Roy W. Brown was outraged by the speech by Ambassador Taib, adviser to the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, at the UN, Geneva on December 19. Here, in typical post-modernist literary style, he has deconstructed the Ambassador’s speech and put it together again as it would have been given by an honest man speaking the truth.
Those of you who read the report of the statements at the OIC celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the UN in Geneva on 19 December might have been forgiven for concluding that the OIC was either suffering from a severe case of collective schizophrenia or has fallen into the hands of a latter-day Dr Goebbels, so contradictory were the speeches and so outrageous were some of the claims.
The Secretary General of the OIC, Prof. Elmeleddin Ihsanoglu for example, stated in his keynote address that:
the OIC is firmly committed to respect for freedom of expression which is a fundamental human right. The OIC is not looking for limitation or restrictions of this freedom beyond those that already have been set by Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
One wonders therefore why the OIC has, for the last decade, been promoting with great success resolutions prohibiting “defamation of religions” at the United Nations.
Professor Ihsanoglu’s statement was flatly contradicted half an hour later by his advisor, Ambassador Saad Eddin Taib, who described freedom of expression as “a dishonest intellectual slight of hand [sic]” and “a trickery tool which is being exploited to cover up and conceal the real aim of Islamophobia”.
The speech by Ambassador Taib — which, luckily, had to be cut to five minutes because of time constraints — contains many distortions, errors of fact and serious omissions. But his speech was fully consistent with the OIC”s attempts to create an alternative reality in which Islam is defined exclusively as the religion of peace and no terrorist can ever be described as a Muslim or said to be acting in the name of Islam; in which freedom of expression is merely a license to insult Islam and offend Muslims; and where criticism of any aspect of the Sharia is condemned as “Islamophobia” and incitement to hatred. This alternative reality is then presented by the OIC as the only acceptable basis for a “Dialogue of Civilisations”.
Nevertheless, in this season of goodwill and for the sake of clarification I felt I should attempt to correct the errors of fact and replace some of the more egregious omissions in the Ambassador’s statement. I have therefore taken the liberty of editing his speech to better reflect what I believe His Excellency, the former Moroccan Ambassador to Japan, would have wished to say had he not been constrained by the OIC agenda and been able to speak freely.
I have retained the deleted text, but stricken through
like this, and the added text is shown in bold italics.
Human Rights and Cultural Diversity — Challenges and Perspectives
Ambassador Saad Eddin Taib, advisor to the OIC Secretary General:
[The speech begins with words of thanks for the opportunity to address the meeting]
It is very much comforting that the Islamic Religion is distinguished from other previous religions and traditions by having an elaborate and clear code for Human Rights even though this code discriminates against women and non-Muslims and is incompatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Islam has linked these rights with a legal divine framework, thus bestowing on them a binding and inviolable character, as a part of Islamic teaching, and rendering them unalterable by democratic means.
Islam was a message of change. It brought about historic changes in the domain of religion, economy, culture, moral and values. These changes are now fixed eternally and no further change is possible. This message has changed the course of history.
The sources of Islamic Sharia (the Qur’an and hadith) are replete with texts which recall the equality of all human beings regardless of race, colour, gender, belief or economic or social position, as well as texts which state quite the opposite, prescribing brutal punishments such as amputation and execution by stoning, and excoriating Jews, Christians, homosexuals and non-believers. In Islam, Islamic justice, untainted by Western ideas of due process, is the absolute standard and the basis of government. It calls for tolerance, compassion, mercy, and the respect of the dignity of Muslims,
human beingsbut not of course for personal autonomy, and especially not of women.
It is on this premise that the OIC has endeavoured to promote inter-cultural understanding between all people and civilizations, on the ground that the Muslim Ummah itself is a multi-cultural one grouping a diversity of peoples with multiple origins, races and languages. The OIC has always worked to consolidate, respect and support Islamic human rights. It adopted many resolutions, throughout the years, intent on the full respect of human rights in their Islamic conception as well as on the grounds of the universal and global Human Rights where they do not conflict with the Sharia. These rights occupy a center stage in Islamic teaching.
[Several paragraphs extolling the virtues of Islam, pluralism and diversity have been omitted here]
Religion and sacred beliefs play a prominent role in one’s life, and because religions and beliefs are most often considered sacred, then the core beliefs of every creed are also sacred and inviolate. This means that respecting religious rites and teaching become a necessity for ensuring peaceful coexistence, safeguarding cultural diversity and promoting human interaction. The rest of the world must therefore refrain from any criticism of Islam or even of human rights abuse carried out in conformity with our sacred laws.
As diversity and plurality are deeply rooted in culture, religion, and values, there is a strong need to strengthen and fortify the power of moral and spiritual forces, to safeguard the
valuesIslamic interpretation of goodness, virtue and high ethics.
Unfortunately the rift between the material world and spiritual values grows deeper by the day, and many in the advanced countries find themselves
in spiritual voidfree, as western civilization seems to havehas left behind its authoritarian religion, superstitious beliefs and sacred texts.
The political sphere in the west has almost ceased to be linked to the religious sphere, following the Enlightenment and the separation of religion and state, and consequently the morality or spirituality in the west has experienced a
sharp declinerapid development towards democracy and tolerance.
The contrary is taking place in the Muslim world, where religion is witnessing a rapid revival on many fronts varying between moderate tendencies and extremist ones, with extremism quite clearly in the ascendancy. This revival covers most of the countries and lands of Islam, and is creeping to engulf some Muslim minorities in the west.
The new presence of Muslim extremists in some western courtyards has started to disturb many circles in Europe, and the
phenomenonOIC has responded by presenting European Muslims as victims, accusing all and sundry of Islamophobia and alleging that there exists has becomean overwhelming wave of aversion and hatred targeting Muslims. It seems thatEurope has started to forget aboutfinally begun to remember its core values of embracingdiversity, tolerance, and recognition of the other: values that were developed during the enlightenment era. The situation had a turn for the worse in the last few years whenIn reaction to the extremism of many of its young Muslims, a section of western officials have started to join the media in using derogatory expressions against Islam, and when Muslims living in the west have become becamevictims of some discrimination, bigotry, harassment and mental and physical abuse. The OIC would insist, however, that the hatred and killing of Jews, Christians, Bahais, Ahmadis, rape victims and homosexuals in the Islamic world must be seen purely as a reaction to the actions of Israel, America and the West.
ThisThe negative stereotyping of Islam and Muslims has taken a wider scope, because IslamophobiaIslamic extremism has become an indiscriminate prejudice that tarnishes everything, everywhere it touches. Moreover, IslamophobiaIslamic extremism does not respect the individual and tend to generalize its venomous falsehood to hurt all Muslimspeople: Jews, Christians and others throughout the Islamic world, even including African Muslims in Darfur.
This generalization is tantamount to collective punishment against all
Muslims, people the world over, who have started to feel the brunt of this dehumanization of mass-destruction, which may result in incalculable consequences. It goes without saying that all the aforesaid abuses are a blatant affront to human rights and should be outlawed.
Despite all the mental and physical abuses, many circles in the West
stillcast doubt on the relationship between the concept of human rights and the notion of the defamation of religion, recognising that the concept of defamation of religion has no place in human rights discourse. They argue that the defamation of religion is flawed from the human right’s view point since human rights relate to people, not to ideas.
might have some degree of acceptance ifis now widely accepted when the notion of defamation is limited to the realm of religion per se as an abstract idea, which can legally suffer criticism or attack or even mockery. What is happening today is an orchestrated assault of hate speech and an incitement for discrimination, which results in human suffering and human rights denied.
The reality of today”s practices of
IslamophobiaIslamic extremism represent a subtle trickery to hurt and abuse. The cunning, sly and deceitful methods used in this campaign of defamation of Islam, Jews, Christians and infidels demonstrate a dishonest intellectual slight of hand which marks the true objective and purpose of Islamophobiademonization of the other. The trickery toolwhich is being exploited to cover up and conceal the real aim of IslamophobiaIslamisation is the right of freedom of expression, considered sacrosanct, albeit it is a right linked with responsibility.
Brushing aside this responsibility, through the connivance of the officials, and through flouting the laws, the assaults on
MuslimsJews, Christians, Bahais and others Islam, or the defamation of Islamtakes the shape of hate mongering, negative stereotyping, mean campaign of discriminations which engulf them all. Islam and its Muslim adherents. In so doing the freedom of expression enjoyed by the Islamist hate mongers in the west inflicts a deep psychological damage to Muslimspeople who are depicted as an outcasts, dehumanized, and reduced to people coming from a “lesser” world, and therefore, in need of being cannot beassimilated to the values of the “greater Islamic world”.
These untenable prejudices and hatred seek to destroy
IslamicWestern culture, and civilization. Belonging to a culture and civilization is an essential component of self identity, self worth, and self confidence. When you demonize one’s culture, you deny his self-identity and belittle his self-worth and his self confidence.
[Several paragraphs quoting the UDHR have been omitted here]
Allthese quotations from the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, clearly stress the relevance betweenhowever, link Human Rights and the negative consequences ofto the defamation of religions.
The will of the international community, as enunciated by the OIC, to collectively lay down unified standards for human rights, is intended to build a common future for all, whereby the respect of the identity and honour of the human being
will bereplaces the concept of universal human rights as the ultimate goal of any human endeavour.
When we talk about human rights, we don’t talks about them as something abstract, but rather about these rights impact on human beings in their daily lives.
We have already seen the deep negative impact on Muslims resulting from the vicious campaign of denigrating their religion and culture. The negative impact of denigration on Jews, Christians, Bahais, Zorostrians, Ahmadis and non-believers is however a direct consequence of their failure to embrace Islam.
It is on this basis thatAs part of its program to sensitize the world to the demands of Islam, the OIC has raised the issue of defamation at the level of the former Commission of Human Rights here in Geneva, as well as the level of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Both the Commission and the General Assembly endorsed our motion and adopted it in a resolution passed by a comfortable majority over three successive years through the OIC and our anti-western allies” numerical control of these organisations. Now the linkage between Human Rights and the defamation of religion has been “confirmed” by a “democratic” decision of the international community. This decision reflects the international
legitimacypolitico-economic reality on this issue and is not limited to the views of the OIC. We emphasize this reality to answer those who accuse the OIC of trying to alter the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or to stifle the right of the freedom of expression: the OIC position on these issues will now prevail.
Far away from that, our aim has always been directed to address only the suffering of victims of Islamophobia, and to defend and safeguard the Islamic concepts of cultural diversity and tolerance, while trying to stem the prejudice, bigotry, intolerance and unethical behaviour targeting Muslims. Jews, Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, Bahais, homosexuals and infidels must look after themselves.
In saying the above we hasten to confirm the western Human Rights Traditions which are rooted in the European enlightenment, have
until recentlyadvanced the dignity of human beings and the values of human civilization, as the right of freedom speech, association, strengthening the position of ordinary citizens, and his participation in public decision making and forced the authorities to be more accountable to the public, but subject, as always, to the Sharia.
We hope that a day will come in the near future, when we will be able to settle our diverse view points on defamation of religion,
andremove this obstacle, and usher the world into a new era of concord and harmony to the benefit of all humanitysubmission to Islam.
By Saad Eddin Taib, 19 December 2008
With additional editing by Roy W. Brown, 27 December 2008