Western powers, often driven by political correctness, bend over backwards to speak in generalities about fighting “intolerance,” “stereotyping,” and “discrimination” in order to appear principled and even-handed, even at the expense of acknowledging specific, pervasive cases of all of the above. The EU’s document of “stuttering timidity” in response to the violent persecution of Christians in the Muslim world is one such example.
For its part, the Organization Formerly Known as the Organization of the Islamic Conference has long spoken in vague generalities and platitudes about such principles with the expectation that uninformed listeners will project their own understanding of the concepts of “tolerance,” “justice,” and “fairness” onto the discourse. Thankfully, others in the West have seen through this tactic, blocking the OIC’s quest for a “legally binding institutional instrument” with which to prosecute speech deemed offensive to Islam, and blocking resolutions against “religious defamation” at the UN. The language is vague, but the purpose is specific.
ISTANBUL: In what can rightly be described as a seminal step in relations between the Muslim world and the Western world, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the leading nations of the Western world led by the United States and the European Union agreed Saturday to take concrete steps to combat intolerance, negative stereotyping and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief.
The high-level meeting was held at the historic Yildiz Palace in Istanbul. It was attended by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Cathrine Ashton along with foreign ministers and officials from France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Poland, Romania, Denmark, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal, Sudan, the Vatican, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Arab League and African Union. The meeting was co-chaired by OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Ever since he took office, the OIC secretary-general has been working on formulating ways and means to stop acts of religious intolerance.
“It was during my address to the 15th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva that I outlined a new approach toward evolving a consensus against incitement to violence and intolerance on religious grounds that could endanger peaceful coexistence and must be viewed as a direct contrast to the very notion of a globalized world,” said Ihsanoglu. “I am glad that the eight points in the proposed approach found resonance with all the negotiating partners. They formed the basis of the consensus reflected in Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18. The importance of the consensual adoption of this resolution should be duly recognized.”
He said challenges remain.
“However, the test would lie in the implementation. Having been successful at consensus building, we must now act in concert to build on the consensus. The adoption of the resolution does not mark the end of the road. It rather signifies a beginning based on a new approach to deal with the whole set of interrelated issues,” said Ihsanoglu. “Resolution 16/18 provides a good basis for concerted action by states, at both national and international levels and must be utilized accordingly. Otherwise, we would be faced with the unaffordable risk of the agenda being hijacked and set by radicals and non-state actors.”
Ihsanoglu said there was a delicate balance between freedom of expression and incendiary speech.
This recalls his declaration that there are “red lines” which speech must not cross.
“We continue to be particularly disturbed by attitudes of certain individuals or groups exploiting the freedom of expression to incite hatred by demonizing purposefully the religions and their followers. Though we respect their freedom of opinion and expression, we find these attitudes politically and ethically incorrect and insensitive.”
At the meeting, Clinton discussed how to build on a UN Human Rights Council resolution passed on March 24 that calls for promoting tolerance and respect for diversity of beliefs, without restricting legitimate free speech.
Clinton agreed to pursue a new religious tolerance agreement, which respects free expression of religious beliefs in order to resolve debates over religion between the West and the Islamic world.
“Together we have begun to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of religion,” Clinton said. “We are pursuing a new approach based on concrete steps to fight intolerance wherever it occurs.”….
The Christians in Eqypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, and elsewhere in the Muslim world are waiting. Asia Bibi is waiting, Madam Secretary. As are Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis, Baha’i, atheists, agnostics, and ex-Muslims.