ICLA’s OSCE Mission In 2012 – Reflections
ICLA December 23 2012
The month of December is a useful time to reflect on the year that is about to pass into history. 2012 has been a year in which human rights in Western countries have suffered sustained attack. ICLA has been at the forefront of bringing such abuses to public attention. This does not make ICLA popular with the governments that are presiding over such activities. Its activists may suffer unwanted attention from those with power. However, as an organisation and as individual activists we are willing to be unpopular in the eyes of the powerful. Even if, as individuals, we have our lives turned upside down we will continue to speak out for what is right.
ICLA is keen to participate in civil society institutions and in 2012 we have continued our mission at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). ICLA activists working tirelessly at the OSCE to ensure that important human rights issues get the attention that they deserve.
The on-going efforts of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to undermine freedom of expression has been the focus of much of our efforts. Its quest for a global blasphemy law is one of the principal threats to human rights in the world today. Since it is freedom of expression that guarantees the right to freedom of religion and not the other way around religious freedom is also in grave danger if the OIC’s ambitions are realised. The connivance of Western governments with the OIC will be something that we will need to monitor closely in 2013.
- From left to right:
- Alain Wagner (France) is the leader of the Stop Sharia campaign and a co-founder of the International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA).
- David Erzet (Belgium) represents the International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA).
- Dave Petteys (USA) represents ACT! for America 5280 Coalition.
- Felix Strüning (Germany) is the managing director of the Stresemann Foundation — A Lobby for Freedom.
- Henrik Ræder Clausen (Denmark) represents the International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA).
- Liz Schmidt (Germany) represents Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa (BPE-Austria).
- Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (Austria) is a board member of Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa (BPE-Germany).
ICLA’s work at the OSCE has been done in partnership with members of a number of courageous organisations. We would like to take this opportunity to salute our colleagues at Act for America 5280 Coalition, Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, Stresemann Foundation, and Association NONALI for the constructive working relationships that we developed at the OSCE (a list of document submissions can be found HERE). Together we drew attention to a number of important issues in relation to human rights (submitting organisation in brackets at end of each point) including:
- Brought attention to interference by British authorities with the right to freedom of assembly at a demonstration against Islamist extremism in Walthamstow on 1 September 2012. (BPE).
- Highlighted the incompatibility between the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam of 1990 (CDHRI) and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948. (BPE).
- Drew attention to the incompatibly of Islamic laws relating to apostasy and norms established in the OSCE region. (BPE).
- Use of labels such as “Islamophobia” to undermine freedom of expression. (Act for America 5280 Coalition).
- Called for the rejection of the CDHRI and for OSCE member states to participate in the 2012 Brussels Process. (ICLA).
- Called for precise definitions of key words used in OSCE documents in order to facilitate sincere and constructive dialogue and cooperation.
- ICLA helped to expose possible US Government pro-sharia and anti-Israel intentions at OSCE
- Asked for a concise legal explanation of the difference between “anti-Muslim discourse” and criticism of Islam as well as a definition of the term “Islamophobia”
- Urgently called on the British Government to take measures to ensure that the Rotherham grooming scandal that was arguable caused by political correctness never happens again.
- Highlighted many examples of politically motivated discrimination in supposedly liberal democracies.
- Reminded the OSCE of its commitment to guaranteeing freedom of artistic creation with reference to the case of German professor Armin Geus. (BPE). (BPE). (The trial of Prof. Geus was shut down shortly afterwards).
- Recommended that Austrian authorities demand a certified German copy of the Koran to check whether Islamic teachings are indeed compatible with Austrian laws.
- After citing numerous examples of interference with the right to freedom of assembly and association ICLA called for international monitors for political protests in Western Europe. (ICLA).
ICLA was mentioned in the official OSCE consolidated summary of the conference that was held in Warsaw from 24 September – 5 October 2012. The consolidated summary can be found HERE, but some of the references to ICLA can be found below:
“International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA)
The ODIHR could therefore greatly help participating States ensure that their legislation concerning freedom of religion and belief is and remains in compliance with their commitments by:
- Inducing state members to demand the abrogation of the Cairo Declaration, or at least to reject it, so as to prevent the duplicity of language that has appeared in the international agreements and within the OSCE;
- Inducing state members to join the Brussels Process launched by the International Civil Liberties Alliance on July 9, 2012 in the European Parliament. The Brussels Process aims to assist governments and civil society in protecting civil liberties and freedoms, and more specifically to defend the freedom of belief against attempts to implement Sharia regulations;
- Helping to create bi- or multilateral partnerships among OSCE members in order to optimize the implementation of the Brussels Process, to contribute to its growth and evolution and to the expansion of its field of application.” (page 86)
“International Civil Liberties Alliance
Recommendations to ODIHR:
- To allow sincere and constructive dialogue and cooperation between state members, NGO’s and exterior participants, IClA ask ODIHR to systematically provide a precise definition of both the expressions “Islamophobia” and “religious hatred” each time they are used in a document and, in absence of precise definitions, to adopt a bydefault non-receivability rule for all document containing one or both of those expressions.” (page 94)
Distributed documents submitted by ICLA can be found on page 157 of the report.
In 2013 we will continue our mission at the OSCE. Inevitably it will be a key year in which the OIC tries to close the deal for a global blasphemy law. Western governments will continue their own efforts to undermine fundamental rights and freedoms. ICLA will be there to expose such threats to freedom.
If you run an organisation that shares the values outlined in our Mission Statement then we would be thrilled to be in contact with you. Those that challenge freedom are powerful and have access to huge resources. Our work can therefore only move forward in partnership with others.