Confronting Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims in Public Discourse

When: 28 October 2011

Where: Vienna

Organized by: Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

OSCE participating States recognize that manifestations of discrimination and intolerance threaten the security of individuals and may give rise to wider-scale conflict and violence that undermine international stability and security. Today, there are a broad range of commitments to combat racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and intolerance, including against Muslims, Christians, and Jews, as well as commitments related to preventing and responding to hate crimes. Despite these efforts, anti-Muslim expressions in political discourse and the media continue to be a serious matter of concern.

NOTE: OSCE website minutes.

Mutual respect for diversity

[11:21:15 AM] I am blogging on the current speaker. Conference based on forward-looking approach. Recommendations require work of all stakeholders overcome intolerance and discrimination only if all cooperate muslim intolerance hand in hand with racism fueled by stereotypes and prejudices, identificatoin of terrorism with Islam.

[11:37:03 AM]

Intolerant speech should be avoided

Words can do harm, finding a fair balance is hard, is freedom of expression absolute when is it necessary to restrict it? intl standards do not provide answers.

Speaking in the video is Emine Bozkurt

Criminalization of hate speech is a threat

[11:39:05 AM]  It can impede robust debate in a robust society, OSCE stresses protection and promotion of freedom of expression. Stresses the role of education in shaping attitude of young

[11:41:42 AM] Educators must combat these stereotypes

[From the OSCE conference “Confronting Intolerance and Discrimination Against Muslims in Public Discourse”, October 28th, Vienna, Austria, Harald Feigl asks a couple of pointed questions to the OIC representatives.]


Madame Moderator,

”What are we speaking about?” – this was a good question. As a representative of Islam in Austria, considering Islam as an unchangeable, divine revelation, is OIC capable of finding a definition of ‘Islamophobia’, in the light of the term of the ‘infidel’, the unbeliever, in the sense of the Quran?

And together with the question: Is there any Islam, if there are many, which rejects even one Quranic verse?

Thank you

Mr. Omer Orhun, adviser to sec gen of OIC to speak next

[11:44:01 AM] problem: intolerance etc etc. What to do to confront these instances, 2 points in field of public discourse, political rhtetoric: responsible polticians must underline the importance of correct and unbiased discourse 2. media: positive role in promoting harmony.

Expecting from responsible journalists

[11:45:45 AM] an play a negative and divisive role in projecting messages. Govts must assist creation of media self regulation. Manifestation of islamophobia in western europe and Northern america potential to fuel anti-muslim incidents and violence, explore role of media in preventing hate crimes

[11:48:03 AM] Underlining by OIC: repsect for cultural diversity, differences shoul dnot lead to discrimination, principles of tolernace lie at the center of the human rights system, closely linked to mutual repsect, which is based on equality and dignity, regard for tolerance principles.

[11:49:28 AM] Democracy are essential safegurads of tolerance and nondiscrinations Elisabeth Wolff: more and more people believe that clash of civilz is inevitable, this attitude threatens intl environment

ESW: Islamphobia: OSCE prefers intolernace and discrimiantion against muslims
[11:51:08 AM] But we need a definition, it is a contemporary form of racism. Unfounded fear against muslims and islam it is an affront to the human rights and dignity of muslims.

ESW: Unfounded fear!!!!

[11:53:31 AM]: 1. we must address manifestations of islamophiba.
2. analyze current occurrences of stereotypes against muslims.
3. share good practices and gather set of recommendations to prevent and respond to manifestations od intolerance against muslims

Those are concrete measures (the above 3 points)


Session resuming

[12:45:54 PM] Breivik mentioned, linked to Wilders, all on Wilders

[12:49:00] More political leadership and media engagement needed to confront anti-Muslim rhetoric, say OSCE meeting participants

[1:06:50 PM] ESW: Eurabia is seen as conspiracy theory, all on video.

[1:12:02 PM] Taqiyya mentioned now.

[1:15:40 PM] ESW: When you watch these proceedings you might as well give up and cave into islamic supremacy. This is by far the worst I’ve ever taken part in, the americans need to wake up and get their butts over here. OIC is speaking.

[1:28:14 PM] ESW: OIC speech is truly awful.

[2:00:23 PM] ESW: I may be on next

This is the transcript of ESW’s speech:

On the problematic concept of ‘anti-Muslim discourse’

I believe that everybody here, both the representatives of the participating states and of non-governmental organisations, share a common goal of upholding liberty, peaceful coexistance and respect for diversity, in line with the OSCE purpose of upholding democracy and freedom.

It is a fact that over the last decades, many of the participating states have experienced increased cultural diversity, in great part due to immigration from other parts of the world. This has in many cases led to unexpected friction and conflict, and there is still potential for considerable further conflict. It must be our goal to dismantle such conflicts before the erupt causing material harm.

This meeting has been called with these objectives in mind.

However, there are in the meeting agenda some fallacies that deserve correction, or the results might end up being counterproductive to the overall objectives of the OSCE. Let me point out the more obvious ones:

  • Trying to steer public discourse is at odds with the core concept of freedom of expression.
  • It is not made clear in the agenda if ‘anti-Muslim discourse’ includes criticising Islam.
  • Singling out Muslims for specific protection constitutes an act of discrimination itself.
  • Anti-Christian anti-Jewish hate crimes are more common than anti-Muslim ones.
  • National law protecting citizens’ rights apply equally well to Muslims as to others.

In brief, there is no good reason to single out Muslims as being in need of special protection, as Muslims have the same fundamental rights as any other citizen.

No such discussion, however frank and honest, should be considered directed against individual adherents of a faith, and hardly an issue of concern at government level.

Attempting to resolve conflicts in society by controlling the public discourse is usually a futile approach, as we saw in Eastern Europe decades ago, and at odds with the objectives of the OSCE.

The International Civil Liberties Alliance discourages pursuing this strategy further.

NOTE: ESW:  I said at the end that I was very concerned about the undemocratic teaching of the Koran and that I would continue speaking out on this matter

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