Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gatestone Update :: Soeren Kern: OIC Opens Office in Brussels to Fight "Islamophobia" in Europe, and more

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OIC Opens Office in Brussels to Fight "Islamophobia" in Europe

by Soeren Kern
June 26, 2013 at 5:00 am
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The OIC Secretary General appears to be laying the diplomatic groundwork to persuade non-elected bureaucrats at EU headquarters to enact hate-speech legislation that would limit by fiat what 500-million European citizens -- including democratically elected politicians -- can and cannot say about Islam.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an influential bloc of 57 Muslim countries, has officially inaugurated a Permanent Observer Mission to the European Union (EU).
The primary objective of the OIC, headquartered in Saudi Arabia and funded by Islamic countries around the world, has long been to pressure Europe and the United States into passing laws that would ban "negative stereotyping of Islam."
The establishment of a permanent OIC presence in Brussels implies that the group intends to redouble its lobbying efforts aimed at outlawing all forms of "Islamophobia" [a term invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1990s] within the 27-member EU, where restrictions on free speech regarding Islam-related issues are already commonplace (see here, here, here and here).
OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu opened the mission to the EU during a formal inauguration ceremony in Brussels on June 25; it was attended by diplomats, EU officials and dignitaries from Europe and across the Muslim world.
In his inaugural speech, Ihsanoglu declared, "There is a growing and developing interest at the highest level in the EU to cooperate with the OIC… I think our relations with the European Union on the different agenda items that we share will benefit all of us. There is a need for cooperation between the Muslim world and Europe, and the OIC, as a collective voice of the Muslim world which stands for modernization and moderation, will be the proper institution to deal with the EU."
Ihsanoglu -- who recently said in an interview with Al Jazeera Television that his number one job is to combat the religious persecution of Muslims in the West -- added, "We need to seriously fight against Islamophobia to further strengthen ties between the Islamic world and Europe and to eradicate the unnecessary sensitivities."
Since the late 1990s, the OIC has been promoting the so-called Istanbul Process, an aggressive effort by Muslim countries to make it an international crime to criticize Islam. The explicit aim of the Istanbul Process is to enshrine in international law a global ban on all critical scrutiny of Islam and Islamic Sharia law.
In recent years, the OIC has been engaged in a determined diplomatic offensive to persuade Western democracies to implement United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 16/18, which calls on all countries to combat "intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of … religion and belief." (Analysis of the OIC's war on free speech can be found here and here.)
Resolution 16/18, which was adopted at HRC headquarters in Geneva in March 2011 (with the support of the Obama Administration) -- together with the OIC-sponsored Resolution 66/167, which was quietly approved by the 193-member UN General Assembly on December 19, 2011 -- is widely viewed as marking a significant step forward in OIC efforts to advance the international legal concept of defaming Islam.
The OIC scored a diplomatic coup when the Obama Administration agreed to host a three-day Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC on December 12-14, 2011. By doing so, the United States gave the OIC the political legitimacy was seeking to globalize its initiative to ban criticism of Islam.
Refusing to be outdone by the Americans, the EU subsequently hosted an Istanbul Process conference at Wilton Park in London on December 3-5, 2012. The aim of the event was "to arrive at a common understanding of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance and the difference in emphasis with regard freedom of expression."
According to Ihsanoglu, the EU's offer to host the meeting, which gathered legal experts, NGOs, government representatives, academics, legislators and educators as well as OIC representatives, represented a "qualitative shift in action against the phenomenon of Islamophobia."
The OIC has been especially annoyed over its inability to silence a growing number of democratically elected politicians in Europe who have voiced concerns over the refusal of Muslim immigrants to integrate into their host countries and the consequent establishment of parallel Islamic societies in many parts of Europe.
According to Ihsanoglu, "The phenomenon of Islamophobia is found in the West in general, but is growing in European countries in particular and in a manner different than that in the US, which had contributed to drafting Resolution 16/18. The new European position represents the beginning of the shift from their previous reserve over the years over the attempts by the OIC to counter 'defamation of religions' in the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations."
Nevertheless, the OIC has been unable to garner sufficient support for an all-encompassing global blasphemy law within the framework of the UN, and Ihsanoglu announced in October 2012 that the OIC would change its strategy by appealing to individual nation-states to enact hate-speech laws concerning Islam.
The OIC has also stepped up efforts to criminalize the criticism of Islam on the basis of Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a multilateral treaty that forms part of the International Bill of Human Rights.
According to the OIC, Article 20 of ICCPR states that denigration of symbols or persons sacred to any religion is a criminal offense, and Ihsanoglu says the only problem is its lack of enforcement by signatory states.
On January 7-8, 2013, the OIC held a meeting of international legal and human rights experts in Istanbul with the stated aim of examining the legal options for "banning religious intolerance against Muslims."
Delivering the opening remarks, Ihsanoglu said: "This meeting of ours in Istanbul is a crucial milestone of a multifaceted, multisided, diplomatic and legal process against Islamophobia, and on the campaign initiated against Islam and its prophet."
Ihsanoglu added: "Since the first day I assumed office, we have been able to see the adoption of resolutions defending Islam and condemning the attacks against Islam at the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva."
In a clear sign that the OIC has no intention of abandoning UN Resolution 16/18, Ihsanoglu said, "The issue to be discussed today by the wise men is how '16/18' will be implemented. We will discuss the sanctions from the view of international law... what would happen when arrogant cartoons get drawn or a movie gets shot."
On January 22, 2013, Ihsanoglu told British government officials attending a "High Level Meeting on Intolerance" in London that Islamophobia is an issue of "utmost contemporary significance" and a matter of "vital concern." He encouraged the EU to brainstorm on building common ground on combating "intolerance and discrimination against Muslims."
Thus by establishing a permanent OIC presence in Brussels, Ihsanoglu appears to be laying the diplomatic groundwork to persuade non-elected bureaucrats at EU headquarters to enact pan-European hate speech legislation that would limit by fiat what 500 million European citizens -- including democratically elected politicians -- can and cannot say about Islam.
Speaking to Turkish media outlets on June 24 ahead of the opening ceremony in Brussels, Ihsanoglu warned the EU against allowing any speech that could be deemed hostile to Islam.
For example, Ihsanoglu urged the EU to ban the use of the term "Islamic terrorist" and replace it with the word "jihadist" instead. According to Ihsanoglu, "jihad does not necessarily mean killing the other" and he blamed Westerners for distorting the concept of jihad to mean "holy war." He said that Muslim scholars have repeatedly affirmed that the word jihad, which is mentioned in the Koran, simply means the "struggle" to do good and to remove injustice, oppression and evil from society.
Meanwhile, the OIC has been organizing "anti-Islamophobia symposia" across Europe. Entitled "Smearing Islam and Muslims in the Media," the first-of-its-kind event was held in Brussels on February 15-16, 2012, and was "aimed at establishing information mechanisms to face up to the slanderous campaigns against Islam in the media."
Another OIC organ called the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IESCO) organized a seminar in Brussels on "how to deal with stereotypical images of Islam in European television programs."
The seminar was designed to help European journalists "identify characteristics of stereotypes about Islam in European television programs, highlight the dangers of defamation of religions, and clarify the distinction between freedom of expression and the right to cultural difference, the commitment to the Islamic cultural identity and the struggle against racism and hatred."
According to Ihsanoglu, "The suggestion that Islam is the problem as it is claimed in the hateful discourse of Islamophobia is to negate Islam's sublime values of peace, compassion, and tolerance, and all the noble virtues that Islam has stood for throughout fourteen centuries of tolerant, brilliant and radiant civilization."
In her latest book, entitled "Europe, Globalization, and the Coming of the Universal Caliphate," Islam scholar Bat Ye'or provides and in-depth examination of the EU's opaque relationship with the OIC, which she describes as a "would-be universal caliphate" that exercises significant power through the EU, the UN and other international organizations.
Ye'or describes an OIC strategy manual, "Strategy of Islamic Cultural Action in the West," in which the OIC asserts that "Muslim immigrant communities in Europe are part of the Islamic nation" and recommends "a series of steps to prevent the integration and assimilation of Muslims into European culture."
According to Ye'or, "The caliphate is alive and growing within Europe…It has advanced through the denial of dangers and the obfuscating of history. It has moved forward on gilded carpets in the corridors of dialogue, the network of the Alliances and partnerships, in the corruption of its leaders, intellectuals and NGOs, particularly at the United Nations."
During the 12th Islamic Summit held in Cairo on February 6-7, 2013, OIC members unanimously elected Iyad bin Amin Madani to the post of OIC Secretary General. Madani's term will begin in January 2014 when Ihsanoglu's term expires.
This will be the first time that the OIC -- which describes itself as the "only and sole official representative of the Muslim world... the real spokesman of the Muslim world" -- will be headed by a Saudi, and observers believe that under Madani the OIC will become even more extreme.
Meanwhile, Ihsanoglu continues to admonish the EU that "Islam should be welcomed as a family member in Europe, not as a guest." He said the "exclusion of Islam means ignoring the influential role of Islamic civilization in the evolution of the Western civilization."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estrat├ęgicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.
Related Topics:  Soeren Kern

Britain's Fascism Complex

by Samuel Westrop
June 26, 2013 at 4:30 am
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In the enduring hunt for moral credibility, politicians and community organizations issue panicked warnings about the threat posed by "fascism". These same organizations, however, refuse to acknowledge that a number of "anti-fascist" groups are part of a collectivity that is just as destructive as its ideological opponent.
While British "fascism," both in theory and electoral support, struggles to exist, "anti-fascism" is a booming industry.
In terms of a defined political creed, there are no "fascist" academics in British universities, no "fascist" politicians in the British parliament and no "fascist" newspapers. In short, British fascism means little. Yet, to listen to the alarm sounded by campaign groups, media, politicians, and interfaith and minority organizations over the "fascist threat", it would appear that fascism is swallowing Britain.
When using the label "fascist," British commentators seem to be referring to anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish or nationalist political groups such as the British National Party and the English Defence League. These movements regularly promote a "white-only Britain" and encourage violent hostility towards Jews, Muslims and other minorities.
In practical terms, then, "anti-fascism" means opposing the work of thuggish, disorganized street groups. Many of the "anti-fascists", however, are just as unappealing as the groups they claim to oppose. Unite Against Fascism (UAF), for example, is a project of the Socialist Workers' Party, a Marxist group that supports the violent overthrow of liberal democracy in favor of a totalitarian Marxist regime.
Most recently, the Socialist Workers' Party has voiced support for Hefezat-e-Islam, an extreme Islamist group in Bangladesh, which advocates the death penalty for "atheists" and others whom they claim "defame Islam."
As with its parent organization, the UAF's record on Islamist extremism is one of complicity. The UAF's vice-chairman, for instance, is Azad Ali, an Islamist activist, who works for the Islamic Forum of Europe -- a fundamentalist group which constitutes the British branch of Jamaat-e-Islami, the violent Islamist party responsible for war crimes in 1970s Bangladesh.
Azad Ali opposes democracy, "if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia [Islamic religious law]." He admits to attending talks by Abu Qatada, the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda in Europe, and he has stated that the leader of a prospective Islamist caliphate should be Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Palestinian terror group Hamas. Ali is also apparently an ardent fan of the late Al Qaeda terrorist, Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was killed by a US Drone.
The UAF's Assistant Secretary, Martin Smith, also a leading member of the Socialist Workers' Party, is a vocal supporter of Gilad Atzmon, a Holocaust denier who has argued that burning down synagogues is a "rational act."
Peter Tatchell, a prominent gay rights campaigner, has noted: "UAF commendably opposes the British National Party and English Defence League but it is silent about Islamist fascists who promote anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and sectarian attacks on non-extremist Muslims."
The UAF is not, however, just silent; it is actively complicit. It has, on a number of occasions, joined in with the Al Quds Day March -- an annual Iranian-organized parade in Tehran, London and a number of other European cities – in which crowds chant and march in support of the Iranian regime, the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, and the Palestinian terror group Hamas.
Following the murder of a British soldier by Islamists in Woolwich, the UAF recently held a demonstration called "Don't Let the Racists Divide Us." One of the speakers was Shakeel Begg, an imam at the Lewisham Mosque, where the Woolwich terrorists worshipped.
Begg is a well-known hate preacher who describes jihad as the "greatest of deeds." He was previously the Muslim chaplain at Kingston University in London, where, during one address to students, he advised, "You want to make jihad? Very good… Take some money and go to Palestine and fight, fight the terrorists, fight the Zionists." He is also an outspoken supporter of Al Qaeda terrorists imprisoned in Guantanamo, whom he describes as "inspiring."
Despite the connections to hate preachers and extremists, Unite Against Fascism enjoys support from scores of MPs, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who is a founding signatory.
A number of critics have suggested that the UAF and other "anti-fascists" are just as violent as their ideological opponents. Former members have accused the UAF of inciting racial hatred and encouraging violence, and on a number of occasions, the police have blamed the UAF for violence.
In 2009, for instance, a fundraising event for the British National Party was interrupted by a mob of several dozen "anti-fascists" -- armed with bats, knives and hammers -- who attacked several of the BNP activists. One man was hospitalized after he was repeatedly beaten with a hammer. In 2010, the UAF joint secretary, Weyman Bennett, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to organize violent disorder.
The UAF is just one project within the Socialist Workers Party's repertoire of ethical-looking activism. A number of these campaigns promote ideas similar to the values of the groups they claim to oppose. The Stop the War Coalition, for example, professes to oppose tyranny and unjust wars, but on a number of occasions has expressed support for the Iranian and Syrian regimes. Similarly, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which claims to advocate peace in the Middle East, supports the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, rejects the idea of a two-state solution and works to marginalize moderate voices.
The Institute for Race Relations, another example, condemns bigotry on one side of the political spectrum while ignoring, and even promoting, extremism from the other side. The Institute claims that Islamist extremism is a whipped-up hysteria designed to encourage anti-Muslim sentiment. The Institute also has denounced the work of counter-extremism groups on the grounds that the discussion of Islamist extremism only serves to encourage anti-Muslim sentiment.
In 2010, the Institute promoted a legal defence campaign for twenty-two protestors jailed for smashing shops, including a Starbucks cafe, which they claimed was linked to the Israeli state (the chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, an American, happens to be Jewish).
The Institute has promoted the work of extremists such as Moazzam Begg, whom the human rights activist Gita Sahgal describes as "Britain's most famous supporter of the Taliban;" Victoria Brittain, who has expressed support for Abu Qatada, the Al Qaeda cleric, and Asim Qureshi, an Islamist activist and supporter of the Wahhabi group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the members of which have called for Muslims to "support the jihad of our brothers and sisters in these countries when they are facing the oppression of the West."
"Anti-fascism" is a fig-leaf for political groups whose members' expressed fury against their ideological opponent serves to sanitize their own corrosive activism. This deception is buttressed by politicians, media and human rights groups, who, ever keen to demonstrate their modish ethics, voice support for the "anti-fascism" industry as evidence of their opposition to a section of politics considered to be socially and morally unacceptable.
Jewish organizations seem happy to campaign against one form of extremism but not the other. The British Board of Deputies, for example, regularly produces articles and statements advising British Jewry to campaign against the British National Party; and Jewish students have set up a number of campaigns to highlight the racism and bigotry promoted by organizations such as the English Defence League.
Although these campaigns are certainly warranted -- both the British National Party and the English Defence league express anti-Semitic and anti-Western sentiment -- no such important efforts have been made to counter the influence of the far more influential Green Party, the representatives of which have accused members called "Levy" of being Zionist agitators; have circulated emails from David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan, on how "Jewish Zionists" are working with President Obama to shape American policy on Israel; and whose senior member and former candidate for party leader, Pippa Bartolotti, has posed with a swastika and has objected to being represented by a member of the UK diplomatic staff who happened to have a Jewish name.
Further, no campaigns have been organized against the Respect Party, founded by a mix of Islamist and Marxist activists who boast the pro-Syrian MP George Galloway as their leading representative. Respect's woman officer, Naz Kahn, has said: "It's such a shame that the history teachers in our school never taught us this but they are the first to start brainwashing us and our children into thinking the bad guy was Hitler. What have the Jews done good in this world?"
In 2011, the chairman of Tower Hamlets's Respect branch, Carole Swords, was filmed shouting at a group of Jewish activists, "Go back to Russia." The party leadership did not censure either official.
At the last general election, the Green Party stood down its candidates in favour of Respect candidates, and vice versa, across a number of constituencies. Both Respect and the Green Party have seats in parliament; the British National Party, however, has never won a seat. Despite this, anti-extremism campaigns are devoted solely to campaigning against the latter.
Moreover, Islamist extremists have infiltrated and exploited many aspects of British society. Scores of Islamist leaders preach hatred towards Jews, homosexuals and women on university campuses; leading charities, such as Interpal, openly consort with the Hamas terror group; British MPs promote organizations such as the anti-Jewish Palestine Solidarity Campaign; and the British taxpayer funds violent movements such as Jamaat-e-Islami, which is responsible for the mass-murder of Bangladeshis.
Extremists should not be defined by their political or religious affiliation, but rather by whether or not they promote violent ideas. In the enduring hunt for moral credibility, politicians and community organizations issue panicked warnings about the threat posed by "fascism". These same organizations, however, refuse to acknowledge that a number of "anti-fascist" groups are part of a collectivity that is just as destructive as its ideological opponent.
The expressions of alarm in Britain over "the fascist threat" are unremitting -- whether from politicians, the media, minority groups or think-tanks. These same voices, however, consider warnings about other political or religious extremism to be examples of hysteria or conspiracy.
Most mainstream organizations seem to regard the issue of counter-extremism as an opportunity for posturing, rather than as a broader threat that must be urgently defined and seriously challenged.
Related Topics:  United Kingdom  |  Samuel Westrop

Lying and Getting Away With It

by Douglas Murray
June 26, 2013 at 4:00 am
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British universities are breeding-grounds of the most appalling hatred against America, the UK, Israel, free-thinkers, "apostates," and religious and sexual minorities What is worse, is that organizations who lie and lie and lie again can get away with it.
Four years ago, on Christmas Day, a young Muslim who had recently finished his studies at a British university tried to blow up a plane over Detroit. Had Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab's plan succeeded, he would have killed all the people on the trans-continental plane he was on, and many more on the ground below. Fortunately Abdulmutallab's bomb failed to go off properly and, in what must be an undesirable outcome for even the most committed jihadi, he succeeded only in setting fire to his genitals.
One of the more technically notable facts about the would-be Detroit bomber is that he had recently been the head of the Islamic Society at University College London. Some of us had warned for some time that Islamic societies at British university campuses in general, and London campuses in particular, had become hotbeds of Islamic extremism. We had been criticized for doing so, but the facts were behind us.
What was educational for those of us who saw the post-Detroit cover-up was that it began with denial and ended with a whitewash. UCL's President (one Malcolm Grant) persistently went onto the media to declare that there was nothing to see here. So what that Abdulmutallab had organized extremist events repeatedly on the UCL campus? So what that outside figures as well as other students had expressed their concerns about this? So what that this former student had almost succeeded in carrying out an act of terrorism? Professor Grant and his colleagues insisted that there was nothing to see at UCL.
After the denial came the whitewash. A panel of "experts" was put together. Of the panel, only one participant had any experience or knowledge of Islam, and he was from the Muslim Council of Britain. Amazing though it may seem, the panel Grant composed to look into his own conduct found him innocent. He remains in place and has taken a side-job as Chairman of the National Health Service in England. He is due to retire from UCL later this year after covering himself with garlands.
How extraordinary it is, considering that there was nothing to notice in 2009, that there have been more former Islamic society (ISOC) members convicted each year since, with the last convicted and sent to prison for terrorism offenses just a few weeks ago. But what is doubly extraordinary it is that not just an individual, but a whole sector of our society, can continue to ignore completely something that is going on repeatedly and consistently.
Take events in recent days alone. The organization Student Rights, a group which monitors extremism, revealed on June 26th that the Federation of Student Islamic Societies' (FOSIS) annual conference is being addressed by the likes of Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman. Sheikh Shady -- who is more troubling than he sounds -- has a fine track record to recommend him to FOSIS. He has said, for instance, that Muslims should "ask Allah to save your Muslim brothers and sisters all around the world, especially in Gaza right now and for Allah to give them victory over their enemies, and for Allah to destroy the enemies of Islam." Perhaps he just forgot to add the "of course what we all really want is a viable two-state solution."
Sheikh Shady also argues that there is a war underway against Islam, and that the terrorist group Hamas, for instance, is targeted solely because it is composed of Muslims: "They have been put under siege, oppressively and aggressively, unjustly. Why? Because they say there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger."
How can it be that the main umbrella organization of student Islamic societies in the UK could keep inviting people like this? Perhaps because they have learned from investigations, such as those nominally conducted on the orders of president Grant, that there is no problem with extremist speakers on UK universities. Perhaps because they have learned that they can get away with absolutely anything.
Why would they have to reform their ways when the most thorough "official" investigation to date managed to prove such a magnificent white-wash? Only a matter of days after the beheading of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, the President of FOSIS even had the temerity to declare that his organization was "the biggest barrier to violent extremism."
To study the history of extremist activity on UK campuses is to come to a number of irrevocable conclusions. Among them is the realization that there is a serious problem, and that British universities are breeding-grounds of the most appalling hatred against America, the UK, Israel, free-thinkers, "apostates" and religious and sexual minorities. It also spurs a realization that terrorism is never enough steps away from student Islamic societies as it is from, say student Labour Party clubs or any chosen sports society.
What comes next is worse. It is that organizations and individuals who lie and lie and lie again can – in this situation – get away with it. This is the case from FOSIS and the individual student societies which pretend that they are not doing what they are doing, and not inviting who they are inviting, or inciting when they are inciting. And it goes all the way to the backside-covering careerists such as Malcolm Grant who can fib and fib and expect -- quite rightly -- to get away with it.
Perhaps we can conclude that the Grants of this world – people who worry more about their pension-pots than about their society -- have always been with us. But how it makes one wish that one day they might finally come face-to-face with the hatred they have helped nurture and cover for, and finally face up to it.
Related Topics:  United Kingdom  |  Douglas Murray

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