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The Saudi Gazette announced today (14 May 2009) that, exactly as they promised, the OIC is moving ahead with the creation of an “Islamic” Human Rights Commission. As IHEU warned in a written statement to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2008, this commission will have as its guiding document not the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but the Cairo Declaration of 1990 which refers to the Sharia as its “only source of reference” to human rights, ignoring completely the Universal Declaration and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights to which almost all Islamic states are party. When IHEU tried to refer to this incompatibility in the plenary of the Human Rights Council we were silenced on a point of order when the Pakistani delegate claimed “it insulting to our faith to discuss the Sharia in this forum”. The president of the Council agreed, and ruled that it would no longer be permissible to discuss in detail any particular system of law. The effect of that ruling has been to place any human rights abuse carried out in the name of religion outside the scope of international law.

The intention in creating the Islamic commission is clear: International Human Rights norms will no longer apply to anyone living in an Islamic State, their rights will be defined exclusively in terms of the Sharia. And in the words of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the OIC, “the preservation of the Islamic family values have been enshrined in the OIC charter”.

Roy W Brown
IHEU main repersentative, UN Geneva

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