Don’t Say a Word
A U.N. resolution seeks to criminalize opinions that differ with the Islamic faith.
The Muslim religion makes unusually large claims for itself. All religions do this, of course, in that they claim to know and to be able to interpret the wishes of a supreme being. But Islam affirms itself as the last and final revelation of God’s word, the consummation of all the mere glimpses of the truth vouchsafed to all the foregoing faiths, available by way of the unimprovable, immaculate text of “the recitation,” or Quran.Â
If there sometimes seems to be something implicitly absolutist or even totalitarian in such a claim, it may result not from a fundamentalist reading of the holy book but from the religion itself. And it is the so-called mainstream Muslims, grouped in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, who are nowÂ demandingÂ through the agency of the United Nations that Islam not only be allowed to make absolutist claims but that it also be officially shielded from any criticism of itself.
Though it is written tongue-in-cheek in the language of human rights and of opposition to discrimination, the nonbindingÂ U.N. Resolution 62/154, on “Combating defamation of religions,” actually seeks to extend protection not to humans but to opinions and to ideas, granting only the latter immunity from being “offended.” The preamble is jam-packed with hypocrisies that are hardly even laughable, as in this delicious paragraph, stating that the U.N. General Assembly:
Underlining the importance of increasing contacts at all levels in order to deepen dialogue and reinforce understanding among different cultures, religions, beliefs and civilizations, and welcoming in this regard the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the Ministerial Meeting on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, held in Tehran on 3 and 4 September 2007.
Yes, I think we can see where we are going with that. (And I truly wish I had been able to attend that gathering and report more directly on its rich and varied and culturally diverse flavors, but I couldn’t get a visa.) The stipulations that follow this turgid preamble are even more tendentious and become more so as the resolution unfolds. For example, Paragraph 5 “expresses its deep concern that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism,” while Paragraph 6 “[n]otes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of the tragic events of 11 September 2001.”
You see how the trick is pulled? In the same weeks that this resolution comes up for its annual renewal at the United Nations, its chief sponsor-government (Pakistan) makes an agreement with the local Taliban to close girls’ schools in the Swat Valley region (a mere 100 miles or so from the capital in Islamabad) and subject the inhabitants to Sharia law. This capitulation comes in direct response to a campaign of horrific violence and intimidation, including public beheadings. Yet the religion of those who carry out this campaign is not to be mentioned, lest it “associate” the faith with human rights violations or terrorism. In Paragraph 6, an obvious attempt is being made to confuse ethnicity with confessional allegiance. Indeed this insinuation (incidentally dismissing the faith-based criminality of 9/11 as merely “tragic”) is in fact essential to the entire scheme. If religion and race can be run together, then the condemnations that racism axiomatically attracts can be surreptitiously extended to religion, too. This is clumsy, but it works: The useless and meaningless termÂ Islamophobia, now widely used as a bludgeon of moral blackmail, is testimony to its success.
Just to be clear, a phobia is an irrational and unconquerable fear or dislike. However, some of us can explain with relative calm and lucidity why we think “faith” is the most overrated of the virtues. (Don’t be calling us “phobic” unless you want us to start whining that we have been “offended.”) And this whole picture would be very much less muddied and confused if the state of Pakistan, say, did not make the absurd and many-times discredited assertion that religion can be the basis of a nationality. It is such crude amalgamationsâ€”is a Saudi or Pakistani being “profiled” because of his religion or his ethnicity?â€”that are responsible for any overlap between religion and race. It might also help if the MuslimÂ hadithÂ did notÂ prescribe the death penaltyÂ for anyone trying to abandon Islamâ€”one could then be surer who was a sincere believer and who was not, or (as with the veil or the chador in the case of female adherents) who was a volunteer and who was being coerced by her family.
Rather than attempt to put its own house in order or to confront such other grave questions as the mass murder of Shiite Muslims by Sunni Muslims (and vice versa), or the desecration of Muslim holy sites by Muslim gangsters, or theÂ discrimination against Ahmadi MuslimsÂ by other Muslims, the U.N. resolution seeks to extend the whole area of denial from its existing homeland in the Islamic world into the heartland of post-Enlightenment democracy where it is still individuals who have rights, not religions. See where the language ofÂ Paragraph 10Â of the resolution is taking us. Having briefly offered lip service to the rights of free expression, it goes on to say that “the exercise of these rights carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations as are provided for by law and are necessary for respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals and respect for religions and beliefs.” The thought buried in this awful, wooden prose is as ugly as the language in which it is expressed: Watch what you say, because our declared intention is to criminalize opinions that differ with the one true faith. Let nobody say that they have not been warned.
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist forÂ Vanity FairÂ and the Roger S. Mertz media fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif.
Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen is “deeply disturbed..” Â Â Â
GENEVA (AP) â€” European Union countries Tuesday stepped up their opposition to Muslim attempts to shield Islam from criticism and attack Israel through a U.N. conference on racism.
EU members were unusually outspoken in appearances before the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying they were worried about preparations for a global racism conference to be held next month because attention was being diverted from the real problems of racial discrimination.
“I am deeply disturbed by the turn this event is taking,” Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen said.
“The thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us,” Verhagen told the 47-member council.
References to Israel and protection of religion in the current draft conclusion being negotiated for the so-called Durban II conference are unacceptable, Verhagen said.
“We cannot accept any text, which would put religion above individuals, not condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, condone anti-Semitism or single out Israel,” he said. Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Italy voiced similar concerns.
The UN has passed an absurd resolution that tries to make defamation of religion illegal . No more blasphemy for us! At least a Canadian spokesman has the right idea. “Canada rejects the basic premise that religions have rights; human rights belong to human beings,” said Catherine Loubier, spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon. “The focus (here) should not be on protecting religions,…Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Christopher Hitchens (and, very briefly, Frank Gaffney and others) explain on Lou Dobbs why the UN/OIC blasphemy law is so dangerous. It’s a somewhat careless report (it’s the Organization of the Islamic Conference, not the “Organization of Islamic Countries”),…Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
In this video, Christopher Hitchens, Frank Gaffney and others explain on Lou Dobbs why the UN/OIC blasphemy law is so dangerous. AS Robert Spencer points out at Jihad Watch , it’s a “somewhat careless report (it’s the Organization of the Islamic Conference, not the “Organization of Islamic Countries”),” but nonetheless good to see in the mainstream media. It’s in your interest to watch the entire video,…Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Freedom of speech is such a pain in the ass for dictators, authoritarians and community agitators. via Jihad WatchÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â
Law could make blasphemy illegal in US:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Censorship. Screw the bigots.