Banning Worldwide "Islamophobia"
Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Mark Dubowitz takes note of a disturbing new trend: the willingness of many Islamic states to use international bodies like the UN to globalize the censorship of free expression:
Welcome to a world where criticism of militant Islam could land you in court or worse. In Vancouver, Canada's venerable Maclean's magazine awaits a hate-speech verdict from a human-rights tribunal for publishing a chapter from syndicated columnist Mark Steyn's best-selling book "America Alone." The accusers charge the author and publisher with "Islamophobia."
Last week, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), warned a gathering in Kuala Lumpur that "mere condemnation or distancing from the acts of the perpetrators of Islamophobia" would not suffice. He recommended that Western countries restrict freedom of expression and demanded that the media stop publishing "hate material" like the Danish cartoons. "It is now high time for concrete actions to stem the rot before it aggravates any further," he said.
Islamic countries already scored a victory on this front back in March. They pushed through a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council urging a global ban on the public defamation of religion -- read Islam.
These are examples of a growing campaign to use judicial power to silence critics of militant Islam. In the U.N. Durban Review Conference, scheduled for April 20-24, 2009 in Geneva, it appears that the OIC and its cohorts have identified the perfect platform to further their agenda.
This is merely the continuation of a campaign that the OIC has been waging for the last several years, one based on ignoring the brutal intolerance that exists in much of the Islamic world while bitterly complaining of "Islamophobia" in the West. As Dubowitz points out, restricting freedom of expression is an essential part of this effort:
If the leaders of these countries have it their way, writing op-eds criticizing Islamic radicalism, or speaking out against Muslim terrorists or, of course, publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, are soon to be considered criminal examples of racism.
During the most recent Durban II preparatory meetings in April and May, OIC members from Iran to Indonesia all insisted that freedom of expression is what causes Islamophobia. "The most disturbing phenomenon is the intellectual and ideological validation of Islamophobia," noted the Pakistani representative to the U.N., Marghoob Saleem Butt, on behalf of the OIC. "While it is expressed in the form of defamation of religion, it takes cover behind the freedom of expression and opinion." Voicing the demands of the Muslim bloc and its many authoritarian leaders, Mr. Butt requested that the Durban process "devise normative standards that provide adequate guarantees" against the intolerance of Muslims promoted by these freedoms.
One wonders if librarians here in America will spend as much time combating this attempt to impose global standards of censorship as they did reacting to the school librarians who felt uncomfortable selecting The Higher Power of Lucky.