The State Department vs. Free Speech
Hillary Clinton chats up the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which demands world-wide bans on criticizing Islam.
By NINA SHEA AND PAUL MARSHALL
Last July in Istanbul, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-chaired a “High-Level Meeting on Combating Religious Intolerance” with the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Mrs. Clinton invited the OIC to Washington for a conference to build “muscles of respect and empathy and tolerance.” That conference is scheduled for Dec. 12 through Dec. 14.
For more than 20 years, the OIC has pressed Western governments to restrict speech about Islam. Its charter commits it “to combat defamation of Islam,” and its current action plan calls for “deterrent punishments” by all states to counter purported Islamophobia.
In 2009, the “International Islamic Fiqh [Jurisprudence] Academy,” an official OIC organ, issued fatwas calling for free speech bans, including “international legislation” aimed at protecting “the interests and values of [Islamic] society,” and for judicial punishment for public expression of apostasy from Islam. OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu emphasizes that “no one has the right to insult another for their beliefs.”
The OIC does not define what speech should be outlawed, but its leading member states’ practices are illustrative. Millions of Baha’is and Ahmadis, religious movements arising after Muhammad, are condemned as de facto “insulters” of Islam, frequently persecuted by OIC governments, and attacked by vigilantes. Those seeking to leave Islam face similar fates.
Muslim reformers are widely and specifically targeted for supposedly anti-Islamic speech. In Afghanistan, Ali Mohaqeq Nasab, editor of “Haqooq-i-Zen” (“Women’s Rights”) magazine, was imprisoned by the Karzai government for publishing “un-Islamic” articles criticizing stoning as a punishment for adultery. In Iran, Ayatollah Boroujerdi was imprisoned for arguing that “political leadership by clergy” was contrary to Islam. In Bangladesh, Salahudddin Choudhury was imprisoned for hurting “religious feelings” by advocating peaceful relations between Bangladesh and Israel.