Thursday, October 01, 2009

The ICLA Meets the OSCE, Round 2

As a part of our continuing coverage of ICLA’s participation in this week’s meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Warsaw, here’s a report from yesterday’s session:

Statement by International Civil Liberties Alliance
presented to Session 5
on Tolerance and Non-discriminating I

OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Warsaw, September 30, 2009

OSCE logoThe International Civil Liberties Alliance is gravely concerned about the term “racism” being applied much too broadly, covering for instance criticism of religion, and its misuse to stigmatize political opponents as well further stifling political debate. Furthermore, the charge of “racism” is being used to cover up real problems like the widespread use of intimidation and violence, not least in immigrant and Islamic circles.

One case in point is the legal and peaceful pro-Israel demonstration held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in support of Israel against Hamas. Counter-demonstrators disrupted the demonstration with a siren, then assembled with shouts of “Heil Hitler”, “Kill the Jews “, “Allah-hu Akbar” and more, accompanied by Hitler salutes. After the pro-Israel demonstration had ended, the pro-Palestine demonstration marched the square with shouts of “Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, Muhammad’s army will return”, a reference to Muhammad’s violent assault on the Jewish settlement of Khaybar, Medina, and thus an implied threat of violence against Jews
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We urge the OSCE to take note of these anti-Semitic incidents, which are by no means isolated cases. We also deplore the use of the term “hate speech” in connection with religions.

There is also the urgent need to protect individual rights, not privileged positions of the clergy. Most vitally, rights of humans are — at any time — more important than the rights of gods. Racism is not and should not be about religion at all.