Thursday, November 05, 2009

The OSCE: Islam and Violence Against Women

OSCE map
(click to enlarge)

I’ve reported several times previously on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its Human Dimension Roundtable. Since July a contingent of Counterjihad volunteers representing several NGOs has been attending Human Dimension meetings in Vienna and Warsaw.

Concerning the “human dimension”, here’s what Henrik Ræder Clausen had to say about the OSCE terminology:

In OSCE terminology, the term human dimension is used to describe the set of norms and activities related to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, which is regarded within the OSCE as one of the three dimensions of security. The term also indicates that the OSCE norms in this field cover a wider area than traditional human rights law. (Human Dimension commitments, vol. 1, 2005)

Pax EuropaA Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Gender Equality is being hosted today and tomorrow in Vienna, with a special focus on combating violence against women. Present are Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, representing Pax Europa, Harald Fiegl representing Mission Europa, and Astrid Meyer-Schubert of Akademikerbund.

One of the participants filed this report with us earlier today:

Topic: Prevention of Violence Against Women

There were quite a few Muslims in the group.

OSCE — Nov 5 2009 — Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and Astrid Meyer-SchubertPrinciple topics of discussion were the need for education and a stable family life. A Counterjihad delegate, who acted as rapporteur for the group, reminded those present that certain religious groups condone violence, and therefore children often learn to be violent as a result. This then creates a cycle of violence from generation to generation.

The rapporteur went on to say that Western society is based on non-violent Christian values and that these needed to be retained and encouraged, and also stated that it is essential for secular law always to supersede religious law, because that is the only way to prevent religiously inspired violence in the home and help children to understand that such violence is not and should not be the norm.

As the reader may imagine, this caused a huge stir even though no particular religion was named. The Muslims present obviously thought that they had been singled out and stated emphatically that Islam is not a violent religion and that it has only been hijacked by violent people.

NGO reps from Kyrgyzstan and Bosnia-Herzegovina immediately took the floor and complained that “[their critics] are against Islam as being seen as the main source of violence. Islam cherishes human values.” They said that Islam should not be targeted all the time, even though Islam was not even mentioned. As it turned out it was not the Counterjihad representative who brought up the ‘I’ word, but Islamic delegates themselves.
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In Kyrgyzstan, which is predominantly Muslim, there is no chance for NGOs to engage religious leaders in discussions about problems in the country. Since 2008 Muslim religious leaders have been issuing papers attesting religious marriage. These papers are not accepted by the government.

“Civil marriage grants equal rights, while religious marriage does not. It empowers men, as only men can grant divorce.” (the words of the Kyrgyz NGO)

Another recommendation mentioned during the discussion was that there needs to be clear wording: Religion must never be an excuse for violence.

The morning session was a civil society round table. We split into working groups, one for prevention of violence, one on prevention on violence, and one on prosecution.

A video of the proceedings will be made available in due course.

I’ll be posting more reports later. For those of you who are interested in the official account, here’s the OSCE press release.