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by Faith J. H. McDonnell (@Cuchulain09)

On Thursday, February 21, 2013, The IRD hosted a briefing on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with special guest speaker Deborah Weiss. Ms. Weiss, who works for “Vigilance,” an organization dedicated to educating the public on terrorism-related issues, is an expert on the content and the ramifications of “Defamation of Religions” resolutions which have been proposed by the OIC at the United Nations since 1999.

The agenda of the OIC using the idea of defamation of religion and/or Islamophobia is not – or should not remain – an esoteric or irrelevant subject. It is of utmost importance for you, if you value your individual right to freedom of speech and value the communication of truth. I urge you to watch the video of the briefing when it is posted next week, to understand the significance of not only what the OIC is doing through these resolutions, but why it is doing it. In two blog posts, I will try to touch upon some of the main ideas and how we should find this silencing of free speech not only offensive but alarming. This is Part 1 reporting on Deborah Weiss’ explication of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, its agenda, the resolutions on defamation, and the 2011 creation of a new resolution on “incitement.”

Ms. Weiss explained that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is the largest Islamic body in the world, and the largest international organization of any kind, except for the United Nations. It was founded in 1971 and is composed of 57 member states, representing over 1.5 billion Muslims. Although it purports to be a moderate group that “promotes peace and tolerance” and “fights terrorism,” it actually has a supremacist view of Islam. Weiss said that “Since 1999, the OIC has been pushing incrementally and strategically toward its goal of internationally outlawing all criticism of Islam, Muslims, Muslim theocracies, and Islamic extremism.”

OIC2The OIC has done this primarily through a series of resolutions. In 2005, the OIC urged the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to pass a resolution called “Combating Defamation of Religions.” The text of this resolution on “religions” spoke only of Islam, showing that a more honest title would have been “Combating Defamation of Islam.” Honest, but still nonsensical. Defamation is a concept that applies to people, not to religions. And although the OIC’s defamation religions applie to any perceived insult to Islam or to a Muslim, whether true or false, the dictionary defines “defaming” as “issuance of false statements about a person that injure his reputation or that deter others from associating with him.”

If these defamation of religion resolutions were fully implemented, it would be considered a criminal action, for instance, to publicize an incident that was just reported by Nina Shea in National Review‘s “The Corner.” Shea writes about how a Christian pastor in Tanzania was beheaded by Islamists who attacked him and several other Christians for slaughtering meat without complying with Shariah slaughtering practices. It would not matter that the report was accurate and truthful. It would be seen as being critical of Islam, and that would be forbidden.

Weiss identified the actions of the OIC as a “victimhood campaign.” It has been used to stifle all criticism or discussion of such issues as violence against women and persecution of non-Muslims because this would be “to judge or value a religion.” These issues cannot even be raised within the UNHRC, the body that is supposed to defend human rights.

Suddenly in 2011, the OIC changed its tactics and introduced a resolution that dropped the language of “defamation.” Resolution 16/18 was “”Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief.” The U.S. State Department, some human rights and religious groups all thought this was a great breakthrough, but Weiss explained how this resolution is even more dangerous to freedom than those regarding defamation, and how it advances the OIC’s goal of criminalization of criticism of Islam. Even more disturbing, she revealed how the United States government, particularly through the State Department, is helping to advance this concept of criminalization, both theoretically and in practice in America today.