Whitewash in the White House

Whitewash in the White House

The right to free expression does not extend to the defamation of Islam, which UN member states are obliged to prevent. Gates of Vienna 

white house oic
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation is six years into a ten-year crusade struggle against what it calls “Islamophobia”. It has set up an Islamophobia Observatory to keep an eye on those who oppose Islam, and issues both quarterly and annual reports on the progress of its work. Back in June the foreign ministers of OIC member states met for a three-day session in Kazakhstan and hammered out a series of resolutions which were published as “Resolutions on Legal Affairs Adopted by the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (Session of Peace, Cooperation and Development) Astana, Republic of Kazakhstan) 28-30 June 2011” [pdf]. As you can imagine, this document is a dreadful load of deadly-dull bureaucratic boilerplate, and very handy bedtime reading for insomniacs. However, the first resolution — Resolution No.1/38-LEG on the follow-up and coordination of work on human rights — is worth a look, particularly items 7 through 10, pages 4-5 (my italics):

7.   Expresses its deep concern over the frequent and erroneous association of Islam with violations of human rights and the misuse of the print and audio-visual media in propagating such misconceptions which lead to the reinforcement of prejudice and discrimination against Muslims and calls on the Member States to undertake information activities to counter these activities;
8.   Notes with grave concern the increasing trend of Islamophobic measures in the Western countries, stresses the responsibility of those States to ensure full respect to Islam and all divine religions and the inapplicability of using freedom of expression or press as a pretext to defame religions, and calls for refrain from imposing restrictions, in any form whatsoever, on the cultural and religious rights and freedoms of people.
9.   Denounces media campaigns and fabrications made by some quarters in non-Member States regarding the mistreatment of non-Muslim minorities and communities in the OIC Member States under the slogan of religious freedoms and so on.
10.   Expresses the need to pursue, as a matter of priority, a common policy aimed at preventing defamation of Islam perpetrated under the pretext and justification of the freedom of expression in particular through media and Internet.

There are a few things to notice in these items: The OIC would have us take as a given that any association of Islam with human rights violations is “erroneous”. That is, there cannot be any truth to such allegations, and Muslims never violate anyone’s human rights due to the tenets of their religion. Any allegations of the mistreatment of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries are prima facie “fabrications”. This is actually quite true, from the perspective of Islamic law. The treatment of non-believers, apostates, women, gays, adulterers, etc. is meted out according to the shariah, and is quite compatible with the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which is what the OIC means when it refers to “human rights”. The “misuse of the print and audio-visual media in propagating such misconceptions” refers to operations like this one, and especially to the much larger blogs and media outlets that oppose Islamization. Our activities are improper, and must be shut down. “The responsibility of those States to ensure full respect to Islam” is a reference to UNHRC Resolution 16/18, which aims to combat the defamation of Islam. The addendum of “and all divine religions” is a smokescreen, since Islamic law does not recognize any other divine religions. There is only one. The right to free expression does not extend to the defamation of Islam, which UN member states are obliged to prevent. All of this is straightforward, and what we expect from the OIC. What has changed in the last year or so is the willingness of the United States to accept the OIC’s requirements on the “defamation of religions” and attempt to implement them through the UN, doing an end run around the First Amendment. So how is the Obama administration doing? What kind of report card will it get from the OIC? Based on the document below, Barack Hussein Obama is a candidate for the honor roll. A document entitled “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” [pdf] was released earlier this month by the White House. Once again, this is pretty dull reading — the usual useless claptrap that we’ve come to expect from the federal government over the last ten years about how it plans to fight “terrorism”. It was bad enough under George W. Bush, but it has gotten worse under the Light-Bringer. Before I quote anything from this confection, let’s analyze some of the word usage in it. Since this document is about fighting “extremism”, we may assume it that it is reluctant to mention religion. This is certainly true for Christianity and Judaism — the word “Christian” and its derivatives do not appear, and the words “Jew”, “Jewish”, and “Judaism” are also absent from the text. The same is not true for Islam. Surprisingly enough, the word “Muslim” or its derivatives appears seven times, and the word “Islam” or its derivatives appears six times. What is not surprising, however, is the context in which those words are used: they are never employed in reference to terrorism or “extremism”. Here are some excerpts from the text, with relevant passages bolded. First, from page 2: This type of violent extremism is a complicated challenge for the United States, not only because of the threat of attacks, but also because of its potential to divide us. Groups and individuals supporting al-Qa’ida’s vision are attempting to lure Americans to terrorism in order to create support networks and facilitate attack planning, but this also has potential to create a backlash against Muslim Americans. Such a backlash would feed al-Qa’ida’s propaganda that our country is anti-Muslim and at war against Islam, handing our enemies a strategic victory by turning our communities against one another; eroding our shared sense of identity as Americans; feeding terrorist recruitment abroad; and threatening our fundamental values of religious freedom and pluralism. Violent extremists prey on the disenchantment and alienation that discrimination creates, and they have a vested interest in anti-Muslim sentiment. It is for this reason that our security — preventing radicalization that leads to violence — is inextricably linked to our values: the protection of civil rights and civil liberties and the promotion of an inclusive society. From page 3: “As extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with the respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that Muslim Americans are part of our American family.” — President Barack Obama, State of the Union, January 2011 From pages 6 and 7: For example, in the case of our current priority, we must counter al-Qa’ida’s propaganda that the United States is somehow at war with Islam. There is no single profile of an al-Qa’ida-inspired terrorist, but extensive investigations and research show that they all believe: (1) the United States is out to destroy Islam; and (2) this justifies violence against Americans. Al-Qa’ida and its supporters spread messages of hate, twist facts, and distort religious principles to weave together a false narrative that Muslims must attack Americans everywhere because the United States is waging a global war against Islam. While al-Qa’ida claims to be the vanguard of Islam, the overwhelming majority of its victims are Muslim. We will challenge this propaganda through our words and deeds, defined by the very ideals of who we are as Americans. As the President has stated repeatedly, the United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Islam is part of America, a country that cherishes the active participation of all its citizens, regardless of background and belief. We live what al-Qa’ida violently rejects — religious freedom and pluralism. We have emphasized a paradigm of engagement with Muslim communities around the world, based on mutual respect and interest manifest in our new partnerships and programming to promote entrepreneurship, health, science and technology, educational exchanges, and opportunities for women. Now let’s isolate the use of the words “Islam” and “Muslim” in the above excerpts: …but this also has potential to create a backlash against Muslim Americans. Such a backlash would feed al-Qa’ida’s propaganda that our country is anti-Muslim and at war against Islam, handing our enemies a strategic victory by turning our communities against one another… Violent extremists prey on the disenchantment and alienation that discrimination creates, and they have a vested interest in anti-Muslim sentiment… Muslim Americans are part of our American family… …we must counter al-Qa’ida’s propaganda that the United States is somehow at war with Islam. …they all believe: (1) the United States is out to destroy Islam… …Al-Qa’ida and its supporters spread messages of hate, twist facts, and distort religious principles to weave together a false narrative that Muslims must attack Americans everywhere because the United States is waging a global war against Islam. While al-Qa’ida claims to be the vanguard of Islam, the overwhelming majority of its victims are Muslim. …the United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Islam is part of America, a country that cherishes the active participation of all its citizens, regardless of background and belief. We have emphasized a paradigm of engagement with Muslim communities around the world, based on mutual respect and interest manifest in our new partnerships and programming to promote entrepreneurship, health, science and technology, educational exchanges, and opportunities for women. All of this — every single word of it — is designed to send out a positive, affirmative message about Muslims, to define Muslims as victims in all circumstances, and to deny that Islam has any negative characteristics. There is no hint that the ideology prescribed by Islamic scriptures and shariah law contributes to “extremist” terrorism. There is no mention that virtually all “extremists” adhere to theology and legal precepts that are shared by prominent scholars at Al-Azhar University and other centers of Islamic theology. If you read only this document, and similar material put out by the U.S. government, you would never know that the opinions held by the “extremists” are quite mainstream, and are all but identical with what is taught by devout imams in mosques all over the world. Being an “extremist” means applying these precepts somewhat more kinetically than most Muslims dare to do, but the principles are the same. What we see here, in fact, is a document that follows the guidelines laid down by the OIC in the resolution quoted at the top of this post. The White House has accepted the OIC’s definition of “religious defamation”, and has complied with it in full. We now have a White House that is fully shariah-compliant. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been reaching out to the OIC for quite some time, and her work has borne fruit. We may assume that Organization of Islamic Cooperation is pleased with the result.

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