WILDERS AND SPENCER: 2009: A year to defend free speech

Here it is — here is the case for the West. On trial? Western civ ……….  bigger than Scopes.

2009: A year to defend free speech
By Geert Wilders & Robert Spencer

Wednesday, January 21, was a black day for freedom, and the beginning of an all-out assault on free speech in the Netherlands. The Amsterdam Court of Appeals ordered the prosecution of Geert Wilders (one of this article’s co-authors) for his statements about Islam. To participate in public debate is now a dangerous activity. This is the Netherlands today—and it could be the entire Western world tomorrow.

The prosecution of Wilders was unexpected, though in retrospect one can see that something like it has been in the offing for a while. The year 2008 marked 60 years since the United Nations first promulgated its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet instead of celebrating this notable anniversary by reaffirming human rights, the world in 2008 saw certain fundamentally important human rights nearly disappear under intense pressure from Islamic countries that oppose freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the equality of all people before the law. Islamic efforts to create exceptional privileges for Muslims in the area of human rights have been advancing for quite some time, and they made great strides in 2008. Now, with the Amsterdam court’s judgment, we see the outcome of such efforts.

The Islamic bloc has been on record for two decades as opposing free speech. In
1990, foreign ministers of the 57 member states of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC), currently the largest voting bloc in the United
Nations, adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. It
states clearly that Islamic law—sharia—is the only true source of human rights.
Few analysts in 1990 understood that this was tantamount to declaring the
legitimacy of institutionalized discrimination against women and non-Muslims,
and signing the death warrant of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience as
well. And not just in Muslim lands: The OIC and allied organizations have been
aggressively pursuing efforts to extend elements of sharia into the West, though
few people realize it even today.

Due to the relentless efforts of the OIC,
passage of a resolution on combating defamation of religions is now a yearly
ritual in the United Nations. First introduced in the General Assembly in 2005,
the resolution has been adopted with landslide votes every year since. While
this resolution is non-binding, the OIC has declared its intention to seek a
binding resolution—one that would require UN member states to criminalize
criticism of Islam, as the OIC defines such criticism. This is a clear
indication of the progressing Islamization of the United Nations.

March 28 of last year, the UN hit rock bottom. Its Human Rights Council—whose
members include such stalwart defenders of freedom as China, Cuba, Angola, and
Saudi Arabia—adopted a resolution that severely modified the mandate of the Special
Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Instead of simply reporting on cases in
which the right to free expression is being violated, the special rapporteur
will now also have to report on cases in which that right is being
“abused”—including when individuals use their freedom of speech to criticize
Islam, or the particular elements of Islam that jihadists use to justify
violence and Islamic supremacism. In essence, this means that the function of
the special rapporteur has changed 180 degrees—from safeguarding the rights of
individuals who hold unpopular or controversial ideas, to trying to limit the
freedom of individuals to express such ideas.

As the Canadian delegation
noted, “instead of promoting freedom of expression the Special Rapporteur would
be policing its exercise.” This is fundamentally inconsistent with the very
foundation of the human-rights tradition, as are measures combating “defamation
of religions.” Such measures aim to protect institutions and ideas from
criticism, instead of protecting individuals from the consequences of
criticizing them. The very concept of freedom of speech has thereby been turned
on its head.

Now the full force of this initiative has been directed
against those who are sounding the alarm about the Islamization of the West. How
could this have happened? Where was the opposition from Western nations? The
silence in Europe has been deafening. Only recently did the French ambassador
finally speak out, on behalf of the European Union, against the UN initiative to
outlaw defamation of religions. He stated that the EU would not accept
integration of the notion of defamation of religions into the framework of human
rights, since the primary purpose of human rights is to protect people, not

Still, talk is cheap. If we want to preserve our universal
human rights, we have to show determination in 2009 to defend them from the
OIC’s attempts to erode them. The Amsterdam Appeals Court decision only
indicates how urgently needed this action is today. But opposing the OIC would
require strong, positive acts, which would be a departure from the current
pattern. In the case of the resolution on the mandate of the special rapporteur,
European countries did nothing but abstain from voting on the resolution. Even
Canada, which spoke out strongly against the resolution, abstained rather than
voting against it. The United States also abstained; in fact, no nation voted
against the resolution at all.

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