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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Is Islam restricting your freedom of expression?

This might seem a bit off topic for this blog. It's not. The reason it's not is that we already know that in much of the world, people are afraid to speak their minds for fear of violating unwritten rules of political correctness. Many of those people may secretly support Israel, particularly in North America and maybe even in Europe and Asia. What happened last week at the United Nations 'Human Rights Council' is therefore very disturbing.

The 'Human Rights Council' had to renew the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. The Organization of Islamic Countries, which controls the council, was able to use the occasion to redefine the rapporteur's mandate and limit the right. The amendment requires the rapporteur to report on 'abuses of freedom of expression' that constitute 'religious discrimination.' In the video below, pay particularly close attention to the Sri Lankan speaker (particularly ironic given today's news from Sri Lanka), who makes the Muslim world's blackmail plain.

In her Friday JPost column, Caroline Glick noted the following about the OIC amendment:
By seeking to criminalize free speech, the resolution stands in breach of the UN's Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of that document states explicitly: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
What you just saw was many countries withdrawing their co-sponsorship of the resolution to renew the special rapporteur's mandate. But the vote on the resolution was much different. Here's Caroline Glick again:
Last Friday the UN's Human Rights Council took a direct swipe at freedom of expression. In a 32-0 vote, the council instructed its "expert on freedom of expression" to report to the council on all instances in which individuals "abuse" their freedom of speech by giving expression to racial or religious bias.


The Europeans' decision to abstain rather than oppose the measure seems, at first glance, rather surprising. Given that the EU member states are among the UN's most emphatic champions, it would have seemed normal for them to have opposed a resolution that undermines one of the UN's foundational documents, and indeed, one of the most basic tenets of Western civilization.

But then again, given the EU's stands in recent years against freedom of expression, there really is nothing to be surprised about. The EU's current bow to intellectual thuggery is of course found in its response to the Internet release of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders' film Fitna.

The EU has gone out of its way to attack Wilders for daring to exercise his freedom of expression. The EU's presidency released a statement condemning the film for "inflaming hatred." Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende issued statements claiming that the film "serves no other purpose than to cause offense."

Then, too, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon blasted the film as "offensively anti-Islamic."
For those who think that no one notices what goes on in Geneva, please think again. Ten days ago, I reported that a second film about Islam was being made - one that was potentially even more explosive than Fitna. Not anymore.
Ehsan Jami is not to release his animation film The Life of Mohammed. After consultations with his advisors, Jami is abandoning the plan to show his film, which was to be released on 20 April.

"Minister Hirsch Ballin (Justice) has stated that he fears the film will drive a wedge through our society. That was never my intention", said Jami. He added however that he does not believe the Dutch government is capable of protecting him against death threats.

One of Jami's advisors is philosopher and columnist Afshin Ellian. Like Jami, Ellian was born in Iran. Last week, Ellian stated that the young Jami (22) perhaps failed to recognise the consequences of the release of his animation film for his safety.

The abandoned film contains a drawing depicting the prophet Mohammed with an erection. He is seen leading a 9 year old girl to a mosque bearing a swastika, in order to have sex with her. According to Jami, the cartoon represents the story of Mohammed who marries Aisha, as described in the Koran.

In his own columns, Ellian criticises Islam and Dutch appeasement politics on an almost daily basis. In spite of this, he advised Jami to abandon the film because Jami will likely be faced in his view with a Fatwa similar to the one issued against Salman Rushdie following the publication of his book The Satanic Verses.

Ellian believes Ayatollahs will judge The Life of Mohammed much more harshly than MP Geert Wilders 'film Fitna, which came out last week. This is partly due to Jami being a former Muslim and an Iranian, thereby increasing the risk of a Fatwa. Also, he is not an MP as Wilders is.
Rather than standing up for freedom of expression, Western governments are advising their citizens to avoid doing things that offend Muslims. The reason - at least in Europe - is that the bureaucracy is controlled by the Left and as Glick points out
Like all anti-democratic movements, today's political Left seeks to silence debate and so undermine democracy, first, by demonizing anyone who doesn't agree with it and then by passing laws that criminalize speech or override the people's right to decide how they wish to live.

In the EU, the Lisbon Treaty effectively regurgitated by bureaucratic fiat the constitution that was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands and was set to be defeated by the British. In Britain, Parliament has labored for years to pass a law that would criminalize insulting Islam. Then, too, one of the first actions the Brown government took after entering office last summer was to prohibit its members from talking about "Islamic terrorism."
Here in Israel, anti-government speech was effectively criminalized by the Rabin-Peres government, which between 1993-96 locked up dozens of opponents of the Oslo disaster, many of them put in 'administrative detention' without formal charges. That sort of behavior continues here in Israel, as is illustrated by this story, again from Caroline Glick:
AS IN Europe, so too in Israel, the Left goes to extraordinary lengths to undermine democracy in the name of democracy.

In just one recent example, this week leftist law professor Mordechai Kremnitzer warned the Knesset not to pass a law enabling a referendum on any future partition of Jerusalem or surrender of the Golan Heights. As Kremnitzer sees it, "If the verdict of a referendum is determined by a small majority that includes Arab voters, then a certain sector whose view was not accepted is liable to attempt to reject the legitimacy of the referendum and may fight against it violently."

That "certain sector" Kremnitzer was referring to, of course, are the Jews who oppose the partition of Jerusalem and the surrender of the Golan Heights, by a large majority.

Kremnitzer's argument is both ridiculous and self-serving. It is ridiculous because he knows that in 2004, Likud members held a referendum on the government's planned withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria. Then-prime minister Ariel Sharon pledged to abide by the results of his party's vote. But when 65 percent of Likud members rejected his plan, he ignored them. And the public's reaction, while strong, was completely nonviolent.

The only force that used sustained force and intimidation in the run-up to the withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria was the government. It deployed tens of thousands of policemen to break up protests and bar protesters from travelling to lawful demonstrations, and jailed protesters without trial for months. In its overtly anti-democratic and legally dubious actions, the government was ably defended by Kremnitzer and his colleagues, who either stood by as the civil liberties of the protesters were trampled or enthusiastically defended the government's abandonment of democratic values by calling the protesters "anti-democratic."

Indeed, in his testimony Wednesday, Kremnitzer parroted that argument by claiming that referendums "are a recipe for harming democracy."

Aside from being factually and theoretically wrong, Kremnitzer's argument - like the arguments of the EU bureaucracy that sidelined Europe's citizenry by passing the Lisbon Treaty - is transparently self-serving. Like his EU counterparts, he knows full well that his support for an Israeli surrender of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights is a minority view. So his actual concern is not the health of Israeli democracy, but the power of the political Left to determine policy against the interests and wishes of the public.
George Orwell's predictions were accurate. It just took the world a bit longer than he expected to get there.

Note that one of Orwell's key 'party slogans' was "He who controls the past, controls the future." For those who wonder why I keep repeating the bases for the Jewish people's legitimate claims to this country over and over again, maybe now you understand why. Unfortunately, the day may not be far off when I will be prohibited from sharing those claims with you. At least if the Muslim world gets its way.


At 8:51 PM, Blogger Maggie Thornton said...

I've had a UN Human Rights video up for months now in my sidebar. You are probably aware of it, but if not take a look. It is extraordinary.

You have a great piece here. BTW, thanks for the visit and I've added you to my blogroll.

Maggie's Notebook

At 12:21 AM, Blogger Flanders Fields said...

All freedom loving people are not only being repressed as the left institutes its' global organizing agenda, but thier historic freedoms are being replaced with the totalitarian structures reminiscent of 1984. At the same time, the sovereignty of both our peoples and nations are being undermined while immigrants are imported and exchanged which supplant our historic political processes with compliant (for now) new voters to keep the left in power.

For some reason, we, the victims of the multicultural murder of our liberties concentrate our criticisms against the tools used to destroy us (and against each other) instead of concentrating our ire against the operators using those tools.

A very perceptive post citing a very good article.


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