On Tuesday, September 23rd, Muslims with Twitter handles Tweeted #muslimapologies, a tongue-in-cheek response to President Obama’s speech at the United Nations where the President of the United States told the General Assembly that it is time for Muslims to stand-up against ISIS. As The Washington Post points out, “#MuslimApologies represents another reaction: Frustration over the assumption of collective responsibility.
Op-Ed: Criminalizing intolerance
This week in Washington, the United States is hosting an international conference obliquely titled “Expert Meeting on Implementing the U.N. Human Rights Resolution 16/18.” The impenetrable title conceals the disturbing agenda: to establish international standards for, among other things, criminalizing “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of … religion and belief.” The unstated enemy of religion in this conference is free speech, and the Obama administration is facilitating efforts by Muslim countries to “deter” some speech in the name of human rights.
This year, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited nations to come to implement the resolution and “to build those muscles” needed “to avoid a return to the old patterns of division.” Those “old patterns” include instances in which writers and cartoonists became the targets of protests by religious groups. The most famous such incident occurred in 2005 when a Danish newspaper published cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad. The result were worldwide protests in which Muslims reportedly killed more than 100 people — a curious way to demonstrate religious tolerance. While Western governments reaffirmed the right of people to free speech after the riots, they quietly moved toward greater prosecution of anti-religious speech under laws prohibiting hate speech and discrimination.
The OIC members have long sought to elevate religious dogma over individual rights. In 1990, members adopted the Cairo Declaration, which rejected core provisions of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and affirmed that free speech and other rights must be consistent with “the principles of the sharia,” or Islamic law. The biggest victory of the OIC came in 2009 when the Obama administration joined in condemning speech containing “negative racial and religious stereotyping” and asked states to “take effective measures” to combat incidents, including those of “religious intolerance.” Then, in March, the U.S. supported Resolution 16/18’s call for states to “criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief.” It also “condemns” statements that advocate “hostility” toward religion.
On his trip to Doha, Qatar, the German President Wulff has called on Muslims and Christians around the world to tackle existing prejudices and unite in a fight against violence. According to Wulff, religious pluralism was an important foundation for a peaceful coexistence in diverse societies. In particular religious leaders should make some efforts to improve mutual respect. Wulff made his appeal during the “Alliance of Civilizations”-meeting in Doha, an initiative by the United Nations to combat mutual suspicion, fear and misunderstanding between Islamic and Western societies.
President Barack Obama is condemning the attack on a United Nations office in northern Afghanistan Friday. In a statement, Obama offered his condolences to those injured and killed, as well as their families. At least eight foreigners and four Afghan protesters were killed when a demonstration outside the office turned violent.
Thousands of protesters, enraged by the burning of a Koran at a Florida church, overran a United Nations compound in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, killing at least 12 people.
The incident that so enraged Afghans, the burning of a Koran after a mock trial in a small Florida church on March 20, was barely noticed in the United States but widely reported in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Jones presided over the “International Judge the Koran Day” event, after which one copy of the Muslim holy book was “executed,” on camera, before 30 congregants.
December 2, 2010
The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations has asked Spain to stop the extradition process to Morocco of Ali Aarras. The Moroccan authorities consider Aarras member of the Movement of the Mujahideen in the Maghreb related to the Casablanca bombings of May 16, 2003 and the extradition was agreed by the Spanish Council of Ministers.
The Spanish Government has a period of six months to appeal the ruling
A total of 71 per cent of young Muslims in Malta feel they have been discriminated against, a European study has concluded. Seventy-one per cent of young Muslims in Malta said they were discriminated against while a third of young Muslims interviewed all over Europe said they had experienced the same. Also, 64 per cent of Africans of North and Sub-Saharan origin in Malta who identified themselves as Muslims, experienced discrimination in the past 12 months. The European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS), the first EU-wide survey to ask immigrant and ethnic minority groups about their experiences of discrimination and criminal victimisation in everyday life, uncovered the information when the survey was published yesterday. The report says that the Malta’s example merits future careful examination. “The high levels of experienced discrimination should be toned down as they affect asylum seekers primarily, who enter the country in disproportionate numbers to those in other member states and to the size of the country’s population, as United Nations High Commission for Refugees figures show. This could mean that Malta stands to benefit from targeted EU support in its efforts to deal with discrimination in relation to specific groups, such as asylum seekers. Regarding the number of discrimination incidents among those discriminated against at least once in the past year, Malta placed 6th among the 19 participant countries with 6.8 incidents. Fifty-two per cent of Muslims in Malta are not aware of a law that forbids discrimination against people looking for a job on the basis of their ethnic or immigrant background. 23 per cent said it does not exist and 25 per cent said it does. It is interesting to note that 94 per cent of Muslims said Malta does not have an agency that offers support to people who were discriminated against. In fact Africans in Malta and Iraqis in Sweden were the least aware of anti-discrimination structure. Elaine Attard reports.
Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, poses so grave a threat to Canada that he can’t come back, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon recently announced, abruptly reversing the government’s written promise of an emergency one-way travel document less than two hours before his flight home was to depart from Khartoum.
Abdelrazik was to reach Canada after more than six years of imprisonment and forced exile in Sudan, on a ticket purchased by hundreds of supporters who defied the government’s threat to charge anyone with helping him because he was put on a United Nations terrorist blacklist by the Bush administration.
Instead, two hours before his flight was to depart, government lawyers faxed a one-sentence letter to his lawyers in Ottawa, saying he had been deemed a national security risk and refused travel documents. Abdelrazik responded, “The Harper government says I am an Islamic extremist. This is a lie. I am a Muslim and I pray to my God but this does not make me a terrorist or a criminal.”
During a three-day conference sponsored by the United Nations, Islamic humanism as been one of the most popular topics at a World Philosophy Day event. “The West asks if in the future, Islam will be able to put man at the centre of the world. Therefore, is Islam capable of going from a theocentric humanism to an anthropocentric one? In the Koran there is a track that can be explored,” said Abdenour Bidar, a popular Muslim thinker today. Philosophy students, academics, journalists, diplomats, and others gathered for the conference, whose theme was “Power and Rights.”
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Members of a UN anti-racism body have called on Germany to do more to integrate foreigners. A controversial citizenship test in one German state especially caught their attention. Members of the United Nations Committee for the Eradication of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on Friday, Aug. 15, said that they were concerned about citizenship application questions targeted at Muslims in the southwestern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. “The Committee recommends that the Federal Government encourage the use of questionnaires without discriminatory content, for all applicants for citizenship,” said the committee, according to AFP news agency. Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to car maker Daimler’s Mercedes Benz, apparently requires citizens of the 57 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to answer specific questions when they apply for German citizenship.