Nepotism, corruption, anti-Semitism and now censorship.
While the United Nations has disgraced itself over the years with sporadic eruptions of the first three negatives, it added another one last March 28 when its Human Rights Council passed a disturbing resolution that directs the body’s expert on free speech to report on “individuals and news media for negative comments on Islam.” In effect, the UN will now become the Islamic world’s censorship watchdog, snooping out undefined acts of Islamophobia around the globe.
No other religion is covered by the Muslim-backed resolution that will most likely see the curtailing of free speech in some countries. But perhaps more ominously, although the UNHRC has no power of enforcement, lists of alleged malefactors will be drawn up, giving the Council’s recent action a definite, totalitarian ring.
Motioned by Egypt and Pakistan, not the sturdiest pillars of human rights themselves, and supported by Islamic and African countries, the resolution passed by a 32-0 vote. Muslim countries were upset by the Danish cartoons, published in 2005, depicting the prophet Muhammad and have been demanding limitations on free speech since then. The recent release of the Geert Wilders film, Fitna, reinforced their insistence on such restrictions, which FrontPage Magazine columnist Robert Spencer says are all part of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference’s strategy to protect Islam from alleged defamation.
Journalist Caroline Glick wrote in her column in the Jewish World Review that the United Nations had violated its own Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of expression, when it passed the March 28 resolution. Glick also pointed out that it was surprising when the UNHRC’s European members abstained from the vote, since they are such staunch supporters of the UN.
By abstaining, the European nations, those supposed bastions of human rights and free speech (especially when it comes to blaspheming Christianity), simply showed what moral cowards they truly are, putting their dhimmi status on display once more in failing to stand up to Islamic bullying.
Several countries that still have a backbone did speak out against this atrocious violation of human rights and freedom of expression. The United States, which does not have a seat on the 47-nation UNHRC but has observer status, did not stay silent. Warren Tichenor, America’s ambassador in Geneva, told the body: “The resolution seeks to impose restrictions on individuals rather than to emphasize the duty and responsibility of governments to guarantee, uphold, promote and protect human rights.”
A Canadian delegate supported Tichenor’s view with his statement: “The job of a special rapporteur is not to police the action of individuals.”
But that is exactly what is going to happen. Up until now, the duty of the UNHRC’s free speech watchdog was to report on efforts by despotic governments and dictatorships (like many of those on the UN’s Human Rights Council) to restrict freedom of expression. With the March 28 resolution, the tip of the spear has now been turned around against individuals, like Wilders and the Danish cartoonists, who practise their basic right to freely express themselves.
Western observers also believe the resolution will give repressive regimes, both Islamic and non-Islamic, a further excuse to crack down on dissent in their own countries. But even worse, it will give such states an opportunity to meddle in the affairs of democratic countries, using a phoney victim status as cover for their aggression.
In defence of the resolution, Muslim representatives like Pakistan’s ambassador, Masood Khan, said the measure was only trying to make “freedom of expression responsible,” while protecting Islam from its worst practices that only defame the Muslim faith and incite religious hatred and racism.
But if Islamic countries passed this resolution to protect religion from hatred and intolerance, then they and their motion have a severe credibility problem. Muslim discrimination against other religions in Islamic countries has been well documented. For example, in Pakistan and Egypt, the two countries that proposed the anti-free speech motion, Christians are a persecuted minority.
In Pakistan, according to a story in the German newspaper, Die Welt, a form of “religious apartheid” is practised against Christians, who are regarded as “fair game” for those who wish to maltreat them. While Muslim women need four male witnesses to convict a man who rapes them, a Muslim man who rapes a Christian woman is never convicted. As well, the persecution has become so intolerable Christians have committed suicide in Pakistani courtrooms in front of judges out of protest.
Caroline Glick writes that, in Egypt, the persecution of the Christian Coptic Church has been institutionalized and liberal critics of the Egyptian government have been silenced. In both countries, Muslim persecution even extends to fellow Muslims who wish to leave Islam, since this could result in their deaths.
Calling for religious tolerance and responsible freedom of expression in international forums is obviously much easier than practicing it at home. The scene in the film Fitna where a three-year-old girl says she learned from the Koran that Jews are monkeys and pigs is all one really needs to know about the true attitude toward these two virtues the UNHRC’s Islamic countries are espousing.
But this incredible hypocrisy does not stop at the United Nations and at the borders of Islamic countries. Last month, just prior to Easter weekend, the president of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, insulted Christians and Jews worldwide when he went to Uganda and called the Bible a forgery.
In a country that is 85 per cent Christian, the Libyan leader told Ugandan Muslims in a stadium where they had gathered to celebrate the prophet Muhammad’s birthday that since the Bible did not mention Muhammad, it was not the real Bible, because both Moses and Jesus had foretold the coming of Islam’s prophet.
“The Bible we have now is not the one that was revealed to Issa (Jesus) and the Old Testament is not the one that was revealed to Musa (Moses). It means that it has been forged,” Gaddafi said, adding the real Bible has yet to be discovered.
Unsurprisingly, there was no angry outcry from fellow Muslim leaders over Gadaffi’s hurtful remarks. No members of the OIC, which strongly condemned the Geert Wilders film and to which Libya belongs, censured Gaddafi and called him to account. Neither did any of those abstaining European countries or even the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, who called Fitna “offensively anti-Islamic.”
Just imagine, though, if Australia’s or Canada’s prime minister had called the Koran a forgery. Islamic moral outrage and European condemnation would know no boundaries. Cyprian Kizito, the Catholic archbishop of Kampala, Uganda’s capital, rightly pointed out: “Had the Christians said something similar about the Koran, there would have been war.”
But while the religious feelings of Uganda’s Christians were deeply hurt by their Muslim guest, who had arrived in their country to open a new mosque, their peaceful, non-violent response was instructive.
“I hope by doing this, we shall be giving a lesson to our Muslim brothers to always stay calm,” said a Ugandan bishop.
But it is a safe bet that the Ugandan example is a lesson the OIC and the Muslim-dominated UNHRC will never learn, let alone take to heart.