SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Becoming a victim of unfounded attacks and conspiracy theories about Islam, a Swedish Muslim has been forced to quit his duties with the Social Democrats party.
“The party leadership believes that having a mandate within the party and within Muslim civil society is incompatible,” Omar Mustafa wrote in an open letter cited by The Local newspaper.
“The party leadership’s view isn’t only regrettable, it’s also a frightening signal to Muslims and other Social Democrats who are people of faith.
“I therefore feel that the party leadership doesn’t have confidence in me and have forced me to resign from all my duties in the party.”
Mustafa, 28, who chairs Sweden’s Islamic Association, was chosen to sit on the governing board of the left-of-center opposition party at last weekend's party congress.
But later members demanded his ouster over claims of hosting speakers known for alleged anti-Semitic views by the Islamic Association.
Party officials defended the decision on ground that the Muslim members held views that contradict with the party’s values.
“Knowing what we know now and considering how events unfolded, the situation became unsustainable,” Veronica Palm, chair of the Social Democrats in Stockholm, told TT (Tidningarnas Telegrambyra) news agency.
“I therefore urged him to resign.”
Palm explained that she and her colleagues had nominated Mustafa to the Social Democrats’ governing board because he had done a good job for the party in Stockholm.
“We thought he had valuable experience that could contribute to the party on a national level.”
Mustafa “had never shown values other than those held by the Social Democrats,” she said.
Party officials argue that the Muslim politician had to cope with the party’s values about equality between men and women.
“You can't hold an elected position within the Social Democrats unless you can fully stand up for the party's values that all human beings are equal and for equality between women and men," party leader Stefan Löfven said.
"These are the values which we base our whole political platform on. This is inviolable."
But the Muslim politician hit back, saying he was a victim of “unfounded attacks and conspiracy theories about Islam, Muslims, and Muslim organizations”.
Despite leaving his duties with the party, Mustafa vowed to continue working within Muslim civil society for “justice, equality, and human rights.”
“I plan to continue my work with Swedish-Muslim identity, against racism in all its forms, and for a more just national and international policy,” he wrote.
Muslims make up between 450,000 and 500,000 of Sweden’s nine million people, according to the US State Department report in 2011.
Islam, as a divine religion, sets down rules that strike a balance between men's responsibilities and women's rights.
Woman is recognized by Islam as the full and equal partner of the man in the procreation of humankind.
By this partnership, she has an equal share in every aspect.
She is entitled to equal rights, she undertakes equal responsibilities, and she has as many qualities and as much humanity as her partner. :-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Leading anti-religion rhetoric for years, world leaders of atheism have swung their attitude towards a populist and crude hatred of Islam, using an already deeply misunderstood and much maligned faith.
“Conversations about the practical impossibility of God’s existence and the science-based irrationality of an afterlife slid seamlessly into xenophobia over Muslim immigration or the practice of veiling,” read a recent article by Nathan Lean on the Salon website was cited by The Independent newspaper.
“The New Atheists became the new Islamophobes, their invectives against Muslims resembling the rowdy, uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect, rationality and reason,” he added.
The article wrote by Lean, a Washington DC native and Middle East specialist who has recently written a book about the Islamophobia industry, was one of a series of columns that have been written recently about the New Atheism.
The articles followed a series of tweets last month by Professor Richard Dawkins attacking Islam.
“Haven’t read Qur’an so couldn’t quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam [is the] greatest force for evil today,” the Cambridge evolutionary biologist wrote.
The fact that the author of the God Delusion hadn not studied Islam’s holy book surprised many and led to a flurry of responses from both fans and critics alike.
Muslims are “ a group that have come to occupy a special place in his line of fire — and in the minds of a growing club of no-God naysayers who have fast rebranded atheism into a popular, cerebral and more bellicose version of its former self,” Lean wrote of Dawkins.
Though few atheists in the western world historically paid much attention to Islam, the new attacks by atheists were employing a past-9/11 hatred, flirting with Islamophobes and using an already deeply misunderstood and much maligned faith.
Sam Harris, a neuroscientist by trade whose atheist tracts “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation” have made him one of the leading anti-religious polemicists of his age, has also involved in new atheism anti-Islam trend.
“The idea that Islam is a ‘peaceful religion hijacked by extremists’ is a fantasy, and is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge,” is just one he wrote in “Letter to a Christian Nation.”
Harris also wrote in favor of torture, pre-emptive nuclear strikes and the profiling not just of Muslims but “anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be a Muslim.”
The atheists' attacks on islam drew harsh criticism from many analysts.
“[Harris’] sweeping generalizations about a constructed civilization encompassing over a billion people are coupled with fevered warnings - parallel with the most noxious race propaganda of the past - about the purported demographic threat posed by immigrant Muslim birthrates to Western civilization,” Murtaza Hussain, a Toronto based Middle East analyst, wrote in a scathing critique on Al Jazeera website recently.
“Citing “Muslims” as a solid monolith of violent evil - whilst neglecting to include the countless Muslims who have lost their lives peacefully protesting the occupation and ongoing ethnic cleansing of their homeland - Harris engages in a nuanced version of the same racism which his predecessors in scientific racism practiced in their discussion of the blanket characteristics of “Negroes”,” he added.
Being a vocal critic of New Atheism himself, left-wing US columnist Glenn Greenwald retweeted Hussain’s article, blaming writers like Harris for using their particularly anti-Islamic brand of rational non-belief to justify American foreign policies over the last decade.
“When criticism of religion morphs into an undue focus on Islam - particularly at the same time the western world has been engaged in a decade-long splurge of violence, aggression and human rights abuses against Muslims, justified by a sustained demonization campaign - then I find these objections to the New Atheists completely warranted,” Greenwald concludes.
“In sum, [New Atheism] sprinkles intellectual atheism on top of the standard neocon, right-wing worldview of Muslims.”-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
Of course on the surface Hollande's government stresses that by entering Mali, France is not falling back into old habits. But France’s interests in Africa are not something that at the current economic situation it is ready to relinquish. A new form of colonialism has been evident since the old one was no longer sustainable. The United States of America and Britain are also backing France including the deployment of American drones.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – "We must stop the rebels' offensive, otherwise the whole of Mali will fall into their hands - creating a threat for Africa and even for Europe," French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told reporters to justify Mali's invasion.
For months, Paris has been planning to get involved in Mali on the excuse of driving out the anti-government rebels out of France’s ex-colony.
This intervention came weeks after Paris’s involvement in another ex-colony of Central African Republic (CAR). In CAR, the French stalled President Francois Bozize accepted a power-sharing pact with the opposition. Both sides in CAR have French backing. Both Mali and Central African Republic are countries with massive reserves of minerals, oil and gas.
France’s president Hollande ordered the first military strikes of his career in Mali. Now France has deployed 550 troops, C-160 transport aircrafts, attack helicopters and has Rafale jets on standby. The important question here is what are the intentions behind the recent adventures by France and its western allies?
Of course on the surface Hollande's government stresses that by entering Mali, France is not falling back into old habits. But France’s interests in Africa are not something that at the current economic situation it is ready to relinquish. A new form of colonialism has been evident since the old one was no longer sustainable. The United States of America and Britain are also backing France including the deployment of American drones. With the full control of the international organisation, the western presence is now legitimised by the United Nations resolutions allowing foreign intervention to support Mali. Exactly the same route when France and Britain ordered NATO’s invasion and air strikes in Libya to oust Gaddafi.
The western allies needed an excuse to justify the invasion of Mali. For months they were preparing the public opinion by saying that Islamists are taking over Mali and other parts of Africa harboring fears that the area could soon become a hub for al-Qaeda linked militants. Shocking reports of public amputations in rebel-held northern Mali as tough shariah (Islamic law) is imposed will persuade many French voters the intervention was just. The “so called Mali Islamists” are a rag-tag army with no significant military equipment or training with most of their arms is smuggled out of Libya.
“There is that much at stake financially and strategically in Mali. But on the other hand this is the sort of intervention that could drag on for very long time. I think what triggered it was the move by the Islamist rebels towards Bamako, which is the capital where most of the French citizens are. Most of them are located at the southern end of the country and I think Hollande felt he had to do something to protect them.” France-based independent journalist Robert Harneis said.
France claimed new successes in its campaign to oust rebels from northern Mali, bombarding the major city of Gao with airstrikes targeting the airport and camps used by the rebel group controlling the city. France’s foreign minister also said the intervention is gaining international support, with the help from the United States, Britain, Denmark and other European countries. The invasion has come with a human cost in the city of Konna, the first to be bombed on Friday and Saturday. According to reports many innocent civilians were killed, including children who threw themselves into a river and drowned trying to avoid the falling bombs.
Mali is a country with massive natural resources which include gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, hydropower which mostly exploited by westerners particularly France who has a large French nationals living in the country whilst The country’s population living in absolute poverty. Also new natural resources have been discovered in Mali which include bauxite, iron ore, manganese, tin, and copper deposits but so far not exploited. The existence of hydrocarbons in Mali has been known since the 1970s, when drilling tests proved massive oil resources which can be developed at low costs.
In the current economic situation when all western economies facing massive problems, the unexploited African resources seem very attractive for old colonial powers. The powers, who never relinquished their hold on their colonies, instead changed their tactics which today is known as the “new colonialism”. Having the full control of international bodies such as the United Nations where they can pass resolutions at any time combined with the massive propaganda machines to propagate the “Islamophobia” seem strong tools in the hands of the advocates of the “new colonialism”.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Giving a freaking image of anti-Islam sentiments in Germany, a new study has revealed that Islamophobia has become culturally acceptable in the country and that the society is shifting its attention from xenophobia to religious bias against Muslims, The Local newspaper reported.
“It's no longer 'the Turks' but 'the Muslims',” Wilhelm Heitmeyer, head of the institute for research of interdisciplinary conflict and violence at Bielefeld University, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, The Local reported.
A research by the Bielefeld University found that Islamophobia has become culturally acceptable in
Heitmeyer said that the general hostility against foreigners had given way to a growing rejection of Islam in Germany.
This bigotry, moving from the confines of ethnicity towards religious bias against Muslims, does not exist only in the far-right, he said.
Heitmeyer noted that anti-Muslim sentiments were also present in more left-leaning and centrist circles, appearing throughout the country from the highest echelons of society to the lowest.
The findings of are not new.
An earlier study from Munster University in 2010 found that 66 percent of western Germans and 74 percent of eastern Germans had a negative attitude towards Muslims.
A more recent study from the Allensbach Institute suggested that this had not changed over the past two years.
Asking German people about Islam, only 22 percent said they agreed with Germany's former president Christian Wulff's statement that Islam, like Christianity, was part of Germany.
Germany has between 3.8 and 4.3 million Muslims, making up some 5 percent of the total 82 million population, according to government-commissioned studies.
Experts notice that the rising anti-Muslim bias was generally acceptable in German society as freedom of opinion.
“Criticism of Islam or Muslims appear acceptable, because it is not seen as classically racist,” Alexander Häusler, neo-Nazi expert from Düsseldorf's technical university, said.
German Muslims have also voiced concern about a growing hostility in their country.
Aiman Mazyek, Head of the Central Council for Muslims in Germany, said police and intelligence officials still refuse to rank violent attacks against Muslims independently, grouping them with the broad category of xenophobia.
“By doing this, hostility against Islam is being blurred out,” said Mazyek, calling on the government to publish a yearly report about racism.
Germany has been recently gripped by a fierce debate on immigration and integration.
In 2009, central banker Thilo Sarrazin sparked a debate on integration after accusing Muslim immigrants of undermining the society which is becoming less intelligent because of them.
Chancellor Merkel weighed in, saying that multiculturalism has failed in Germany.
But the remarks have drawn angry reactions, with German president Wulff stressing that Islam is part and parcel of German society.
German politicians have also called for recognizing Islam as an official religion in the Christian-majority country.
But Germany’s new President Joachim Gauck sparked a storm of criticism last year by contradicting his predecessor’s view that Islam is part of Germany.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Nathan Lean’s book The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims is a look at the pernicious ways in which anti-Muslim sentiment is fostered, both in the US and to a smaller extent in Europe.
Although MMW is primarily focused on Muslim women in the media and their issues, I chose to review this book anyway because it lends context to the issues that affect us. In recent months, I have been told that Islamophobia doesn’t exist (and is just a fabrication of the victim mentality Muslims have fed the liberal media) that “a Muslim woman told me not wearing a veil is ok so the veil isn’t ok” (when the truth is much more nuanced than that) and that teh Islamz is inherently responsible for domestic violence by definition (because only Muslim men hit women, of course). I also think that Muslim women are on the front lines when it comes to bearing the brunt of Islamophobia (headscarf wars, anyone), and in that this book, while not looking at women per se, sets the stage for the issues that affect us. In this vein, if I could critique what is otherwise an excellent book, it would have been nice to see women’s issues treated in a more balanced way, given women are affected by Islamophobia in lopsided ways (see: France’s niqab ban).
Much like the work of John Esposito and Edward Said back in the day, in a sea of the Bernard Lewises and Thomas Friedmans of this world, Nathan Lean’s book is a welcome addition to Muslim cultural criticism when the only stuff getting airtime these days seems to be the recent Pamela Gellar New York subway ads. Lean takes us through the history of fear in America, drawing parallels among the anti-Catholicism of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Red Scare of the mid-20th century, and the discourse surrounding Muslims today. As he mentions in the introduction, it is a propos that parts of the evangelical Christian community root their faith narratives precisely in a “religious showdown” with Muslims.
The Islamophobia Industry reads well as a continuum, but it is also an easy read chapter by chapter – I could see how either the entire book or parts of it could be assigned in a classroom context. As a tech blogger based in Europe, the two highlights of Lean’s book for me were Chapter 2 (“A Web of Deception: Fomenting Hate Online”), covering the role of the internet in creating hate; and Chapter 7 (“Across the Pond: The Deadly Effects of Hate in Europe”) which provided an accurate analysis of the situation “over here.” In Chapter 2, I couldn’t help but chuckle when Pamela Geller’s name showed up on only the second line and set the stage for a takedown on Atlas Shrugsand Jihad Watch (I don’t hyperlink and send traffic to bigotry, sorry). This chapter also provides an extremely detailed analysis of the Park 51 shenanigans. I enjoyed Chapter 7 because one of my ongoing complaints about America-based activists is that some people, while well-intentioned, fail to realize that Islamophobia isn’t the same game “over here,” something that Lean catches onto right away in the way he writes the chapter. This chapter starts out with a play-by-play of Anders Breivik’s acts of violence (and some ironic giggle-worthy quotes about how his gushed over Robert Spencer). Lean goes over some of the context in France, Belgium and Switzerland, and notes that the extreme right, where necessary, is “creating fears about Islam and Muslims rather than exploiting existing ones,” as shown by campaigns by people like Geert Wilders, or the anti-Minaret vote in Switzerland.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Leading French bishop has voiced alarm at rising anti-Muslim sentiments in the French society as well as within the Roman Catholic church, joining Muslims in calls for the French President to speak against the worsening phenomenon.
"It is with much pain that I notice the emergence of a Catholic Islamophobia, in the same way that there has been a Catholic anti-semitism for centuries," the Bishop of Angouleme, Claude Dagens, told Agence France Presse (AFP) in an interview on the sidelines of an assembly of French bishops in Paris.
Dagens said his concerns had been heightened by the controversial "Muslim demographics" presentation made at the Vatican last month.
The video was screened by Cardinal Peter Turkson, the president of the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace, during an international meeting of bishops earlier this week.
The clip alleges that Europe will cease to exist because of the rising numbers of Muslims.
The seven-minute clip says Muslim immigration and higher birth rates will turn France into “an Islamic republic” within 39 years.
The Vatican subsequently distanced itself from the film, but Dagens acknowledged that the episode reflected a worrying shift in attitudes.
"We are living in a society where fear is seeping into every corner,” the bishop said.
“That's true for Muslims but also for Catholics."
France is home to a Muslim minority of six million, Europe’s largest.
French Muslims have been complaining of growing restrictions on their religious freedoms.
In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places. Several European countries followed the French example.
France has also outlawed the wearing of face-veil in public.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy has adopted a series of measures to restrict Muslim freedoms in an effort to win support of far-right voters.
The French government also outlawed Muslim street prayers, a sight far-right leader Marine Le Pen likened to the Nazi occupation.
Muslims have also complained of restrictions on building mosques to perform their daily prayers.
The comments made by the Bishop of Angouleme followed calls by France Muslim Council for President Francois Hollande to publicly condemn Islamophobia.
"Given the rise in the number of Islamophobic acts and anti-Muslim racism, we want a formal declaration from the President of the Republic that includes the Muslims of France in this national cause," Abdellah Zekri, one of the leaders of the Muslim Council, told AFP.
Muslims also accused Hollande and his ministers of giving greater priority to combating a recent rise in anti-semitism than they have to defending the Muslim community in the face of a parallel trend.
Zekri called for France's Islamic community to be offered similar support.
Last April, Amnesty International issued a report criticizing France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland for discriminating against their Muslim minorities.
The London-based group said several European countries have made policy decisions in recent years that discriminate against their Muslim citizens, citing bans on face-veils and other religious symbols in schools as being among the most damaging measures.
A poll by French paper Le Fegaro suggests that an overwhelming majority of Muslims voted for Hollande’s Socialist party, including some Muslim women who wanted an end to the state’s intrusive policies like the burqa ban.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The loudest Christians making waves about Islam for much of this year have not been terribly, well, Christian. There have been the protests against plans to build mosques in places like Tennessee and New Jersey, and arson attacks on mosques in Joplin, Missouri and Toledo, Ohio. The anti-Muslim posters placed in New York City and Washington, DC subway stations by Pamela Geller’s organization. And that crude now-infamous video that sparked riots across the Middle East.
These contentious activities have garnered headlines and defined for many the “Christian” take on Islam in the U.S. And that’s been too much for a growing number of Christian organizations who are fed up with Islamophobia. Just in the past month, four separate campaigns have started to push back against extreme Christian voices and to preach a message of tolerance and love.
Sojourners—the community founded and led by evangelical author and speaker Jim Wallis—responded to subway ads calling Muslims “savages” by purchasing space to post its own posters in the same subway stations. The message is simple: “Love Your Muslim Neighbors.” After the mosque attacks in Joplin and Toledo, Sojourners bought billboards in both communities to broadcast the same message. “It’s only an extremist fringe that would ever attack another religion’s place of worship in this country,” explained Sojourners spokesman Tim King to the Christian Post. “But unless we offer up an alternative voice, it will be the message and acts of extremists that most across the country and the world hear.”
Geller’s subway ads also prompted a response from an interfaith coalition called Shoulder-to-Shoulder. The group worked closely with the United Methodist Women to produce a letter signed by 168 Washington-area clergy and religious organizations calling on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to donate any proceeds from Geller’s ads to charity. It also countered with its own Metro advertisement: “Hate speech is not civilized. Support peace in word and deed.”
Two other religious campaigns are focused on educating Americans—and particularly Christian communities—about Muslims and Islam. On October 11, the Interfaith Alliance led by Baptist minister Welton Gaddy, along with the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center, released a guide called “What is the Truth about American Muslims? Questions and Answers.” The online document addresses topics such as the role of mosques in Muslim life, whether U.S. courts can ever substitute religious law for civil law (spoiler alert: no), and the meaning of Muslim words like “jihad” and “Taqiyya.”
The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, which was founded by Rev. Richard Cizik, is also undertaking a massive effort to broaden American perceptions of Islam and challenge stereotypes. The group produced and released an hour-long documentary called “Islam in America: The Christian Truth,” which tells the stories of American Muslims, but also of conservative Christians who have exchanged their fear of Islam for tolerance and understanding. Cizik and his colleagues intended the film to prompt discussion of Islamophobia in Christian communities, and they released it after the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in the hope that churches and other religious communities could discuss honestly their fears and beliefs.
Efforts like these too often go unnoticed or uncovered by journalists because they are earnest and have the goal of bringing people together instead of tearing them apart. That’s a sad commentary on journalism, but also on all of us who react to stories of religious hatred but flip past stories of religious cooperation with a “meh.” Too many of my colleagues also question whether campaigns to promote education or civility are actually representative of American Christians, because these efforts don’t fit the assumptions they have about who American Christians are. At the same time, they rarely ask whether Pamela Geller or Terry Jones of Qur'an-burning infamy represent anyone other than a small pitchfork-wielding band of followers. Until they do, the antics of Geller and Jones will make the front page while the efforts of Christians to push back against them will remain mostly exiled to the religion pages. — www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Obama condemned the "violence and intolerance” which has erupted across the world over a blasphemous anti-Islam film produced in the United States.
He also stated that the removal of such sacrilegious videos or offensive publications from the Internet would be a violation of the US constitution, which "protects the right to practice free speech.”
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono challenged Obama’s speech, saying the insulting movie was another example of religious defamation. Yudhoyono stressed that freedom of expression is "not absolute” as according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights "everyone must observe morality and public order.”
He also called for the establishment of an international "instrument to effectively prevent incitement to hostility or violence based on religions or beliefs.” In addition to Yudhoyono, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari asked the UN to take actions against the "incitement of hate” against Muslims.
"Although we can never condone violence, the international community must not become silent observers and should criminalize such acts that destroy the peace of the world and endanger world security by misusing freedom of expression,” Zardari said during his speech at the General Assembly.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai denounced the anti-Islam movie and said, "The menace of Islamophobia is a worrying phenomenon that threatens peace and co-existence.”
The Muslim world has been boiling with anti-Western sentiments over a blasphemous film named Innocence of Muslims, which insults Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Muslim protesters across the globe demand the US government apologize to the Muslims and punish those behind the blasphemous act.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The recent wave of anti-Islam propaganda in the United States is part of the Zionist lobby’s new plot to ensure that Barack Obama loses the election in November, according to many observers.
Over the past four years, Obama has been described by the Republicans and their Jewish supporters as a politician whose policies are too lenient toward Iran and Islamic movements in the Middle East. In other words, he has not done enough to serve the Israelis and address their security concerns.
The “Innocence of Muslims”, an amateurish film funded and supported by a Zionist in Southern California, was another part of the Islamophobia campaign, a phenomena which is being used to counter the rising influence of Muslims, especially in the United States.
Many political analysts believe that the film was meant to incite anti-U.S. actions across the world in order to give the impression that Obama’s policies have damaged the United States’ image in the international arena.
The attacks on U.S. embassies in various Islamic countries and the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya have created a good chance for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to increase the pressure on Obama and downplay his victory in the killing of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011.
This could pave the way for Obama’s defeat in the presidential election in November, exactly like what happened to Jimmy Carter after Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, when the U.S. embassy in Tehran was seized by Iranian students.
Zionists are donating huge sums of money to the Romney campaign because a return of the Republicans to the White House would greatly increase Israel’s sway over the U.S. government. The “Innocence of Muslims” was in fact produced in line with this policy, and the film has been quite successful in diminishing the status of the U.S. across the Muslim world.
The film sheds light on the dirty political games of the Zionists, who have no qualms about undermining the interests of the U.S. in order to gain access to the levers of power. This has always been the name of the game for the Zionists, and this time the dirty trick is targeting the first Black president in U.S. history.
Hassan Hanizadeh is a political analyst and expert on the Middle East based in Tehran.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Muslim leaders demanded international action to stop religious insults in a challenge to U.S. President Barack Obama’s defense of freedom of expression at the U.N. General Assembly.
Obama made a strong condemnation of “violence and intolerance” in his speech at the U.N. headquarters on Tuesday. He said world leaders had a duty to speak out against the deadly attacks on Americans in the past two weeks caused by an anti-Islam film made in the United States.
But Muslim kings and presidents and other heads of state said Western nations must clamp down on “Islamophobia” following the storm over the film which mocks the Prophet Mohammed, AFP reported.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, said the film was another “ugly face” of religious defamation.
Yudhoyono quoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as saying that “everyone must observe morality and public order” and commented: “Freedom of expression is therefore not absolute.”
He called for “an international instrument to effectively prevent incitement to hostility or violence based on religions or beliefs.”
King Abdullah II of Jordan, a close U.S. ally, spoke out against the film and the violence it sparked.
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari condemned what he called the “incitement of hate” against Muslims and demanded United Nations action.
“Although we can never condone violence, the international community must not become silent observers and should criminalize such acts that destroy the peace of the world and endanger world security by misusing freedom of expression,” he told the assembly.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai took aim both at the anti-Islam video and publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad -- the latter occurring most recently in France.
Karzai called the insults to the faith of 1.5 billion Muslims, the “depravity of fanatics,” and added: “Such acts can never be justified as freedom of speech or expression,” according to Reuters.
“The menace of Islamophobia is a worrying phenomenon that threatens peace and co-existence,” he added in his address to the General Assembly.
Obama said he could not ban the video, reportedly made by Egyptian Copts, because of the U.S. Constitution which protects the right to free speech.
“As president of our country, and commander-in-chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so,” Obama told leaders at the U.N. summit.
“The attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded -- the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully,” he added.
Obama has sought a new start in relations with the Muslim world during his first term, but the legacy of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where U.S. troops will remain for more than a year have been hard to shake off.
Stewart Patrick, a specialist on international institutions for the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, said the film furor had “exposed a huge fault line regarding the balance between free speech, which obviously is healthier in the United States, and the defamation of religion, which is really a red line for many people.”
But beyond the question of freedom of speech, some Muslim leaders also say the United States has still not gone far enough to balance its relations with Muslim nations.
Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi said despite anti-U.S. demonstrations in Cairo that U.S. support for his country and others that have seen Arab Spring revolutions could be a chance for a mutual show of respect.
Over the past four decades, “Egyptian people see the blood of the Palestinians being shed. And they see that the U.S. administrations were biased against the interests of the Palestinians. So a sort of hate and sort of a worry rise out of that in Egypt and in the area,” Mursi said in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS television this week.
“The demonstrations were an expression of a high level of anger and a rejection of what is happening,” added Mursi. “And the U.S. embassy represents the symbol of America as a people and government."
Obama’s efforts, said the Egyptian leader, were “the opportunity to take these worries, or this hate, out of the way and to build a new relationship based on respect, communication.”
Earlier on Tuesday in Geneva, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation -- the world’s largest Islamic body, representing 56 countries -- called for expressions of “Islamophobia” to be curbed by law in the same way as some countries restrict anti-Semitic speech or Holocaust denial.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya