(CNSNews.com) – The Quran-burning controversy in the
Five years after establishing an “Islamophobia Observatory” of its own, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is now calling on the U.N.’s top human rights official to set up a comparable body at her
At the U.N. Human Rights Council this week, OIC members are also seeking support for a resolution condemning Florida pastor Terry Jones’ abortive call to burn copies of the Quran on September 11.
When it comes to a vote -- before the Council’s session in
Moreover, Western democracies which usually oppose OIC “Islamophobia” and “religious defamation” measures at the HRC – on freedom of expression grounds – will not likely do so in this case, having strongly condemned Jones’ threats earlier this month.
The new resolution was circulated in
Ihsanoglu in his speech also said national government should take specific steps to combat religious intolerance and stereotyping, including “adopting measures to criminalize the incitement to imminent violence based on religion.”
Ihsanoglu met separately with Pillay and, according to an OIC statement, told her that incidents like Quran desecration “posed grave danger to global peace, security and stability.”
He pressed for her office to set up an “observatory” or “international monitoring mechanism” to monitor and document such acts.
The OIC said Pillay has given Ihsanoglu her assurance that she would “look into reviving the issue of the observatory” proposal.
Asked to confirm this account, a spokesman for Pillay said he would look into the matter, but did not respond by press time.
The call for the U.N. to set up an “Islamophobia monitoring mechanism” was made as early as 1997, when
The OIC set up its “Islamophobia Observatory” at its headquarters in
It has since issued two further reports, the most recent of which documented incidents in Western countries ranging from the Swiss ban on minaret building to complaints that pork was served in a supposedly vegetarian dish at a Christmas buffet for postal workers in
The same report cited President Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and dropping of terminology seen as offensive to Muslims as optimistic indicators.
‘A critical juncture’
The OIC has become increasingly assertive at the four year-old HRC, where the absence of binding entry criteria and regional seat allocation have enabled it to control a significant proportion of seats – currently 18 out of 47.
With support from
The decade-old campaign has prompted mounting opposition in recent years from religious freedom, free speech and other advocacy groups. Critics accuse the OIC of trying to export to the West blasphemy laws in place in some Islamic states, and to restrict free expression to shield Islam and Islamic practices from legitimate scrutiny.
As awareness has grown, the OIC has seen annual support for its resolutions wane (see graph), with more countries – especially in
But the OIC’s activism in
“He emphasized the need for improved coordination and greater unity in the ranks with a view to presenting a unified stance on issues of importance to the OIC, including the defamation of religions,” the OIC said in a statement.
“We are at a critical juncture,” Agnes Callamard, executive director of the free expression campaign Article 19, told a panel on the subject in
“There had been a decrease in support for prohibitions on religious defamation here at the U.N. But recent events – the
One of the U.S.-based organizations leading opposition to the religious defamation drive is the
ACLJ director of international operations Jordan Sekulow said Thursday that while he “fundamentally disagreed with Jones” he hoped the world would see through the OIC’s actions in
“ Instead of condemning Quran burning that didn’t happen, the OIC should be condemning Hamas, Hezbollah, and
“For … such tough guys, these Islamic leaders sure do have thin skin – cartoons and a single, crazy pastor push them off their rocker.”
Sekulow said the ACLJ’s international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice is accredited non-governmental organization at the U.N. and was reaching out to big and small countries on the defamation issue.
“As we explain to countries without large Islamic populations what defamation of religion would mean to Christian and other religious minorities, they understand how this resolution would be a green light for U.N.-sanctioned persecution of religious minorities,” he said, noting that this includes persecution of Muslims whose theology differs from the mainstream.
Sekulow expressed optimism that countries would continue to reject the defamation resolutions, and added that “education is the key to defeating the OIC’s propaganda machine.”