March 17th 2008 02:20:03 PM
“…principles that Muslims and non-Muslims alike ‘hold dear,’ such as human rights, liberty and the rule of law. ‘These are not American values or Western values,’ she told OIC ambassadors in Washington on Monday. ‘They are universal values, values that are lived and practiced by the majority of Muslims in the world, many of whom are citizens of democracies.’
‘The notion that the United States is at war with Islam … is simply propagated by violent extremists who seek to divide Muslim communities against themselves…to impose an intolerant ideology on their societies…The OIC plays a vital role in promoting moderation, dialogue and understanding…’
Demonstrating that the OIC has no interest at all in an agenda to impose an intolerant ideology, this was Thursday:
An international humanist organization has warned that Islamic governments are trying to use the United Nations to shut down free speech. The warning comes as a bloc of Islamic states is holding a summit with “Islamophobia” high on the agenda.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)…is considering a report by a new body set up to monitor instances of what many Muslims view as growing prejudice against them…”There is a need for a binding legal instrument to fight the menace of Islamophobia in the context of freedom of religion and elimination of religious intolerance,” it says.
“The Islamophobes remain free to carry on their assaults due to absence of legal measures necessary for misusing or abusing the right to freedom of expression.”
Islamic states must therefore keep “the pressure on the international community at the multilateral forums and bilateral agendas,” the OIC report recommends.
Since the uproar over the Mohammed cartoons in 2006, the OIC has stepped up its attempts in international forums to protect Islam against criticism. Late last year it succeeded in getting the U.N. General Assembly to pass a first-ever resolution on the “defamation of religions.” Islam was the only religion mentioned by name in the text.
The OIC has 56 votes at the 192-member General Assembly, but it managed to win sufficient support from non-Muslim nations, mostly in the developing world, to see the resolution pass by 108 votes to 51, with 25 abstentions.
In a statement delivered to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a non-governmental organization with consultative status at the U.N., voiced concerns about the OIC push.
“The implications of this [defamation of religions] resolution for freedom to criticize religious laws and practices are obvious,” the IHEU said.
“Armed with U.N. approval for their actions, states may now legislate against any show of disrespect for religion however they may choose to define ‘disrespect.’”
“The Islamic states see human rights exclusively in Islamic terms, and by sheer weight of numbers this view is becoming dominant within the U.N. system,” the organization added. “The implications for the universality of human rights are ominous.”
Against that background, the OIC was looking into setting up an independent permanent body “to elaborate an OIC Charter on Human Rights”…The charter would be in accordance with the provisions of the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam - the last major OIC human rights document - which says that all human rights and freedom must be subject to Islamic law (shari’a).
…[Kenyan lawyer Ambeyi] Ligabo said he was concerned about attempts to expand the scope of defamation laws beyond the protection of individuals, to include the protection of “abstract values or institutions” such as religions.
Where international human rights documents placed limitations on freedom of expression, he told the council, they were designed to protect individuals — not religions — from criticism.
Ligabo also said he “strongly rejected” the view that the use of freedom of expression has undermined people’s ability to enjoy other rights, such as the freedom of religion.
His stance drew criticism from some Islamic states in the council.
Iranian representative Asadollah Eshragh Jahromi said Ligabo should address the issue of freedom of expression and religion “in a more balanced and comprehensive manner.”
“Insulting religions is incompatible with the right to freedom of expression and cannot be justified or interpreted under such a pretext,” he said.
“When someone defames a religion or religious personalities or symbols, he hurts the believers of that faith and impinges on his exercise of right to religion and belief,” said the representative of Bangladesh, Mustafizur Rahman.
The OIC and its allies effectively dominate the Human Rights Council, where 26 of the 47 seats are earmarked for African and Asian countries.