It is good to see this column about the Durban II conference in the San Francisco Chronicle. And note that the incident he recounts from the UN Human Rights Council was explained in full right here at Jihad Watch by the NGO representative whose report on human rights abuses in the Islamic world touched off the controversy, David Littman. “U.N. racism conference: The ulterior agenda,” by Joel Brinkley in the San Francisco Chronicle, August 10 (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist):
[…] The conference’s planning chairman invited Iran to join his inner circle – the “friends of the chair” – to add Iranian wisdom to the topics at hand: preventing racism and promoting human rights. Why Iran? Well, the answer will almost certainly leave you asking: What were they thinking?
The planning committee chairman is none other than Libya. The rapporteur … Cuba. And the new vice chair, Iran. Several Western states are unranked members. But the leaders and their allies are running roughshod over everyone else. These countries have a clear agenda: to batter Israel and the United States and ram through proclamations decrying insults to Islam.
The European Union proposed to discuss freedom of expression. Speaking for the leadership, Egypt declared that freedom of expression is “political in nature and not grounded in objectivity.” As a result, discussion of the subject is “not acceptable.” The EU gave up.
In Cairo this summer, the Arab League began work on what it calls a “guidebook” on permissible “media terminology for Arab causes” to replace “false and defamed terms” – like, perhaps, freedom of expression?
Many Arab states, including Egypt, say they favor freedom of expression – except when it infringes on government prerogatives or Islamic doctrine or any other subject the government doesn’t want to talk about. I have firsthand knowledge of that.
Working in Egypt in June, I visited Burullus, a small town on the northern coast. After interviewing a few people about recent riots over a price increase for bread, I set out to interview people in food stores. We stopped at one butcher shop and asked to speak to the owner. He looked over my shoulder, out to the street, then simply shook his head and turned away.
Heading back to the car, we spotted an Egyptian secret police officer – they are unmistakable – calling in our license plate number over a radio. Moments later, my translator got a phone call from a local friend. The police had issued an arrest warrant – for trying to talk to the butcher.
My driver turned off the road and hid on the beach behind some fishing boats. After awhile we took an eastern road, not the highway south to Cairo. We escaped. So much for freedom of expression in Egypt.
The United Nations’ much-maligned Human Rights Council is organizing Durban II, so it’s small wonder that the planning is proceeding as it has. In a recent council session, a speaker asked to bring up a particularly egregious human rights problem: genital mutilation of women. Egypt objected mightily, demanding: “We will not discuss issues related to Shariah law; this will not happen.”
He thundered on, joined by a colleague from Pakistan, until the item was dropped.
Shariah, of course, is canonical law based on the teachings of the Quran and the traditions of Muhammad. I wasn’t aware that it advocated genital mutilation….