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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Free Speech vs Shielding Islam from Critics

Free Speech vs Shielding Islam from Critics The controversy over attempts to squelch "defamation of religions" is heating up. Individuals and organizations are speaking out. One of my Google Alerts  brought my attention to UN to consider anti-blasphemy laws proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conference, would make criticism of Islam illegal in America    at Saynsumthn’s Blog.

    The lead article, a press release from CFI,  is followed by a year old video clip of Christopher Hitchens and Lou Dobbs discussing the recent resolutions.  After that, we get down to business: a panel discussion on  the conflict between free speech and religious sensitivities.  The subject at hand is Islamic demands for legislation to shield their deen from criticism.  International PEN sponsored the event.

    Several participants are not native speakers of English and some of the concepts under discussion are not easy to express, so much of the discussion is difficult to listen to.  Half of one exchange  has been covered by several blogs including Front Page Magazine. Pakistan's Ambassador let fly with some heated remarks and hauled tail when a Canadian human rights advocate responded forcefully.  In my view, the Ambassador's rant deserves more scrutiny, which it will receive presently. [Superscripts in the text are linked to my comments. Use your back button to return to the text.]

    This video is huge. With a download speed of 52K,  it took a while to buffer and drained a great deal of memory. I foolishly clicked a link before rewinding to the interesting  part, and wound up repeating the process.

From the PEN American Center, United Nations Side-session Panel Discussion with Dr. Agnes Callamard, director, ARTICLE 19 (UK), Professor Tariq Ramadan (Switzerland), Mr. Budhy M. Rahman, program officer, The Asia Foundation (Indonesia); Moderated by Mr. John Ralston Saul, writer, president of International PEN (Canada).


International PEN and its national centers are extremely concerned about ongoing processes in the United Nations aimed at combating defamation of religions. We are also concerned about an initiative by the UN Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards, established in 2007 by the Islamic Conference (OIC) and a group of African countries, to draft a treaty that would ban religious defamation. Human Rights protect individual human beings, not institutions or religions. Criticism of religions and religious practices must be allowed, in particular when religions are viewed from a political point of view. As organizations representing writers, artists, and journalists of all faiths and none, we warn against any regulations prohibiting criticism of any religion or any set of ideas.

Against this background we have asked a group of high profile scholars, writers, and human rights defenders to join us for a side event in Geneva on the afternoon of September 16 in Room XXI of the UN Building.

    Each year for the last decade, the UN and its human rights  commission/council have debated and passed resolutions combating defamation of Islam/religions.  Those resolutions give immoral support to local blasphemy laws, which  facilitate oppression & persecution of minorities  under Islamic  regimes.  The OIC wants them to be given the force of law so that critics of Islam can be prosecuted in the West.  International PEN mentioned the Ad Hoc Cmte. which is working on a binding protocol to ICERD.  Not much is known about the cmte.'s work and most people are unaware of it. My series of blog posts on the subject, including quotes from and links to the available  documents, have been compiled into pdf files which you can download for study at leisure.

Ambassador Zamir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Geneva  says he needs more  than one minute.. two?  wanna limit my freedom of expression?  Plenty of opportunity to talk in this building.  But not before this meeting, which needs to hear from me because I speak not only for Pakistan but for the Islamic countries here.  The President doubts it. Gets three minutes; declares himself "coordinator of the OIC".  ,...

 I think what you have started here is an unnecessary debate because we in the Islamic world do not look at this as a debate between freedom of expression and freedom of religion.1  We are not opposed to freedom of expression, what we are opposed to is the abuse of this freedom to insult a entire religious faith and belief system  as well as the followers of the faith.2  Let me say that we--what we are seeking is equal treatment for Muslims especially in  the West. And we believe that we are being denied this equal treatment because of double standards which Mr. Ramadan has also spoken about and we believe that this attitude on the part of the West is a example of sanctimonious arrogance. 3 

    Laws in the West do protect religious beliefs and there are countries that have blasphemy laws in the West itself. I can give you the names of the countries that do have them: Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and I can tell you each and every article in their constitutions which gives them these laws on blasphemy.  The problem sir is also very apparent in the way that the West treats Muslims and the views and beliefs of Muslims and the way it treats for instance, antisemitism.  There are laws in Western countries that will put a person in jail for antisemitic statements or denying the Holocaust.4  

    That is a treatment that is not extended to Muslims in this part of the world.5  The facts speak  for themselves. We have before us the cartoon issue.6 We have before us the minaret--the ban on minarets in Switzerland.  The posters in this ban campaign showed minarets designed as missiles.7 The linkage to showing that Muslims are in a way people who resort to violence and are dangerous persons.8  There is this film by Geert Wilders called Fitna which equates our holy book the Qur'an with Hitler's Mein Kampf. Not a single verse from the Qur'an has been quoted to demonstrate that Muslims or our Qur'an or our belief promotes violence by Mr. Wilders.9  

    The ban on the burqa10, the ban on the mosque in Manhattan11, and this 'burn a Qur'an day12'-- they are all manifestations of the same thing that is going on--that is taking place in the West13. Mr. Obama has taken a position against the burning of the Qur'an.14 And what has he been labeled as?15  A Muslim and he  himself is denying that he is a Muslim as if being a Muslim is a crime16. What if he is a Muslim?17  That is somehow--we feel that it is extremely offensive18.  

    There is racial profiling against Muslims19. Even if you are the most respectable person you are separated and you are put into a different pew when you are at an airport.  Everyone of your bags is opened; you are stripped down to your --your clothes are stripped off your body; these are the realities of treatment that is being extended to Muslims in the West today20.

     So it is not about the defamation of Islam, sir, it is about the victimization of Muslims that has to be addressed and that is what we are seeking here.21 

    We are being linked to terrorism whereas terrorism has no religion22; there are examples of terrorists in every religious denomination.  The IRA were not Muslims, they were Catholics.  So -- and there are several other examples of terrorism that are [unintelligible] . Instead of promoting your view and other Western views; instead of promoting a dialog between Islam and other religious denominations os actually serving the cause of those who want to use religion and want to use this disinformation against Islam23 to promote greater victimization of Muslims.  There is a failure and actually a refusal to try and understand what we are trying to say. [1:11:01 Interrupted by Raheel Raza]


 "Thank you very much. I am a Canadian of Pakistani heritage and I would like to totally rebut what the honorable Ambassador here has said. I have lived in the West for over 25 years, I don't know where he's been living, but I think Muslims have more freedom in the West than they ever have in many Muslim lands. When you talk about inter-faith dialog there is absolutely no intra-faith dialog going on between the Muslim communities and dialog is a two way street.  Mr. Ambassador, sir, I'm responding to what you said, so it is rude of you to get up and leave. However, I will say this for the rest of the audience here, that this is  absolutely unacceptable; I mean freedom of speech is the most important human right we have and I totally support freedom of expression even if it is against my faith.  When he speaks of  Geert Wilders, Geert Wilders has the absolute freedom to say what he wants; it doesn't affect me personally, and neither does it harm my faith.  The Western world, the Canadian Prime Minister and the American President were the first ones to condemn the burning of the Qur'an by the American Pastor Terry Jones. I would never have the freedom to stand up and speak as I do here in my own country of birth.  So certainly, when we are talking about equal treatment of Muslims in the West.  And also I would like to comment about Professor Ramadan spoke at length about western values--the western world; this is not a debate between  Muslims and the West and unfortunately that is what it comes down to that is being divisible  we are speaking here about human rights that extend to all faiths. And lets get over this victim ideology that we are Muslims and we are being persecuted and lets talk about the freedom of everyone in the room here today and lets get to the point of freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression.

1:13:22 Professor Ramadan answers some proceeding questions.  I am not able to transcribe his remarks, his mind and mouth are not in synch.\ and I can't type fast enough.  It is an important statement, which needs to be considered carefully and deliberately. Watch the gestures and expressions as you listen to his answer. He has  a recent op ed piece that may help to clarify matters.


  1. The debate is crucial because the OIC is demanding international and national legislation to criminalize all questioning & criticism of Islam. Islamic law expressly forbids all negative expression about Islam, its deity, Profit & scripture. Violation is punishable by execution. In essence, they want that law extended to and imposed upon us.  The journalists seek to preserve the right of free expression, which is essential to the maintenance of cemocracy & liberty. Liberty can not be preserved if we can not issue warnings of threats to it. If we can't reveal the truth about Islam, we can't issue those warnings. 
    1. Acts entailing apostasy.
    2. Penalty.: scroll up to 613
      1. Application  to Non-Muslims: 
        1. o11.10 -5- or mentions something impermissible about Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), or Islam.
        2. o11.11 When a subject's agreement with the state has been violated, the caliph chooses between the four alternatives mentioned above in connection with prisoners of war (o9.14). 
        3. o9.14 When an adult male is taken captive, the caliph (def: 025) considers the interests (0: of Islam and the Muslims) and decides between the prisoner's death, slavery, release without paying anything, or ransoming himself in exchange for money or for a Muslim captive held by the enemy.
    3. Defamation of Religions UNHRC March 25 ’10  03/26/10  Details of the resolution and graph of the vote trend showing declining support.
    4. 4U.N. Bans Criticism of Islam: Pretext & Context  09/08/08  This post contains vital information about the documents which serve as a basis for the treacherous resolutions passed by the General Assembly & Human Rights Council. It also has a link to the prime source of UN resolutions. 
    5.  Ad Hoc Committee: New Resolutions  03/20/10  Competing Nigerian & American drafts in  pursuit of a binding protocol to ICERD for the purpose of outlawing these blog posts.
    6. Letter from OIC to Ad Hoc Committee 11/13/09  This is about the drive to criminalize criticism of Islam.
    7. Ad Hoc Cmte: Non-Paper  08/04/09  The cmte. President's outline of the program of censorship.
    8. AdHoc Cmte: Pakistani Submission  08/03/09  Detailed analysis of the OIC's proposal to censor critics of Islam.
  2. Their scripture says that Jews "earned Allah's wrath" and "Christians went astray". It says that Allah, men and angels curse us. It describes us as the worst of living creatures. But we must not be allowed to reveal how their Profit married a six year old girl, murdered critics and was a terrorist. 
  3. Is there a better example of hypocrisy? 
  4. The U.S.A. does not have a blasphemy law, neither does it outlaw Holocaust denial.  We allow open debate.
  5. Criminalization of Holocaust denial is not a service to a religion, it is an exaggerated and mis-applied fear of a Nazi revival.  Holocaust denial is not analogous to factual & rational criticism of Islam.  
  6. The Motoons, like most good comedy, include an element of exaggeration. They reflect the fact that Muhammad was, by his own admission, a terrorist. Here is what he said:: " I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy)," and  "Allah made me victorious by awe, (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month's journey. " The quotes come from Sahih Bukhari 4.52.220 & 1.7.331.
  7. See the image and relevant quote at Andrew Bostom's  site. Erdogan said that the "Minarets are our swords".  
  8. To the extent that Muslims are believers; to the extent that they implement Allah's imperatives they are dangerous and violent.  
  9. Fitna involves several verses from the Qur'an which are documented here: Fitna: Supporting Documentation 03/27/08.  Those verses prove  clearly and beyond doubt  that Islam is intrinsically violent and aggressive, by design.
  10. The burqa ban combines a tangential swipe of the cat's paw with a valid security interest. Anonymity can lead to impunity.
  11. There are valid reasons for objecting to the mosque of triumph at ground zero. Even Tariq Ramadan agrees that the Park 51 project is an unnecessary provocation and insult to the surviving victims of the attack.  If built, it will serve as a psychological boost to the proponents of terrorism.
  12. Besides being a tangetial attack on Islam, burn a Qur'an day served to raise public awareness of the content of that vile volume of lies & threats.  The books that were torn and burned were translations, not sacred books.  Only the Arabic text is considered sacred and authentic.
  13. Growing  public awareness of the threats posed by Islam, both militant, demographic and political, is bringing about increasing resistance & objection to the spread of the war cult. 
  14. President Obama condemned burn a Qur'an day.  He has not condemned Bible burning with equal intensity.  Neither has he vociferously condemned burning Christians and churches. His bias is evident.
  15. President Obama was identified as a Muslim long before his condemnation of bun a Qur'an day. His Muslim father makes him Muslim by default. His expressed admiration for the Adhan is another marker.  His enrollment in primary schools as a Muslim  documents  the obvious.  His conmversion to  Christianity is an obvious political convenience.  His expressed "duty"  to protect Muslims from  negative stereotyping  stands outas clear evidence; it is not in his job description!
  16. Is membership in the Mafia a crime?  Should membership in an  organized crime syndiicate be a crime? Moe began his criminal career with raids on camel caravans returning from trade missions.  He graduated to invading local Jewish settlements, then to invading nearby kingoms.  He sent extortion letters to his intended victims.  He said that the "keys to the treasures of the world" had been given to him. He told his companions: By Allah, I am not afraid that you will be poor, but I fear that worldly wealth will be bestowed upon you as it was bestowed upon those who lived before you. So you will compete amongst yourselves for it, as they competed for it and it will destroy you as it did them." He said" The spoils of war were not made lawful for any people before us, This is because Allah saw our weakness and humility and made them lawful for us.".
  17. A Muslim President, when America is under attack and threat of attack by Islam, is an exemplar of treason, the equivalent of a Nazi President in WW2.
  18. Clarify that; the pronoun refers to:
    1. the 'Muslim' lable
    2. the denial
    3. the implication that Islam is criminal
      1. does the implication belong to President Obama ?
  19. Who hijacked those aircraft? Was it elderly Baptist widows? Who tried to blow up Times Square? Was it a middle aged Catholic?  Whp are the perpetrators of Islamic acts of terrorism?  When we hear hoofbeats, we look for horses, not unicorns.
  20. Subjecting all passengers to intrusive searches is  time & money wasting idiocy.  The simple solution: exclude Muslims from  mass transit.
  21. What is in the titles of the UN resolutions? "Combating defamation of Islam"..."combating defamation of religions". If the issue is 'victimization, why is that not reflected in the titles? 
  22. Examine what Allah said:
    1. "We shall cast terror "
    2. "I will cast terror "
    3. "to strike terror"
    4. "Allâh brought them down from their forts and cast terror into their hearts, (so that) a group (of them) you killed, and a group (of them) you made captives."
    5. "Verily, you (believers in the Oneness of Allâh - Islâmic Monotheism) are more awful as a fear in their (Jews of Banî An-Nadîr) breasts than Allâh."
      1. Examine what Muhammad said: "I have been made victorious with terror"
      2. Examine what Brig. S.K. Malik wrote in "The Qur'anic Concept of War", a training manual for the Army of Pakistan. "Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponens heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet and merge. Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon
        the enemy; it is me decision we wish to impose upon him."
  23. Does anyone perceive the cognitive dissonance in this sentence?  Inter-religious dialog is a weapon against Islam?
    1. use religion
    2. use disinformation against Islam
      1. to victimize Muslims