Betrayal At The U.N.
How Freedom Of Expression Is Undermined By Islam 
by Ibn Warraq (April 2008)
What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn't anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.
Waiting for The Barbarians. Constantine Cavafy [1864-1933].
The central issue, of which we should not lose sight, of the Fitna Affair is not whether the film by Wilders is good, bad, blasphemous, or offensive to Muslims, but rather freedom of expression. Human Rights begin with freedom of thought, and expression; democracy depends on it. Sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, a noble document whose articles 18 and 19 guarantee freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of opinion and expression, Islamic countries on 28 March, 2008 managed to kill it.
The 57 Islamic States with support from
The nations that created the United Nations, and promulgated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 were committed to the concepts of equality, individual freedom and the rule of law. In the last fifteen years, the UN has been taken over by the Islamic States, whose record on human rights is abysmal, and who have a very shaky notion of what constitutes democracy, and whose allegiance is to a seventh-century worldview defined exclusively in terms of man’s duties towards Allah. The Islamic States have been supported by those nations with a hatred of the
The Human Rights Council [HRC] replaced the old Commission on Human Rights in June 2006 following criticism that the latter was too selective and too politicised. However, the HRC is equally selective and politicised as it has failed to condemn human rights abuse in the
The one redeeming feature of the entire grim farce was the passionate plea from 21 courageous NGOs from the Islamic States, along with nineteen other organisations such as the Cartoonists Rights Network of USA, to delegations to oppose the amendment. They wrote,
"We, the Undersigned, are deeply concerned that the proposed amendment undermines the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, at a time when it most needs protection and strengthening.
The proposed amendment is particularly problematic for the following reasons:
1. It goes against the spirit of the mandate: The role of the Special Rapporteur is not to look at abusive expression, but to consider and monitor abusive limits on expression. There are several other United Nations bodies which have a specific role in relation to incitement to racial hatred, such as Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which has devoted a lot of attention to it.
2. It lacks balance: The amendment only focuses on restrictions to freedom of expression, rather than on the idea of an appropriate balance between the positive protection for the right to freedom of expression and the need to limit incitement to racial and religious hatred. This lack of balance is reflected, for example, in the opening language, as well as in the reference only to Article 19(3), which is about restrictions on freedom of expression, rather than to Article 19 as a whole.
3. It is unnecessary: It is inherent to the mandate that the Special Rapporteur should consider and comment on appropriate limitations to the right to freedom of expression, as the current post-holder Ambeyi Limbago has done many times before (as well as his predecessor). Furthermore, by focusing specifically on one type of restriction, the proposed amendment puts undue emphasis on it.
4. It can be misinterpreted: The convoluted wording of the amendment may leave international human rights law generally and the special mandate specifically open to various misleading interpretations."
These NGOs from Islamic States are perfectly aware of the implications of living under Islamic Law, and were clearly frustrated that they were not heeded by those delegates who take the freedoms they enjoy for granted.
The great danger is that the Sharia, and its Islamic definition of blasphemy, will now become part of "customary international law," which would have the effect of imposing the blasphemy proscription upon all national jurisdictions, and implicitly requiring jurisdictions to enact and enforce legislation compatible with this ban. One hopes that the Liberal Democratic Nations of the West will not accept such principles of International Law that go against their own fundamental principles; we know, for example, that the blasphemy law was recently abolished in
Finally, can the Western, and other truly democratic nations, continue to squander money with their participation in that most corrupt, and Islamic of institutions, the United Nations?
 I was greatly influenced by a report on the whole fiasco by Roy Brown, who represented the International Humanist and Ethical Union [IHEU] at the HRC in
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS),
Andalus Institute for Tolerance_and Anti-Violence Studies,
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression,
Darfur Bar Association,
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights,
Free Media Movement (FMM),
Index on Censorship, U.K
International Pen, U.K
International Publishers Association,
Iraqi Centre for Transparency and Anti-Corruption,
La Ligue Tunisienne pour la défense des Droits de l'Homme,
Massline Media Centre (MMC),
Media Institute of Southern Africa,
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR),
Reporters Without Borders (RSF),
Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF),
Southeast Asian Press
The Arabic Network for Human Rights (Egyptian)
The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI),
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE),
The Egyptian Association for the Support of Democratic Development (EASD),
The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety,
The Network of African Academics for Media Policy and Regulation
The World Association of Newspapers,
To comment on this article, please click here.
To help New English Review continue to publish important scholarship such as this, please click here.
If you have enjoyed this article by Ibn Warraq and would like to read more, please click here.