Limits To Multiculturalism Or The Revenge of Montezuma
We often hear, especially from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), that ‘there are limits to freedom of expression’ but we do not see similar calls about religion or indeed multiculturalism. However, it is freedom of expression that guarantees freedom of religion and not the other way around. It is freedom of expression that is the very basis of a multicultural society. This article will explore the issue of moral limits to multiculturalism.
The OIC which arguably represents the Islamic Ummah has been depicting itself as a shining beacon of human rights good practice. It claims to be a promoter of religious tolerance despite the extremely poor record of many of its own member states in this regard. It does this in order to exploit the laudable and morally correct desire of Western countries to be tolerant and inclusive. Multiculturalism is a word that is used to define and formalise this desire, though there is no precise legal definition of the term. In many ways, this lack of precision allows individuals to project their own ideas about the meaning onto the word and thus allows the politically unscrupulous playing by ‘Alinksey’s Rules’ to mislead the public.
Despite OIC rhetoric, the poor human rights record and poor record of religious tolerance of many OIC countries comes as no surprise to the intelligent and informed observer. The OIC admits in its own 1990 Cairo Declaration that all human rights are subject to sharia, and this of course would include freedom of religion. Article 24 of the Declaration clearly states:
"All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.”
That is a huge get out clause to ensure that any actual human rights that are endorsed elsewhere in the document to deceive the stupid, are clearly and decisively abrogated. Human rights according to shari’ah are not human rights according to the actual understood meaning of the term. It is also a get out clause for the reasonably sounding United Nations resolution 16/18 because by the OIC’s own documents such resolutions are ‘subject to the Islamic Shari’ah’ and therefore rendered meaningless in terms of the way it is understood in the West.
So how does this relate to multiculturalism and its limits? In the contemporary Western world a rather extreme interpretation of multiculturalism prevails in the corridors of power. Decision makers are taking things too far when they endorse the idea of tolerating the intolerant. This tendency suggests that their aim is to use multiculturalism to divide rather than as a device to foster unity. Shari’ah is a total system that is a rival to the secular legal system on which any harmonious multicultural society depends. Shari’ah represents a monoculture and to endorse it while at the same time claiming to be in favour of multicultural society seems a bit odd. If multiculturalism is to succeed then it is not possible for it to embrace shari’ah. This is therefore one of the limits to multiculturalism.
A system of human rights subject to shari’ah would allow the persecution of non-Muslims who refused to pay the non-Muslim protection tax, it would restrict the building of non-Muslim religious structures and the completely open practice of non-Islamic faith, it would not allow a Muslim to change his or her religion, and it would allow the persecution of Muslim minorities such as the Ahmadiyya. Furthermore, it would confer inferior status for non-Muslims and women who would not enjoy equality before the law, it would allow homophobic discrimination, it would tolerate slavery, and it would institutionalise the practice of cruel and unusual punishments. (continue reading...)