The European Union has offered to host the next meeting of the so-called Istanbul Process, an aggressive effort by Muslim countries to make it an international crime to criticize Islam.
The announcement comes less than one month after the United States hosted its own Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC.
The Istanbul Process – its explicit aim is to enshrine in international law a global ban on all critical scrutiny of Islam and/or Islamic Sharia law – is being spearheaded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 57 Muslim countries.
Based in Saudi Arabia, the OIC has long pressed the European Union and the United States to impose limits on free speech and expression about Islam.
But the OIC has now redoubled its efforts and is engaged in a determined diplomatic offensive to persuade Western democracies to implement United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC)Resolution 16/18, which calls on all countries to combat “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of … religion and belief.” (Analysis of the OIC’s war on free speech can be foundhere and here.)
Resolution 16/18, which was adopted at HRC headquarters in Geneva in March 2011, is widely viewed as a significant step forward in OIC efforts to advance the international legal concept of defaming Islam.
However, the HRC resolution – as well as the OIC-sponsored Resolution 66/167, which was quietly approved by the 193-member UN General Assembly on December 19, 2011 – remains ineffectual as long as it lacks strong support in the West.