the doors open, the more vulnerable becomes Kim Jong Il's tight grip of the nation. Kim Jong Il will therefore try to control and limit the opening. But as more people cross in and out of the border, there are more mobile phones, and more flows of information, the North Korean people will begin to realize the truth about Kim Jong Il." . . .


The years of reform and gradual openness had yielded several positive changes, including: family reunions, the move to a market economy, cross-border trade with China, trains crossing through the demilitarised zone, the opening of Kaesong Industrial Park enabling economic cooperation with South Korea, and the establishment of the Christian-funded, English-language, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

See: North Korea: Changes
". . . though your footsteps were not seen".
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 24 August 2007

However, by the end of 2008, it was all over. All positive steps had been reversed and North Korea had returned to isolation. For Kim Jong-il, reform had proved too difficult, too threatening. Things had changed and the risks had begun to out-weigh the benefits.

Lankov concluded: "It seems that North Korean leaders believe that their system cannot survive major liberalisation. They might be correct in the pessimism. . . . Were North Korea to reform, the disparities with South Korea [a rich and free country that speaks the same language and shares the same culture -- i.e. is not 'foreign'] would become only starker to its population. This might produce a grave political crisis, so the North Korean government seemingly believes that in order to stay in control it should avoid tampering with the system. Maintaining the information blockade is of special importance, since access to the overseas information might easily show the North Koreans both the backwardness of their country and the ineptitude of their government."

See: North Korea returns to isolation
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 2 December 2008

BELLIGERENCE VS "SMART POLICY"

There is no doubt in my mind that the US North Korea Human Rights Act (Oct 2004) -- signed into law by President G.W. Bush -- directly contributed to North Korea's return to isolation. The law, which was  effective from 2005 to 2008, granted $2 million a year to pro-democracy and human rights groups actively working to undermine the regime.

I wrote at the time: "The North Korean Human Rights Acts is wonderful in principle. . . [But] the implementation of the Act will need to be as sensitive as the defusing of a bomb. . . [For] an all-round positive outcome for North Korea (reform without bloodshed) can only be achieved through gradual openness alongside a strategy for maintaining stability."

Kathi Zellweger of the Catholic aid organisation Caritas shared my concerns: "Regime change is what some groups of people hope for. But I believe what is happening is that very slowly the nature of the regime is changing, albeit at a very slow pace." Zellweger expressed the widely-held fear that the North Korea Human Rights Acts would lead to a tightening of the government's control of the people and of NGOs.

And indeed it did. Though "wonderful in principle" the NKHR Act (2004) might not have been "smart policy", for it caused risk to elevate to the point that Kim Jong-il's only option -- as a survivor -- was a return to isolation, centralisation and severe repression.

See: Reforming North Korea.
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 19 November 2004

In the above Nov 2004 posting I suggested the following: "Those things Kim jong-Il desires most of all, survival and prestige, appear to be on shaky ground . . . Maybe this is the biggest bargaining chip of all. To avoid catastrophe on the Korean Peninsula, would the US be willing to ensure Kim's survival and prestige in exchange for reforms for which Kim would of course take all credit? This would involve great humility on the part of the US. It would involve leaving justice, regarding Kim, in the hands of God. It could only be done by looking past the man, Kim jong-Il, and keeping eyes firmly fixed on the goal: the liberation and reform of North Korea, for the sake of North Korea's suffering and oppressed millions."

Like it or not, the reality is, the UN Commission of Inquiry report (Feb 2014) can only be used as leverage to get prisoners released and human rights improved if the regime is assured it will not be threatened.

So while it is commendable that the UN Commission of Inquiry report is shining a spotlight on the horrific situation inside North Korea, great wisdom -- "smart policy" -- is required. For if the situation is handled belligerently rather than with great care and wisdom -- i.e. if too much pressure is applied or if "hostile forces" use the report to fan the flames of revolution for their own political, economic and geo-strategic ends -- then we could see reforms rolling back and repression escalating to unprecedented levels. Or worse, we could see the State descend into an absolute bloodbath.

END
---------------------------------------

Breaking News:

South Australian man John Short detained in North Korea, now facing 15 years in jail

CRAIG COOK EXCLUSIVE
The Advertiser, February 20, 2014
excerpt
Dr Leonid Petrov, who teaches North Korean political history at the Australian National University in Canberra, said Mr Short’s situation “could be complicated” by the release of a UN report on Monday detailing regime crimes against humanity. . .

“If he was found to be networking directly with North Koreans to spread religious material it could be very bad for him and them,” Dr Petrov said.

“For locals, the whole family would be sent to the gulag (forced labour camps) with little chance of ever being released unless they repent (their religious views).

“For the foreigner, they could face a similar sentence to Kenneth Bae of 15 years with 16-hours-a-day hard labour.”

Mr Bae, a South Korean-born US citizen, was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment in April last year for attempting to topple the Korean regime.


--------------------------------------------

Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

UNHRC Resolution 16/18

-- the OIC, the UN and Apostaphobia

By Elizabeth Kendal

The following post adapts and expands upon an address I presented at Christian Faith & Freedom's July 2011 "Free to Believe" conference in Canberra, Australia.

Thesis: While it has been hailed in the West as a victory for free speech, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference's (OIC's) new Resolution 16/18, "Combating intolerance . . .", is even more dangerous than resolution 2005/3, "Combating Defamation of Religion". Far from being an OIC back-down or a breakthrough for liberty, the change in focus from defamation to incitement is not only totally consistent with OIC strategy since early 2009, but it actually advances the OIC's primary goal: the criminalisation of criticism of Islam.

NOTE: on 28 June 2011, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference changed its name to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

2,858 words
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THE HISTORY OF A RESOLUTION

On 12 April 2005, United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), meeting for its 61st session in Geneva, passed HR Resolution 2005/3, "Combating Defamation of Religions": 31 for, 16 against and 5 abstentions.

The resolution was presented by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) under Agenda Item 6 pertaining to "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination".

Islam on-line (IOL) reported it this way: "The United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted on Tuesday, April 12, a resolution calling for combating defamation campaigns against Islam and Muslims in the West." ("UN calls for Combating Anti-Islam Campaigns", islamonline.net 12 April 2005)

The passing of the resolution heralded a fundamental shift in international Human Rights. Religion (specifically Islam) was to be awarded rights normally reserved for human beings.

Resolution 2005/3 expressed alarm at post-9/11 discrimination of Muslims in non-Muslim countries and noted with concern that "defamation of religions is among the causes of social disharmony and leads to violations of human rights". The resolution noted with deep concern that Islam and Muslims were coming under attack in human rights forums and that Muslim minorities were increasingly the victims of stereotyping and profiling.

It expressed "deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights abuses, violence and terrorism", while labelling organisation that defame Islam as "extremist". States were urged to "take all possible measures to promote respect for all religions and their value systems". (emphasis mine)

Finally, the resolution "Requests the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to continue to examine the situation of Muslims and Arab peoples in various parts of the world . . . and to report on his findings to the Commission at its sixty-second session [April 2006], and to make recommendations to improve their situation . . ."

The language had been carefully chosen, for "defamation", as it is normally defined, is "communication to third parties of false statements about a person that injure the reputation of or deter others from associating with that person." (Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law)

From the very outset, the OIC's agenda was to have criticism of Islam deemed defamatory so that it might be criminalised.

Once the resolution was passed, the OIC had a 12 month window -- from April 2005 to April 2006 (next sitting) -- in which to ensure that the Special Rapporteur would reach the conclusion sought by the OIC: that "defamation" of Islam needed to be banned.

CARTOON INTIFADA

Sept 2005: Jyllands Posten publishes Muhammad cartoons (competition). NOTE: no riots.

October 2005: Muhammad cartoons reprinted in Cairo during Ramadan. NOTE: no riots.

Dec 2005: OIC Summit, Dakar, Senegal.
OIC formulates its 10 Year Plan which includes a 4-point item entitled "Combating Islamophobia".

Item VII. Combating Islamophobia

1. Emphasize the responsibility of the international community, including all governments, to ensure respect for all religions and combat their defamation.

2. Affirm the need to counter Islamophobia, through the establishment of an observatory at the OIC General Secretariat to monitor all forms of Islamophobia, issue an annual report thereon, and ensure cooperation with the relevant Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in order to counter Islamophobia.

3. Endeavor to have the United Nations adopt an international resolution to counter Islamophobia, and call upon all States to enact laws to counter it, including deterrent punishments.

4. Initiate a structured and sustained dialogue in order to project the true values of Islam and empower Muslim countries to help in the war against extremism and terrorism.

As soon as the Dec 05 Dakar Summit concluded, the Arab League got to work. The result: the Cartoon Intifada of February-March 2006 which left a trail of death and destruction from the Levant through South Asia and Africa; with large and disturbing street protests in numerous major cities, particularly London.

DELAY

In March 2006, the UN General Assembly voted to replace the thoroughly discredited UN HR Commission with a smaller and supposedly improved UN HR Council. Actually the new UNHRC has all the same problems as the old UNHRC. While the progress of Resolution 2005/3, Combating Defamation of Religion, was delayed for a year, it mattered not, for through the Cartoon Intifada the OIC had established a precedent: "defamation" of Islam leads to death and destruction.

In March 2007, the UN HR Council passed Resolution 2005/3, Combating Defamation of Religion: 24 for, 14 against, 9 abstentions.

See: UN Human Rights Council: Protecting Religion
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 12 April 2007

Subsequently, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diène (a Senegalese Muslim), presented his report on 21 August 2007.

According to Special Rapporteur Doudou Diène, "defamation" of Islam arises out of "baseless Islamophobia" which expresses itself as "hatred of Muslims" which in turn gives rise to "extremism". His conclusion: those who "defame" Islam must be held accountable for Islamic extremism.

However, according to Diène, anti-Semitism is not religious or racial but political and Israel's fault. Likewise, he claimed, the Christianophobia that is evident in "South America, Africa and Asia" (NOTE: the Middle East was not on his list) is caused by the aggressive and unethical proselytising of evangelical Christians. Diène charged that Christians had "exploited freedom of expression" to defame religions, including Voodoo and other traditional faiths. He claimed that by defaming Hinduism, Christians had created the environment that favoured the emergence of militant Hindutva. Thus unlike Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and Christianaphobia were not baseless, but were valid responses from threatened peoples.

The Special Rapporteur concluded with this recommendation: "In the light of the polarised and confrontational readings of these articles ["international instruments, and in particular articles 18, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" (ICCPR)] the UNHRC should "promote a more profound reflection on their interpretation". Diène recommended that the UNHRC "consider the possibility of adopting complementary standards on the interrelations between freedom of expression, freedom of religion and non-discrimination, and in particular by drafting a general comment on article 20".

Article 20 of the ICCPR states:
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law. (emphasis mine)

I commented at the time, that any effort to include "defamation" of religion (especially when defamation is essentially nothing more than criticism) in the same category as "incitement" would serve totalitarian forces from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe that seek to make religious liberty an issue not of fundamental, universal human rights, but an issue of harmony, social cohesion and national security.

Furthermore I proposed that the very heart of the issue was not "defamation" of Islam or "baseless" Islamophobia, but the fact that the dictators of Islam are now as ever consumed with and driven by "apostaphobia". This touched such a raw nerve with the dictators of Islam that it won a citation in the OIC's 1st Observatory of Islamophobia.

I proposed that apostaphobia be defined as a well-founded fear of loss of authority through loss of adherents, which manifests primarily as uncompromising repression and denial of fundamental liberties, by violent and subversive means.

I also proposed that the UNHRC add apostaphobia to its vocabulary, and confront apostaphobia by upholding the international human rights covenants that protect the fundamental, universal right of individuals to religious liberty, not seek to reinterpret and amend those covenants to protect religions and apostaphobic religious dictators from the threat posed to them by religious liberty.

See: UNHRC: Watershed Days
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 18 September 2007

The fact is: on account of the new openness available through satellite, internet and mobile phone technologies, disillusioned Muslims are rejecting and leaving Islam in unprecedented numbers. Consequently, the apostaphobia of the dictators of Islam is rising.

See: Religious Liberty Trends 2007-2008 (Apostasy & Apostaphobia)
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 15 Feb 2008

Apostasy, and the baptism of Madgi Allam
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 4 April 2008

[NOTE: in June 2011, World Council of Churches, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Evangelical Alliance appeased the apostaphobic dictators of religion and advanced their cause by publishing complementary standards for Christian witness.]

UN GA

In December 2007, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 2005/3, Combating Defamation of Religion: 108 for, 51 against, with 25 abstentions. (NOTE: 10 Year Plan, Item VII, point 3 part (a) -- achieved!)

In March 2008, the OIC presented its 1st Observatory Report of Islamophobia to the OIC’s 11th session in Dakar. The report, which drew heavily on the UN Special Rapporteur's August 2007 report, proposed that the world's view of Islam be corrected and that "deterrent punishments" for "defamation" be established. (NOTE: as per 10 Year Plan, Item VII, point 3 part (b))

The Observatory Report of Islamophobia asserted that, in order to have peace, the correct (i.e. OIC-approved) version of history and of Islam must be understood, promoted and accepted; clearly anything else is "baseless" Islamophobia or inciteful "defamation" of Islam, responsible for the violent, destructive and retaliatory (as distinct from immature, irrational and criminal) Muslim-rioting in the world today. It also claimed that Islamophobia exists in part because there is no legal instrument to combat it, therefore a "binding legal instrument" must be created "to fight the menace of Islamophobia".

See: OIC: Eliminating "defamation" of Islam.
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 25 March 2008

TURNING POINT

Support for Resolution 2005/3, Combating Defamation of Religion, declined during 2008 as the free world started to realise the degree to which freedom was being threatened.

March 2008. Resolution 2005/3 passes in the UNHRC: 21 for (down from 24 in 2007); 10 opposed; 14 abstain.

November 2008. Resolution 2005/3 passes in the UN GA: 85 states for (down from 108 in 2007), 50 opposed; 42 abstentions.

But then, failing to read the signs, the OIC started arrogantly overplaying its hand. In November 2008, at the UN GA 63rd session, several OIC members asserted that Islamophobia is a "new form of racism" that is "incited" by "defamation of religion" which is a "misuse" of the right to freedom of speech.

See: The OIC & the UN: Islamophobia and "defamation of religion"
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 14 Nov 2008

Then, at the UN World Conference against Racism (Durban II) in April 2009, the OIC launched its new strategy to have defamation recast as incitement as per the ICCPR Article 20.2: "Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law."

The OIC maintained that Islamophobia -- "a new form of racism" -- must be eliminated in order to preserve peace and prevent a Muslim "holocaust".

See: The OIC & the UN: defamation of religions as incitement
By Elizabeth Kendal for WEA RLC, 21 Nov 2008

April 2010. Resolution 2005/3, Combating Defamation of Religion, passes in the UNHRC, but by the slimmest margin in the history of the resolution: 20 for; 17 opposed; 6 abstentions. The abstainers were becoming opposers.

GAME'S UP !
-- NEW STRATEGY ESSENTIAL


In March 2011, after discussions with the US held in wake of the blasphemy assassinations of the governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, and Minorities MP, Shabbaz Bhatti , Pakistan presented the UNHRC with a new resolution.

24 March 2011. The UNHRC passes HR Resolution 16/18: "Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief."

The resolution was presented by Pakistan for OIC under Agenda item 9 pertaining to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related form of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

The resolution was immediately hailed as a "huge achievement" -- a breakthrough for human rights.

Excerpts: UNHRC Resolution 16/18 (emphasis mine)

The Human Rights Council,

(1) Expresses deep concern at the continued serious instances of derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or beliefs, as well as programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at creating and perpetuating negative stereotypes about religious groups . . .

(3) Condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence [NOTE: exact wording of ICCPR Article 20.2], whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual of electronic media or any other means . . .

(5) . . . call[s] on States to take the following actions to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect, by:
(e) Speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence [NOTE: exact wording of ICCPR Article 20.2];
(g) Understanding the need to combat denigration and negative religious stereotyping of persons, as well as incitement to religious hatred . . .

(6) Calls upon all States:
(d) To make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures;

-----

Presumably this resolution would permit a critic to assert that "fundamentalist Islam is inherently violent", while making it unacceptable for an employer or security officer to suggest than an Islamic fundamentalist should not be employed at this school or that airport, or that they should be watched or investigated or searched -- for that would be negative profiling based on religion.

Meanwhile, though the language of "defamation" has been eradicated, a critical / offensive comment such as "fundamentalist Islam is inherently violent", would doubtless be viewed as incitement. In fact anything that could have been deemed "defamation" under Resolution 2005/3 will doubtless be deemed incitement under Resolution 16/18.

This shift in focus from "defamation" to incitement -- something the OIC has been pursuing since April 2009 -- is hugely significant as the ICCPR specifically mandates that incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence be prohibited by law (ICCPR Article 20.2).

DIALOGUE BEGINS

In line with Item VII, point 4 of the OIC's 10 year plan, Article 9 of Resolution 16/18 "Calls for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs . . ."

The first meeting pursuant of Resolution 16/18 took place in Istanbul on 15 July 2011 and was co-chaired by OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"The test would lie in the implementation", said Ihsanoglu, adding that there was a delicate balance between freedom of expression and incendiary speech. "We continue to be particularly disturbed by attitudes of certain individuals or groups exploiting the freedom of expression to incite hatred by demonizing purposefully the religions and their followers."

See: OIC, West pledge to combat intolerance
arabnews.com 16 July 2011

ArabNews reports: "Speaking of the United States, Clinton said: 'We have seen in the United States how the incendiary actions of just a very few people can create wide ripples of intolerance, so we are focused on promoting interfaith education and collaboration, enforcing anti-discrimination laws, protecting the rights of all people to worship as they choose, and to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming so that people don't feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.'"

The next meeting to discuss the implementation of Resolution 16/18 will held in Washington in the coming months.

The International Islamic News Agency (IINA) reports (1 Aug): "According to informed sources in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the two sides, in addition to other European parties, will hold a number of specialized meetings of experts in law and religion in order to finalize the legal aspect on how to better implement the UN resolution.

"The sources said that the upcoming meetings aim at developing a legal basis for the UN Human Rights Council's resolution which help in enacting domestic laws for the countries involved in the issue, as well as formulating international laws preventing inciting hatred resulting from the continued defamation of religions."

IINA quoted OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu being quick to exploit Anders Behring Breivik's 22 July 2011 Oslo massacre, a tragedy Ihsanoglu cited as evidence of the danger posed by institutionalised Islamophobia. ("OIC/ Islamophobia: OIC Observatory warned wince 2009 against the growth of the extreme right in Europe, Washington plans to host a meeting on resolution opposing defamation of religions." IINA, 1 Aug 2011. NOTE: article has been removed.))

And so, while it is being hailed in the West as a victory for free speech, Resolution 16/18, "Combating intolerance . . .", is even more dangerous than resolution 2005/3, "Combating Defamation of Religion". It is in no way an OIC back-down or a breakthrough for liberty. Rather, the change in focus from defamation to incitement is not only totally consistent with OIC strategy since early 2009, but it actually advances the OIC's primary goal: the criminalisation of criticism of Islam.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The OIC & the UN: defamation of religions as incitement

Date: Friday 21 November 2008
Subj: The OIC & the UN: defamation of religions as incitement
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


This posting follows on from last week's posting entitled:
"The OIC & the UN: Islamophobia and 'defamation of religion'" (15 Nov 2008).

The 15 November posting centred around the "Draft Outcome Document for the Durban Review Conference 2009" which had just been penned at the Second Preparatory Session held in Geneva 6-17 October. The Durban Review Conference (also known as Durban II) is due to be held in Geneva in April 2009. It is clear from the draft outcome document that a major focus of Durban II will be a "new form of racism" -- Islamophobia -- which is allegedly incited through "defamation of religion". At Durban II it will be proposed that covenants be amended and legal instruments created to ban defamation of Islam (i.e. incitement to Islamophobia) in order to preserve peace and prevent a Muslim "holocaust".

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RESOURCES AND ANALYSIS

In June 2008, at the invitation of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) submitted an analysis of the concept of "Defamation of Religions" as it is being introduced by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and General Assembly.

The paper is available on-line and is essential reading for anyone seeking a clearer understanding of the implications of the resolution "Combating Defamation of Religions".
"Combating Defamation of Religions"
Submission to the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.
European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ). 2 June 2008

Another excellent analysis comes from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. They have issued an "Issues Brief" on "Defamation of Religions", the updated 27 May 2008

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty regards the defamation of religions concept as "fundamentally inconsistent with the principles outlined in the United Nation's founding and legal documents" as "it violates the very foundations of the human rights tradition by protecting ideas rather than the individuals who hold ideas".

The Becket Fund notes that anti-defamation measures would "force the state to determine which religious viewpoints may be expressed".

"'Defamation of religions' measures . . . are used to protect a set of beliefs, ideas, and philosophies. Yet religions make conflicting truth claims and indeed the diversity of truth claims is exactly what religious freedom as a concept is designed to protect." It adds: "There is no basis in international or regulatory law for the concept of protection of religious ideas."

The ECLJ position is clear from its opening paragraphs: "The position of the ECLJ in regards to the issue of 'defamation of religion' resolutions, as they have been introduced at the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly, is that they are in direct violation of international law concerning the rights to freedom of religion and expression. The 'defamation of religion' resolutions establish as the primary focus and concern the protection of ideas and religions generally, rather than protecting the rights of individuals to practise their religion, which is the chief purpose of international religious freedom law . . ."

"SWORD AND SHIELD"

Because the resolutions on combating defamation of religions are sponsored by the OIC, the ECLJ examines freedom of religion and freedom of expression in OIC states to properly understand the OIC's philosophy regarding this concept they are advancing. The ECLJ concludes: "The clever thrust of the OIC position uses the concepts of 'defamation of religion' and blasphemy as both sword and shield." In the West it is used as a sword against the media, academics and all critics of Islam, while in Muslim countries "blasphemy laws are used as a shield to protect the dominant religion (Islam) . . . silence minority religious believers and prevent Muslims from converting to other faiths, which is still a capital crime in many Muslim countries".

The ECLJ recommended that the OHCHR and the UN uphold Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Link 1) and Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Link 2). (Those articles are copied at the end of this posting for your convenience).

FOCUS SHIFTING FROM "DEFAMATION" TO INCITEMENT

Concerning the right to freedom of expression -- which is outlined in ICCPR Article 19 -- ICCPR Article 20 part 2 makes the following provision: "Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law."

The ECLJ notes that Article 20 of ICCPR is "at the heart of the debate involving the legal justification of the 'defamation of religions' resolutions". The ECLJ quotes UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jahangir: "The threshold of the acts that are referred to in article 20 is relatively high because they have to constitute advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred. Accordingly, the Special Rapporteur is of the opinion that expressions should only be prohibited under article 20 if they constitute incitement to imminent acts of violence or discrimination against a specific individual or group."

This is exactly what the OIC is addressing as it seeks now to shift the focus from "defamation of religions" to "incitement" of dangerous Islamophobia.

Consider these words from Mr Githu Muigai's first address to the UN General Assembly as Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (3 November 2008, Geneva):

"In the ninth session of the Human Rights Council, I presented my predecessor's [Mr Doudou Diene's] report on 'Combating Defamation of Religion'. The report highlights key issues, including reflecting the state of some forms of religious discrimination including Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and Christianophobia. The report also makes a central recommendation to Member States, particularly in the context of the Durban Review Process: to move from the concept of 'defamation of religions' to the notion of 'incitement to racial and religious hatred'. In this regard, I was glad to be informed that there seems to be an emerging trend among most Member States in agreeing to this idea, which would help ground the debate on concrete human rights principles and norms." (Link 3)

If the OIC can re-shape the "defamation of religions" issue into one of "incitement" and "public order" -- don't forget, they have already succeeded in making it a human rights issue by re-moulding it as an issue of racism -- then those who seek provisions to protect freedom of expression through Articles 19 and 20 of the ICCPR will find that they no longer have a case. In fact, if "defamation of religions" is made an issue of incitement to religious hatred, violence or "holocaust", then according to Article of ICCPR that incitement/defamation should be prohibited by law.

CONFLICT AS A RESULT OF "PRE-OCCUPATION WITH DIFFERENCE"

Meanwhile, yet another interfaith or inter-cultural initiative has come and gone. The Saudi-sponsored, UN-run "Culture of Peace" conference -- a follow-up from the Saudi-sponsored Madrid conference -- was held in the UN Headquarters in New York 12-13 November.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann (a Nicaraguan Catholic priest and ex-Sandinista advisor to and foreign minister under Daniel Ortega) opened the peace conference with these provocative words: "Our world is experiencing an extremely difficult period, the worst since the founding of the United Nations. It is a time of numerous bankruptcies, but the worst is the moral bankruptcy of humankind's self-proclaimed 'more advanced societies', which has spread throughout the world." (Link 4)

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah lamented that throughout history conflicts have resulted from mankind's pre-occupation with differences. While King Abdullah's analysis of history is debatable his implication is clear: if we want to live in peace we should refrain from being pre-occupied with our differences. (Links 4 and 5)

Felice Gaer, chairwoman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom commented that she'd have liked to see the conference held in Saudi Arabia. "The fact that it isn't speaks volumes," she said adding that Saudi Arabia's entrenched and systematic religious discrimination would make the conditions of entrance into the country intolerable for non-Muslim religious leaders.

Reporting on the Saudi-sponsored "Culture of Peace" conference for FOX News, Jennifer Lawinski writes: "Commission chairwoman Gaer thinks it's more than a public relations move for the Saudi government, it's a cooperative effort between Muslim nations to reinforce the defamation of religion resolution they're sponsoring before the General Assembly this fall.

"The resolution, introduced by Pakistan to the UN Human Rights Council in 1999 has been taken up by the General Assembly and passed every year since 2005.

"The non-binding Resolution 62/145 adopted in 2007 says it 'notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of 11 September 2001.'

"It 'stresses the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular.'

"Gaer said the Saudi-sponsored inter-faith meeting in Madrid, like the UN resolution, was part of an attempt to legitimise sharia law by making attendees sign a declaration that said the participants would encourage 'respecting heavenly religions, preserving their high status, condemning any insult to their symbols'.

"'This was a Madrid declaration calling for or affirming the idea of the global blasphemy law in slightly moderated language,' she said. 'This would give them the freedom to declare anything from cartoons to incitement to a whole range of things to be defamation.'

"Twenty-two members of the Council of the League of Arab States adopted the declaration and asked the UN and UNESCO to do so as well.

"The defamation of religions resolution has been criticised for acting as a shield for countries that persecute any insult to Islam and intimidate Western nations that may attempt to criticise them.

"'The problem is that this particular conference will legitimise the Saudis as somehow the leaders [of the anti-religious defamation movement] when they are the promoters of a particularly intolerant form of their own religions practice,' Gaer said. 'It will promote this idea of defamation which puts severe restrictions on freedom of expression and turns the whole concept of human rights on its head.'" (Link 6)

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The Culture of Peace conference's unanimously approved resolution "Recognises the commitment of all religions to peace" (Link 7). The problems caused by some believing that "peace" is achieve through the elimination of dissent and difference, or through enforced submission, conformity or bland uniformity was not addressed. Rather, leaders were repeatedly encouraged to accept the myth that while creeds may vary considerably, faith leads us to common (presumably noble) values.

The reality is however, that our diverse creeds and faiths give rise to diverse, sometimes conflicting values. The question remains: what should be protected -- state-proscribed creeds or the fundamental rights of human beings?

The OIC will seek to legitimise the defamation of religions issue by re-casting it (using the language of the ICCPR) as an issue of incitement to religious discrimination, hatred and violence, which poses a serious threat to public order, national security and human rights.


Links

1) UDHR http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/eng.htm

2) ICCPR http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/a_ccpr.htm

3) Statement by Githu Muigai
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
63 rd session of the General Assembly, Third Committee, Item 62(a)
3 Nov 2008, New York
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/rapporteur/docs/SpeechGA63.doc.doc

4) UN conference on culture of peace kicks off
Xinhua, 13 Nov 2008
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-11/13/content_10349467.htm

5) King Abdullah address at the UN Peace through Dialogue meeting
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz address to the High Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Peace Through Dialogue, New York, November 12, 2008
http://www.saudiembassy.net/2008News/Statements/SpeechDetail.asp?cIndex=732

6) Critics Say U.N. 'Culture of Peace' Meeting Hides Culture of Oppression
By Jennifer Lawinski for FOX News, 6 November 2008
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,448104,00.html

7) Culture of Peace Resolution.
United Nations General Assembly A/63/L.24/Rev.1 11 November 2008 Culture of Peace. 14 Nov 2008
http://www.saudiembassy.net/2008News/Statements/StateDetail.asp?cIndex=733

UDHR Article 18:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

ICCPR Article 19:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

ICCPR Article 20:
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The OIC & the UN: Islamophobia and "defamation of religion".

Date: Friday 14 November 2008
Subj: The OIC & the UN: Islamophobia and "defamation of religion".
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


THE OIC & THE UN: ISLAMOPHOBIA AND "DEFAMATION OF RELIGION"

(OIC: Organisation of Islamic Conference)

Durban I -- the UN's first World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance -- which was held in Durban, South Africa, in early September 2001 ended with a walkout over its virulent anti-Semitism. Yet sadly it now seems clear that the Durban Review Conference (or Durban II), which will be held in Geneva in April 2009, is shaping up to be even worse.

As a prelude to Durban II, a Second Preparatory Session of the 20-state Preparatory Committee -- of which Libya has been elected chair with Cuba, Pakistan and Iran as vice-chairs -- was held in Geneva from 6 to 17 October 2008. The resulting "Draft Outcome Document for the Durban Review Conference 2009" is now available on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) website at LINK 1.

It is clear from the draft document, as well as from reports emanating from the subsequent 63rd UN General Assembly meeting held in Geneva during the first week of November, that a central focus of Durban II will be "Islamophobia", which is being presented as "a new form of racism".

Muslims, the draft declaration asserts, are at dire risk of a racial "holocaust" due to "a new form of racism" -- "Islamophobia" -- which is incited through "defamation of Islam".

The draft declaration recommends that local, national and international laws and human rights covenants be reviewed and amended as necessary so that "defamation of Islam" is made a criminal offence, losing the protection it has long enjoyed under the "pretext" of "freedom of expression, counter terrorism or national security". It recommends that legal instruments be established to punish offenders -- that is, those who "defame" Islam by associating it with violence, human rights abuses or terrorism.

Anne Bayefsky, a York University professor and human rights lawyer who attended the Second Preparatory Session in Geneva, warns: "This is the new dimension of Durban 2, which in many ways makes it a greater threat than Durban 1. It's really setting up a war of ideas, that has rough implications, between Islamic states and everybody else. . . . Durban 1 was called an assault on Israel; a demonisation of Israel as racist and analogous to Apartheid South Africa. But in addition, Durban 2 is an assault on freedom of expression and other essential democratic rights and freedoms." (Link 2)

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The draft declaration has built on the 17 August 2007 report by Mr Doudou Diene, the then UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and the OIC's Observatory of Islamophobia.

For background see:
UN Human Rights Council: Watershed days. 18 Sept 2007
WEA RLC News & Analysis by Elizabeth Kendal
(This posting gives a thorough critique of Doudou Diene's August 2007 report and considers its implications in terms of the Islamisation of international human rights.)
AND
OIC: Eliminating "defamation" of Islam. 25 March 2008
WEA RLC News & Analysis by Elizabeth Kendal
(This posting analyses the OIC's Observatory of Islamophobia which was launched at the OIC Dakar Summit in March 2008. The Observatory of Islamophobia, which is built on Doudou Diene's August 2007 report to the UNHRC, must be seen in the context of the OIC's "Ten Year Program of Action" through which it aims to address the most "prominent challenges facing the Muslim world today". This posting also presents scenarios and means through which the OIC might fulfill its goal of establishing international instruments to punish -- under the pretext of peace and human rights -- those whom they charge with inciting Islamophobia through "defamation" of Islam.)

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Canada and Israel have already pulled out of Durban II while several other Western states have threatened to boycott -- most notably Denmark. As reported by Jette Elbaek Maressa in Jyllands-Posten (28 Oct 2008), Danish foreign minister Per Stig Moller told his Arab partners during a round trip to the Middle East that if the Organisation of Islamic Conference did not withdraw its proposal to make criticism of religion equivalent to racism, then Western countries will stay away from Durban II. "If the OIC pushes through this draft resolution, they shall not expect European or Western countries to be present at the table," he said. (Link 3)

The Non-Government Organisation "UN Watch" has released a paper on the Durban II Draft Declaration. Entitled "Shattering the Red Lines: The Durban II Draft Declaration", it examines a "small selection of the 646 provisions of the Durban II draft declaration, highlighting several that breach the EU's red lines" (i.e. the lines the EU determined should not be crossed).

In its opening summary, UN Watch charges that the draft declaration seeks "to distort human rights laws for the purposes of Islamic censorship" by "inserting a prohibition against 'defamation of religion' designed to restrict free speech and impose the censorship of Islamic anti-blasphemy laws".

UN Watch's paper provides a clear, thorough and yet concise overview and analysis of the most contentious elements of the Durban II draft declaration. It is recommended reading. (Link 4)


63rd UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Reliefweb has published a report on the 63rd General Assembly that was held in Geneva subsequent to the Durban Review Conference Second Preparatory Session. LINK 5

The report describes representatives from Egypt, Sudan, Libya and Pakistan all expressing great concern over the threat posed by this "new form of racism" -- Islamophobia -- which is incited by "defamation of religion". According to the Libyan representative, freedom of speech is not the issue -- at issue is the "misuse" of that right.

The representative from Iran told the assembly that modern-day racism is no longer based on supposed inequality between races, but is based on culture, nationality or religion. He claimed that xenophobic acts against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers; defamation of religions; religious intolerance and racial profiling are all expressions of this new form of racism which seeks legitimacy and protection under various pretexts such as combating terrorism.

According to the representative from Saudi Arabia, Islam rejects all forms of discrimination and so in Saudi Arabia there are legal provisions to protect all the rights of all persons regardless of race, religion, status or gender.

Various free, multi-racial Western democracies (a minority in the UN) denounced racism while making strong and clear defences of human rights including religious liberty and freedom of expression.

The representative from France (speaking on behalf of the European Union [EU]) reminded the assembly that the EU had supported the organisation of a Review Conference as long as certain conditions were met and certain lines not crossed. He said that the primary goal should be the full implementation of existing normative framework and that new norms should only be drawn up if they were deemed necessary, were subject to a broad consensus and did not go back on universal achievements by restricting the current scope of human rights.

He expressed the European Union's concern that the "thought process" on the possible creation of complementary norms was moving in a direction that could reduce the level of human rights promotion and protection. According to Reliefweb, the representative from France said the EU would "not allow the United Nations principles to be undermined" and would work in accordance with the principles that had been set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He said the Review Conference should concentrate on the implementation of the existing framework without restricting any human rights, establishing any hierarchy among victims, or excluding any one group. As well, the review conference should show how promoting human rights, especially the freedom of speech, could play an important role in fighting racism.

The representative from the USA expressed concern at the trend of conflating issues of racism and religion which he said were two distinct issues. He likewise asserted that the cure for intolerance is more dialogue, not less.

The representative from Israel regretted that alliances had trumped ideals and warned that nations with a genuine desire to promote peace should guard against the co-opting of legitimate language and ideas by racist demagogues. He expressed concern that Durban II risked becoming itself a platform of racial incitement, and he feared that words might quickly turn to actions.

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The OIC formulated its Ten Year Program of Action (TYPOA) in Makkah in December 2005. Item VI on the TYPOA is "Combating Islamophobia". The OIC determined to do this by means of: 1) establishing an Observatory on Islamophobia tasked with monitoring Islamophobia and "defamation" of Islam and issuing annual reports; 2) getting the UN to adopt an international resolution on Islamophobia, and call on all States to enact laws to counter it; and 3) establishing international legal instruments to enforce anti-defamation laws and deliver deterrent punishments to those charged with inciting Islamophobia through defamation of Islam.

The Observatory of Islamophobia was launched in Dakar in March 2008 and the UN has been passing resolutions against Islamophobia and "defamation" of religion ever since the OIC and Arab League-incited Cartoon Intifada of February 2006. All that is left on the OIC's agenda for combating Islamophobia is the legitimisation and implementation of national and international laws and legal instruments to punish offenders. It looks like Durban II might be a step in this direction.


Links

1) Draft Outcome Document for the Durban Review Conference 2009
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/DurbanReview/session2-documentation.htm

2) Durban 2: New site, same debacle.
Kevin Libin, National Post (Canada) 25 October 2008
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=907004

3) Danish foreign minister threatens Western boycott of Durban II
Jyllands-Posten 28 Oct 2008
By Jette Elbaek Maressa
http://europenews.dk/en/node/15473

4) Shattering the Red Lines: The Durban II Draft Declaration
Selected provisions of United Nations draft published at Second Preparatory Session
By UN WATCH www.unwatch.org (Oct. 2008).

5) Strengthening respect for human rights key for preventing conflict, stabilizing post-conflict situations, Third Committee told.
GA/SHC/3933
Sixty-third General Assembly
Third Committee
33rd & 34th Meeting (AM & PM)
Hears from Special Rapporteur on Racism, Chair of Mercenaries Working Group; Religious Defamation, Progress towards Durban Review Conference among Issues
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/SHIG-7L3D9X?OpenDocument

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

OIC: Eliminating "defamation" of Islam.

Date: Tuesday 25 March 2008
Subj: OIC: Eliminating "defamation" of Islam.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


OIC: ELIMINATING "DEFAMATION" OF ISLAM

In December 2005 the Heads of State and Government at the Organisation of Islamic Conference's 3rd Extraordinary Summit in Makkah adopted a "Ten Year Program of Action" to address the most "prominent challenges facing the Muslim world today". Through the Ten Year Program of Action (TYPOA) the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) aims to strengthen Islamic solidarity and project the "true image and noble values of Islam" thus enabling the Muslim Ummah to achieve its renaissance". (TYPOA: Link 1)

Item VI on the OIC's Ten Year Program of Action is "Combating Islamophobia". Tasks to be undertaken in this regard include the establishment of an Observatory on Islamophobia tasked with monitoring Islamophobia and "defamation" of Islam and issuing annual reports; and getting the UN to "adopt an international resolution on Islamophobia, and call on all States to enact laws to counter it, including deterrent punishments".

It must be noted that December 2005 was three months after the Danish Mohammed cartoons were published in Denmark (with no response) and one month after they were re-printed in Cairo, Egypt (front page during Ramadan, with no response). Most notably however, it was two months before the "Cartoon Intifada" erupted in the Levant and spread across the Muslim world. The Cartoon Intifada, in which Danish embassies were razed, numerous lives were lost and Danish products were boycotted, subsequently became the backdrop for the OIC's April 2006 presentation of its resolution against the defamation of religions, specifically Islam, to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The OIC's anti-"defamation" resolutions have now passed in both the UNHRC (see LINK 2) and the UN General Assembly where it was adopted in December 2007 by a recorded vote of 108 in favour to 51 against, with 25 abstentions.

Having achieved its goals in the UN (a feat the OIC regards as indicative of "the international community's views and willingness to eliminate any discrimination against Muslims or defamation of Islam" (LINK 3: p26), the OIC is now moving on from the recognition of "defamation" to the elimination of "defamation" using means both positive -- supplying an alternative message -- and negative -- "deterrent punishments".

In preparation for this next stage, the 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, in May 2007, commissioned the Observatory on Islamophobia to submit its first report, covering the period from May to December 2007, along with its recommendations, to the OIC's 11th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in Dakar, Senegal, on 13-14 March 2008.

The theme of the Dakar Islamic Summit Conference was "Islam in the 21st Century". The agenda, speeches, resolutions and first OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia can be found on the OIC website (or for a direct link through to the English version, see link 3).

The OIC's Observatory report is built on the foundation laid by Mr Doudou Diene, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance through his 17 August 2007 report to the 6th Session of the UNHRC on "the manifestations of defamation of religions and in particular on the serious implications of Islamophobia on the enjoyment of all rights". For this report and an analysis of it, see LINK 4.

The central claims of the OIC's Observatory Report on Islamophobia are consistent with the OIC's Ten Year Program of Action which aims to combat Islamophobia by correcting the world's perception of Islam and creating "deterrent punishments".

The Observatory Report on Islamophobia claims that:
1) that in order to have peace, the correct (OIC-approved) version of history and of Islam must be understood, accepted and promoted (anything else is "baseless" Islamophobia or inciteful "defamation" of Islam and responsible for the violent, destructive and punitive -- though definitely not immature, irrational, criminal or Islamic -- Muslims rioting in the world today);
2) that Islamophobia exists in part because there is no legal instrument to combat it, therefore a "binding legal instrument" must be created "to fight the menace of Islamophobia".

Further to this, the report lists in its Annex A 34 "major incidents" of Islamophobia and/or "defamation" of Islam, occurring from May to Dec 2007.

The message of the report could be summed up by this quote from page 50: "Westerners should bear in mind Amr Moussa's words at the inaugural session: 'Islam is different from Communism because it is not easy to beat, although it is easy to live with and easy to dialogue with. However, if one targets it, the whole world will be in extreme danger.'"

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Before embarking on a closer examination of the Observatory report, it is important to reiterate: Islam and Muslims and race are not the same thing. It is wrong and misleading to freely interchange the terms as if they were.

Islam is not a person or a race, but an ideology and whole-of-life system. Muslims, on the other hand, are diverse human beings whose human rights must be protected. Perpetual satisfaction is not a fundamental human right and it is certainly not the reality of life for anyone. Race is a totally separate issue to religion.

Religious liberty (which, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right to convert, just as freedom of speech includes the right to question and debate) is a fundamental human right. Human rights principles and laws exist to protect the rights of human beings, not the claims of religions (human rights = rights of humans).

Of all things in this world, religion has the least grounds to claim an exemption from scrutiny, for religion is -- or is supposed to be -- an issue not of race but of eternal truth.

Secondly, defamation is legally defined as "a false accusation of an offence or a malicious misrepresentation of someone's words or actions" (American Heritage Dictionary). While the OIC freely employs the term "defamation", the more correct word would be criticism. Criticism is not defamation unless it is false, and while the OIC claims that critical and negative views of Islam are wrong and misconceived, that claim ought to be open to debate.

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ELIMINATING DEFAMATION
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1) CORRECTING PERCEPTIONS

As noted, the Observatory report builds on the foundation laid by Mr Doudou Diene who has asserted that the root cause of Islamophobia and Muslim reactionary violence is "defamation" of Islam. The message to all historians, journalists, human rights and religious liberty advocates, public figures, authors, cartoonists, film-makers, song-writers and others is: correct your perceptions, eliminate "defamation" of Islam, adopt the OIC-approved message and you will have peace. Fail and you can only have danger.

According to the Observatory report, "Prejudice and intolerance vis-a-vis Islam is an old phobia, and has been a stubborn and distinctive trait of Western society and the European psyche since the seventh century." (page 5)

According to the report, the historian Groeber was correct when he wrote that "Islam spread in the whole world in a very short period of time like sunshine spreads in moments", emerging all at once as a "perfectly integrated phenomenon", miraculously acquiring a universal identity from its inception. Its quick advance sent "strong shock waves of fear and awe across all Europe". While Islam's "radiant civilisation enriched Europe in all fields of science, knowledge and morality", the Church exploited the masses' obsessive fear of Islam to increase its own power. (p5,6)

According to the report, Europeans were for so long devoted to monoculture and the belief that their culture is superior, that now they cannot help but be irritated by the presence of foreigners of different cultures. The report charges that Europeans are "unable to adjust to the cultural diversity that has become a fact of life in today's global village." (p6) Consequently, so the report claims, "The new phenomenon of Islamophobia . . . has emerged as a racist movement of intolerance and discrimination and should be dealt with as such."

On page 11 of the Observatory report, ten alleged "Root Causes of Islamophobia" are listed. The first cause listed, "Historical Perspective", explains that the reason Islam came under attack from Christianity and Judaism was that as a "modern faith" with "liberal values in terms of upholding human rights, equality and human dignity and the rights of women", Islam had found "greater acceptability with the people". (In other words, Jewish and Christian hostility towards Islam has historically been driven by apostaphobia vis-a-vis Islam.)

The second root cause of Islamophobia is said to be the ignorant mindset amongst "the common people of the West" who have wrongly believed that "Islam was a religion that lived by the sword and preached violence and hatred against non-believers and that it stood to challenge the Western democratic way of life".

Other stated root causes include insufficient dissemination of information about Muslim victims of terror and Muslim rejection of terror; "misrepresentation and incorrect interpretation of Islam", "abuse of freedom of expression" which gives rise to hurt and insult of Muslims; fear that economic opportunities are threatened by immigrants; and "the continued occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories . . ."

On numerous occasions throughout the report the primary Islamophobic misconception and defamation of Islam that must be corrected is that of the wrongful linking of Islam to "terrorism, violence and human rights violations".

The other roots causes of Islamophobia are, the OIC claims, related to the "lack of legal mechanisms . . . as well the absence of a binding international instrument to contain defamation of religions".

2) DETERRENT PUNISHMENTS

Quoting from the Observatory report (p30, 1.1 a): "The primary objective of the Observatory in accordance with the Ten Year Program of Action should be to correct projection of Islam as a religion of moderation, peace and tolerance."

The Observatory will therefore monitor closely all Islamophobic incidents and "defamatory" statements, and all lectures and workshops taking place in different parts of the world. It will also update the list of repudiated Muslim think-tanks and NGOs that can monitor and counter the anti-Islam campaign. (p30)

The report continually but erroneously depicts Islamophobia and "defamation" of Islam as incidents of racism and racial discrimination. It also continually refers to "defamation" of Islam as a human rights issue. But that is also wrong. Human rights are rights for humans, and the human rights of Muslims are protected in the West. (If the OIC was not so preoccupied with the Muslim colonisation of Europe it might have more incentive to address the Islamic world's brain-drain and the reasons why such large numbers of Muslims are deserting the Muslim world for the West.)

According to the Observatory report, combating Islamophobia and "defamation" of Islam requires the creation of a legal instrument, along with a committee to implement and monitor it as victims file complaints under the 1503 Human Rights Council Complaint Procedure. (p31)

LAWS? SANCTIONS? A COURT?

It would be very interesting to know what such a legal instrument might look like and how it might work. The Observatory report gives clues but no details.

On page 50 of the Observatory report it is claimed that the OIC cannot properly address the challenge of Islamophobia and "defamation" of Islam if the "official authorities and politicians do not assume [an] ethically and morally righteous and responsible attitude in front of the masses . . ."

Will the Cartoon Intifada form the pattern for OIC response to "defamation" of Islam? Will Islamophobic incidents or "defamatory" remarks (at least those selected by the OIC as being found worthy to warrant action) be followed by riots, then accusations and/or charges, then a demand that the relevant government accept responsibility and act against the perpetrator? Will a government's refusal to submit to OIC demands elicit OIC-sponsored sanctions from the Muslim world?

Page 21 of the Observatory reports gives us a preview of what may be in store. After the Dutch parliamentarian Mr Geert Wilders announced in late November 2007 that he was producing a documentary critical of the Qur'an, the OIC General Secretariat expressed "a strong note of concern to the Embassy of the Netherlands in Riyadh . . . requesting the Dutch government's intervention to stop the broadcasting of the documentary."

Subsequently, "The OIC Secretary General met the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, Mr. Maxime Verhagen, upon the latter's request . . . in Madrid on January 15, 2008. The Dutch Minister informed the Secretary General that his Government acknowledged the concern of the OIC with seriousness and that the Government does not associate with and condemns such activities in the strongest possible terms. He also informed the Secretary General that he met the parliamentarian in question personally to ask him to refrain from such a derogatory act. He also explained that if the announced documentary is broadcast and the content violates the Dutch laws, then, the parliamentarian would be prosecuted. The Dutch Foreign Minister appealed to the OIC Secretary General for his help and cooperation so that the film does not hurt the Dutch interests in the Muslim world."

The OIC could only reiterate its concern and "caution" the Dutch FM that "the broadcast and distribution of the documentary could spark off strong repercussions that might go out of hand and become difficult to contain. He told the Dutch Foreign Minister that the best option available to avoid a bad situation would be to do the needful in stopping Mr Wilders from exhibiting the film and that the Dutch Government should impose all necessary measures in this regard."

On 18 January the Dutch PM held a press conference in The Hague where he expressed his concern that "the broadcast of the film would invite reactions that could affect public order, public safety and security and the economy". The Dutch Embassy then responded to the OIC General Secretariat on 19 January with a note that the Dutch government had openly expressed its concerns about the possible offensive nature of the film to Muslims.

The OIC Secretary General then wrote letters to various European ministers with authority in the EU, the Council of Europe, and OSCE calling for their intervention, reminding them that "advocacy of racial or religious hatred" is prohibited by law. This drama is ongoing.

If a "legal instrument" is established, might it be possible that individual uncensored, unrepentant or persistent "Islamophobes" and "defamers" of Islam might be indicted to face court on criminal charges? One thing is certain, the OIC would not be envisaging hauling Westerners before state courts in Libya, Iran, Syria or Sudan. Nor would they envisage the creation of a special court, linked to the OIC in Makkah, designed specifically to handle cases of Western Islamophobia and "defamation" of Islam. It is more probable that the OIC would envisage using a European Human Rights Court as its legal instrument, staffed by Europeans who would in the name of peace and human rights codify anti-"defamation" laws and even prosecute, sentence and detain "violators".

It is quite possible that moves are already afoot in this regard. In his opening speech to the Dakar Summit, OIC General Secretary Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu was pleased to report that concerning the fight to combat dangerous Islamophobia, "We have established strong ties with the centres of 'think-tanks' in Europe and the USA to expose our views and values and defend our causes."

The Observatory report notes on page 45 that the OIC is in the process of opening an office in Brussels that will enable closer cooperation between it and the EU. On page 48 we read: "The Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) General Secretariat based in Vienna and OSCE's democratization and human rights center, ODIHR, based in Warsaw are prominent among the Western intergovernmental institutions with which the OIC General Secretariat established a high level of cooperation on the issue of Islamophobia during the last two years." Throughout the report it is clear that the OIC is hard at work getting the UN, the EU, the OSCE and other Western bodies not just lining up behind the OIC agenda, but adopting and even implementing it.

In this New Supranationalist World Order it is no longer inconceivable that a politically motivated administrative body might establish a court specifically charged to implement its will and convict those it has already deemed guilty. Indeed, such a court would not even be unique. States wracked with Muslim riots and OIC-sponsored sanctions might eventually be very pleased to be able to appease Islamic reactionary forces by handing over indicted persons.

--------------------------

The Observatory Report on Islamophobia is peppered with numerous appeals for dialogue. However, it is clear that this is not to be a Western-style dialogue where people talk freely to each other, but something more akin to a screen-test, where the participants sit before cameras and microphones and read from an OIC-approved script! And the promise is that those who follow the script will receive the "carrot" of peace, while those who deviate will know the "stick" of law and punishment.


Links

1) 10 year program of action outlined (IINA)
http://www.sciencedev.net/Docs/OIC%2010%20year%20plan.htm

2) UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: Protecting Religion. 12 April 2007
http://www.ea.org.au/ReligiousLiberty/NewsAnalysis/UNHUMANRIGHTSCOUNCILPROTECTINGRELIGION.aspx

3) Observatory Report on Islamophobia (covers May-Dec 2007).
Presented at the 11th Session of The Islamic Summit Conference
Dakar, Senegal from 13-14 March 2008
http://www.oic-oci.org/oicnew/is11/english/Islamophobia-rep-en.pdf

For all other the speeches and resolutions from the Summit see:
http://www.oic-oci.org/oicnew/is11/english/

4) WEA RLC News & Analysis. 17 Sept 2007
UN Human Rights Council: Watershed days
- UNHRC to choose between defending human rights and Islamising human rights.
By: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal
http://www.worldevangelicals.org/commissions/rlc/reports/articles.htm?id=1411

SEE ALSO
Islamic states seek world freedom curbs: humanists
By Robert Evans, 12 March 2008
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL1277265220080312?sp=true

Difficult tasks facing the OIC
By Hassan Hanizadeh, 13 March2008
http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=164995
includes: "In addition, Islamic countries must begin playing a major role in international bodies such as the UN Security Council, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency so that they can elevate Muslims' status because Muslims living in the United States and European countries are treated like second-class citizens, although, based on Islamic teachings, the non-Muslims living in Islamic countries enjoy equal rights with Muslims."

World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
15 February 2008
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY TRENDS 2007-2008
-- Apostasy, Apostaphobia and postmodernism
-- The New Cold War, and its implications for religious liberty
By WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal
http://www.worldevangelicals.org/commissions/rlc/reports/articles.htm?id=1666

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

UNHRC: Watershed days.

Date: Tuesday 18 September 2007
Subj: UNHRC: Watershed days.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
From: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal


UNHRC: WATERSHED DAYS
- UNHRC to choose between defending human rights and Islamising human rights.


This posting examines the 21 August 2007 report presented to the sixth session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by "the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diene, on the manifestations of defamation of religions and in particular on the serious implications of Islamophobia on the enjoyment of all rights".

This report was "submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 4/9 entitled 'Combating defamation of religions', in which the Council invited the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to report on all manifestations of defamation of religions and in particular on the serious implications of Islamophobia on the enjoyment of all rights at its sixth session".

Doudou Diene's report should be studied by all religious liberty advocates and everyone else interested in free speech. Diene postulates that "defamation" of Islam generates dangerous Islamophobia, which leads to the repression of Muslim rights and in turn drives Muslims to extremism. This forms the foundation for his recommendation that our international human rights covenants be reinterpreted and amended.

I would propose that the very heart of the issue is not "defamation" of Islam or "baseless" Islamophobia, but the fact that the dictators of Islam are now as ever consumed with and driven by "apostaphobia"!

Indeed the new openness brought to the world through globalisation and developments in information and communication technologies is causing the power stakeholders and religious dictators of the non-free world to be seriously gripped by apostaphobia: a well-founded fear of loss of adherents, which is manifested primarily as uncompromising repression and denial of fundamental liberties, by violent and subversive means.

The UNHRC must add "apostaphobia" to its vocabulary. Further to that, the UNHRC must confront apostaphobia by upholding the international human rights covenants that protect the fundamental, universal right of individuals to religious liberty, not seek to reinterpret and amend those covenants to protect religions and apostaphobic religious dictators from the threat posed to them by religious liberty.

-------------------------------------

UNHRC REPORT A/HRC/6/6

The text of the 21 August 2007 report to the sixth session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) can be found here.

The relevant report is:
2007
6th session
Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diène, on the manifestations of defamation of religions and in particular on the serious implications of Islamophobia on the enjoyment of all rights.
HRCA/HRC/6/6

SUMMARY OF MAJOR PROBLEMS

There are numerous problems with Doudou Diene's report. This list is selective, not exhaustive.

Before even turning the first page it important to ask whether it is appropriate to link (even by association) racism and racial discrimination with defamation of religion and Islamophobia, as race is a totally separate issue from religion. Beliefs should always be open to critical analysis in the pursuit of truth. All efforts to tie religion to race should be rejected.

Right from the beginning the report takes aim at "democratic parties", "governmental alliances", "traditionally democratic parties" (par 6), but nowhere does it challenge totalitarian regimes and religious dictatorships (governmental and non-governmental). It is from within this context the report criticises the "dogmatic rejection of multiculturalism", the defence of value-based identity (par 7), and the curtailing of civil liberties to preserve national security (par 8). In other words, it is quite clear that Diene's criticisms relate to democratic, multicultural states such as the US, Canada, Britain or Denmark, not states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt or Libya.

Also the use of the word defamation is highly contentious. Defamation relates to damaging slander or libel, which is by definition false. Using the word "defamation" implies that damaging lies are being propagated. Any effort to redefine offence, criticism or questioning as defamation must also be rejected. People should be free to debate and explore the truth or otherwise of claims against religions. However, Diene's use of the terms "ideological violence" and "intellectual violence" (par 9) give some indication of how he might view such debate (at least when non-Judeo-Christian religions are the subject).

Under the heading "Forms of Religious Discrimination", Diene notes (par 13): "Defamation provides the intellectual justification and legitimising discourse that support all forms of discrimination." This statement is absolutely true, but only if "defamation" is correctly defined as damaging slander or libel (falsehoods). WEA RLC has long held that "disinformation" (information that is false and intended to mislead or deceive) is frequently the first step on the slippery slope towards discrimination and persecution. WEA RLC advocates religious liberty, rule of law, and openness in pursuit of truth, as the most effective means of combating disinformation. That is a totally different perspective from that of Diene and the Organisation of Islamic Conference.

ISLAMOPHOBIA, ANTI-SEMITISM, CHRISTIANOPHOBIA

ISLAMOPHOBIA

According to the report, "defamation" of Islam gives rise to Islamophobia which in turn drives Muslims to "extremism" (par 17). In other words, the cycle of Islamic "extremism" starts with non-Muslims, who must therefore ultimately be held accountable for it.

Special Rapporteur Diene proposes (par 19) that Islamophobia be defined as "a baseless hostility and fear vis-a-vis Islam, and as a result a fear of and aversion towards all Muslims or the majority of them . . . " Thus from the very outset, fear of Islam is said to be "baseless", and fear of Islam inherently is manifested as an "aversion towards Muslims". As generalisations, both are untrue.

Without mentioning Islamic imperialism, jihads and dhimmitude, Diene comments that Islamophobia dates back to the first encounters between Islam and other religions. He cites the Crusades as an example of early Islamophobia without acknowledging that, for all their failings, the successful Crusades in Spain and the unsuccessful Crusades to the Holy Land were nothing more than counterinsurgencies in response to imperialistic Islamic jihads. Reality-reversal, denial and bias pervade the report.

Diene also claims that contemporary Islamophobia is a consequence of the "Cold War-type of ideology" that perpetuates the "clash of civilisations and religions" theory. He says: "The bottom line of this dogma is the relentless characterisation and portrayal of Islam as possessing values that are fundamentally opposed to those of Western civilisation which is postulated as rooted in Christianity." Diene blames this dogma, not Islamic imperialism, repression and terrorism, for Islamophobia. (His quotes in paragraph 21 look like a veiled reference to the courageous Syrian-born critic of Islam, Dr Wafa Sultan ).

Diene claims that Islamophobia is on the rise due to the "intellectual legitimisation" and "political tolerance" of it (pars 23-27). He claims that "so-called intellectuals" are issuing "openly Islamophobic statements" that are "falsely claimed to be scientific or scholarly in order to give intellectual clout to arguments that link Islam to violence and terrorism. Furthermore, the manipulation and selective quoting of sacred texts, in particular the Koran, as a means to deceptively argue that these texts show the violent nature of Islam has become current practice" (par 23). Without analysing or judging the 9/11 terror attacks on the USA, he questions whether the events of 9/11, after being manipulated by the media, may have "reawakened a repressed crusading mentality" (par 24).

ANTI-SEMITISM

According to Diene, anti-Semitism predominantly stems from "political rather than religious or racial motives" (par 38). This entirely and conveniently circumvents the problem and the reality of the inherently anti-Semitic nature of the Qur'an.

According to Diene's report, Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism is not ideological but political and "reinforced by the daily images of the tragedy of the continuous occupation and suffering of the Palestinian people" (par 39); i.e it is not "baseless" but justified and its escalation is Israel's fault. (Earlier Diene accused the media of manipulating the events of 9/11 to make Islam look bad. However, there is no suggestion here of media bias or manipulation to make Muslims look like victims.) Meanwhile, he asserts that European anti-Semitism "has little, if any, relation to opposition to Israel" (par 42). Rather, contrary to Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism, European Neo-Nazism is pure racism.

Diene incorrectly associates the rise of the swastika in India with anti-Semitism when it is actually pure Hindu fascism, the primary victims of which are Indian Christians.

CHRISTIANOPHOBIA

Diene makes it quite clear that like anti-Semitism and contrary to Islamophobia, Christianophobia is not for one moment baseless or unjustified. Diene attributes Christianophobia to "the aggressive proselytism of certain evangelical groups" (par 45). Diene also attributes Christianophobia to the era of Christian-European colonisation and the current debate about the Christian ("value-based") identity of Europe (par 46).

Diene reports (par 48) that "aggressive proselytism of certain evangelical groups, particularly from North America" has resulted in Christianophobia in "South America, Africa and Asia" (note: the Middle East is not on his list).

In another case of reality-reversal he asserts (par 48) that evangelical groups in India exploit freedom of expression to disseminate literature against Hinduism, and that this has favoured the emergence of Hindutva (militant Hindu nationalism) which has arisen out of the need to protect India's identity as a Hindu nation. (Note: Diene does not object to a "value-based identity" for Hindu India!) He adds: "The conversion of Dalits to Christianity to escape their deeply rooted discrimination is to be analysed in this context."

In the section headed "Other forms of religious-based discrimination", Diene criticises "powerful evangelical groups, mostly from the United States of America" who exploit anti-poverty programs as they "campaign to demonise Voodoo". He criticises the colonial-era mentality that seeks to demonise Afro-American syncretistic religious and spiritual traditions as irrational, inhumane and barbarous (par 52).

RECOMMENDATION TO AMEND THE COVENANTS

The report's punch-line is Diene's recommendation that our international human rights covenants be reinterpreted and amended. Paragraph 77 on page 20 reads: "In the light of the polarised and confrontational readings of these articles ["international instruments, and in particular articles 18, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" ] the UNHRC should "promote a more profound reflection on their interpretation". Diene recommends that the UNHRC "consider the possibility of adopting complementary standards on the interrelations between freedom of expression, freedom of religion and non-discrimination, and in particular by drafting a general comment on article 20".

Article 20 of the ICCPR states:
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.

2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

Any effort to include "defamation" of religion (especially when defamation is undefined, or defined as mere offence, criticism or questioning) in the same category as "propaganda for war" or "incitement . . . to violence" would serve those forces from Vietnam to Egypt that seek to make religious liberty an issue not of fundamental, universal human rights, but of national security.

This recommendation will no doubt be discussed in the next session of the UNHRC. It is likely to elicit a resolution to draft an amendment to the UDHR and the ICCPR, one the forces of liberty may not have the numbers to defeat. If that is the case, the Islamisation of international human rights will have begun.

Elizabeth Kendal
rl-research@crossnet.org.au

BACKGROUND

UN Human Rights Council: Protecting Religion. 12 April 2007
WEA RLC News & Analysis, by Elizabeth Kendal
http://www.worldevangelicals.org/news/article.htm?id=1018

Islam at the Human Rights Commission. 21 June 2006
By Roy Brown, past President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Head of IHEU's UN NGO Delegation at Geneva, Chair of IHEU's Committee for Growth and Development. http://www.iheu.org/node/2269