In its quest to criminalize speech that's critical of all Islam-related topics, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)* endorsed the formation of a new Advisory Media Committee to address "Islamophobia."
This past September, the OIC held "The First International Conference on Islamophobia: Law & Media." The conference endorsed numerous recommendations which arose from prior workshops on Islamophobia from media, legal and political perspectives. A main conclusion was the consensus to institutionalize the conference and create an Advisory Media Committee to meet under the newly established OIC Media Forum based in Istanbul Turkey.
Supposedly, the purpose of the conference was to support an OIC campaign to "correct the image of Islam and Muslims in Europe and North America." By this, it means to whitewash the intolerant, violent and discriminatory aspects of Islam and Islamists. The OIC has launched a campaign to provide disinformation to the public, delinking all Islam from these undesirable traits and attacks all who insist on these truths, as bigots, racists and Islamophobes.
The OIC is a 57 member organization consisting of Muslim countries whose long term goal is the worldwide implementation of Sharia law and seemingly the ultimate establishment of a Caliphate. Its members tend to vote together as a block in the UN, so it is extremely powerful, despite the fact that few people have heard of it.
Its present goal is the international criminalization of all speech that "defames" Islam, which the OIC defines as anything that sheds a negative light on Islam or Muslims, even when it's true.
Its target is the West and one of its tactics is to accuse those who criticize Islam or its various interpretations as "Islamophobic." It is attempting to pass the equivalent of Islamic blasphemy codes in the West, using accusations of bigotry to silence anyone who speaks the truth about Islamic terrorism or Islamic persecution of religious minorities.
The OIC uses international bodies such as the UN and international "consensus building" as a platform to achieve its goals. Certainly, if the OIC straightforwardly informed America and Europe of its aspirations to silence speech, it would gain no strides. Therefore, it uses bureaucratic, unaccountable entities such as the UN as a means to make inroads, using watered down language and words that sound palatable to the West in order to deceive the public about its underlying goals.
Unfortunately, the OIC has been fairly successful in passing UN resolutions that if implemented, would have the effect of stifling speech that "defames religions." Of course, the OIC is only concerned with the defamation of Islam. Indeed, OIC countries all have some sort of Islamic blasphemy laws which prohibit such defamation. To be certain, these laws are regularly used to criminally punish those who speak critically of Islam. These laws are also used to justify persecution of religious minorities. For example, in many OIC countries, openly practicing a version of Islam not sanctioned by the government can land one in jail for blasphemy. The OIC has no reciprocity in refraining from "defamation" of Judaism, Christianity, or other religions.
After the US realized that the UN resolution to Combat Defamation of Religions had a potentially disastrous impact on free expression, the US State Department asked the OIC to draft an alternative resolution that would address "Islamophobia" concerns and still retain free speech. The OIC produced Resolution 16/18 to Combat Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief.Initially, the State Department interpreted this resolution to protect religious minorities of all stripes from discrimination and violence, while still retaining freedom of speech.
The OIC, however, has made it clear that it clings to its goal to protect Islam from so-called defamation. Indeed, it has manipulated the language in resolution to do just that.
Rizwan Saeed Sheikh, spokesman for the OIC Secretary General has explained that the OIC's goal is to make "denigration of religions" a crime. Somehow, over time, the State Department appears to have adopted the OIC's view that the West is Islamophobic and that Islam is a religion of peace which should never be associated with terrorism. Toward this end, the Obama Administration has completely purged all its counterterrorism training programs from any mention of Islamic terrorism. Only "right-wing extremists" persist in using the term, and of course are "Islamophobes" for doing so.
The OIC's claims that it seeks to protect all religions and religious symbols from defamation are patently false and are contrary to the actions of the OIC countries which discriminate against infidels. In Saudi Arabia, Jews are denied citizenship; in Iran, Baha'is are denied equal employment opportunities; in Pakistan, Ahmadiyya Muslims are jailed for openly practicing their faith, and there's a genocide against Coptic Christians in Egypt. Many OIC countries also prohibit the building or repair of churches and synagogues as well as public worship by minority religions.
The September meeting constituted the third Istanbul Conference: international meetings designed to implement Resolution 16/18 in support of the OIC's agenda to combat "Islamophobia" in the West.
If the OIC really wanted to combat Islamophobia, it would persuade terrorists to refrain from violence; it would condemn the genocide of Coptic Christians in Egypt and it would spare little girls from forced marriages in OIC countries. The OIC has the power to stop the denigration of Jewish, Christian, Zorastrian and Baha'i religious symbols in the OIC countries. It can pressure OIC member states to implement domestic policies that will honor and respect minority religions in the Middle East and elsewhere. Do this, and "Islamophobia" in the West will dissipate.
Instead, the OIC requests that the media censor their reports about Islamic terrorism, Islamic persecution of religious minorities and human rights violations committed in the name of Islam, as an interim step toward the criminalization of such speech. All of this will only serve to increase, not decrease "Islamophobia."
The clash of civilizations widens.
*The Organization of Islamic Cooperation was originally called The Organization of Islamic Conference, but changed its name in 2011.
This article was commissioned by The Legal Project, an activity of the Middle East Forum.