Comments by David G. Littman:
After the June 16 climacteric at the UN Human Rights Council, I explained at Jihad Watch that all “Criticism of Shari”a or fatwas in particular is now forbidden”. I provided facts and video evidence to prove that point. The two titles chosen (June 19 and 21) speak volumes:
Two days later I was hospitalized with a light stroke and while recovering was again knocked cold just by reading, in the International Herald Tribune of June 26, a “˜religiously correct” piece by Roger Cohen: “Why Obama should visit a mosque.”
Beginning in the late 1960s, many of my letters were regularly published in the IHT, but any “˜chance” of that happening nowadays seems next to zero. However, I still send occasional letters to the editor in order to prove to myself that “˜freedom of the press” depends on who’s the editor and what’s his line, or that of the publication. The chance of a “˜religiously incorrect” letter to the IHT being published is slim, and editorial acrobatics trying to show “˜balance” on the Israel-Palestine issue make fascinating reading.
The IHT limit is 150 words for a letter, but the editor publishes longer ones as he may decide. On July 7 an almost 500 word whopper was published, even though it did not refer to any particular IHT article. Mine was half that size, but it dealt with an irrefutable fact, obfuscated in Cohen’s article. At the end of these comments is the text emailed on June 29 to the IHT. As it was not published, my colleague in the Association for World Education, RenÃ© Wadlow, kindly sent it to the IHT website of Roger Cohen, where it was posted on 2 July.
What I avoided referring to (see my letter) is worth recording because it shows clearly Roger Cohen’s thinking. After expressing his personal experiences and opinion during the tragic war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, he goes on to state, with journalistic authority:
That was before 9/11, of course, and before the Egyptian-born writer Bat Ye”or popularized the term “Eurabia” to express her vision of a Muslim-infiltrated Europe capitulating Munich-like to Islamism.
Cohen is a British journalist, who has probably not read Eurabia: the Euro-Arab Axis (now in five languages). Compare his opinion with that of 3 distinguished British historians:
With all the drama of a master writer, Bat Ye”or presents a wide range of historical and contemporary documents and facts to tell the story of how the European Union is being subverted by Islamic hostility to the very ethics and values of Europe itself — Sir Martin Gilbert
No writer has done more than Bat Ye”or to draw attention to the menacing character of Islamic extremism. Future historians will one day regard her coinage of the term “˜Eurabia” as prophetic. Those who wish to live in a free society must be eternally vigilant. Bat Ye”or vigilance is unrivalled. — Niall Ferguson
Ordinary people who are still in the dark about the way the Euro-Arab Dialogue is refashioning their lives may one day rebel “” in which case, Bat Ye’or and this book will seem prophetic. Or they may sink helplessly into dhimmitude, in which case Bat Ye’or will be ignored and her book unobtainable. Either way, she is a Cassandra, a brave and far-sighted spirit.” — David Pryce-Jones
Surprisingly, Cohen does quote Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who explained to him in 2005:
Islam is not a religion of peace, or only of peace with other Muslims. We should acknowledge that it’s a very violent religion, instead of pretending, like Bush, that this violence is not true Islam.
Then there’s his comparison: “Certainly, the Koran is a long way from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” “¦ before concluding, with his journalistic insight:
But a “very violent religion?” No. From Beirut to Baghdad to Cairo to here in Istanbul, I have often felt the wonders of hospitality and generosity and wisdom that seems to well from Islam.
His conclusion (for Obama to visit a U.S. mosque) is a remarkable example of naivety:
Fear-mongering about Islam is a global industry. It thrives on ignorance. Obama has a unique power to break the cycle, not least by emboldening moderate Muslims to denounce terror. Nothing would do more in the long run for the security of the world.
Along such lines, the recent endorsement of sharia law by Lord Chief Justice Phillips has created a huge controversy in the UK, coming five months after Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams suggested that Islamic law could govern marital law, financial transactions and arbitration in disputes. Lord Philips feels that there’s a “widespread misunderstanding as to the nature of sharia law.”
We would ask Lord Chief Justice Phillips, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Roger Cohen:
“When will sharia-based polygamy, stoning of women, “˜honor killing”, marriage of girls at 9 years old, and so on, be accepted in Europe as a form of “˜cultural relativism”, in order not to rock the “˜religiously correct” sharia boat — and embarrass moderate Muslims?”
Unpublished letter addressed to the International Herald Tribune on 29 June 2008:
Shari’a — a taboo subject at the UN Human Rights Council
In his suggestive piece, ‘Why Obama should visit a mosque’ (June 26), Roger Cohen makes a point, among many: “Certainly the Koran is a long way from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. But, would it not be more appropriate to compare the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam” (CDHRI) with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)?
On 10 December 2007, at the 6th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Pakistan’s Ambassador Masood Khan — speaking for the 57 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) – claimed that the CDHRI was “not an alternative competing worldview on human rights.” However, he omitted any mention of its articles 24 and 25, which state clearly that the sharia law is the “only source of reference” to interpret all the articles of the CDHRI. As there is no equality in sharia law between Muslim men and women, nor between Muslims and non-Muslims, there is evidently a total contradiction between the universal guarantees enshrined in the UDHR and those enumerated in the CDHRI.
While delivering a three minute joint statement on violence against women (FGM, ‘honour killings’, stoning, marriage at 9 in Iran, etc.) at the 8th session of the HRC on June 16, 2008 for two NGOs [Association for World Education and International Humanist and Ethical Union], I was stopped 16 times on points of order by Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, etc. and the meeting was interrupted for 45 minutes. The HRC President, Ambassador Doru Romulus Costea then allowed me to continue, but only on condition that I eliminated any mention of the words ‘sharia’ and ‘fatwa’ and avoided referring to any religion. If this precedent persists at the United Nations, the repercussions will be disastrous for all.
David G. Littman
Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva
Association for World Education