Monday, December 10, 2007

Criminalizing criticism

Last weekend's International Islamophobia Conference, held by the Union of NGOs of the Islamic World at the Grand Cevahir Hotel in Instanbul, Turkey and mentioned in the foregoing post, has concluded with a statement urging "national and international law mechanisms" to "enact legislations and take decisions against Islamophobia" so that "Islamophobia should be accepted as a crime, just like anti-semitism." (The supposed status of anti-Semitism "as a crime" is probably a reference to European laws criminalizing Holocaust denial.) The anti-Islamophobia campaign, the statement adds, must be carried out "politically, legally and economically both in the national and international arena and in a systematical and strategical way" and constitutes "a basic duty for ... every institution and every government" - a clear confirmation of participants' intent to push their agenda at the next UN conference against racism and xenophobia ("Durban II") in 2009.

Eye on the UN observes that at "Durban II" the ground will have been well-prepared for them:

One specific inclusion in the resolution reveals the direction that the 2009 conference will take. In inviting different UN bodies to contribute to the new preparatory committee's work, the resolution singles out only two of the many Special Rapporteurs, the Special Rapporteur on Racism, and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. No mention is made, for example, of the rapporteur on promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In other words, Islamophobia and its manifestations in Danish cartoons will be on the agenda. Freedom of expression will not.

In a Feb. 12, 2006 East Valley (Mesa, Ariz.) Tribune article (unavailable online) on the "cartoon jihad" prompted by the publication of a dozen caricatures of Islam's prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, this correspondent predicted that

If Muslims can suppress such criticism by protesting, threatening and rioting, we can hardly expect them to stop with graphic images. Should the Western world accede to demand that their prophet not be criticized in artwork we will presently find them demanding that he not be criticized in print. We will find that any disparaging of Muhammad's piratical raids against his enemies, his history of warmaking or his practice of polygamy will prompt the appearance of a screaming mob at the offender's door. We will find, as the Qur'an demands in Sura 9:29, that as unbelievers we will be fought until we "feel [our]selves subdued.

and added, in another piece on Feb. 25, 2006, that

[Al-Azhar University Grand Imam Sheikh Muhammad Sayed] Tantawi and his co-religionists, with their demands for laws criticizing religious dogma and for the punishment and the Danish cartoonists and editors, seek to give legal force to radical Islam's chilling effect on free expression outside the Muslim world. Nor are such demands being heard only overseas. ... That chilling effect is already much in evidence among the mainstream American news media, which have made a near-unanimous capitulation to Muslim intimidation in deciding whether to run the Danish cartoons - despite their centrality to what has been one of the most important stories of the year. With their willingless to yield on the bedrock issue of freedom of expression, they have set a dreadful precedent; one certain to haunt us all in the years ahead.

The latter comment got me crosswise with my putative superiors at the Tribune, who did their best to mute my public voice. Upon their refusal to run any of the Danish cartoons with a piece I wrote two months later on Comedy Central TV network's censorship of the "South Park" episode dealing with the issue, I resigned in protest. The Istanbul conference and the groundwork being laid for "Durban II" indicate that both my criticism of their pusallinimity and my prediction of its baleful consequences are being borne out in spades. It is not too late for the world's journalists to blunt this assault on their most fundamental rights, but they had better get cracking.

Hat tip to the indispensable JihadWatch for its posts on this story, about which the mainstream media have been notably - and distressingly - silent.

Update: Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna (also an indispensable Counterjihad site) has a fine post on the Istanbul confab and its implications. Well worth a read.

Update II: Charles at LGF reports that the angry-left Web site Daily Kos has a long post today bewailing "Islamophobia" - hard on the heels of this conference's call for a "systematical and strategical" campaign against it.

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