LETTER RELEASE: Organizations express concerns about OSCE’s attempts to shut down free speech

The Center for Security Policy (CSP) today released a letter signed by 27 organizations in a dozen countries expressing concerns about the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s attempts to shut down speech, especially on the threat of the totalitarian Islamic law known as Sharia.

The letter, addressed to Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of OSCE’s Europe-based Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), charges that her organization has become increasingly intolerant with respect to airing concerns over member countries’ policies with respect to migration, terrorism, and free speech.

Specifically, Sharia includes mandates for Jihad, that is, war against non-Muslims; for Hijrah, the Islamic doctrine of conquest by colonization; and against Blasphemy, that is, any speech that a Muslim might find offensive at any time.

For the last decade, a civil society delegation led by Austrian patriot and freedom fighter Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff has attended ODIHR meetings to express concerns that especially European countries were potentially unwittingly facilitating these Sharia-compliant practices, to their great and increasingly obvious detriment.

According to the letter, “Those concerns align virtually identically with the policies of the current governments of many OSCE Participating States, including inter alia the United States, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, and Italy.”

Yet, according to the letter, in the last few years, ODIHR “has grown increasingly hostile to allowing that delegation to participate.”

That hostility led to an ODIHR policy restricting civil society participation at a July 2-3 meeting in Vienna Austria.

Specifically, a document describing the meeting stated that, “Participants have a right to express their opinions freely, while respecting human rights & the principle of non-discrimination. Thus, the moderator will interrupt any speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of, e.g., race, religion, gender, sex or any other status.”[1] (Emphasis added.)

According to the letter, such a policy – given that it is in fact aimed at shutting down speech about Sharia – was “a tremendous setback for the Helsinki process and a betrayal of the spirit and founding values of this unique peace advancement initiative.”

In response, the letter reports, the U.S. OSCE delegation to communicated to ODIHR that it could not “simply insert new rules outside of the consensus process,” that “this particular new policy would violate OSCE modalities about civil society participation”; and finally that civil society groups “are in fact under not the slightest obligation to follow OSCE Participating State commitments, given that they are not themselves Participating States.”

The letter goes on to charge that the new policy was “a violation of OSCE commitments with respect to freedom of expression, which means it is a violation of the OSCE Code of Conduct for Staff/Mission Members, which states that they ‘shall comply with the principles, norms and commitments of the OSCE and adhere to the mandate of their respective Institution or Mission in performing their duties.’”[2]

In addition, the letter argues, “because it is aimed at those attempting to raise concerns with respect to migration and terrorism, the policy is in practice in direct conflict with the positions on terrorism and migration taken by current governments of OSCE Participating States including not only the United States, but also Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, and Italy.”

In spite of the warning from the U.S. and the facial violations of its own Code of Conduct, the letter reports, ODIHR imposed a new Code of Conduct on every registrant to its upcoming Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw in mid-September.

The Code of Conduct includes a prohibition on speech “that might be provoking…, likely to give rise to violence, [or] discriminating [against] other persons on the basis of their race, color, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Further, the document continues, “ODIHR reserves the right to instruct HDIM moderators to interrupt any Participant who speaks in violation of these principles. In case of repeated non-compliance ODIHR reserves the right to void the Participant of the right to speak at the session, or as a last resort of theright to further participate at HDIM.” (Emphasis added.)

ODIHR’s prohibitions on “provoking” speech “likely to give rise to violence” appear to implement Sharia blasphemy restrictions on free expression.

The letter thus demands that ODIHR “explicitly rescind” the new Code of Conduct’s offending sections.[3]

The letter also requests that ODIHR “pledge that on the issues of freedom of expression, migration, and terror,” it will abide by rules stating that groups with relevant expertise be allowed to provide their suggestions, as well as with OSCE’s own Code of Conduct.[4]

Signers of the letter include not only Sabaditsch-Wolff, Chief Delegate, Pax Europa, but Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Founder and President of CSP, as well as Suzanne Scholte, the Seoul Peace Prize Laureate who is President of the Defense Forum Foundation.

Signers also include Aia Fog, Chairman of the Danish Free Press Society; Anne Marie Waters, Director, Sharia Watch UK; Dr. Bill Warner, Ph.D., President of Center for the Study of Political Islam; Robert Spencer, the Director of Jihad Watch; Christine Douglass-Williams, a former Director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation as well as former External Advisor to the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom.

The remaining signers were Alain Wagner, President, International Civil Liberties Alliance, France; C. Preston Noell III, President, Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.; Dr. Harald Fiegl, Representative, Mission Europa Netzwerk Karl Martell of Austria; Andrej Ralboský, Administrator Nadácia Slovakia Christiana of Slovakia; Uzay Bulut,Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) Committee against Racism and Discrimination, Turkey; Michał Specjalski, Vice President; Pantarey Foundation, Warsaw,Poland; Alex Cherny, Deputy Head, NGO Nashe Pravo, Kiev, Ukraine; Martina Veljanoska, Chief of Permanent Mission, World Macedonian Congress, Macedonia; Henrik Clausen, International Sakharov Committee, Denmark; Christian Zeitz, Adviser to the board, Wiener Akademikerbund, Austria; Kevin Freeman, Founder, NSIC Institute; former Colorado State Sen. John Andrews, President, Americans for America; George Rasley, Managing Editor, ConservativeHQ.com; Christopher C. Hull, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Secure Freedom; Clare Lopez, Vice President for Research and Analysis, Center for Security Policy; Philip B. Haney, Founding Member, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), President, Venatus Group; Jessie Jane Duff, Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps (ret.), Senior Fellow, London Center for Policy Research; David M. Petteys, President, Sea Jay Foundation; and Deborah Anderson, Managing Editor, Minnesotans Against Shariah.

The letter was carbon copied to seven countries missions and/or their leaders, namely Chargé d’affaires Harry Kamian, U.S. Permanent Mission to the OSCE; Ambassador Maria Assunta Accili, Permanent Mission of Italy to the OSCE; Director General Karla Wursterova, International Organizations and Development Assistance, Slovakian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs; Ambassador Christian Strohal, Special Representative for Austria’s OSCE chairmanship 2017 bei MFA, Permanent Mission of Austria to the OSCE; Ambassador Károly Dán, Permanent Mission of Hungary to the OSCE, the UN and Other International Organisations in Vienna; 1st  Secretary Lenka Skalická, Deputy Head of Mission for the OSCE, Delegation of the Czech Republic to the OSCE; and the Permanent Mission of Poland to the OSCE in Vienna.

Addendum, September 10th, 2018:  The letter below was updated the day before the HDIM began with an additional signer, Jerzy Kwaśniewski, President, Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture.  That brings the total to 28 signers from 14 countries.

Post-Release Version of Civil Society Letter to ODIHR Expressing Free Speech Concern re HDIM with Signatories Listed