From CNS News:
December 16, 2011
(CNSNews.com) – The head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has acknowledged that a U.N. religious tolerance resolution heavily promoted by the Obama administration has the same aims as the Islamic bloc’s annual “religious defamation” resolutions, which Western democracies have consistently opposed for more than a decade.
The State Department this week hosted three days of talks with foreign governments and international organizations, including the OIC, on implementing “resolution 16/18,” a measure adopted “by consensus” – without a vote – at the U.N. Human Rights Council last March and set to be endorsed by the full U.N. General Assembly within days.
The resolution, formally entitled “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief,” has been championed by the administration – and some human rights advocacy groups – as a historic achievement, in that it supposedly seeks a balance between freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
It was hailed as a shift away from earlier “defamation of Islam” (later changed to “defamation of religion”) resolutions introduced by the OIC, and duly voted through each year at both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly – in recent years, by steadily smaller margins.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday told the closing session of the meeting at the State Department that the adoption of resolution 16/18 had “ended 10 years of divisive debate where people were not listening to each other anymore.”
Critics have been doubtful about the OIC’s sincerity, however, noting the top priority it has given to the drive to curb speech and actions which it views as insulting to Islam – ranging from the Mohammed cartoons and threats to burn the Qur’an to anti-shari’a campaigns and post-9/11 security profiling.
In remarks delivered on his behalf to the State Department meeting – released by the OIC after the closed-door talks ended – OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu made it clear that, for the bloc of 57 Islamic states, the goal remains the same.
Passage of resolution 16/18, he said, “clearly demonstrated that, as a mature international organization, OIC was not wedded to either a particular title or the content of a resolution,” Ihsanoglu continued. “We just wanted to ensure that the actual matter of vital concern and interest to OIC member states was addressed.
He went on to commend the role played by the Obama administration: “I particularly appreciate the kind personal interest of Secretary Clinton and the role played by the U.S. towards the consensual adoption of the resolution.”
Ihsanoglu said it was now vital to ensure the resolution was implemented.
“The adoption of the resolution does not mark the end of the road. It rather signifies a beginning based on a new approach to deal with the whole set of interrelated issues. The success of the alternative approach contained in the resolution 16/18 will be judged by addressing vital concerns of all parties in a time-bound framework,” he said.
“As mentioned in the resolution, steps to end double standards and racial or religious profiling need to be taken. Such acts must not be condoned by states but duly addressed through structured and sustained engagement.”
Ihsanoglu silent on freedom of expression
Resolution 16/18 calls on states to make “a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures.”
Countries are expected “to take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries in the conduct of their public duties do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief.”
For the U.S. and other mostly Western democracies, a crucial aspect of the resolution is a clause “[r]affirming the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and
expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can
play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance.”
Despite the importance ascribed to that aspect of the resolution by the U.S. and other, Ihsanoglu in his brief comments to the Washington meeting made no reference to freedom of expression or freedom of speech.
Instead, he obliquely warned that failure to act against religious “hate speech” would fuel Islamic terror.
So who is the man who got the “hug treatment”? Erdoğan has shown a commitment to Islamist politics, has demonstrated hostility toward Israel, recently downgrading relations and expelling its ambassador, and says he doesn’t believe Hamas is a terrorist organization. These views have increased his stature across the Middle East.
This latest warm gesture to a leader that doesn’t always represent American values might remind some readers of the controversial bow President Obama gave Saudi King Abdullah at the G-20 two years ago.
The Telegraph then reported that:
State department protocol indeed decrees that presidents bow to no one, and has had to deal with similar controversies before, when then president Bill Clinton did a semi-bow to Japan’s Emperor Akihito.
In diplomacy, what matters more: words, actions or gestures?