OIC Doublespeak

Thursday, September 6th, 2007 1:41 pm by Neal

Don’t miss Paul Marshall’s essay on the Sweden’s cartoon crisis, A Scandinavian Sequel. The highlight of the piece is the fake support of “freedom of expression” by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as it simultaneously exports repression of the press and free expression. The 2006 OIC statement is classic Doublespeak from the group that led the charge against the Mohammad cartoons published by the Danish Paper Jyllands-Posten and the ensuing protests and violence which resulted “in dozens of murders, especially of Christians.”

Keep the OIC’s duplicitous history in mind as the protests escalate against Sweden from Muslim governments, and people like Taslima Nasreen are threatened with death for exercising their “freedom of expression.”

Iranian officials declined to contact the paper itself and instead protested to the Swedish government, hoping to export their own state censorship. On August 27 the Iranian foreign ministry summoned Gunilla von Bahr, the Swedish chargé d’affaires, to receive a protest. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad added his usual venom by asserting that “Zionists” were behind the cartoons, adding that they were “an organized minority who have infiltrated the world.” Pakistan has now joined the fray and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs likewise summoned Lennart Holst, the Swedish chargé, and told him that the government of Pakistan “expected greater sensitivity on the part of the Swedish government.”

The reasons for these actions can be found in Pakistan’s further statements. The foreign ministry announced that it would consult with the OIC “to determine the future course of action against the repetition of such provocative publications,” and through the United Nations would “find ways of addressing the recurring defamation of Islam and its sacred personalities.”

The OIC has, of course, long demanded that countries around the world adopt the same repression of the press that most of its members practice. In 2006, citing the Danish cartoons, it tried to have the mandate of the U.N.’s new Human Rights Council include combating “actions against religions, prophets and beliefs” and to declare that “defamation of religions and prophets is inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression.”

Reactionary regimes are now avidly pursuing their next opportunity within the U.N. to attack freedom of the press and of religion. In a follow up to the notorious 2001 U.N. conference “against racism” in Durban, the preparatory committee of the 2009 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, on which Iran and Pakistan sit (it is chaired by Libya) has said that it wants to make “religious defamation” part of the agenda.

If this agenda is not explicitly and actively resisted we will see not only further censorship and self-censorship in the West, but increased repression in the Muslim world. On the very day that the Swedish cartoons were published, Majidulla Khan Farhad, an Indian Muslim leader, said that Bangladeshi feminist writer Taslima Nasreen had defamed Islam and offered a reward for her death. A week earlier, Nasreen, who had to flee Bangladesh for her life, had a case launched against her by the police in Hyderabad, India, on the grounds that she had “hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.”

Egypt has been unusually active in the last few weeks in quashing all dissidence and dissidents in the name of Islam. State Security has intensified its interrogation of Quranist Muslims, whose view of Islam is open to democracy and religious freedom, on the grounds that they have insulted Islam. On August 8, it also picked up Adel Fawzy Faltas and Peter Ezzat, who work for the Canada-based Middle East Christian Association. They were arrested on the grounds that, in seeking to defend the human rights of Egyptian Christians, and human rights in general, they too had “insulted Islam.”

Read the whole thing here.

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