As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomes Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu to Washington this week, it is critical that Americans pay attention to what these two leaders intend to do. From 12 to 14 December 2011, working teams from the Department of State (DoS) and the OIC are going to discuss implementation mechanisms that could impose limits on freedom of speech and expression.
The OIC’s purpose, as stated explicitly in its April 2011 4th Annual Report on Islamophobia, is to criminalize "incitement to hatred and violence on religious grounds." Incitement is to be defined by applying the "test of consequences" to speech. Under this twisted perversion of falsely "yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater," it doesn’t matter what someone actually says — or even whether it is true or not; if someone else commits violence and says it’s because of something that person said, the speaker will be held criminally liable.
The OIC is taking direct aim at free speech and expression about Islam. Neither Christianity nor Judaism is named in the OIC’s official documents, whose only concern is to make the world safe from "defamation" of Islam — a charge that includes speaking truthfully about the national security implications of the Islamic doctrine of jihad.
Incitement to hatred under the OIC definition includes artistic expression like the Danish cartoons, literary expression like Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, or Pastor Terry Jones’ burning of his personally owned copy of the Qur’an. According to the "test of consequences," if Muslims feel compelled to burn, loot, riot, and kill in response to such exercises of free expression, under the laws the OIC wants the U.S. to enact, it would be the editor and cartoonist of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, Salman Rushdie, and Terry Jones who would be held criminally responsible for any damage or deaths that ensue.
Last March, the State Department and Secretary Clinton insisted that "combating intolerance based on religion" can be accomplished without compromising Americans’ treasured First Amendment rights. But if that were so, there would be no possible excuse for engaging at this level with an organization like the OIC that is openly dedicated to implementing Islamic law globally. This is why it is so important to pay attention not only to the present agenda, but to a series of documents leading up to it, issued by both the U.S. and the OIC. From 12 to 14 December 2011, the DoS and OIC working teams will focus on implementation mechanisms for "Resolution 16/18," a declaration that was adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in April 2011.
Resolution 16/18 was hailed as a victory by Clinton, because it calls on countries to combat "intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization" based on religion without criminalizing free speech — except in cases of "incitement to imminent violence." But if the criterion for determining "incitement to imminent violence" is a new "test of consequences," then this is nothing but an invitation to stage Muslim "Days of Rage" following the slightest perceived offense by a Western blogger, instructor, or radio show guest, all of whom will be held legally liable for "causing" the destruction, possibly even if what they’ve said is merely a statement of fact. The implications of such prior restraint on free speech would be chilling (which is precisely the point).
In fact, the "test of consequences" is already being applied rigorously in European media and courts, where any act or threat of violence — whether by a jihadist, insane person, or counter-jihadist — is defined as a "consequence" of statements that are critical of some aspect of Islam and, therefore, to be criminalized. Recent trials of Dutch political leader Geert Wilders, Austrian free speech champion Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, and Danish Islamic expert Lars Hedegaard (as well as the witch hunt for "instigators" that followed the murderous attacks by Norwegian blogger Anders Behring Brevik) all attest to the extent of these "hate speech" laws’ oppressive pall over what is left of the European Enlightenment. Now, if the OIC and the Obama administration have their way, it’s America’s turn.
Once it’s understood that under Islamic law, "slander" is defined as saying "anything concerning a person [a Muslim] that he would dislike," the scope of potential proximate causes of Muslim rage becomes obvious. For instance, in the Preamble to the Resolutions on Legal Affairs Adopted by the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC in Astana, Kazakhstan in June 2011, under paragraph 9, the OIC:
Denounces media campaigns and fabrications made by some quarters in non-Member States [i.e., the Dar al-Harb or West] regarding the mistreatment of non-Muslim minorities and communities in the OIC Member States under the slogan of religious freedom and so on.
Consider what is likely to be a bloodbath for Coptic Christians that will occur as soon as the Muslim Brotherhood and its Salafist allies are firmly in control of Egypt. This provision means that any Western media that accurately report that coming massacre could be legally charged with "incitement to imminent violence" under the test of consequences, in effect blaming those who raise the alarm instead of those who perpetrate the violence.
Clearly, the OIC feels some sense of urgency to get the rest of the non-Muslim world, and especially the U.S., on board with these objectives as Paragraph 10:
Expresses the need to pursue as a matter of priority, a common policy aimed at preventing defamation of Islam perpetrated under the pretext and justification of the freedom of expression in particular through media and Internet.
In this same document is the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers’ "Resolution No. 1/38-LEG On Follow Up and Coordination of Work on Human Rights," which makes reference to the OIC’s new "Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights" and stipulates that it "shall promote the civil, political, social, and economic rights enshrined in the Organization’s covenants and declarations and in universally agreed human rights instruments, in conformity with Islamic values." [Emphasis added.] This wording alone should set off alarm bells in view of the OIC’s 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI), which explicitly declared that when the Muslim ummah (as represented by the OIC) uses the term "human rights," what is meant is Islamic law (sharia). "Universally agreed" or not, the CDHRI was served as an official document to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 1993, thereby creating an established instrument of reference on the Islamic definition of "human rights."
The foundational documents upon which the Muslim ummah — the OIC — now relies to undergird its sharia agenda were drafted years ago. The 1966 U.N. Commission for Human Rights International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which entered into force in 1976, was based firmly on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and preceded the 1969 creation of the OIC by just a few years. The ICCPR’s Articles 19 (3) and 20 nevertheless foreshadow sharia Islam’s demand for restrictions on free speech in an explicit and chilling way — and, as will be seen, in a way the OIC is trying to exploit:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression: this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of this choice
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as provided by law and are necessary.
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
Clearly, the OIC is trying to exploit these international standards, as shown in its April 2011 4th Annual Report on Islamophobia posted at its online Islamophobia Observatory. Given the ICCPR’s assertions above, the OIC’s objective has long since been entered into official U.N. language. It required only a narrowing of the focus from the generality of the ICCPR down to the OIC’s exclusive interest in protecting Islam from discrimination. It also required bringing the U.S. on board with the program to enforce Islamic law on slander. With the willing participation of the Obama administration, the OIC has tackled both of these challenges. In Section 6 of the Islamophobia Report, "Conclusions and Recommendations," the language references the OIC goal of "removing the gaps in international legal instruments" to force the non-Muslim world to comply with its plan to criminalize "slander" of Islam (emphasis added):
d. Ensuring swift and effective implementation of the new approach signified by the consensual adoption of HRC Resolution 16/18, entitled ‘combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief’, by inter alia, removing the gaps in implementation and interpretation of international legal instruments and criminalizing acts of incitement to hatred and violence…
e. Constructively engaging to bridge divergent views on the limits to the right to freedom of opinion and expression, in a structured multilateral framework…geared toward filling the ‘interpretation void’ with regard to the interface between articles 19(3) and 20 of the ICCPR based on emerging approaches like applying the ‘test of consequences.’
Those "gaps in implementation and interpretation" refer to U.S. objections to criminalizing free speech (in violation of the First Amendment), and the "structured multilateral framework" would appear to be the agenda in Washington, D.C. from December 12 to 14 at the meeting between Clinton and OIC Secretary General Ihsanoglu. It would not be overreaching to conclude that the purpose of this meeting, at least from the OIC perspective, is to convince the Obama administration that free speech that rouses Muslim masses to fury — as defined by the "test of consequences" — must be restricted under U.S. law to bring it into compliance with sharia law’s dictates on slander.
Clinton’s own statements reflect the OIC language on the "gap" (emphasis added):
… together we have begun to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression, and we are pursuing a new approach based on concrete steps … to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.
Despite disingenuous protestations by Clinton, another OIC document likely to be on the table at the Department of State/OIC working sessions abandons all pretense that any other religion besides Islam is the point of discussion. The Resolutions on Political Affairs Adopted by the Thirty-Eighth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers at the June 2011 OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Kazakhstan (emphasis added):
5. Affirms that freedoms have to be exercised with responsibility and with due regard for the fundamental rights of others and, in this context, condemns in the strongest possible terms, all blasphemous acts against Islamic principles, symbols and sacred personalities, in particular, the despicable act of burning of the Holy Quran in Florida, USA on 20 March 2011, publication of offensive caricatures of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), all abhorrent and irresponsible statements about Islam and its sacred personalities, and screening of defamatory documentary about the Holy Quran [Wilders’ Fitna] and dissemination of this hate material under the pretext of freedom of expression and opinion[.]
Subsequent sections in the same document stress "the need to prevent the abuse of freedom of expression and press for insulting Islam and other divine religions" and to reaffirm "that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or group." It furthermore:
[c]alls upon all States to prevent any advocacy of religious discrimination, hostility or violence and defamation of Islam by incorporating legal and administrative measures which render defamation illegal and punishable by law, and also urges all Member States to adopt specific and relevant educational measures at all levels[.]
It may be recalled that the Obama administration claimed, obviously incorrectly, that defamation was no longer part of these agreements. The language of these resolutions instead stresses "the importance of expediting the implementation process of its decision on developing a legally binding international instrument to prevent intolerance, discrimination, prejudice and hatred on the grounds of religion, and defamation of religions[.]"
The Department of State is not the only U.S. government agency committed to achieving compliance with the OIC’s "Islamophobia" censorship agenda. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security both have committed publicly to an overhaul of their training materials to ensure that nothing in the curriculum gives "offense" to Muslim Brotherhood affiliates such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) or the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), with which both departments maintain close relationships. Instructors who previously taught the intrinsic connection among Islamic doctrine, law, and scripture and Islamic terrorism henceforth will be blacklisted by the U.S. government. As documented by the intrepid columnist and author Diana West, the Department of Defense also has made its obeisance to Islam, with troop instructions on how to handle the Qur’an and avoid spitting, urinating, or sleeping with feet pointed in the direction of Mecca.
Capping the administration’s campaign to align U.S. national security policy within the parameters of Islamic law, the White House published "Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States" in December 2011. The plan makes clear that "violent extremism," not Islamic terrorism, is the primary national security threat to the homeland. According to this "strategy," the solution is partnership with "local communities" — the term used for the administration’s favored Muslim Brotherhood front groups, which already are using such relationships to silence their critics, both inside and outside government. These new rules of censorship state that the term "violent extremism" can no longer be used in combination with terms like "jihad," "Islam," "Islamist," or "sharia." And these new rules are already being taught to U.S. law enforcement, homeland security offices, and the military nationwide.
The agenda of this week’s Department of State/OIC meetings may mark an important "milestone," as Sayyed Qutb might put it, on the pathway to sharia in America. If — under the "test of consequences" — those who speak truth about Islam, sharia, and jihad may be held criminally responsible for the violent actions of those who say they find such truth "offensive," then, in the future, "violent extremists" could be just about anyone…anyone the government, in obedience to the sharia dictates of the OIC, decides they are.
Further, if the rubric is to be based on this "test of consequence," then it creates a real temptation to any administration so inclined to "create" consequences that will justify a change in America’s free speech rights. By way of example, analysts have suggested that the motive for the Department of Justice’s "Fast and Furious" scandal, now under congressional investigation, may have been to create a "crisis" — a "consequence" — caused by U.S. guns shipped across the border to Mexican drug-dealers (and used in multiple homicides, including an American Border Protection officer) to "nudge" public consensus to expand gun control laws.
Even if Obama’s State Department seems fully enamored with a "test of consequences" on speech critical of Islam, most Americans across the political spectrum will realize that this perverts the traditional understanding of the First Amendment. It is to be hoped that dedication to the Constitution — rather than to the OIC’s definition of "slander" of Islam or the "test of consequences" — will prevail among the ranks of our national leadership. Regardless of what’s going on behind closed doors at the State Department this week, Americans should be aware — and outraged. An informed citizenry, as always, remains the final defense of the Republic.
Clare M. Lopez is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and also at The Clarion Fund.