From December 12 to 14, the State Department is hosting the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a body of 57 Muslim countries that presents itself as a representative of all Muslims. Its top objective is eliminating “Islamophobia” by promoting legislation to punish those who criticize the religion or uses language is deems offensive.
This week, the OIC is in Washington D.C., enjoying the company of the State Department. Sources within the OIC told the International Islamic News Agency that the event’s objective is to work on “developing a legal basis for the U.N. Human Rights Council’s resolution which [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.”
The conference is closed to the public and free of transparency. Nina Shea, an official with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, was only permitted to attend the opening and closing sessions. She is forbidden from providing quotes or writing about the statements and actions of specific attendees.
She writes that one 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.”
Shea and Paul Marshall explained in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial that the OIC’s charter dedicates the body to “combat defamations of Islam” and it openly lobbies countries around the world to enact “deterrent punishments” to achieve this. They write that in 2009, the OIC’s International Islamic Fiqh Academy called for international laws to defend the “interests and values of [Islamic] society,” including punishments for those that talk about why they left Islam.
The leaders of the OIC are not coy about what they seek. Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu says “no one has the right to insult another for their beliefs” and Chairman Abdoulaye Wade says, “I don’t think freedom of expression should mean freedom from blasphemy.”
Presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich slammed the administration during the last debate for the meeting, saying that the U.S. government shouldn’t work with “those who would censor the world on behalf of Islam.” Representative Ted Poe wrote a letter to Secretary of State Clinton on December 8 asking her to cancel the meeting because of the OIC’s attacks on free speech.
“The OIC’s charter, however, clearly is against this most basic human right, and we ask that you use all the resources at our disposal to protect freedom of speech around the world,” Poe wrote.
To its credit, the Obama administration successfully fought against an OIC-backed resolution in the U.N. Human Rights Council that would have called for outlawing “defamation of religions.” However, the reaching out to the OIC helps empower an organization whose agenda directly conflicts with Western values and interests.
The hypocrisy of the OIC is plain for all to see. While Ihsanoglu claims that “Islamophobia is reaching the level of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s,” the organization has never condemned the anti-Semitic preaching of extremist clerics or leaders like Ahmadinejad. It doesn’t even take a firm stance on terrorism.
Its 1999 Convention to Combat Terrorism stated, “Peoples struggle including armed struggle against foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism, and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination in accordance with the principles of international law shall not be considered a terrorist crime.” This is virtually every single justification for virtually every single act of terrorism.
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