I’ve written so many times in this space about the OIC (the Organization of the Islamic Conference) that it sometimes feels like I do nothing but fisk Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (see the bottom of this post for a list of previous articles on Prof. Ihsanoglu and the OIC).
Since the UN Human Rights Council is simply a mouthpiece for the OIC, the “human rights” working papers and resolutions that come out of Turtle Bay are, for practical purposes, OIC productions, indistinguishable in style and substance from the pronouncements that emerge from OIC conclaves.
The recent “Defamation of Religions” resolution was a case in point. It’s much the same as the version I blogged about late last year, so I won’t cover it in any detail. Like all the other UNHRC effluvia, it’s straight out of the OIC playbook. Everything starts out in OIC symposia, but it ends up on the floor of the UN General Assembly.
That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the OIC. It’s an early warning system that helps predict the next round of abominations that will appear at Turtle Bay.
For that reason the forecast is gloomy. The latest output from Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu shows the shape of things to come, and does not bode well for the future of Europe.
His speech was given in November of 2008 in Istanbul, but for some reason it wasn’t posted on the OIC website until last week. The symposium he keynoted was called “What is European Culture”. I’ve included some major excerpts below, interspersed with my own comments:
Numerous attempts to reduce tension and to find a remedy to the misunderstanding between Islam and the West have, unfortunately, proven futile for years. These attempts have given rise to resolutions, declarations, and even programmes. They carried different names and variable emphasis: Dialogue among Civilizations launched by the OIC in 1998, inter-cultural dialogue, inter-faith dialogue, Alliance of Civilizations and the like. If the end result of all these tenacious efforts remains, to say the least, meager, it is because we are facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Regrettably, it seems that although the prophesies [sic] of the so-called clash of civilizations did not materialize in the real world, the essence of this thesis has, effectively, taken strong hold in the political discourse and popular consciousness against Islam and Muslims. It also has profoundly influenced the dominant trend which depicts Islam as the enemy of the West and as a danger which needs to be rebuffed and defeated.
Notice here the familiar theme: the Western prophecies of a clash of civilizations cause a trend in which Islam is depicted as the enemy of the West. The doctrines of Islam don’t cause this trend. Nor does the behavior of Muslims. It has nothing to do with rape, murder, beheadings, and terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims in the name of Allah.
The fault does not lie with Islam. It lies outside of Islam.
Like everything that’s wrong with the Muslim world, someone else is to blame.
Prof. Ihsanoglu continues:
– – – – – – – – –
Over the last two decades, and since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the focus of world politics has shifted from global political and ideological conflicts between the superpowers or between the capitalist West and the socialist East to the realm of the so-called clash of civilizations, cultures and religions; on a global scale.
Special emphasis is presently placed on the tension between the Christian and Muslim worlds; a tension based on the false assumption that there exists a primordial and intrinsic discord or enmity between the two civilizations. One of the major battle fields of this conflict is in Europe where Muslim presence has increased tremendously in the last few decades, and where Muslims have become an inextricable component of the fabric of many European societies.
The idea of a “primordial and intrinsic discord or enmity between the two civilizations” is false? Why??
From the moment of its inception until the organizational and technological superiority of Europe forced its retreat, Islam almost continuously attacked non-Muslim peoples in a series of horrific and pitiless wars to force the conversion of Christians, Jews, and Hindus to Islam. In only a couple of generations the centuries-old Christian communities of the Near East and North Africa were bathed in blood and destroyed.
Except for the initial 7th-century group of Mohammed’s immediate associates, no major conversions to Islam took place except by fire and sword.
And yet Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu would have us believe that there is no “intrinsic discord” between Christians and Muslims in Europe!
Alongside the growth of Muslim immigrants in Europe since the seventies of the last century, growing anxiety and unease emerged among the Europeans who became annoyed by the presence in their midst of foreigners, mainly from the Muslim world.
From the 1960s through the 1970s Muslim migrant populations to Europe were limited to temporary single male migrants who landed in Europe at the solicitation of European governments to take on small and minor jobs. Those early immigrants were met with tolerance and respect for their essential human rights in terms of representation, participation, freedom of congregation etc. These comfortable conditions deteriorated when the numbers of those migrants grew, after the seventies and mainly when they were granted long-term resident status in host countries, and the possibility of bringing their immediate family members under the 1970’s family reunification strategy.
The rapid influx of migrants, mainly Muslims, from Europe’s immediate periphery was met with mounting inquietude and apprehension by the receiving European societies. The fact that most of these immigrants hail mainly from rural areas of their countries of origin, or from lower classes of their societies, accentuated the sense of unease and concern among the populations of the host countries. With the passage of time, the level of immigrants had witnessed substantive amelioration, the rift between the immigrants and the autochthon populations grew wider and wider, and seems to have posed difficult problems to the governments and the societies in many European countries.
Now this is a fairly accurate description of the migrations of Muslims into Europe during the last part of the 20th century. That’s how it happened.
This situation became more complex and took different turns with the implementation of the process of the “EU integration and expansion”.
Politically, Europe is divided into numerous states, each with a different cultural background, a varied history, language or languages, traditions. This amalgam of states was called upon to join hands to create political and economic union under the framework of the European Union.
Parallel to the accelerated drive toward creating the European Union, integration and expansion, efforts were deployed to construct and promote a concept of “common European identity” and culture.
We’re getting into dangerous waters here. Most of the readers of this blog are EU-skeptics and look askance at the idea of a “common European identity”. But Prof. Ihsanoglu is right: that’s the official ideology of the European Union.
As it so often does, the OIC is about to use the high-minded principles of the West as a weapon against it. Europe will be hoist with its own petard.
It has been assumed that European national cultures share a common essence or value set that can allow the continent’s national communities to collaborate within a coherent European civilizational constellation. The fundamental foundation can be synopsized by a “Charter of European Identity”. This Charter stipulates that Europe is above all a community of values. The aim of unification is to realize, test, develop and safeguard these values which are rooted in common legal principles, acknowledging the freedom of the individual and his or her social responsibilities. They are based on tolerance, humanity and fraternity anchored in classical antiquity traditions and Christianity.
Oh-oh. Is the Good Professor really going acknowledge the essential Christian identity of Europe?
No, he’s not. He has other plans for us:
Since the 8th Century, Islam and Christianity were the two universal religions of the world, in the sense that they have proven historically to be universal and that their respective messages have been received by people of varied ethnic, linguistic and social backgrounds over a long period of time and on a large scale. Moreover, Islam and Christianity are the only two civilizations that had interacted so intensively.
We’re into some serious euphemisms now.
Muslims and Christians “interacted so intensively”. Uh-huh.
Like the Vikings interacted intensively with Lindisfarne. Like the Wehrmacht interacted intensively with Poland. Like Mohammed Atta interacted intensively with Manhattan.
Islam has no claim to any universality except in the sense that it has a knife at the throat of the universe.
The very premise of Islam, being laid down on the Abrahamic values as do Judaes-Christian [sic] traditions, as well as Muslim culture’s high admiration of Hellinic [sic] culture and knowledge, and its adaptation to many Islamic studies made of the presence of Islam in Europe a genuine partner to the European endeavour propagating shared values and knowledge. Islamic contribution to the renaissance of Europe is very well documented. Likewise, the fact remains that very large numbers of the Muslims in Europe are considered to be indigenous Europeans if we take into consideration the population of some European sovereign States like Albania, Bosnia, the Russian Federation and add to them Kosovo, the Caucuses as well as those who live in the periphery of Euro-Asian countries. How can one categorises these, Muslim intruders or genuine citizens of Europe. And for them is Europe a host country or a home country?
Before the 20th century, no Muslims were indigenous to Europe except as descendants of armed invaders or of the native populace that had converted to Islam under threat of death. No one already in Europe became a Muslim voluntarily until after the Islamic conquests, when one’s life and well-being depended on it.
And even then, most Christian communities in the conquered territories stubbornly resisted assimilation. They accepted dhimmitude, poverty, and abuse rather than become Muslims.
The ugly truth about Islam is that only a small proportion of Muslim converts ever joined the Ummah of their own free will.
The European Union posited three basic conditions for membership: European identity, democratic status and respect for human rights. When we see how these conditions were respected in practice in the case of the admission of new members to the Union, we see that countries which had fascist and military regimes were admitted as late as the 1970s, and they hold power in the current European Union, mainly Greece, Spain and Portugal. The excuse articulated to justify such a derogation from the European principles of admission, was that the admission of Spain, Portugal and Greece was an important obligation devised at nurturing these countries’ “true European essence”.
This can be viewed in contrast to the EU stance toward Turkey, which is still excluded in spite of its intensive campaign for membership. East Europe, on the other hand, and despite its recent past under communism, became an ideal vantage point, and members to the EU which sought to show itself as an idealized entity.
Now we’re into “It’s not fair! You’re treating Turkey differently!” territory.
But there’s an interesting implicit acknowledgement here: in some sense, Turkey’s Islamic past resembles that of fascism and communism.
Following the logic of the “Charter of European Identity” and its interpretation, the notion of a “multi-cultural Europe”, took center stage, and became an ideological cornerstone of European integration. Multiculturalism sets the ideological framework for inclusion and, conversely, for exclusion too. One needs to note upfront, that despite its apparent universalist claims, the European multiculturalist vision serves specific interests that limit the meaning annexable to it.
We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. Europe: you wanted Multiculturalism. You expressed it as your highest ideal. Your ambition is to become a multicultural continent.
So now you have to take in all the poor huddled masses of the Islamic world. You’ve got no choice.
Although multiculturalism is a fundamental component in the intended identity for Europe, it remains a controversial notion, opened to many interpretations. In positive terms, it may mean coexistence of majority and minority ethnic populations, tolerance, equal treatment and respect of cultural heritage and culture. But in negative terms, it could be seen as a recipe for the destruction of national identity and social adherence.
We agree with him here. Where could he possibly be going with this…?
It is from this vantage view that according to the European multiculturalist vision, Islam has been reconstructed in the European discourse as something anti-European, a civilizational concept, diametrically opposed and potentially in conflict with that of Europe. Citing 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the rise of the Taliban etc. The West seems to have come to a conclusion that these examples represent a fundamentally different cultural dynamic and trajectory, and should therefore be rejected.
The space allocated to the notion of culture in the recent European discourse should attract our attention. Based on premises of the clash of civilizations, it is argued that Islamic cultural difference has the potential to express itself in conflict with Europe. This notion elevates culture to the status of an independent actor in political and social processes. This means that culture is behind and permeates all conflicts. This also means that the reasons driving conflict are not based on rational or calculated decisions; rather, they are inevitably the outcome of a certain cultural logic. Unfortunately, such assumptions have profoundly influenced the dominant discourse of European cultural exceptionalism.
This is a post-modern depth charge dropped into international waters. Notice the po-mo buzzwords: “reconstructed”, “dominant discourse”, etc. He’s picked up the lingo of the Western intellectuals, all right, and he’s using it against us.
Our Multiculturalism as currently practiced is the bad kind of Multiculturalism, because it damages the culture of Europe’s Muslim guests.
In the political discourse since 1980s, the alleged failure of Muslims to integrate into European daily life has been viewed in cultural terms. In the 1970s, the immigrant was considered a guest worker coming from Turkey or Morocco; today, this immigrant is labeled merely as a Muslim. This shift occurred and coincided with the advent of extremist Islamic movements. By stripping an immigrant from his nationality and linking him to a culture or civilizational matrix it becomes possible to problematize his presence without appearing to be prejudicious while positioning oneself as defending European values.
In other words, even the levels of abject multicultural surrender that are now dominant in Europe are not good enough. Europe will not have done its duty until Muslims are allowed to fully be themselves, in cultural terms.
In the Danish caricatures’ episode, for example, it was possible for the artist and publisher to demonize the Prophet of Islam and Islam itself as a religion and culture, under the convenient pretext of freedom of expression, while the true intent of this unprovoked vulgarity was to demonize Muslims, to destroy their self-esteem, to make a mockery of their values and shake their identity and showering ridicule on their core beliefs in the eyes of the world.
Did you know those silly Motoons were so powerful? That twelve little colored pictures printed in a newspaper read by a few hundred thousand people could destroy the self-esteem of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims?
How weak Islam is! What a bunch of pussies those Muslims are, that they can’t tolerate a handful of cartoons!
This “logic” is the basis for the proposed suppression of free speech throughout the Western world. We aren’t allowed to make jokes and poke fun because it “shakes the identity” of Muslims.
What a pitiful bunch of losers.
In Europe, the debate on Islam is couched in cultural terms and not invoked because of the flow of immigrants. Islam itself and Muslims are considered as a problem or as bearers of alternative values, or as a challenge to European cultural norms. It is also seen in different circumstances as a provocation of fascist and ultra-right tendencies in Europe in their hate campaign against Muslims. Other non-Muslim immigrants are not judged under this prism.
Other non-Muslim immigrants are not judged under this prism because they are overwhelmingly different from Muslims in their behavior. They don’t take to the streets and burn flags and cars and hunt down Jews whenever they’re offended. They don’t gang-rape the women of other groups for sport. They don’t insist that the host country adapt to their ways and adopt their practices. They don’t murder people for making cartoons and films.
In practice, the “alternative values” that “challenge cultural norms” degrade women, abuse animals, sodomize children, mutilate the genitals of little girls, and insist that daughters who refuse arranged marriages be killed.
These aren’t arguments about Easter baskets and yarmulkes. These are about life and death.
They’re about the total degradation of our culture and the destruction of our system of values.
Eager to demonise Islam as a religion and a culture, some European circles are keen to stand by and assist any Muslim, who chose to attack Islamic values or norms. Such a person becomes an authority in Islamic study, although his knowledge of Islam is in many cases nil. His negative thoughts or ideas became the true essence of Islamic thought, and he will be a respected Islamic scholar, fit to be prominent figure in the European think-tanks dealing with Islam. These deceitful methods of falsehood, reflect a mentality bent on vilifying Islam at any price, away from any objective or scientific standards or norms of research and study.
“Some European circles”? Like who? Vlaams Belang? Geert Wilders? Fjordman?
These circles certainly don’t include Europe’s elected governments, permanent bureaucracies, academic elites, or the major media outlets. All of them worship at the altar of Tariq Ramadan as the spokesman for European Islam.
A major bone of contention is the problematic nature of integration. Integration is too often taken for granted and considered easy to grasp. But in reality, integration, let alone assimilation, is a highly subjective concept.
Aha! Assimilation is subjective!
We all define our own reality. So we can all decide when we’re fully assimilated. Assimilation must occur on the terms of the assimilatee.
It is assumed that Muslim communities in Europe should integrate into the multi-cultural reality emanating from European identity, and if they do not succeed, then this has something to do with their culture.
Moreover, it is noticed in the domain of assimilation and integration that even a minor difference in behavior or style is often elevated to crucial ideological distinction, and Muslims are seen as the offenders.
Dwelling on the above, one can clearly see that the debate around immigrants is structured around the key concept of Islam, much more than around Muslims. Islam becomes the actor in this line of thinking.
It is strange that this exaggerated weight attributed to Islam, stands in sharp contradiction with their idealistic European notion of ‘indiscrimination’.
Do you see the logic here?
If Europe doesn’t allow Muslims to construct their own version of cultural assimilation in Europe, entirely on their own terms, then Europe is acting counter to its avowed ideals.
In order to honor their own stated principles, Europeans must allow the Muslims in their midst to do whatever they want.
It is alleged that the visibility of Islam in Europe and its introduction into the public sphere started to pose a threat to European societies. This anxiety is gaining momentum since the rise of the European cultural paradigm. Building a minaret or a mosque, eating halal food or celebrating a religious holiday, started to be seen as a threat to European civilization or a danger for secular democracy.
This is conflating the smoke with the fire. Wherever the minarets and the halal food appear, the genital mutilation and honor killings will also be found.
Islam is of a piece. You can’t have the headscarf and the muezzin without all the abominations as well.
But Prof. Ihsanoglu already knows that. He just doesn’t admit it.
It is also fair to stress that despite the aforementioned remarks, prejudice, is met with criticism inside Europe by objective writers and thinkers who argue that while the concept of European identity is increasingly accepted, except by the far-right, immigrants are excluded from full inclusion in the Union they are helping to build. Others believe that the construction of a European identity neglects the cultural demands of the minority and fails to produce a pluralist reading of identity.
On the other hand, while the ultra-right is trying to get rid of Islam in Europe, others are trying to control it through establishing their own Islam. Many NGOs and intellectuals advocate an agenda that tries to shape Islam and Muslims the way they want them to be.
Notice the repeated references to the far right, the ultra-right, etc. The Secretary General knows very well that the Right is demonized all across Europe, and that European intellectuals live in abject fear of being tarred as fascists or neo-Nazis, especially if the are slightly conservative in their tendencies.
The Professor is playing on those fears here, delivering the subliminal message to any European critics of Islam that they risk becoming just like those evil right-wingers.
Muslim voices are hardly heard in this debate, despite the fact that a growing Muslim elite is steadily emerging and engaging in intellectual work. They and other immigrants constitute a palpable component of European societies. Their social position and access to civil participation must not be held hostage to a methodical double-standard approach, or leave them living in a communitarian cage. Although European states, being respectful of democracy and human rights, can not enact laws on forceful integration, the fact remains that Muslim immigrants are living in parallel societies and in an environment where their culture and values are subject to daily attacks, mockery and contempt.
“Muslim voices are hardly heard in this debate”?? Since when?
You can’t tune in a European news program without a Muslim in full regalia holding forth about the injustices inflicted on his people by the racism and Islamophobia running rampant in Europe. The complaints of Muslims are heard regularly in parliaments. Official commissions for their welfare, staffed by Muslims, are funded and promoted by European governments.
But he’s not joking. He really believes Muslims are neglected in Europe.
Actually, he’s right about one thing. Muslim immigrants are living in parallel societies. But he forgets to tell us that this is what Muslims prefer, at least until they are in the majority and establish the Caliphate.
The notion of a multicultural Europe needs to be re-examined to address the double standards that it sets, and the discriminatory practices and standards that it established under the facade of a ‘noble project’.
This could be done by reconsidering the wrong perception of Islam in Europe. Throughout centuries, Islam has proven to be a concept of peace, tolerance and recognition of the other. The history of Islam in Europe, in Spain, and in the Balkan is a glaring testimony to the noble and enlightened values of Islam and its humane and universal nature.
This is a shot across the bow for secular European democracy.
The OIC insists that Islam be taken on its own terms throughout Europe. It will not rest until all aspects of Islamic culture are fully respected and officially condoned in European countries.
In other words: in order to honor its own stated principles of Multiculturalism, Europe must allow the establishment of sharia law in its Muslim enclaves.
It will have no other choice.
Watch for the worldwide version of all this to pop up at the UN in the near future. Europe is just the test market.
If Durban II racks up any successes in Geneva next month, the skids will be greased for the next assault on the infidels via the UN.
I can’t wait for Durban III.
Previous posts about Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and the OIC: