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Human Rights First: Wrong about Abigail Esman’s Assessment of HRC 16/18

Having presented a link to the article, I will post only a few paragraphs that bear directly on the issue. Links in the quotes are original, the highlighting is mine.

In the first paragraph, the author suggests that “incitement to imminent violence” – an act that the resolution recommends be criminalized – could mean anything. This is a harmful misconception that serves as a crux of the opposition to this resolution.

The author doesn’t directly dispute a quote from a recent Human Rights First blog on Myth vs. Reality on US Engagement with Islamic States that “the only limitation on speech that is in the operative part of the resolution is incitement to ‘imminent violence,’ which is in accordance with US law.” Yet at the same time the author states that opponents of the resolution “rightly find [this measure] distressing.” How could one be distressed by a provision that recommends the criminalization of only those instances of incitement that are considered criminal under the U.S. Constitution, the highest standard of free speech in the world?

As the UN documents are fond of saying, read “inter alia”. HRC RES 16/18 is based on UN standards, not Constitutional standards.  “Incitement to imminent violence” means what they want it to mean, not what we want it to mean. Islam practices Orwellian double speak.

Through her examples, the author seems to indicate that speech could be considered “incitement to imminent violence” simply because an individual or group of individuals react violently to it. This is an incorrect understanding of the legal concept of “incitement” as it is used in U.S. law, the standard on which this part of the resolution was based.

Where in the resolution does it explicitly define the meaning of incitement?  Nowhere!!  The definition is found elsewhere, in the expressions of the Secretary General of the OIC and the Secretary General of the United Nations.

2. Expresses its concern that incidents of religious intolerance, discrimination
and related violence, as well as of negative stereotyping of individuals on the basis of
religion or belief, continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any
advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to
discrimination, hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, as set forth
in the present resolution, consistent with their obligations under international human rights
law, to address and combat such incidents;

3. Condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to
discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or
electronic media or any other means;

5. Notes the speech given by Secretary-General of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference at the fifteenth session of the Human Rights Council, and draws on his
call on States to take the following actions to foster a domestic environment of religious
tolerance, peace and respect, by:
(f) Adopting measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on
religion or belief; []

In the first page of Ishanoglu’s address to the HRC, we discover something important: his definition of incitement to violence includes announcing intent to burn the Koran.

     The new session of Council is also coincident with regrettable events that are deliberately meant to defame religions as well incite hatred, xenophobia, discrimination and violence against religions, in particular, Islam.  The increasing incidents of violence and discrimination on the basis of religion must not be ignored.  We hope  that this and other related issues remain an important priority in the work of  the Council.

The most recent and unfortunate in the series of  such events was the announcement pertaining to Burn a Koran Day.

On the next page, Ishanoglu lists campaigns that incite hatred,  including Burn a Koran Day, and informs us that they threaten global peace & security.  In the short form:  they incite violence.

In this regard all xenophobic campaigns of fear mongering and discriminatory
measures – both in policy md practice – which restrict, prohibit or discriminate against of any
religion such as ban on the construction of minarets, organization of events that incite hatred
like Burn a Koran Day, and other discriminatory measures must be strongly condemned by
the international community. A recurrence of such events substantiate OIC’s call for a
normative approach to deal with this menace that continues to pose a clear ‘and present danger
to peace, security ‘and stability in the regional as well as the global context.

Lets clarify the issue of “clear and present danger to peace”; in essence: violence, by breaking down the conjunctive clause.

  • Incitement to violence:
    • fear mongering
    • discriminatory
    • ban minarets
    • incite hatred
    • Burn a koran Day
  • other discriminatory measures

Now that it is clear that discrimination is equated with incitement, lets zero in on that last clause: other discriminatory measures: what, exactly, does this category include?  To find out, we turn to the most recent annual Islamophobia Report.

Other instances of Islamophobia in the US recorded in the report include the agenda of the Tea
Party Movement, which openly advocated hatred against Muslims, the proposed “ban on Sharia”
which succeeded within the State of Oklahoma, and the congressional hearings on the
“radicalization of the American Muslim Community” initiated by Rep. Peter King, Chairman of
the US House Committee on Homeland Security. The hearings launched a debate built on
prejudiced and biased premises that Muslims were potential terrorists who, in his opinion,
ostensibly refused to cooperate with the Nation’s “war on terror”. Such a debate, regardless of
the outcome, would contribute to a climate of fear and distrust towards the Muslim community.

The United States of America – a country long admired for its embracement of diversity –
recorded the highest intensity of hostility and prejudice towards Muslims during the period
under review. The infamous “Burn A Quran Day” by a hitherto non-entity Florida Pastor Terry
Jones and his subsequent actions at hate mongering, the Congressional hearings by the
Chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security on the
“radicalization of American Muslims” in Washington DC on March 11, 2011 and his statement
that “We (the US) are under siege by Muslim terrorists”1 along with other anti Muslim events,
were ominous signs of Islamophobia taking roots in the USA. The fact that such incidents cast a
shadow on the US image of tolerance frustrating the optimism generated, throughout the Muslim
world, by President Obama’s speech in Cairo in June 2009, may not be discounted.
  • Tea Party Platform
  • Qur’an burning
  • Radicalization Hearings

Lets gild the lilly by bringing in two more important sources which confirm the obvious, from the initial meeting of the Istanbul Process .

OIC Journal June-August ’11
Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, US Representative to the Human Rights Council,

In response to OIC Journal query on defining what would
constitute incitement to hate, she clarified that in the US there
is a single case where freedom of expression can be restricted
or prohibited by the State, and that is when “incitement to
eminent violence”.

In this context, she pointed out that the President, the
Secretary of State and several public officials went out on a
limb to publically condemn ‘Burn the Quran Day’ to show
that such abominable acts are not accepted. “When you have
the President, the Secretary of State and public figures jointly
condemning that, it will be more effective than throwing
that pastor in jail. I believe the same is true for the hateful
cartoons (of the Prophet). We should all be joining together
in conveying our disgust with such intolerance.”

Ambassador Zamir Akram, Permanent Representative
of Pakistan on behalf of the OIC at the HRC, told the OIC
Journal that both sides – the OIC countries and the western
countries – made important concessions to each other to
reach a compromise on the resolution. What is important for
the OIC point of view is that it would not compromise on
three things: anything against the Quran, anything against the
Prophet (PBUH), and anything against Muslim community
in terms of discrimination.

According to our HRC Ambassador, Burn the Qur’an Day was abominable intolerance.   According to Pakistan’s Ambassador, the OIC will not compromise on anything against the Qur’an or Moe.

Now it is time to go right to the top, to obtain the working definition of incitement to violence from  the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Reuters quotes U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about Fitna:“There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence,” Ban said in a statement. “The right of free expression is not at stake here.”

According to Ban, the short documentary by Geert Wilders, combining verses from the Qur’an & hadith with sermons from Friday prayers and images of the ensuing violence, is incitement to violence.  In reality, Fitna exposes incitement, it does not constitute incitement.  Having examined the operative definition of incitement, lets take a look at the Islamic law behind the whole operation.

What Moe preached is law, what he practiced is exemplary, together, his preaching and practice form the basis of Islamic law.  Moe had critics murdered.  Because of that exemplary conduct, the penalty for criticizing Islam is death.

  • 08.1 When a person who has reached puberty
    and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he
    deserves to be killed.
  • 08.7 (0: Among the things that entail apostasy
    from Islam (may Allah protect us from them) are:

    • (4) to revile Allah or His messenger (Allah
      bless him and give him peace);
    • (5) to deny the existence of Allah, His beginningless
      eternality, His endless eternaIity, or to
      deny any of His attributes which the consensus of
      Muslims ascribes to Him (dis: vI);
    • (6) to be sarcastic about Allah’s name, His
      command, His interdiction, His promise, or His
    • (7) to deny any verse of the Koran or anything
      which by scholarly consensus (def: b7)
    • (15) to hold that any of Allah’s messengers
      or prophets are liars, or to deny their bcing sent;
      (n: ‘Ala’ ai-Din ‘Abidin adds the following:
    • (16) to revile the religion of Islam;
      (17) to believe that things in themselves or
      by their own nature have any causal influence
      independent of the will of Allah;
    • (18) to deny the existence of angels or jinn
      (def: w22), or the heavens;
    • (19) to be sarcastic about any ruling of the
      Sacred Law;
      (20) or to deny that Allah intended the
      Prophet’s message (Allah bless him and give him
      peace) to be the religion followed by the entire
      world (dis: w4.3–4) (al-Hadiyya al-‘Ala’iyya (y4),
  • 011. IO The agreement is also violated (A: with
    respect to the offender alone) if the state has stipulated
    that any of the following things break it, and
    one of the suhjects does so anyway. though if the
    state has not stipulated that these break the agreement,
    then they do not; namely, if one of the subject

    • (5) or mentions something impermissible
      about Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and
      give him peace), or Islam.
  • 011.11 When a subject’s agreement with the state
    has been viOlated, the caliph chooses between the
    four alternatives mentioned above in connection
    with prisoners of war (09.14).
  • O9.14  When an adult male is taken captive, the
    caliph (def: 025) considers the interests (0: of
    Islam and the Muslims) and decides between the
    prisoner’s death, slavery, release without paying
    anything, or ransoming himself in exchange for
    money or for a Muslim captive held by the enemy.
    If the prisoner becomes a Muslim (0: before
    the caliph chooses any of the four alternatives)
    then he may not be killed, and one of the other
    three alternatives is chosen.

The OIC seeks to prevent & punish every negative utterance about Islam. Their current tactic is to conflate criticism with incitement, proscribing the latter.
The fourth Islamophobia Report hints at the next step.

The restraint was short lived and on 20 March 2011 the controversial Florida Pastor Terry
Jones oversaw24 the burning of a copy of the Koran, carried out by Pastor Wayne Sapp, in his
small church. The incident was presented as a trial of the book in which the Koran was found
“guilty” and “executed”. The event was open to the public. Fewer than 30 people attended but
widespread media coverage attracted by the event somewhat served the nefarious designs and
the extremist philosophy behind the outrageous act.

After the unfortunate incident, the OIC Secretary General issued a statement expressing his deep
disappointment, and warned against unforeseen and volatile consequences of such outrageous
and irresponsible acts that could hurt the deep seated religious sentiments of over 1.5 billion
Muslims around the world. He characterized the unfortunate incident as “the worst example of
extremism” that the international community had been consistent in condemning.

Approaches like applying the ‘test of consequences’ were useful and would have to be
explored/refined further in an objective fashion towards evolving a consensus with
regard to effectively addressing the matter; and

 As regards the issue of freedom of opinion and expression, the OIC could with the views
of Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and expression with regard to making “very
few exceptions” but the contours of such exceptions would have to be identified. OIC
believed that unfortunate and outrageous episodes like the caricatures and the burning of
holy Quran merited the grant of such exceptions;

For those too stupid or indolent to connect the dots: if the resolution had been implemented a year ago, Pastors Jones & Sapp would be  persecuted criminally & sued civil court for the “consequences” of their trial and execution of the Qur’an.  Holding them responsible for the acts of a Muslim rabble roused by kutbah at Jumah Salat is not just, nor is it rational.  Jones & Sapp did not incite anyone to violence. Asian Imams did.

It becomes obvious that the plan is to compel self-censorship through legal intimidation.  It is equally obvious that Human Rights first is so heavily invested in the Istanbul Process that they are blinded to objective factual reality.

January 11, 2012 Posted by | free speech, Political Correctness, United Nations | , , , , , | 2 Comments


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