Tag Archives: International law

First victim of blasphemy laws would be Islam itself

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Raymond Ibrahim

Soon after Muslim gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo offices, which published satirical caricatures of Muslim prophet Muhammad, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — the “collective voice of the Muslim world” and second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations — is again renewing calls for the UN to criminalize “blasphemy” against Islam, or what it more ecumenically calls, the “defamation of religions.”

Yet the OIC seems to miss one grand irony: if international laws would ban cartoons, books, and films on the basis that they defame Islam, they would also, by logical extension, have to ban the entire religion of Islam itself — the only major religion whose core texts actively and unequivocally defame other religions, including by name.

To understand this, consider what “defamation” means. Typical dictionary-definitions include “to blacken another’s reputation” and “false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel.” In Muslim usage, defamation simply means anything that insults or offends Islamic sensibilities.

However, to gain traction among the international community, the OIC cynically maintains that such laws should protect all religions from defamation, not just Islam (even as Muslim governments ban churches, destroy crucifixes, and burn Bibles).

Disingenuous or not, the OIC’s wording suggests that any expression that “slanders” the religious sentiments of others should be banned.

What, then, do we do with Islam’s core religious texts — beginning with the Koran itself which slanders, denigrates and blackens the reputation of other religions?

Consider Christianity alone: Koran 5:73 declares that “Infidels are they who say God is one of three,” a reference to the Christian Trinity; Koran 5:72 says “Infidels are they who say God is the Christ, [Jesus] son of Mary”; and Koran 9:30 complains that “the Christians say the Christ is the son of God … may God’s curse be upon them!”

Considering that the word “infidel” (kafir) is one of Islam’s most derogatory terms, what if a Christian book or Western cartoon appeared declaring that “Infidels are they who say Muhammad is the prophet of God — may God’s curse be upon them”?

If Muslims would consider that a great defamation against Islam — and they would, with the attendant rioting, murders, etc. — then by the same standard it must be admitted that the Koran defames Christians and Christianity.

Indeed, it is precisely because of this that some Russian districts are banning key Islamic scriptures — including Sahih Bukhari, which is seen as second in authority after the Koran itself.

According to Apastovsk district RT prosecutors, Sahih Bukhari has been targeted because it promotes “exclusivity of one of the world’s religions,” namely Islam, or, in the words of Ruslan Galliev,  senior assistant to the prosecutor of Tatarstan, it promotes “a militant Islam” which “arouses ethnic, religious enmity.”

Similarly, consider how the Christian Cross, venerated among millions, is depicted — is defamed — in Islam: according to canonical hadiths, when he returns, Jesus (“Prophet Isa”) will destroy all crosses; and Muhammad, who never allowed the cross in his presence, once ordered someone wearing a cross to “throw away this piece of idol from yourself.”

Unsurprisingly, the cross is banned and often destroyed whenever visible in many Muslim countries.

What if Christian books or Western movies declared that the sacred things of Islam — say the Black Stone in Mecca’s Ka’ba — are “idolatry” and that Muhammad himself will return and destroy them? If Muslims would consider that defamation against Islam—and they would, with all the attendant rioting, murders, etc.—then by the same standard it must be admitted that Islamic teaching defames the Christian Cross.

Here is a particularly odious form of defamation against Christian sentiment, especially to the millions of Catholic and Orthodox Christians. According to Islam’s most authoritative Koranic exegetes, including the revered Ibn Kathir, Muhammad is in paradise married to and copulating with the Virgin Mary.

What if a Christian book or Western movie portrayed, say, Muhammad’s “favorite” wife, Aisha—the “Mother of Believers”—as being married to and having sex with a false prophet in heaven? If Muslims would consider that a great defamation against Islam — and they would — then by the same standard it must be admitted that Islam’s most authoritative Koranic exegetes defame the Virgin Mary.

Nor is such defamation of Christianity limited to Islam’s core scriptures; modern day Muslim scholars and sheikhs agree that it is permissible to defame and mock Christianity.

“Islam Web,” which is owned by the government of Qatar, even issued a fatwa that legitimizes insulting Christianity. (The Qatari website also issued a fatwa in 2006 permitting burning people alive — only to take it down after the Islamic State used the fatwa’s same arguments to legitimize burning a Jordanian captive pilot.)

The grandest irony of all is that the “defamation” that Muslims complain about — and that prompts great violence and bloodshed around the world — revolves around things like cartoons and movies, which are made by individuals who represent only themselves; on the other hand, Islam itself, through its holiest and most authoritative texts, denigrates and condemns — in a word, defames — all other religions, not to mention calls for violence against them (e.g., Koran 9:29).

It is this issue, Islam’s perceived “divine” right to defame and destroy, that the international community should be addressing — not silly cartoons and films.

Raymond Ibrahim, a Fellow of the Hoover Institution, is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians

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Check out the status of Anti-Sharia Bills introduced nationwide

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Contact your representatives and tell them why they should support anti-sharia legislation as well as why terror-linked CAIR is fighting to kill these bills.

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Bans on court use of sharia/international law: AL threatens to refuse full faith and credit to court decisions of other states; new OK bill avoids using word “sharia”

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March 29th, 2013 by Bill Raftery Gavel to Gavel

As I noted in last month’s update, this year’s batch of bans of sharia/international law use by state courts looks very different than those of the past several years. After criticism that a) past versions would effectively cripple businesses who have to sign international contracts and b) that bans on references to the law and court decisions of other nations would make the judicial determinations of tribal courts in the U.S. enforceable, most such bills have been completely rewritten.

  • Alabama’s newest versions (SB 4 and SB 44) are new and unique; beyond banning just that state’s courts from using international law they also purport to ban the use in other state courts. SB 4, as approved by the Senate last week, reads in operative part:

Where the public acts, records, or judicial proceedings of another state violate the public policy of the State of Alabama, the State of Alabama shall not give full faith and credit thereto

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The bill elsewhere defines the “public policy” of the state to exclude use of international law.

  • Oklahoma, whose original version used the word “sharia” and was struck down by the federal courts for that reason, has come up with a new version that amends existing statutes (the original version amended the state’s constitution) and avoids using the word “sharia”.

  • Also tellingly is the concern businesses have had over such bans in the past. Texas’ latest version, although limited to banning use of international or foreign law in family court proceedings, has nevertheless been forwarded to the Senate Business & CommerceCommittee.

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List of bills:

Bill
Does not affect right to contract freely/contract provisions
Does not apply to corporations
Does not apply to tribal court decisions
Does not apply to ecclesiastical matters/religious orgs
Other items
Status
X
X
Full faith and credit with other states suspended if they use international law
Approved by full Senate 3/20/13.
X
X
Full faith and credit with other states suspended if they use international law
In Senate Judiciary Committee.
X
X
X
In House Judiciary Committee.
X
X
X
X
Limited to Family law. Does not apply to use of English common law.
Approved by House Judiciary Committee 2/21/13.
X
X
X
X
Limited to Family law. Does not apply to use of English common law.
Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee 3/6/13. Approved by House Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee 3/21/13. In House Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee.
X
In Senate Rules Committee.
X
Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee 2/21/12. Approved by full Senate 2/26/13. In House Judiciary Committee.
X
X
X
X
In House Judiciary Committee.
X
X
In House Judiciary Committee.
X
Specifically uses word “sharia” Died in House Judiciary A Committee.
X
X
X
Died in House Judiciary A Committee.
X
Died in House Judiciary A Committee.
X
X
Died in Senate Judiciary A Committee.
X
X
X
In House Judiciary Committee.
X
X
Approved by Senate General Laws Committee 3/27/13.
X
X
X
X
Approved by full House 3/6/13. Approved by Senate Judicairy Committee 3/26/13.
X
In House States’ Rights Committee.
X
X
In House Rules Committee.
X
X
X
In House Rules Committee.
X
X
In Senate Judiciary Committee.
X
X
X
X
Approved by full Senate 3/13/13. In House Judiciary Committee.
Approved by full Senate 2/25/13. In House Judiciary Committee.
X
In Senate Judiciary Committee.
X
In Senate Judiciary Committee.
In House Judiciary Committee.
X
X
Limited to family law (divorce, marriage, parent-child relationship)
In House Judiciary Committee.
In House State Affairs Committee.
X
X
Limited to family law (divorce, marriage, parent-child relationship)
In Senate State Affairs Committee.
X
In Senate State Affairs Committee.
X
X
Limited to family law (divorce, marriage, parent-child relationship)
In Senate Business & Commerce Committee.
Limited to Domestic Relations (marriage, divorce, custody, visitation, support, adoption)
Withdrawn at sponsor’s request.
X
X
In House Judiciary Committee.
X
X
In House Judiciary Committee.
Does not apply to use of English common law, if enacted
Killed by full House 1/24/13.
Does not apply to use of English common law, if enacted
Died in House Judiciary Committee.

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Israel and the Struggle Over the International Laws of War

By Jennifer Rubin, WaPo// Peter Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and holder of a PhD in political science and a J.D. from Yale, is out with a new book, “Israel and the Struggle Over the International Laws of War.” The slim volume does not lack intellectual heft. It is must-reading for those interested in international law, Israel and multilateral international bodies. Peter agreed to answer a number of questions about the book. The depth and thoughtfulness of his answers are representative of his body of work, which ranges from political philosophy to Zionism.

Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza St...
Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) showing Israel's 1948 and 1967 borders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How does compliance with international law comport with America’s system of constitutional democracy?

It depends. International law includes a variety of bodies of law dealing with, among other things, trade, transportation, communication, the environment and human rights. The international laws of war form one such body.

One source of the international laws of war is the long-standing or customary practice of nations based on their sense of legal obligation. Customary international law is consistent with constitutional democracy because it is grounded in the consent of states, in their decision to follow a practice not merely out of convenience or courtesy but out of their recognition of its legally binding character.

Much of the international laws of war has been codified in treaties, most notably the four Geneva Conventions. When, in accordance with Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the President and two-thirds of the Senate enter into treaties governing the laws of war — as in the case of the Geneva Conventions — America is properly bound.

However, two large problems have arisen concerning the democratic legitimacy of the international laws of war. First, lawyers, scholars, and diplomats increasingly argue as if speculations derived from moral philosophy and political theory about what the law ought to be constitute a binding part of customary international law. Second, lawyers, scholars, and diplomats increasingly seek to shift responsibility for interpreting the obligations of states under the international laws of war from states themselves — where the international laws of war place it — to entities that are not only unelected and unrepresentative but in many cases boast officers and judges who represent authoritarian states.

You write that international laws are “a vital component of a freer, more peaceful and more prosperous world order.” But does Israel’s experience with Goldstone and the flotilla suggest otherwise?

Israel’s bitter experience with the Goldstone Report and, in the end, better experience with the Gaza flotilla controversy — both of which concerned Israel’s operations against Hamas, which is the ruling authority in Gaza and which is sworn to Israel’s destruction — involved the attempt by influential actors on the international stage to criminalize Israel’s inherent right of self-defense. All liberal democracies must combat this abuse and corruption of the international laws of war.

At their origins and properly conceived today, the international laws of war seek to balance the legitimate claims of military necessity and humanitarian responsibility. Liberal democracies such as Israel and the United States, which are engaged in a long struggle against transnational terrorism and depend on their armed forces on a daily basis to defend their ways of life, have a special interest in the struggle over the international laws of war. That’s in no small measure because soldiers and officers imbued with the principles of freedom and equality justly take pride in honoring laws of war rightly understood. The laws of war rightly understood take seriously both combatants’ obligation to defend their nation and their obligation to minimize harm to noncombatants.

Is the proper application of international law possible without a majority of liberal democracies in the international community?

Yes and no. It is certainly possible for the liberal democracies such as the United States and Israel to operate in accordance with the international laws of war, in part because the international laws of war accord states with competent judicial systems considerable responsibility for investigating and punishing war crimes. However, to the extent that the international laws of war are coopted by authoritarian states and transnational elites with their own political agendas, liberal democracies will be compelled to assume even greater responsibility for interpreting, upholding, and defending the international laws of war. The recognition of laws of war that are binding on all nations should not be confused with the obligation to vest in some mythical international community the authority for defining and punishing violations of the laws of war.

The Goldstone Report got the facts and the law wrong. The report was so contrary to international law (e.g., in failing to defer to national sovereignty and law) one has to wonder how Goldstone got so far off track. Was this pure bias?

I don’t know what motivated Goldstone or the other members of his mission — London School of Economics professor Christine Chinkin; Colonel Desmond Travers, a former officer in Ireland’s Defense Forces; and Supreme Court of Pakistan advocate Hina Jilani. But when intelligent people go wildly astray, when they sign their names to a document that twists the facts, misapplies the law, and indeed proceeds on the basis of a mandate lacking proper legal foundations, and all their errors operate to demonize one side, then bias becomes a plausible hypothesis.

You discuss and debunk the notion that Israel is “occupying” Gaza. Is Hamas an occupying power, and if so what recourse is there?

Hamas shouldn’t be considered an occupying power in Gaza, though its actual status is unclear. In January 2006 elections, it won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority parliament. And in June 2007, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza, expelling its rival Fatah from the government. While not recognized by international law as head of a sovereign state, Hamas, unfortunately, appears to enjoy the support of the Palestinians of Gaza. In these circumstances, friends of freedom should join with Israel in ensuring the humanitarian needs of the people of the Gaza Strip are met while isolating Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, renounce terror, and abide by agreements with Israel into which the Palestinian Authority has entered.

In its Presidential Statement of May 31, 2009, did the U.N. Security Council violate the international laws of war by failing to recognize that Israel had the primary right and responsibility to investigate the incident itself?

The failure of the Presidential Statement to recognize that states accused of war crimes have the right and primary responsibility to undertake investigations, conducts trials, and mete out punishments is not itself a violation of the international laws of war. However, it betrays a determination to effectively rewrite the international laws of war by shifting responsibility from states to international entities.

Actually, in the case of the Gaza flotilla, the UN acted with greater respect for Israel’s rights and responsibilities. In the case of the Goldstone Report, the UN General Assembly, through its subsidiary organ, the notorious Human Rights Council, abridged Israel’s rights and interfered with its responsibilities under the international laws of war by launching an investigation before Israel could have been expected to complete more than the preliminary stages of its own. In contrast, in the case of the Gaza flotilla the UN waited for Israel to complete its investigation and drew on Israel’s analysis and findings before it issued its own report. That was proper. The Palmer report found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was clearly legal while concluding, on a matter over which reasonable people could differ, that in the case of the Mavi Marmara Israel used excessive force in defending its legal blockade.

Nevertheless, the enemies of Israel, who form a powerful voting bloc at the UN, have an interest in eroding the claims of national sovereignty and limiting the rights and responsibilities of states in the event of war crimes allegations.

And progressive opinion wants more judicial power to be vested in international entities to investigate and punish war crimes on the supposition that they are more impartial and reliable. But that supposition is dubious. The transnational elites that would stand in judgment have interests and ambitions of their own; they lack democratic accountability and national security responsibility; and they operate in many cases without agreed upon authority for adjudicating disputes and enforcing the law.

In our imperfect world, when a liberal democracy is accused of committing a war crime, the judicial system of that liberal democracy is, all things considered and according to the international laws of war rightly understood, the best forum for vindicating the international laws of war.

Posted by Ted Belman