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In a joint statement with the Center for Inquiry today (14 March 2012) IHEU representative Raheel Raza, herself a Muslim human rights activist,  spoke of the need for the Islamic states to do more to promote religious tolerance at home if they are really concerned about hostility towards Muslims in the West.

Here is Raheel’s speech in full:

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 19th Session
Speaker: Raheel Raza, Tuesday 13 March 2012
Promoting Religious Tolerance

Mr President

We welcome the initiative of the OIC [Organization for Islamic Cooperation] aimed at combating religious intolerance, the so-called Istanbul Process. But we believe the OIC needs to do far more to eliminate the root causes of hostility towards Muslims. Such hostility as exists in the West did not arise in a vacuum – there is, for example, no equivalent hostility towards Hindus.  Much of the hostility is a reaction to how we Muslims are seen: with reports of Muslims killing Christians in Egypt;
Sunnis massacring Shias in Pakistan;
Shias killing Sunnis and driving Christians from their homes in Iraq;
Iran treating Bahais as spies for Israel;
the persecution of Ahmadis and Christians in the Punjab;
Christianity banned in Saudi Arabia;
the heavy penalties for apostasy in many Islamic states;
and Afghanistan once again in the hands of men who oppress women.  

One conclusion that can be drawn from the recent Pew Forum report[1] is that the safest place to be a Muslim is in the West.  But, while Imams in Europe rail against democracy, against male and female equality, and against rights and freedoms achieved after centuries of struggle against oppression, it should come as no surprise that such calls are greeted with hostility.

Where in all this is there any hope for Islam to be seen as a religion of peace and of respect for human rights?

The Islamic States need to demonstrate their recognition that Human Rights belong to everyone, regardless of race, religion, citizenship, sex or gender identity.

Tolerance, Mr President, is a two-way street. If the OIC are genuinely seeking greater tolerance towards Islam, we strongly suggest they need to pay far more attention to their problems at home.

Thank you sir

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