The "quite formidable" Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) "has really escaped the notice of a lot of foreign policy observers," religious freedom scholar Nina Shea noted at a January 17, 2014, Hudson Institute panel. To correct this deficiency, Shea moderated an important presentation on the OIC's stealth jihad against freedom by her "old friend" Mark Durie, an Anglican theologian and human rights activist.
Dr. Mark Durie
As Durie's PowerPoint presentation available online noted, the 1969-founded OIC headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, contains 57 mostly Muslim-majority states (including "Palestine"). The second largest international organization after the United Nations (UN), the OIC is a "major global voting block" at the UN and unique in being the "only such organization devoted to advancing a religion." The OIC is "largely funded by Saudi Arabia," Shea noted, having contributed $30 million to the 2008 budget, far greater than the next largest contribution of $3 million from Kuwait.
Ominously, the OIC has been "lobbying assiduously" since about 2000 against "Islamophobia," Shea observed. "Islamophobia" was analogous to "homophobia," Durie's PowerPoint elaborated, an analogy previously noted by Islamic sharia law expert Stephen Coughlin and analyzed by this author. A "[n]arrow reading" of this "deep-seated and irrational fear about Islam or Muslims" would encompass only prejudices such as the "xenophobic aversion to Muslims" of some.
A "[b]road reading" by the OIC and others, though, condemns "all expressions of opposition to or disapproval of Islam" as "irrational and manifestations of prejudice." "Islamophobia is a deliberate scheme to distort the teachings and principles of peace and moderation engrained in Islam," the PowerPoint quoted from the OIC's 2013 Sixth OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia. "9/11 came as a long awaited opportunity," the report specifies, "for the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim elements in the West to set in motion their well orchestrated plan to slander Islam and target Muslims by equating terror with Islam and Muslims." Such bigots were "just hanging out" and waiting for Al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks, Durie mocked.
The OIC and its recently retired Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu assume that the "Islamic religion is under attack," thereby posing an "atmosphere of threat to the world," Durie stated. Yet American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hate crime statistics in Durie's PowerPoint belie this Islamic victimhood, with attacks upon Jews far outstripping those on Muslims in 2012 (674 to 130). Western states in the past have also often aided their Muslim minorities and Muslim countries, such as when the British government donated land for the United Kingdom's first mosque, London Central Mosque.
The "Islamophobia" campaign, moreover, manifests the distorted subordination of human rights to Islamic sharia law present throughout the OIC's 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. Therein rights such as free speech may not contradict the Koranic phrase "what is good" according to Islam. Similar distorted sectarianism is evident in the juxtaposition of OIC documents on "Combating Islamophobia" internationally and OIC-supported UN resolutions such as 16/18 in the Human Rights Council advocating religious equality.
The OIC and others are having results, for example with "Islamophobia" described by Durie as a "new field of studies" at various universities. The British Runnymede Trust also released a 1997 report condemning as "Closed views" beliefs listed in the PowerPoint such as "Islam is inferior," "violent," or a "political ideology." Shea also speculated about the "creative arrest" of Innocents of Muslims filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula for a parole violation, something usually not resulting in a jail sentence, as a de facto blasphemy punishment.
Durie's PowerPoint examined several problems in OIC "Islamophobia" arguments. Ironically, "beliefs which the OIC Observatory Report identifies as examples of Islamophobia accord with the teachings of leading Muslim experts on Islam, including the OIC's own scholars." Jihad as religious warfare, wife-beating, and an emphasis on separation of Muslims from non-Muslims all fall into this category.
Particularly troubling was the OIC's "Lack of Reciprocity & Consistency." While the OIC "solely targeted...the West," the "most egregious violations of Muslims' religious freedom" occur at the hands of other Muslims. Additionally, "Islamic states consistently generate many examples of incitement on the grounds of religion." Christianity in particular is the "most persecuted religion today" according to various estimates, with many OIC states being the worst offenders. The PowerPoint questioned whether OIC "Islamophobia" reports themselves amounted to incitement, given that individuals listed therein like Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks often became assassination targets.
Furthermore, the "OIC positively stereotypes Islam and Muslims, and negatively stereotypes all manifestations of rejection of Islam by non-Muslims." The "OIC insists that no acts of violence...can have a genuine Islamic motivation." Yet "all forms of opposition to Islam must be viewed as manifestations of prejudice and hatred...this is itself a manifestation of religious prejudice."
In all, the OIC's "Islamophobia" campaign was "constructing a global infrastructure for da‘wa," or proselytization. An "approved set of positive beliefs about Islam" spread "under the guise of preventing racism." That itself entails "bias, prejudice and a rejection of any kind of genuine reciprocity between faiths."
As part of this effort, "religious dialogue is an important venue for promoting Islamic values," Durie noted during the question period. Yet "we "can't just deal with Islamophobia in a vacuum" absent discussion of persecuted Christians, Durie warned. Churches should focus on this more, irrespective of fears of harming outreach to Muslims.
Responding to questions, Durie also discussed a "disconnect" between OIC goals and the UN framework of human rights, something "on the Muslim side they are well aware of." Thus Durie was "quite cynical about the whole exercise." Shea recalled the Cold War joke about the Soviets saying, "We have the right to criticize your president too."
An audience questioner also noticed a "disconnect" between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the OIC during her engagement on "Islamophobia" with the organization. Durie noted that Clinton "tried to challenge" the OIC for more religious tolerance. Shea also described Clinton as trying to find "elusive common ground" with the OIC.
Yet she and her husband William Clinton suffered from a "broader religious illiteracy." Downplaying religion as a factor in human behavior, such as when the former president attributed Boko Haram's jihad ravages to material deprivation, the Clintons believe that "there is nothing to investigate" in Islam. Instead, Durie described Hillary Clinton's expressed definition of extremists as "people who believe that their beliefs are correct," thereby equating Osama bin Laden with Mother Theresa. This "damaged worldview" entails "flying blind" with the OIC. In contrast, those who wish to see would do well to heed Durie's presentation, insightful for even longtime OIC watchers.