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On Tuesday 17 September 2013, Amelia Cooper, representing the British Humanist Association at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, attacked the establishment of an OIC permanent mission in Brussels with the stated intention of combating islamophobia in Europe, “indistinguishable in the OIC mind from any criticism of Islam or sharia law”, and wondered what the OIC reaction would be if the EU returned the compliment by establishing an office to monitor freedom of expression, religion and belief in an OIC member state! The full text of Amelia’s speech is given below.

Elizabeth O’Casey, speaking for Centre for Inquiry, attacked forced marriage and child marriage – both forms of sexual slavery – common on every continent and the most widespread violation of the human rights of women and girls. her full speech is also given below.

 

British Humanist Association

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 24thSession, 9 to 27 September 2013

Speaker: BHA Representative, Amelia Cooper, 17 September 2013

Item 4:  Matters requiring the attention of the Council

OIC Permanent Mission to the European Union

Mr President

The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, recently stated that ‘Religious freedom is as universal as any other human right and as liberal as freedom of expression.’[1]

Why then are governments able to systematically abuse this right through the presence and propagation of discriminatory laws on blasphemy, apostasy and defamation of religion?

Such laws, present in 94 countries, including the majority of OIC member states, stand in contravention of Articles 18 and 19 of the ICCPR, as well as the Human Rights Committee’s 22nd general comment regarding official ideology.[2]

In June, the OIC inaugurated a Permanent Observer Mission to the European Union, ostensibly to improve co-operation between the EU and OIC. However, in the inaugural speech, OIC Secretary General Ihsanoglu stated that the mission was to ‘seriously fight against Islamophobia’[3], a conceptindistinguishable in the minds of the OIC, it would seem, to any criticism of Islam and Sharia Law.

This is demonstrative of the OIC’s well-documented desire to exercise control over what can be said about Islam, and its ambitions for the aggressive Istanbul Process, which reportedly aims to enshrine a global ban on “Islamophobia”.[4]

The installation of a Permanent Observer Mission is another example of what the Special Rapporteur calls “the enormous politicization of religion” [5], and it does the OIC no credit to attempt to exaggerate the level of hostility towards Muslims in Europe through the creation of this permanent mission.

We can well imagine the OIC’s reaction should the European Union make a reciprocal gesture in opening a Permanent Observer Mission to monitor freedom of expression, religion and belief in the Islamic world.

Thank you sir.



[1]Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, as quoted in an interview with Brian Pellot, Director of Global Strategy and Religious Freedom editor at RNS, posted 6th September 2013 http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/09/06/qa-with-united-nations-religious-freedom-czar-heiner-bielefeldt/

[2]General Comment 22 states i.a. that  If a set of beliefs is treated as official ideology in constitutions…or in actual practice, this shall not result in any impairment of the freedoms under article 18 or any other rights recognized under the ICCPR.”

[3]OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, as quoted in ‘OIC Opens Office in Brussels to Fight “Islamophobia” in Europe’ (http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3790/oic-brussels-islamophobia), June 26, 2013

[4]‘OIC Opens Office in Brussels to Fight “Islamophobia” in Europe’ (http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3790/oic-brussels-islamophobia), June 26, 2013

[5]Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, as quoted in an interview with Brian Pellot, Director of Global Strategy and Religious Freedom editor at RNS, posted 6th September 2013 http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/09/06/qa-with-united-nations-religious-freedom-czar-heiner-bielefeldt/

[1]Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, as quoted in an interview with Brian Pellot, Director of Global Strategy and Religious Freedom editor at RNS, posted 6th September 2013 http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/09/06/qa-with-united-nations-religious-freedom-czar-heiner-bielefeldt/

[1]General Comment 22 states i.a. that  If a set of beliefs is treated as official ideology in constitutions…or in actual practice, this shall not result in any impairment of the freedoms under article 18 or any other rights recognized under the ICCPR.”

[1]OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, as quoted in ‘OIC Opens Office in Brussels to Fight “Islamophobia” in Europe’ (http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3790/oic-brussels-islamophobia), June 26, 2013

[1]‘OIC Opens Office in Brussels to Fight “Islamophobia” in Europe’ (http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3790/oic-brussels-islamophobia), June 26, 2013

[1]Heiner Bielefeldt, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, as quoted in an interview with Brian Pellot, Director of Global Strategy and Religious Freedom editor at RNS, posted 6th September 2013 http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/09/06/qa-with-united-nations-religious-freedom-czar-heiner-bielefeldt/

 

 

Center for Inquiry

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 24th Session 9 to 27 September 2013

Speaker: CFI Main Representative, Elizabeth O’Casey, Tuesday 17 September 2013

Agenda Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

Servile Marriage: Marital & Sexual Slavery

Mr P­­­­­­­­­­­­­resident

Thousands of females across the world are being forced into servile marriages daily.[1] Servile marriage, which includes non-consensual marriage and the sale, transfer and inheritance of women and girls, reduces females to commodities over which men can exercise the right of ownership.

The overwhelming majority of women in servile marriages are forced into marriage as girl brides[2]. In the developing world, one in nine girls marry before the age of 15. In countries like Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea and CAR, the rate of early and forced marriage is 60% or higher.[3]

The persistence of servile marriage is grounded in a deeply unequal view of the female; where girls are perceived as commodities to be used to preserve honour, or solidify family links and finances. It allows for violence against young girls, their bodies being used as tools for sexual reproduction and gratification.

Servile marriages treat girls and women not as people but as property, in diametric opposition to the values for which this Council stands.

This not only enslaves these women and girls, but often violates their rights to health, education, non-discrimination and freedom from physical, psychological and sexual violence.

As the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery noted in an earlier report, cultural relativism is often given as an excuse for servile marriage[4]. Culture and religion, Mr President, must never legitimise anachronistic practices that violate the core principles of equality, autonomy and dignity upon which human rights are based.

We urge the Council to encourage states to respect their obligations under the Slavery Convention[5] – specifically in terms of forced marriage – and to help eliminate this continuing crime against women and girls across the world.

Thank you sir.



[1]http://www.plan-uk.org/early-and-forced-marriage/

[2]http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G12/151/67/PDF/G1215167.pdf?OpenElement

[3]http://www.plan-uk.org/early-and-forced-marriage/

[4]http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G12/151/67/PDF/G1215167.pdf?OpenElement

[5]http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetailsIII.aspx?&src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XVIII~4&chapter=18&Temp=mtdsg3&lang=en

 

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