Friday, March 14, 2008

OIC's sinister message

OIC's sinister message
The Organisation of Islamic Conference, whose membership is understandably restricted to 57 Islamic countries, at its meeting in Dakar, Senegal, over Thursday and Friday, has released a report that stands out for its remarkable casuistry. The 'Observatory Report on Islamophobia', a bulky document that lists a variety of imaginary grievances to make the point that Islam is being defamed and Muslims are being discriminated against, is of a piece with the OIC's untiring efforts to promote imagined victimhood as a convenient cover to justify Islamist terror.
In the past, the OIC has lashed out at India for 'suppressing' Muslim aspirations in Jammu & Kashmir; it has now lashed out at the entire world (barring, of course, those countries where Islam rules) for "defamation of Islam and racial intolerance of Muslims". The bulk of the OIC's anger is directed at "Western societies", but that is essentially because it wishes to play to the gallery and reflect the "concerns of the Islamic ummah". The report, however, should cause concern across the world, not least because it seeks a "binding legal instrument" that will delegitimise "negative political and media discourse" on issues with which Islam and Muslims are intimately associated, severely restrict freedom of expression, and force universal acceptance of, if not compliance with, all that is claimed in the name of Islam.
A fortnight before the official unveiling of this compendium of rant against the free world and denunciation of open and plural societies, the OIC Ambassadorial Group at the United Nations issued a statement on Islamophobia in New York on February 29. The statement is a summary of the obnoxious contents of the OIC report; its tone is belligerent and dismissive of dissenting opinion. "The Group is particularly and deeply alarmed by the intensification of the campaign against Islam, as it impairs Muslims' enjoyment of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and impedes their ability to observe, practice and manifest their religion freely and without fear of coercion, violence or reprisal," the statement says.
The statement and the report, however, are deliberately silent on non-Muslims being denied the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion - for instance, as has been denied to the Pandits of Kashmir Valley and is now being denied to Hindus in Islamic countries like Malaysia - and thus impeding their ability to observe, practice and manifest their religion freely and without fear of coercion. This is not surprising as the OIC is known for speaking with a forked tongue. Nor is it surprising that it should seek to bring into popular usage a neologism like 'Islamophobia' that serves its sinister agenda, while insisting that others like 'Islamofascism', along with 'radical Islam' and 'Islamic terrorism', must be banned from public discourse. Those who persist with using these terms shall be seen as, and held guilty of, Islamophobia. Terror has a new identity.
Ironically, what Europe is now being accused of owes its origin to entirely misplaced European, more specifically British, faith in 'multiculturalism' which has become the magic password to escape censure for indulging in Islamofascism, the ideology of those who subscribe to radical Islamism. The world first heard of Islamophobia when the Runnymede Trust set up the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia in 1996, much before New York's Twin Towers and the London Underground were bombed. It is no less ironical that the commission's report, 'Islamophobia: A challenge for us all', was released in 1997 in the House of Commons by then Home Secretary Jack Straw. In October 2006, Mr Straw was pitilessly denounced by those who claim to be victims of Islamophobia in Britain and abroad for daring to describe the Islamic veil as a "visible statement of separation and of difference".
By 2004, it was felt necessary to denounce Islamophobia to keep Islamofascists in good humour. In May that year the Council of Europe summit formally "condemned Islamophobia". Seven months later, Mr Kofi Annan, who brought shame and disgrace to his office as UN Secretary-General, gave it the stamp of international recognition by presiding over a conference on 'Confronting Islamophobia'. Between then and now, it has become fashionable to condemn any criticism of radical Islamism and fanaticism of the variety practiced and exported by Saudi Arabia, as Islamophobia, much the same way it is considered politically correct to describe the terrorism of Hamas and Hizbullah as "resistance against Zionism".
The truth is that Islamophobia is not about 'undue fear of Islam'. Well-known scholar Daniel Pipes, who is known to berate those who use Islam to justify their perversions, but not Islam (that has not prevented the OIC from naming him, along with Samuel P Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, and eminent historian Bernard Lewis, as an Islamophobe) says, "While prejudice against Islam certainly exists, Islamophobia deceptively conflates two distinct phenomena: Fear of Islam and fear of radical Islam." So, those who feel repelled by the ideology of radical Islamism and fear the terrible consequences of not putting down its practitioners, are also accused of Islamophobia. Similarly, it has become a convenient tool to silence critics of Islam and reformists within the ummah. It equates freedom to question with racism.
Worse, it gives fanatics the right to abuse others and vilify their faith, secure in the knowledge that anybody who dares protest will be branded an Islamophobe. When Britain toyed with the idea of adopting a law against hate speech, this point was made eloquently by Mr Azzam Tamimi, a senior member of the Muslim Association of Britain, who insisted that while the law should gag critics of Islam, it should not prevent Muslims from berating other religions since it is their 'duty' to do so, or from glorifying Palestinian suicide bombers because, as he put it, "We love death, they love life." Mr Tamimi, curiously, is a leading light of the 'Stop the War Coalition'.
Similarly, criticism of textbooks used in a London school funded by Saudi Arabia, describing Jews as "repugnant" and Christians as "pigs", would be considered Islamophobia, as would any attempt to rein in Islamist terrorist outfits anywhere in the world. When the British Government tried to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir, it struck back by launching a 'Stop Islamophobia' campaign on British campuses. Apart from referring to the 9/11 terrorists as the "magnificent 19", as was done by its prominent leader Omar Bakri Mohammed, who later floated Al-Mohajiroun and now sends out e-mail 'advising' Muslim youth from his hideout in Lebanon, Hizb ut-Tahrir is guilty of practising anti-Semitism, abusing Hindus and Hinduism, and preaching that "suicide bombers go straight to heaven". To stand up to Hizb ut-Tahrir, therefore, amounts to Islamophobia.
Closer home, the Students Islamic Movement of India, which has been banned for being a terrorist organisation, insists that it is being targeted because its members are scrupulous adherents of Islam. Hence, if the OIC report is to be taken seriously and its definition of Islamophobia accepted, the order banning SIMI is a manifestation of Islamophobia. The Government of India is equally guilty of Islamophobia for providing dissident Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen with a resident permit. And, those in media who refuse to endorse the humiliation of Gudiyas and the persecution of Imranas by the ulema, and believe there is a connection between radical Islamism and Islamist terrorism, stand accused of "targeting Muslims and Islam".
We can afford to ignore the ringing message from Dakar only at the expense of the values that set us apart from those who decree that a woman who has been raped should be publicly flogged, if not stoned to death.

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