Tag Archives: Free Speech

Trump Administration Calls Out Eurocracy Over Free Speech

Originally published at the Daily Caller

This morning, the Trump administration officially objected to the latest attempt by a Europe-based multilateral organization to shut down free speech, joining a chorus of complaints by activists and even European members of parliament.

The United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (USOSCE) expressed concern in its opening statement about the largest European gathering of human rights organizations of the year, which takes place in Warsaw, Poland.

Referring to a new Code of Conduct required by OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to register for the meeting, the Trump administration statement said in part:

[T]he United States must object to certain provisions of the Code of Conduct promulgated by ODIHR.

A number of the provisions amount to content-based restrictions on the participation of civil society.

We need not — and do not — agree with all of the ideas espoused here to defend the right of civil society to participate.

When we disagree with the ideas presented, we should respond with alternative viewpoints, not censorship.

We are disappointed that the Code of Conduct appears to formalize the latter approach.

It should be revised.

The Code of Conduct is, in part, a reaction to a free speech delegation that has attended the annual meeting for a decade, according to senior U.S. officials and meeting participants.

That delegation, led by Austrian freedom fighter Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, expresses concerns in ODIHR meetings about restrictions on freedom of expression put in place by European nations specifically with respect to unfettered immigration, Jihad violence and the growing threat of the totalitarian Islamic law known as Sharia.

The free speech delegation released a letter to ODIHR Director Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir at the end of last week expressing similar concerns to those raised by the U.S. government’s statement today.

That letter, signed by 27 representatives of civil society organizations from a dozen countries, documents a series of attempts to restrict free expression on immigration, Jihad and Sharia over the course of at least two years.

It calls on Director Sólrún to make specific changes in the Code of Conduct, as well as in ODIHR’s behavior going forward.

Today’s statement by the USOSCE also follows on the heels of a meeting last week at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., in which two senior Trump administration officials originally publicly signaled this official opposition.

At the meeting of 20–30 non-governmental organizations on Wednesday, a senior Trump administration official revealed that the U.S. government was deeply concerned about ODHIR’s new Code of Conduct in particular.

On the other hand, as indicated in today’s statement, the senior official qualified that he disagreed with some of the past comments made by the free speech delegation.

Some of those comments, he said, were “fundamentally wrong,” given that they were “attributing to all Muslims advocacy of the imposition of medieval Sharia.”

In fact, few if any comments by the delegation made such a claim explicit.

Regardless, the official said, he would have liked to have had “a substantive disagreement” with members of the free speech delegation, rather than “just having ODIHR slap them on the wrist every time they made a point.”

ODIHR, the official said, appeared to be intent on using the new Code of Conduct to shut down speech “on the basis of substance,” a position unacceptable to the U.S. government — except in the case of advocating for violence, a longstanding and well-accepted exception to freedom of expression.

The U.S. official noted that he had just finished reading the free speech delegation civil society letter before he entered the meeting. He told the other meeting participants that it was “very substantive and raised important concerns.”

The senior Trump administration official in Washington expressed the hope that all representatives of civil society present in Warsaw would stand with the U.S. government in defense of freedom of expression, even on matters with which those representatives disagree.

The recent concerns all center of the Code of Conduct’s 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 the right to further participate at HDIM.”

According to free speech delegation members, the language is, in fact, another transparent attempt to shut down freedom of expression in the ODIHR’s OSCE ambit.

Specifically, ODIHR staff may be attempting to silence concerns with respect to terror and migration policies with which that staff disagree, but which are central to platforms of ever-increasing numbers of OSCE Participating States.

Those states including not just the Trump administration, but also the current government of the host government in Poland, as well as those of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Italy and, after recent tumult and elections, potentially Germany and Sweden, respectively, as well.

Another official based overseas said that USOSCE had approached ODIHR, first in July, to express a potential concern about earlier attempts to shut down free speech, and then again more formally the week prior.

The overseas U.S. official stressed that the USOSCE “was in the minority” on the issue. “Even some of our European allies” support attempts to restrict free speech on these issues, that official said.

Finally, the oversees official said, the U.S. government would continue to oppose restrictions on freedom of expression.

Christopher C. Hull, Ph.D., the Executive Vice President of the Center for Security Policy, served four tours on Capitol Hill, including most recently as the Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Steve King, (R-Iowa).  He is the author of Grassroots Rules.

“Free Speech Under Fire” – Download the Study, Watch the Discussion

Click here to view the original Facebook stream

 


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Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff

Clare Lopez

Deborah Weiss

1st Amendment “not the right to NOT be offended”

Free speech is under attack across the Western world

Sharia: It can happen here

“Islamophobia” is “knowing the truth about Islam”

Freedom of speech is the battleground where all freedoms are won or lost

Why the OSCE is important to Americans

Hate Speech is Free Speech

OIC’s interpretation of speech is in line with Islamic blasphemy laws

Free speech in the West is under fire.

It seems that every day, from every direction, the enemies of freedom encroach more upon what our Founders rightly described as a God-given and inalienable right.

We see “snowflakes” on college campuses shouting down or even attacking speakers with whom they disagree.

We see the politically correct mainstream media exploding in outrage over every utterance of President Donald J. Trump that does not conform to their standards.

We see politicians too mealy-mouthed to tell the truth – especially when it comes to the brutal, totalitarian Islamic ideology known as Sharia – lest they be subjected to charges of the wholly made up and phony syndrome dubbed “Islamophobia.”

We see social media giants stamping out the speech of those with whom they disagree, while they allow the speech of jihadis to flourish.

We see international organizations, from the United Nations to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the little-known Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), each working in its own, insidious way to strangle expression.

And from all these quarters, we hear warnings about the ostensibly burgeoning danger of “hate speech.”

But what is hate speech, exactly?

More and more, it appears it is simply shorthand for depicting – and curbing – whatever expression the radical Left and Sharia-supremacists may find objectionable. Anything with which they disagree is dubbed “hate” and must be terminated.

In short, this “Red-Green Axis” – i.e., the collusion between neo-Marxist and Islamist forces against America and the West – works systematically to punish speech to which such partisans take offense, a category that seemingly expands with each passing day.

This Occasional Paper is the latest in a series of products addressing such subjects to be published by the Center for Security Policy Press, including:

  1. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Jihad on Free Speech, which addressed the part the OIC in particular plays in the Red-Green Axis’ attempt to stifle the truth about Islam’s supremacist Sharia doctrine.[1]
  2. The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America, which explored how the Left and its Islamist allies join force to maximize the influx of immigrants from Sharia-adherent countries who are, altogher too often inadequately vetted.[2]
  3. TEAM JIHAD: How Sharia-Supremacists Collaborate with Leftists to Destroy the United States, an analysis of the specific links between Leftist and Islamist organizations, including funding from one to the other to help both better defeat us.[3]

Free Speech Under Fire provides a further examination of the unrestricted warfare now being mounted in forums like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that is inexorably garrotting free peoples’ ability to speak. It includes:

  • An essay by Austrian dissident Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, telling the story of how in 2011 the Austrian state convicted her of “denigration of religious beliefs” – without regard to whether those beliefs, notably regarding pedophilia, deserve to be criticized;
  • A piece on the OSCE’s missteps in its dealings with Jihad and Islamism by renowned expert on Islamic history and doctrine Robert Spencer, who recently recovered from being poisoned by a Leftist radical who disagreed with his extraordinarily well-researched;
  • An article by Deborah Weiss, Esq., a gifted attorney, 9/11 survivor and Center for Security Policy Senior Fellow, on how the OIC and other international organizations, as well as national and even local governments, are clamping down on free speech;
  • Two “interventions” made during plenary sessions of the OSCE’s fall 2017 meeting in Warsaw by Center for Security Policy Vice President for Research and Analysis Clare Lopez; and
  • An article by Christopher C. Hull, Ph.D., CSP’s Executive Vice President, who also attended the most recent OSCE meeting devoted to shutting down speech critical of Sharia supremacism, while catering to the speech of Islamists.

Taken together, these essays validate the proposition that the Red-Green Axis’ dark machinations amount to “unrestricted warfare” against free expression. That term was featured by two colonels in the People’s Liberation Army in their 1999 book, Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America. Translated from original PLA documents, this volume describes how “American military doctrine is typically led by technology; a new class of weapon or vehicle is developed, which allows or encourages an adjustment in strategy.”[4]

The authors, Chinese military strategists Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui “argue that this dynamic is a crucial weakness in the American military, and that this blind spot with regard to alternative forms of warfare could be effectively exploited by enemies” – a point not lost on the West’s alt-Left and its Islamic infiltrators as well.

Unrestricted Warfare teaches that the front lines can be almost anywhere.

It has become increasingly obvious that the front lines of the unrestricted war on free speech are on university campuses, where enemy-planted radical thought and rhetorical excess thrive.

The front lines are in newsrooms, long populated by not only totalitarians’ useful idiots, but active agents as well.

The front lines are on Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter as they crack down on conservative and counter-jihad speech, while allowing not only Russian influence operations, but jihadist propaganda and incitement, as well.

And the front lines are certainly at multilateral forums like the OSCE, where Sharia-supremacists work hand-in-hand with globalists to advance their common aim of centralizing and exercising control over both the means and the content of communications.

American policymakers and citizens alike must stand firm in the face of the relentless assault currently being mounted on the foundational freedom of speech that is described in the pages that follow.

It’s time to challenge the Left’s selective indignation about “hate speech” that gives a pass to Black Lives Matter, Antifa and many jihadists’ incitement of violence.

It’s time to take on the Sharia-supremacists who condemn as “Islamophobia” what, in reality, is simply truthful renderings of their anti-freedom political, military and legal system really means knowing too much about Sharia, and saying it aloud.

And it’s past time we reined in international organizations including by refusing to submit to their boa-like constriction of free speech.

We at the Center for Security Policy hope that you will stand with us – and stand up for free speech.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
President and CEO

 

[1] See Deborah Weiss, Esq., The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Jihad on Free Speech (Washington, D.C.: Center for Security Policy), 2015, http://c4secpol.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/OIC_Free_Speech_Jihad.pdf accessed November 28, 2017.

[2] See James Simpson, The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America (Washington, D.C.: Center for Security Policy), 2015, http://c4secpol.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Red-Green-Axis-10-05-15.pdf, accessed November 28, 2017.

[3] See Matthew Vadum, TEAM JIHAD: How Sharia-Supremacists Collaborate with Leftists to Destroy the United States (Washington, D.C.: Center for Security Policy), 2017, http://c4secpol.wpengine.com/2017/06/26/book-launch-team-jihad-how-sharia-supremacists-collaborate-with-leftists-to-destroy-the-united-states/ accessed November 28, 2017.

[4] See Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America  (

U.S. Trying to Criminalize Free Speech

This is an excerpt from the following article: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10544/criminalize-free-speech

On April 4, 2017, the US Senate passed Senate Resolution 118, “Condemning hate crime and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States”. The resolution was drafted by a Muslim organization, EmgageUSA (formerly EmergeUSA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). On April 6, 2017, EmgageUSA wrote the following on their Facebook page:

“Thanks to the hard work of Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Kamala Harris we have achieved the approval of Senate Resolution 118, an anti-hate crimes bill drafted by Emerge-USA. It is days like this that Americans are reminded of this country’s founding principles: equal opportunity, freedom, justice. We are proud to help support the protection of these rights #amoreperfectunion #theamericandream”.

Senate Resolution 118 calls on

“…Federal law enforcement officials, working with State and local officials… to expeditiously investigate all credible reports of hate crimes and incidents and threats against minorities in the United States and to hold the perpetrators of those crimes, incidents, or threats accountable and bring the perpetrators to justice; encourages the Department of Justice and other Federal agencies to work to improve the reporting of hate crimes; and… encourages the development of an interagency task force led by the Attorney General to collaborate on the development of effective strategies and efforts to detect and deter hate crime in order to protect minority communities…”

The resolution refers to hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Hindus, and Sikhs and was sponsored by Senator Kamala Harris and co-sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Susan Collins.

On April 6, almost the exact same text was introduced as House Resolution H.Res. 257, “Condemning hate crime and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States”. A House Resolution can be reintroduced as legislation.

H.Res. 257 urges

“…the development of an interagency task force led by the Attorney General and bringing together the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Education, the Department of State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to collaborate on the development of effective strategies and efforts to detect and deter hate crime in order to protect minority communities”. The House Resolution was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary on April 6 and from there it was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations on April 21.

Americans should be concerned about these resolutions, especially the part of the House Resolution, which urges the establishment of an “interagency task force led by the Attorney General … on the development of effective strategies and efforts to detect and deter hate crime in order to protect minority communities.”

Denmark Applies Blasphemy Law for the First Time in 46 Years

An unidentified Danish man has been charged with blasphemy over a year after he burned a copy of the Quran in his backyard and posted a video of the act in the anti-Islamic Facebook group, “YES TO FREEDOM – NO TO ISLAM” on December 27th of 2015. Denmark’s blasphemy law makes it illegal to “mock legal religions and faiths in Denmark,” according to ICE News. This law seeks to give redress to those who feel that their religion has been insulted. If he is convicted when the case comes before the court in June, the defendant will likely face a hefty fine.

This is only the fourth time anyone has been charged with blasphemy since the law was passed in 1866. Of the three previous cases there have only been two convictions. In the first case, four people were sentenced to jail in 1938 for putting up anti-Semitic posters and distributing anti-Semitic leaflets. In 1946, two people were fined for dressing up like priests and acting out a mock baptism with a doll at a masked ball. Finally, in 1971, two Danish Radio producers aired a song mocking Christianity. These producers were eventually acquitted.

In most Western countries, blasphemy laws have either been repealed or are dead letter law. While Denmark’s blasphemy law is technically still in place it had not been previously applied since 1971 and was, until recently, viewed as inoperable.

In addition to the three previous cases where individuals were all prosecuted for blasphemy, prosecutors in 2005 halted an investigation into Jyllands-Posten, a Danish daily newspaper, after there was widespread protest following the publication of an article titled “The Face of Muhammed” containing 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed allegedly considered offensive.

While most recall the cartoon controversy few realize that, much like the most recent Quran burning controversy, the cartoons had engendered minimal response from the Danish Muslim community until three Danish Muslim leaders undertook a campaign of unsubstantiated accusations intended to rile up anti-Danish sentiment throughout the Muslim world. The resulting riots killed several hundred people.

In response to violent Islamic reactions to ridicule, the EU mandated religious hate-speech laws in 2008, shifting from the previously used blasphemy laws. According to an official European commission, the measure was meant to “’preserve social peace and public order’ in light of the ‘increasing sensitivities’ of ‘certain individuals’ who ‘have reacted violently to criticism of their religion.’”

Yet, according to Nina Shea, “These hate-speech laws have failed in both aims.” She writes for the National Review, “Islamist extremism continues to grow in Europe, while speech critical of Islam is undertaken at ever greater personal risk, including risk of criminal prosecution. Some are so intimidated that they remain silent even when it is their duty to speak up.”

Initially, the defendant was charged with hate speech. The indictment was only later changed to blasphemy. There is one significant difference between hate speech and the Danish blasphemy law. The defendant did not directly insult Muslims as a people, as a hate speech indictment would require. Instead, he publicly insulted the core Muslim belief in the sanctity of the Quran.

In the past, the blasphemy law has been applied in cases where there was a violent response to the public blaspheming of a specific faith, a questionable policy in itself.  But, in this most recent case, the video that the defendant posted has not received widespread public recognition or outrage. The original post is still up on the Facebook group, “JA TIL FRIHED – NEJ TIL ISLAM,” – “YES TO FREEDOM – NO TO ISLAM” – and yet it only has 420 shares, 78 comments, and approximately 200 likes in a public Facebook group with 2,240 members.

This video never went viral, it was never responded to with public outrage, and the unnamed defendant has not reported receiving any threats of death or violence. So, why did the Danish authorities decide to prosecute this particular case?

This case is not about religion. Denmark is one of the least religious countries in the world. While Denmark does have a state church, religious belief and observance is low. Less than one third of all Danes claim to believe in God and only about 2% even attend church each Sunday. And yet, according to a recent survey conducted by CEPOS, a Danish think tank, 66% of Danish voters support the country’s blasphemy law, leaving only one third of Danes seeking the law’s repeal.

Instead, this case is about fear. European officials have become increasingly afraid of the growing Muslim population. With already tense relationships between the immigrant Muslim and native Danish populations, Danish authorities are afraid of the societal impact of a Quran burning. They fear that this event could spark terrorist attacks in Denmark.

In response to these threats incited by offensive images or speech, Europe has typically taken one of two options: they can either end Muslim extremism within their borders, or, they can curb any insulting rhetoric or actions by Europeans. As a general rule, Europe has responded to the threat of violence by taking the latter, passive approach, even curbing serious critique of Islam. In the European mind, charging the Quran burner both curbs ridicule and appeases the growing Muslim population within Danish borders. Unfortunately, this response does not guarantee any long-term solutions.

However, this is a fear of one specific group, not a fear of a response to the burning of holy books in general. There have been two significant examples of public Bible burnings in the last forty years, both of which received public attention and neither of which resulted in a prosecution.

In 1977, the Danish evening news showed a Danish artist burning a copy of the Bible while speaking about his upcoming art exhibition. The prosecutor started blasphemy charges but dropped the case three months later because the artist claimed that it was simply a symbolic act to spark debate about Christianity. Later, in 2006, a Norwegian comedian also burned a Bible in a Christian-dominated town. He was asked to repeat the actions but with a Quran instead of a Bible. He refused, saying that he wanted to live longer than another week.

It seems that the driving force behind the renewed application of this dead letter law is fear, not the protection of free speech or religion. While many Europeans claim to support freedom of speech, they really only support speech that they already agree with. Europeans are eager to have their governments shut down anyone they do not agree with and firmly believe that there is no right to religious insult.

A PEW Research Center poll in 2015 found that 49% of Europeans support censorship of speech that offends minorities. This is likely, in light of rampant accusation of “Islamaphobia” in European countries, because they believe that banning offensive speech will protect them from those who the speech could offended. Unfortunately, censorship provides no long-term protection from those who it may offend.

The root of this law is a fear of the potential consequences insulting speech. In order to avoid the dangerous consequences of free speech, such as the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January of 2015, Denmark would rather preemptively prosecute a Quran burner than risk the consequences from an increasing Muslim population inside European borders.

Unfortunately, simply appeasing the Muslim population will not protect European society from violence or retaliation in response to “offensive” comments. Denmark, and the rest of Europe, has yet to set a clear bright line as to what is or is not blasphemy. Instead, the threat of violence or retaliation has become the determining factor in if the individuals involved will be prosecuted.

This continues to erode the definition of freedom of speech and expression and makes hate speech and blasphemy laws a moving target for Danes specifically and all Europeans generally. There is no clear standard as to if or when they will be prosecuted. This makes self-censorship the safest option for European citizens, likely the intended outcome.

Free Speech Champions Fight Back Against OSCE ‘Islamophobia’ Industry

The ‘Islamophobia’ industry’s all-out assault on free speech was on full display at the recent annual meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw, Poland. The Center’s VP for Research and Analysis Clare Lopez and Senior Fellow Stephen Coughlin attended the 26-27 September 2016 session, along with Debra Anderson, ACT! For America Chapter leader in Minnesota, Dave Petteys, ACT! Chapter leader from Colorado and key European colleagues Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolf from Austria, Henrik Clausen from Denmark, and Alain Wagner from France.

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Center VP for Research and Analysis Clare Lopez

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is a 57-member regional security organization with representatives from North America, Europe and Asia. It describes itself as a ‘forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues’ whose approach encompasses ‘politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions’. The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is an office within the OSCE that claims to be dedicated to democratic elections, respect for human rights, rule of law, tolerance, and non-discrimination.

Their stated overall objective is helping governments protect and promote human rights, fundamental freedoms and tolerance and non-discrimination, as well as to improve and strengthen democratic practices and institutions. Except that the actual theme of the two-day proceedings had a lot more to do with countering ‘hate crime,’ criminalizing ‘hate speech,’ and demonizing ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘Islamophobes’ than it did with genuinely championing the right to believe, live, and speak freely.

Of course, the campaign to shut down free speech when it’s about Islam is very much in line with the top agenda item of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), which is to achieve the criminalization of criticism of Islam in national legal codes. Gagging criticism of Islam is also what the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 tries to do. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worked hard to make that happen in the U.S. and around the world when she promoted the Istanbul Process. The idea is to use existing laws against ‘incitement to violence,’ but in a novel way that applies a so-called ‘test of consequences.’ That is, if someone, somewhere, sometime decides what somebody said somewhere, sometime is offensive and then launches a ‘Day of Rage,’ or goes on a lawless rampage destroying property, injuring or killing people, guess whose fault that would be? Under the ‘test of consequences’ speech code, that would be the speaker.

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Center Senior Fellow Stephen Coughlin

Notably, though, the Islamophobia crowd seemed to be very much on the defensive at this OSCE meeting. Their crouch-and-whine posture most likely had to do with the accelerating numbers of horrific Islamic terror attacks, whose trail of carnage and destruction is splashed across screens around the world for all to see. Along with those visuals comes increasing awareness on the part of more and more ordinary people that when they yell ‘Allahu Akbar,’ it doesn’t mean ‘Hail to the Redskins’: it means they are committing that attack in the name of Allah and Islam.

The ‘Islamophobia’ industry has neither the ability nor actual wish to stop jihad but it sure does wish so many were not putting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and Islamic terror together and then speaking out about it. The only recourse left to them is trying desperately to shut down free speech—including places like the U.S. where free speech is Constitutionally-protected. As CSP Senior Fellow Stephen Coughlin puts it:

This is a direct extraterritorial demand that non-Muslim jurisdictions submit to Islamic law and implement shariah-based punishment over time. In other words, the OIC is set on making it an enforceable crime for non-Muslim people anywhere in the world—including the United States—to say anything about Islam that Islam does not permit.

In other words, what they’re trying to do is enforce shariah’s law on slander – on us, on everyone, whether Muslim or not.

That effort at the Warsaw OSCE meeting went at it by various means: there was a great deal of emphasis on equating Islamophobia with ‘racism’ (but a new kind – not based on skin color), ‘bigotry,’ and violation of ‘human rights.’ Pouty complaints were heard about ‘feeling discriminated against,’ ‘marginalized,’ and the object of ‘hard looks’ because of wearing a hijab. When legal eagle Steve Coughlin and Danish defender Henrik Clausen demanded a specific legal definition of the term ‘Islamophobia,’ they were assailed for…you guessed it, ‘Islamophobia’! Needless to say, there was no legal definition forthcoming (because ‘everybody knows what it means’).

‘Islamophobia’ hysteria reached peak during the OSCE’s second day plenary session, where the Turkish General Secretary of the European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO), Bashy Qurayshi, came unglued with a plaintive wail that ‘Islamophobes’ who’d been permitted to infiltrate the OSCE were “lying, ranting and attempting to spread hatred at this conference.” He even threw in a reference to such ‘Islamophobes’ as ‘Nazis,’ at which point senior representatives at the OSCE head table actually broke into applause.

By way of counterpoint, however, it must be added that many delegates from Civil Society organizations throughout the OSCE membership area—including atheists, Baha’is, Christians, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons—firmly pressed the case for free speech. We know that they took encouragement from our presence and outspokenness, even as we did from theirs.

The ‘Islamophobia’ crown went home from Warsaw in the sure knowledge that their attempts to silence free speech about Islam have stirred a gathering force of liberty’s champions who will not be silenced.

For more coverage of this year’s OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, including photos and video, please see Gates of Vienna at https://gatesofvienna.net/

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy

Turkey Descending Further Into Political Chaos with Prime Minister Resignation

The Wall Street Journal reports that Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will step down following a dispute with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The resignation of Davutoglu is a sign of Erdogan’s bid for absolute power and also that ties between Turkey and the west are gradually diminishing.

 Davutoglu ‘s resignation came within hours of word that European Unions (EU) Executive Arm had agreed to endorsed a deal to secure visa free travel to the European bloc for Turkish citizens. The EU-Turkey deal was a measure he secured after stemming the flow of refugees coming through Turkey.

Davutoglu in a two hour meeting with Erdogan on Wednesday May 4, 2016, announced he would be stepping down from his position as the ruling head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), but will remain on as a party legislator.  The signs of Davutoglu’s resignation may have been sealed last week when Erdogan stripped him of authority to appoint provincial AK Party members.

Davutoglu ties with Erdogan was viewed Turkey watchers as a crucial partnership. The BBC reports that the falling out between the two leaders was related to Erdogan’s decision to transform Turkey into a presidential. Turkey has been under a democratic parliamentary system of government for half a century, but Erdogan has repeatedly attempted to disband the system in order to centralize power in a strong presidential office.  Davutoglu told the media that he remains loyal to President Erdogan and that he bore no anger against anyone.

The resignation of Davutoglu is viewed as a blow to the U.S., which viewed the former Prime Minister as being more reform minded than Erdogan.  His resignation may erode relations between Ankara and Washington, D.C., which have been strained over the Turkish military campaign against the Kurds, who are viewed in Washington as the most effective force against the Islamic State. The Obama Administration has refused to comment on the situation in Turkey calling it an “internal political matter.”

European leaders are also worried over Davutoglu’s resignation, with concerns that it may implode a pending EU-Turkey deal over the return of thousands of refugees.

Erdogan will continue his campaign of cracking down on free speech and human rights as the country spirals into political chaos and violence. Erdogan has successfully stripped Kurdish members of parliament (MP) of their legislative immunity, seized control of the Gulen-linked Zaman Newspaper, and convicted journalists, teachers, and politicians on terrorism charges.

Aykan Erdemir, a senior fellow at the Foundation of Defense and Democracies describes Erdogan as having no tolerance for criticism, even from former allies. Erdogan will handpick the next prime minister and reports indicate that Transportation Minister Binali Yidirim, a very close friend to Erdogan, and Energy Minister Barat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, are the top two candidates.

The resignation of Davutoglu signals the final culmination of Erodgan’s authoritarian efforts. As  one analyst described it, Erdogan may have finally achieved his objectives,  “head of state, head of government, head of AKP, and head of everything Turkey.”

Third blogger slain in Bangladesh streets

Bangladesh-Blogger-Ki_Verm

On Tuesday morning the third Bangladeshi blogger since the beginning of the year was found hacked to death in the streets of Sylhet, Bangladesh. Ananta Bioy Das, a contributor to the secular blog Mukto Mona, was hacked to death with knives and meat cleavers on his way to work. By 10:30 AM, Al-Qaeda’s Indian sect, AQIS, claimed credit for Das’s death with a series of tweets from a username Ansar Bangla 8, an apparent reference to Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), also a group accused of having ties to Islamist organization Jamaat-e-Islami.  The JeI are currently allied with the Bangladesh National Party, the BNP,  which is the ruling Awami League government’s main opposition. The JeI was founded by leading Islamist ideologue S.A.A. Maududi, whose work “Jihad in Islam” is considered highly influential. The Organization has been highly active seeking to advancing Islamic blasphemy law.

Das’s slaying was the third of its kind this year, with previous attacks occurring in February and March. AQIS leader Asim Umar has claimed responsibility both attacks. In February, Aviit Roy, an American blogger was hacked to death while walking in Bangladesh. According to his wife, who was also attacked, the local police stood by and watched the attack happen. A suspect in Roy’s murder had threatened Roy’s life several times on Facebook, and was arrested in 2013 for making threats towards a cleric. Washiqur Rahman, known for writing satirical columns about religious extremism was slain in March in the same fashion Das and Roy had been attacked. The three victims were all a part of the Shahbag movement, a movement in favor of the death penalty for Islamist political leaders’ crimes during Bangladesh’s war for independence. In recent months, young Bangladeshi Islamists have expressed their outrage with the Shahbag movement, further dividing the young Bangladeshi population’s opinion on whether the nation should be a secular or Islamic state.

The dangers in Bangladesh for those who speak critically of Islam is highlighted by major political disagreements over the role of religion in Bangladeshi politics and culture. The AL government has been criticized for its increasing intolerance for unconventional or oppositional views, with its Information, Communication and Technology Act banning any publishing of material that, “creates the possibility for the deterioration of law and order.” The dangers and unrest have influenced protests in the city of Sylhet, which are demanding justice and the arrest of the hacking suspects. Many officials, both in Bangladesh and in the United States have criticized the police and State’s response to the attacks, claiming the lack of arrests showcases an inadequacy in Bangladeshi law enforcement. It is undeniable that another attack on Bangladeshi bloggers is planned, ABT has already tweeted graphics of the current victims with text under the images stating, “Next target is loading…stay tuned.”

Garland Police Stop “Known Wolf” Jihadists but Free Speech Threat Remains

Sunday night, May 3rd, outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland Texas, two would-be jihadists attempted to launch an attack against a free speech event being held by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). Thanks to the swift response by local security and GPD, the two suspects were killed, while an officer was wounded, but soon released from the hospital.

One of the suspects was identified as Elton Simpson, an Arizona man convicted in 2011 for lying to federal agents regarding his attempt to travel to Somalia to join a terror group. On a twitter page reportedly connected to Simpson, the author swears an oath of allegiance to Islamic State leader AbuBakr Al-Baghdadi just moments prior to the attack taking place, with the hashtag #Texasattack. An investigation is currently underway to determine who the second suspect was, identified in Simpsons’ twitter page only as “the bro with me.”

There is no doubt that many in the media will attempt to paint the responsibility for this attack on the hosts of the event, for having the temerity to hold an art exhibit featuring a number of drawings (both contemporary and historical) of Islam’s prophet Mohammad. But an examination of Simpsons’ earlier trial documents make clear Simpson was committed jihadist. From the Court quoting transcripts from the audio recordings submitted by the FBI:

In that recording, Mr. Simpson told Mr. Deng that Allah loves an individual who is “out there fighting [non-Muslims]” and making difficult sacrifices such as living in caves, sleeping on rocks rather than sleeping in comfortable beds and with his wife, children and nice cars. Mr. Simpson said that the reward is high because “If you get shot, or you get killed, it’s [heaven] straight away.” Mr. Simpson then said:

“[Heaven] that’s what we here for…so why not take that route?”

Simpson went on to describe the importance of Shariah law, and the willingness to fight to establish it:

They’re trying to make them live by man-made laws, not by Allah’s laws. That’s why they get fought. You try to make us become slaves to man? No we slave to Allah, we going to fight you to the death.”

As we have noted previously, Shariah blasphemy laws call for death for perceived insults to either Allah or Mohammed, and multiple Muslim-majority countries maintain the death penalty for blasphemy, and in many others extrajudicial killings are routine. The attempted attack on the Curtis Culwell Center should likewise be viewed as an attempt to enforce a foreign system of law against the constitution, through violence. It is not an irrational act by those “angered” or offended by a display, but one attack in a campaign targeting America’s system of governance.

Such attacks do not occur in isolation, but are part of a larger political effort to impose Shariah over American law. This is done first by equating the act of speech with the violence directed against the speakers. As we noted at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris:

The Organization of the Islamic Cooperation has led the charge to see the criminalization of defamation of religion (interpreted by the OIC to mean Islam only) enforced by governments. Unfortunately the U.S. State Department has cooperated with implementing these efforts under the “Istanbul Process” for the past several years. Wickham’s claim that because violence against the speaker will inevitably result, the publication of images of Mohammad are not protected speech is the exact line of thinking represented by the Istanbul Process’s “test of consequences” concept and shows how successful the OIC’s effort to peddle this narrative has been.

This same line was adopted by the Islamist organizers of the “Stand With the Prophet” Rally, also held in Garland, Texas. From a Free Beacon article covering the event:

“Frustrated with Islamophobes defaming the Prophet?” the event materials ask. “Fuming over extremists like ISIS who give a bad name to Islam? Remember the Danish cartoons defaming the Prophet? Or the anti-Islam film, ‘Innocence of Muslims’?”

“When real events warrant, like the Danish Cartoon controversy, Sharia ban, Quran burning, Boko Haram kidnappings. [Islamic State] brutality, etc., we articulate fresh talking points and content quickly, and in a timely manner, working with professionals to disseminate it through community spokespersons and our allies,” organizers state on their website.

The publication of cartoons and other acts of free speech are being directly equated here with kidnapping, brutality and terrorism as part of an intentional effort to permit the banning of free speech that offends Islam. It’s the same logic that led Congressmen Andre Carson and Keith Ellison to demand Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders be barred from the country. Wilders attended and spoke at the Garland event.

Sadly this rhetoric has clearly caught on, and was on hand following the Garland shooting as journalists, bloggers and “Countering Violent Extremism” analysts lumped the AFDI and those who attempted to murder them together as “extremists.”

We should all be thankful that swift action by the Garland police put down a violent threat to free speech and the Constitution on Sunday.  But we should all respond equally swiftly to the political threat to free speech by loudly and unapologetically insisting that the Constitution trumps Sharia law, and free speech trumps  “so-called” blasphemy.

And there’s nothing extremist about that.