LAWFUL ISLAMISM'S GREATEST ATTACK YET:
THE OIC RESOLUTION AGAINST DEFAMING RELIGION
By Supna Zaidi
Islamists would. And that is exactly what happened to two English Christian ministers who had the nerve to proselytize on a street corner in a predominantly Muslim immigrant area in the United Kingdom in 2007.
Such freedom of speech violations won't be an anomaly if the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has a permanent delegation to the United Nations, succeeds in passing a UN resolution against "Defamation of Religion" Noboby in a Western country will be able to discuss the socio-political consequences of Muslim immigration, for fear of being labeled "Islamophobic" and slapped with a fine, or even jail time.
Islamists are increasingly using lawful Islamism, i.e., employing non-violent and legal strategies to spread Sharia, (Islamic law) in the West, thereby encroaching on non-Muslim life everyday. Other examples of Islamists' efforts to undermine Western culture include:
Islam in public schools;
Violations of basic hygiene policy by Muslim medical staff;
Workplace violations in the name of religious freedom;
Censorship of literature.
Under the banner of "religious freedom," Islamists attack the very fabric of constitutional democracy in favor of Islam in the public sphere. The above examples are not examples of pluralism, but a violation of the separation of church and state doctrine meant to keep people of all faiths, or no faith, equal under the law. Liberals have forgotten that secularism is not a free-for-all, but has boundaries in order to remain meaningful.
Freedom of speech has already been attacked repeatedly. Islamists tried to censor criticism of Islamist terrorism when the Muhammad cartoons were published in Jyllens-Posten in 2005. Strangely enough, the "cartoon intifada" arose 5 months after their original printing, but only weeks before the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was due to consider the OIC's resolution on "Combating Defamation of Religion."
Such a coincidence caused the National Secular Society to state in its Memorandum (Section E, point 2) to the UK Parliament that --
If any religion is to be integrated into the daily social, economic, and political life of a nation, it must open the door for evaluation of its goals and application. Otherwise, OIC nations will be able to govern unilaterally without respect to international law. Consider the following precedent.
Saudi Arabia ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2000, with reservations, stating, "In case of contradiction between any term of the Convention and the norms of Islamic law, the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] is not under obligation to observe the contradictory terms of the Convention."
Thus, Saudi Arabia confirms that it will only offer lip service to human rights by signing documents like the CEDAW charter. It will not actually improve the status of women, because it is a theocracy, and every move a woman makes is governed by Islamic law. CEDAW can do nothing for them. Moreover, if the Defamation of Religion resolution is passed, all human rights activists will feel even greater censorship, since protests from abroad will be construed as racism.
Consider the "Qatif girl" case. A Saudi girl was gang-raped in 2005 and blamed for it, since she was in the presence of unrelated men when it happened. Her attorney lost his license for challenging the Saudi courts. Only after generating global media pressure, did the situation change in her favor. The Saudi King pardoned her and the attorney got his license reinstated. In a post- Defamation of Religion world, the attorney would have been trapped, unable to help the girl, and would have been disbarred, if he dared to challenge Saudi Islamic law.
Lastly, the OIC resolution must fail because it is patently hypocritical. While professing great sensitivity toward religion, OIC member-states ironically regularly fail to show any respect for other faiths:
Iran sponsored a Holocaust cartoon contest in retaliation for the Danish cartoons of Muhammad in 2005. Yet, Jews had nothing to do with the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws attack Christians as a pretext for personal disputes.
The Defamation of Religion resolution is a free pass for Islamists to continue denigrating other religions and minorities through lawful Islamism. It ties the hands of any politician that questions the spread of Islamism in the West, and prevents critical evaluation of the treatment of women and minorities in Muslim societies.
Liberal and Conservative citizens of the West must work together to prevent this resolution from passing in the UN.
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Supna Zaidi is Editor-in-Chief of Muslim World Today and Assistant Director of Islamist Watch at the Middle East Forum.
The foregoing article by Supna Zaidi was originally published in Muslim World Today, October 10, 2008, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (Article URL: http://www.meforum.org/article/1994)
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