Last week Kofi Annan presided over a UN seminar on “Islamophobia,” explaining with a straight face: “When the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry — that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with ‘Islamophobia.’ The word seems to have emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Today, the weight of history and the fallout of recent developments have left many Muslims around the world feeling aggravated and misunderstood, concerned about the erosion of their rights and even fearing for their physical safety.”
The focus, not unexpectedly, stayed mostly on the aggrieved, misunderstood Muslims, with no questions raised about the Islamic roots of jihad terrorism. Nor was there any discussion of the compatibility of Islam with universally accepted ideas of human rights, as embodied in the UN’s own 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Islamic world has seen fit to formulate two major responses to this document: the 1981 Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights and the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which we owe to the courageous Charles Malik of Lebanon, states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief??¢â???¬ ¦” You will find no analogous guarantee of the freedom to change one’s religion in either of the Islamic declarations: indeed, Islamic law mandates the death penalty for those who leave Islam. What’s more, the Cairo declaration states: “Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari’ah.” If Sharia is the norm, women’s rights as well as those of non-Muslims will be severely restricted.
These two documents were not written by “Islamophobes,” but by some of the foremost Muslim thinkers in the world. But the world is not supposed to notice: that was made clear again this week by the Council on American Islamic Relations’ predictably venomous reaction to some observations by former CIA official Bruce Tefft at the Canadian branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. CAIR objected to statements by Tefft such as “Islamic terrorism is based on Islam as revealed through the Qur’an”; “To pretend that Islam has nothing to do with September 11 is to willfully ignore the obvious and to forever misinterpret events”; and “There is no difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism, which is a totalitarian construct.” The Islamic advocacy group called on the Wiesenthal center “to condemn these Islamophobic remarks in the strongest possible terms. Characterizing Islam and its revealed text as promoting terrorism can only lead to increased anti-Muslim prejudice and intolerance.”
“As an organization that says it is committed to ‘fostering tolerance and understanding,'” CAIR fulminated, “the Simon Wiesenthal Center must immediately repudiate all Islamophobic rhetoric and hold its Canadian office accountable for failing to challenge the speaker’s hate-filled views.”
Since this is all about “fostering tolerance and understanding,” CAIR could go a long way toward doing so by answering a few questions itself:
- 1. What steps have you taken to keep jihad terrorists from “characterizing Islam and its revealed text as promoting terrorism”? In light of the fact that many Muslims advocate jihad as warfare against unbelievers, and base their arguments on the Qur’an and Sunnah, it isn’t as if Tefft invented this connection himself. So what are you doing to refute it at its actual source, which is within the Islamic community worldwide?
2. Do you deny that there was any actual connection between Islam and September 11? What, then, do you make of Osama bin Laden’s own statements to the contrary? Please provide, for the reassurance of the American people, a detailed refutation of Osama’s Islamic arguments, showing us how you keep such ideas from spreading among American Muslims.
3. Please explain the difference that you see between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism. Please explain how you intend to stop the spread of Qur’anic literalism in the Islamic community, and how you intend to blunt the force among Muslims of such verses as 9:29, 9:5, and many others.
These are the only important questions when “Islamophobia” is equated with examining the real source of jihad terrorism. But they went unasked at the UN seminar — in which CAIR representatives participated. It is unlikely that the free world can host these whitewashes and leave such questions unasked while remaining free for long.