Tag Archives: Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

No such thing as Islamic terrorism

“No such thing as Islamic terrorism,” says delegate to U.N. conference on how to criminalize criticism of Islam


The U.S. delegates mouth some pieties about free speech, but then call for ways to implement UNHRC Resolution 16/18, which amounts to calling for restrictions on free speech.

Anyway, claiming that there is no such thing as Islamic terrorism, despite piles of dead bodies to the contrary, is essential to this campaign and reveals its heart: the OIC is trying to get the West to accept the idea that any discussion of how jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism is motivated by bigotry, not by a desire to understand the motives and goals of actual terrorists. The effect will be to clear away obstacles so that those terrorists can act more freely.

“‘No such thing as Islamic terrorism,’ delegate tells UN confab on religious sensitivities,” from UN Watch, July 12 (thanks to Pat Condell):

GENEVA – Nations attacked the West for wrongly associating Islam with terrorism at a June 19-21 international conference in Geneva organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, part of the U.S.-Turkish led “Istanbul Process,” an intended Western-Islamic framework for détentecreated by a 2011 UN Human Rights Council resolution to “combat intolerance, discrimination and incitement to hatred and/or violence on the basis of religion or belief.”The 3rd International Expert Meeting on the Follow-Up and Implementation of HRC Resolution 16/18 was held at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. The previous meeting of the Istanbul Proces was hosted by then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C., in December 2011.

Critics say the resolution and its follow-up process have seen the U.S. legitimize the longstanding Islamic campaign at the UN to ban “defamation of religion,” only with different terminology.

A central theme of the conference was how to balance freedom of speech with freedom of religion. Many countries argued for protecting “religious sensitivities.” Indonesia stated that freedom of speech is not absolute, and that it must come with restrictions based on legitimate grounds.

Egypt said that freedom of opinion is a manifestation of social freedoms – and is therefore the mother of all rights – but that the freedom of religion must also be considered in light of basic human rights, given the fact that Articles 19 and 20 of the ICCPR impose duties and responsibilities.
Mr. Taskin Soykan, an adviser on combating intolerance and discrimination against Muslims at the OSCE, said that freedom of religion is “sacrosanct but not absolute,” and that individuals have responsibilities in exercising the right.
Western states emphasized the need to protect free speech. United States Ambassador Eileen Donahoe paraphrased Hillary Clinton: ‘Is our faith so weak that we can’t discuss and question it?:
US Ambassador Michael G. Kozak touched on America’s historical familiarity with blasphemy laws. He cited the 1798 “Alien and Sedition Acts” that facilitated deportation and prohibited public opposition to government. Mr. Kozak made the point that intolerance is often more likely to be stifled by protecting free speech rather than by banning it, and expressed his hope that focus would remain on how to better implement the prescriptions currently contained in Resolution 16/18, instead of adding new measures designed to further restrict free speech. When free speech is criminalized, violence becomes the only option. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion could strengthen one another.
At other times in the session, however, Western governments seemed more concerned to reassure religious sensitivities than to defend free speech.
The US reminded the conference that both President Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton had spoken out against the Innocence of Muslims film of  last year, whose depiction of Islam’s prophet was invoked as Muslims worldwide rioted and caused over 50 deaths.
Another topic of concern was the image globally projected of Islam and its frequent association with violence. Muslim panelists and member-state representatives insisted on the inherently peaceful character of their personal faith and state religion.
Slimane Chikh, Ambassador of the OIC’s UN mission in Geneva, stressed that Islam is a religion that accepts dissent.
In a debate on the implementation of Paragraph 5 (e) of Resolution 16/18, Ambassador Ömür Orhun, the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the OSCE, regretted use of the term “Islamic terrorism” by the Western media following terrorist attacks like the 2005 London bombings. “There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism,” he said.
US Ambassador Kozak responded that terrorists are often labeled as such in Western countries precisely because this is what they term themselves. Most “Islamic terrorists” are self-proclaimed as such. To successfully disassociate Islam from terrorism, the OIC would need to address such issues.
There was disagreement over what violent incidents can be attributed to “Islamophobia.” The OIC’s Slimane Chikh listed the 2011 Norway attack by Anders Breivik among recent terrorist events motivated by Islamophobic sentiments.
The following day, during a panel discussion on the implementation of Paragraph 5 (h) of Resolution 16/18, UN expert Doudou Diène mentioned the Norwegian attacks in the same breath as the Srebrenica massacre, in which Bosnian Muslims were deliberately targeted as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing. In the subsequent open forum, the Italian representative denounced the association, saying that the Norwegian slaughter included victims from the perpetrator’s own country and ethnicity, and that simply sourcing such an atrocity to a Western identity crisis in general, and Islamophobia in particular, would be inappropriate and misleading.
Concerns were also voiced that the OIC tends to be preoccupied with offences committed against Muslims abroad without paying attention to discrimination and incitement to hatred against minorities in Muslim-majority countries. In discussing the need to “adjust to changing realities,” the representative of Pakistan invoked recent media coverage of U Wirathu, dubbed ‘the face of Buddhist terror’ by Time magazine, who was also featured in the International Herald Tribune of that day.
Regrettably, the conference turned a blind eye to terrorism committed by Islamist extremists even as it met. On June 19th, the conference’s opening day, The Times reported that 16 students had been shot dead in Nigeria by suspected Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates as “Western education is sin.”
Suggestions were given on how to move forward with the Istanbul Process. One was that an international observatory, in the form of an “umbrella NGO,” should be set up to supervise the implementation of Resolution 16/18. This arose in response to qualms that most NGOs focusing on this area are based in the West – even Muslim-oriented think-tanks tend to be subsidiaries of larger Western organizations, it was said.
US Ambassador Kozak suggested that establishing a further international observatory was unnecessary, since the straightforward task of implementing the Resolution’s existing measures had not yet been achieved by most member states under its current supervisory circumstances. Russia also expressed some apprehension towards the idea, adding that member states should be weary of multiplying the number of international mechanisms with similar purposes, to avoid duplicating work.
On the third and final day, States gave closing remarks. US Ambassador Kozak warned against the dangers of spending too much time on technical debates
regarding the definition of “incitement” and other such terms instead of focusing on actual instances of violence. He also expressed concern that the conference’s overall narrative was unhelpfully framed in terms of “the West versus the rest,” with prime focus on the West’s failure to enact prohibitions on free speech; and this despite the fact that the countries where the most religious violence takes place tend to be those that have blasphemy laws in place.
Pakistan reacted indignantly, dismissing the Muslims in America that had been cited by the US delegation as having praised American tolerance as merely “rented Muslims” – a term that Ambassador Kozak rejected.
In stressing the conference’s value, Turkey pointed out that there already exists a Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religious or Belief (Mr. Heiner Bielefeld), and that while another Special Rapporteur could well be introduced to monitor hate crime and hate speech, the OIC preferred the route of dialogue, of which the conference should serve as an example.
OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu commented on how the media can unfairly distort perceptions on both sides. Western media tends to highlight the reaction of radical Imams and their fellow religious fundamentalists, while Muslims worldwide are exposed exclusively to the likes of the Koran-burning pastor. He called for the media to address the issue, and also for a fixed agenda to emerge in order to prevent future summits from descending into circularity and repetition.

U.S. Praises Sharia Censorship


2012-634807128700938005-93The United States is silent as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) passes its most recent UN Resolution that unravels global consensus to support freedom of speech.

From 1999-2010, the OIC succeeded in passing its “defamations of religionsresolutions, which ostensibly would protect Islam from all criticism, including true statements of fact.  Though the name of the resolutions indicated that it would pertain to all religions equally, in the OIC’s interpretation, it applied to Islam only.

Realizing the clash that this concept holds with that of free expression, the US State Department urged the OIC to produce an alternative resolution which would address the OIC’s concerns about “Islamophobia” and still protect free speech.

Accordingly, in March 2011, the OIC introduced the now infamous Resolution 16/18 to combat intolerance based on religion or belief, purportedly proposed as a replacement for the defamation of religions resolution.  It garnered wide-spread support and Western states touted it as a victory for free speech.  They believed that its focus marked a landmark shift from suppression of speech critical of religions to combating discrimination and violence against individuals based on their religious beliefs.

Over time it became clear that the OIC retained its long term goal to protect Islam from “defamation” and indeed to criminalize all speech that shed a negative light on Islam or Muslims.  Resolution 16/18 turned out to be a tactical move by the OIC to bring the West one step closer toward realizing its goal of achieving global blasphemy laws, by using language more palatable to the West, and open to interpretation.

Against this backdrop the US held the first conference to “implement” Resolution 16/18, the process now known as the “Istanbul Process.”

Unfortunately, America’s concern for the protection of free speech seems to have gotten lost as its focus moved closer to the OIC’s positions, and an emphasis was placed on protecting Muslims in the West from “Islamophobia.”

Some circles including free speech advocates, national security experts, and those concerned about the Persecuted Church, have beaten the drum against Resolution 16/18 and the continuation of the Istanbul Process.  Their efforts have been to no avail as the Istanbul Process continues.

However, while awareness of the perils of Resolution 16/18 is on the increase, news on Resolution A/HRC/22/L.40 has gone virtually unreported.  It retains the same title as Resolution 16/18, but has glaringly dangerous amendments.

To focus on just one, it asserts that “terrorism…cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.”  This is obviously problematic.  The lumping together of these categories implies a false equation of immutable characteristics such as nationality and ethnicity with those that are subject to choice such as religion or belief.

Religions and belief systems come in all stripes.  To preclude the possibility that any of them might be ideologically associated with terrorism leads to a position based on an unexplored assumption rather than a conclusion based on fact.  Indeed, the assertion condemns the mere exploration of the facts a priori, a notion which is not only illogical but dangerous.

After 9/11 and the multitude of terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam, one ought to be able to raise legitimate questions about Jihadi ideology without being labeled a bigot. Government has an obligation to determine the motivational ideology of terrorism even if even if it turns out to be an interpretation of a religion.

The government should not get into the business of ascertaining what is or is not proper theological interpretations of any religion.  But a distinction has to be made between those who are truly practicing a religion as the word is understood in the West, versus those who are implementing a subversive political ideology cloaked in the language of religion.

Anyone who has conducted a good faith investigation knows that there is such a phenomenon as “Islamic terrorism.”  Only those in denial can claim otherwise.  Truth should never constitute prohibited speech, no matter how ugly reality might be.

The condemnation of honest discussion on this important matter, along with other disturbing speech restrictive clauses in Resolution L.40, demonstrates the unraveling of the “consensus” by nation states to promote freedom of expression.  Those who follow the OIC closely know that its allegiance to this concept was folly from the onset.  One need only take a cursory glance at the OIC countries to determine the disingenuousness of this portention, as many OIC countries fine, jail and even execute the exercise of speech deemed blasphemous to Islam.  For those less informed, nothing more than the language embodied in Resolution L.40 is needed to realize that the OIC’s commitment to free speech is a sham.

Subsequent to passage of Resolution L.40, the EU representative to the UN expressed unabashed concern over the erosion of international consensus to support free speech.  He insisted that the EU will continue to uphold the ideas pertaining to the protection of minorities, but will oppose any efforts to undermine the right to free expression, including discussion of Islamic terrorism.

The US representative stated no such concern. She failed to make a principled statement on America’s position regarding freedom of speech.  Instead, she lavished praise on the OIC for maintaining a “consensus” on Resolution 16/18 for three consecutive years.

The Obama Administration has erroneously characterized the Fort Hood attack as mere “workplace violence”; has cleansed from its national security and counterterrorism lexicon any reference to Islamic terrorism, has blamed the Benghazi attacks on the an “anti-Islam video” and has taken a lead role in the Istanbul Process, promising to use “peer pressure and shaming” against American citizens who speak out on these issues in a way that the Administration finds disagreeable.

Therefore, it should have come as no surprise when after the Boston bombings, during a time of trial, tribulation and grief, the President’s address emphasized that people should prioritize America’s value of diversity.  No doubt that this diversity of ideas includes the motivational ideology of Islamic terrorism, even though acknowledgment of its existence is now verboten.

This article was commissioned by the Legal Project, an activity of the Middle East Forum.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

OIC President asks for a seat for the Muslim world on the UNSC


Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu. (Photo: AA, İrfan Sapmaz)
The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu said that there must be a seat for allocated for the OIC in the UN Security Council (UNSC). Talking to Today’s Zaman as he is getting ready to leave the Presidency of the OIC at the end of this year after serving for nine years, İhsanoğlu evaluated the current status of the organization that has 57 member states and is the largest international organization after the UN.

İhsanoğlu argued that for the first time, the Muslim world has rallied around the OIC and taken a single position on international matters, turning the OIC into an important instrument for Muslim countries. He described this ability to act collectively as the biggest success of the OIC since he became the president of the OIC in 2005, which was called then the Organization of Islamic Conference.

“The most important thing is that the Muslim world came together for the first time and reacted to international issues. This turned the OIC into a global actor,” İhsanoğlu stated. According to him, the visits of figures like UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, Prince Charles of Wales and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the attendance of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton at OIC meetings are all indicators of the increasing significance of the organization.

Stating bold goals and priorities for the organization, İhsanoğlu aims to gain a status for the OIC in the UN. “The EU has a status in the UN which gives it the authority to speak on behalf of the EU members. We should strive for a similar status for the OIC,” İhsanoğlu says.

Explaining his further goals to Today’s Zaman, İhsanoğlu says that since the first day he came to office he has targeted a seat for the OIC on the UNSC. He points out that in addition to Western countries, Russia and China are represented on the UNSC, but the Muslim world has no representation.

İhsanoğlu says that he has always suggested that there be a permanent seat for the OIC to represent the Muslim world at UN reform negotiations. Projecting the status of OIC as a “plus one” to the five permanent members, İhsanoğlu adds that the status and the rights of the OIC could be negotiated.

Expressing hope for the future of the Muslim countries in the world, İhsanoğlu believes there is concrete reason for that hope. “There is tremendous change in the world. Asia has the economic weight of the world and hosts the majority of the Muslim population. Asia offers opportunities for a more active Muslim world.” While noting that there are three Muslim countries in the G-20, İhsanoğlu emphasizes that seven of the 11 countries that are considered the “future 11” are members of the OIC.

Commenting on the Middle East peace process, the Secretary-General says: “The State of Palestine could be established if the US wants. We expect US President Barack Obama to keep the promises he made in Cairo.”  He believes that as the greatest power in the world and the only country capable of putting pressure on Israel, the US could achieve peace when it wants to establish it.

İhsanoğlu said that creating the impression that human rights, the rule of law, the role of women and freedom of expression are incompatible with Islam is the worst disservice to Islam.

Arab ‘uprisings’, not ‘spring’ says İhsanoğlu

İhsanoğlu rejects using the term “spring” for what has been happening in the Arab world. He prefers using the word “uprising” instead, as spring would come only if good governance, democracy, human rights, transparency and the rule of law were instituted.  According to İhsanoğlu, there is a long way to go to establish these in the Arab world; however, he does not call the process a revolution either.

“It is like the explosion of energy as a result of pressure. The dictators are gone, but a new order has not been established yet. It will take a lot of time for new regimes to be established,” İhsanoğlu says referring to the Arab countries affected by recent uprisings.

As far as the Israeli apology from Turkey is concerned, İhsanoğlu believes that it will not have an impact on the Arab uprisings, but will lead to an ease in relations in the Middle East.

In critical remarks of the prejudices against the Arab world and in particular Arab capital in Turkey, İhsanoğlu says there had been an “allergy” to Islamic banking in Turkey. “The then-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair invited me because they wanted to turn London into a center of Islamic banking,” says İhsanoğlu, as he adds that in Turkey the same banking style was considered reactionary at the time.