The OIC, meanwhile, is engaging in a bait and switch game. Reporting after the meeting in Istanbul on what it expected to happen next, the OIC stated: “The upcoming [Washington] meetings . . . [will] help in enacting domestic laws for the countries involved in the issue, as well as formulating international laws preventing inciting hatred resulting from the continued defamation of religions.” In other words, banning “defamation of religions” was still on the OIC’s agenda, even if it had to be achieved through indirection.
About a month after the Istanbul meeting, OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu insisted that “no one has the right to insult another for their beliefs or to incite hatred and prejudice.”
Is Hillary Clinton so obtuse that she fails to understand the OIC’s true intentions? Alternatively, is she trying to publicly assure American citizens that their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and press are safe, while working behind the scenes with her OIC partners to find acceptable ways to stifle speech offensive to Muslims? I think the latter is the case, as the Obama administration examines employing legal mechanisms such as hate speech laws and vigorous enforcement of very broadly interpreted anti-discrimination laws, as well as using the “shaming” campaign Clinton talked up in Istanbul. Her actions are right in line with Barack Obama’s vow to the Muslim world in his June 2009 Cairo speech: “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam whenever they appear.”
Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and serving as a commissioner on the official but independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, was invited to attend just the opening and closing sessions of last week’s conference. That was bad enough.
Shea was very concerned about the conference after it was first announced last July, seeing right through the OIC’s maneuvering. She came away even more concerned after she heard what was being said at the conference, beyond Hillary Clinton’s platitudes about the importance of free expression and religious tolerance. “It is a scandal that the US is partnering on an issue regarding free speech with an organization like the OIC that is committed to undermining free speech,” Shea concluded.
Here, in Shea’s own words, are some of the things she heard:
[L]egal and security officials of a delegation which will remain unnamed gave a sweeping overview of American founding principles on religious freedom and how they have been breached time and again in American history by attacks against a broad variety of religious minority groups — including now against Muslims. A raft of current cases was mentioned; America’s relative exemplary and distinctive achievement in upholding religious freedom in an emphatically pluralistic society was not. That same speaker reassured the audience, which was packed with diplomats from around the world, that the Obama administration is working diligently to prosecute American Islamophobes and is transforming the U.S. Justice Department into the conscience of the nation, though it could no doubt learn a thing or two from the assembled delegates on other ways to stop persistent religious intolerance in America.
As mentioned above, the three-day Washington, D.C. conference was closed to the public, with very little reporting on what went on – particularly on what transpired between the opening and closing sessions that Nina Shea attended. However, I did manage to learn of one illustrative closed break-out session that confirms Ms. Shea’s concerns. The session consisted of a review by U.S. Department of Homeland officials regarding the training that the department delivers to federal, state, and local law enforcement on “Countering Violent Extremism,” together with a mock training session. It was an exercise in multi-cultural and diversity training. Ignoring the Islamist source of the most dangerous acts of “violent extremism” today, the session showcased the kind of misleading, politically correct training that the Obama administration is pushing, including community outreach programs, guides for community interaction and discussion of purported stereotypes of religious communities.
The Obama administration is helping the OIC to immunize Islamist ideology and law from critical scrutiny, under the banner of combating “Islamophobia.” As a result, our First Amendment right of free expression – starting with expression that the Obama administration and the Islamists “abhor” – are in jeopardy.
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