Most readers are aware that I attended a counterjihad summit in Zurich back in June. As often happens, our meeting caught the attention of the “anti-fascist” Left. Yesterday a prominent website called EUobserver used the occasion of the founding of the European Defence League to inveigh against “far-right” “fringe” “racist” “football hooligans”. Most of the article focuses on the English Defence League, but the author — a chap named Leigh Phillips — took the time to have a quick poke at the International Civil Liberties Alliance and Counterjihad Zurich.
It’s nice to be noticed. And there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? So let’s hear it for EUobserver!
Mr. Phillips, however, decided that it was inappropriate for fascist xenophobes like ourselves to include the phrase “civil liberties” in our organization’s name, and chided us for it. Aeneas took exception to his effrontery, and has this to say at the ICLA website:
The International Civil Liberties Alliance and Human Rights
The International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA) has recently been criticised by euobserver.com as an organisation ‘which does not focus on civil liberties’.
In June this year, the EDL sent two representatives to Counter-Jihad 2010 — a conference in Zurich held by the International Civil Liberties Alliance, which does not focus on civil liberties at all but is instead an anti-Muslim movement.
This quote suggests that euobserver.com is somehow trying to define and take ownership of what it means to be a defender of human rights. This attitude, perhaps, gives a clear indication of the ideological bias of that particular website. The attempt to monopolise human rights from a particular ideological position is something that poses the greatest threat to them.
ICLA was formed as a response to the radical left’s view that it has a monopoly on human rights, which it uses to deny the human rights of those who oppose its ideology. We live in a world where those who do not fully endorse its narrative, its aims, and its objectives are demonised and denied a true voice in civil society. It could be argued that this political ideology, and its fellow travellers, has hijacked and effectively captured the human rights establishment and made it an instrument of tyranny. ICLA aims to create balance in the human rights community and become the champion of those individuals and groups who seem to be deliberately ignored by traditional human rights organisations.
There are many areas where traditional human rights organisation are failing:
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Freedom of Expression
Freedom of expression is under constant assault, and much of this assault is done in the name of advancing human rights. There is a great deal of anti-democratic legislation that is getting onto the statute books of many supposedly democratic countries. So-called ‘hate legislation’ is in fact undermining the very mechanisms of civil society that make tolerance and the promotion of human rights possible in the first place. Much of this erosion of freedom of expression has been the result of appeasing the efforts of violent agitators, who are considered by many parts of the so-called ‘progressive’ human rights establishments as victims. We see how conservative political viewpoint are increasingly regarded as heretical and we see how conservative activists are unfairly demonised. It must be remembered that many human rights abuses have been perpetrated by ideologies that have defined themselves as ‘progressive’. Can we risk the whole field of human rights being under the power of such forces?
We have witnessed how, since 9/11, the influence of sharia has been allowed to spread effectively unchallenged throughout the world. In many cases, such as with sharia finance, this spread has been actively encouraged by those eager to make a quick buck. Piecemeal encroachment of sharia norms into Western societies has been facilitated by governments to such an extent that there is now the risk of the emergence of parallel legal systems.
Some people state that only this or that aspect of sharia will be allowed, but what they forget is that sharia is a total system and an alternative system to what many in the Islamic world regard as ‘man made’ laws and institutions. We see how barbaric punishments are carried out in parts of the world where sharia has been allowed to take root. In those territories we see how freedom of religion is undermined, freedom of speech in undermined, and freedom of sexual identity is undermined. It is impossible to effectively oppose human rights abuses in these areas of life without reference to the sharia ideology that inspires them. The unwillingness of many traditional human rights organisations to effectively oppose sharia has become a serious problem and many people are forced to live in misery as a direct result of this neglect.
In the West the rights of majority cultures are increasingly sidelined, ignored, undermined and demonised by an international elite that sees them as an obstacle to its plans for self enrichment and political aggrandisement. Infrastructure has been put in place to undermine their ability to speak and be heard. This is completely unacceptable and the response to this problem by the ‘human rights’ industry has been woefully, and perhaps deliberately, inadequate.
Western Civilisation seems to be a particular target for abuse, demonization, and the encouragement of self hate. Israel is a Western country that is singled out for special abuse which often descends into outright anti-Semitism. One gets the impression that some human rights organisations take sides against Israel primarily because it is regarded as a Western state and therefore automatically to blame for many of the world’s problems.
Democracy, democratic institutions, and democratic practices are important guarantors of human rights yet they are constantly being undermined without adequate oversight by the human rights community. ICLA aims to provide that oversight.
Rule by treaty has been used, and continues to be used, as a way of effectively bypassing the need for open, honest, and through debates in national parliaments. Politicians are always pleading that their hands are tied by international commitments that prevent them from responding to the wishes of their electorates. People vote at national and not international level, so by bypassing the national sphere, the political elite is bypassing democracy. Traditional human rights organisations appear to see internationalisation as a way of ensuring adherence to basic human rights standards, when in fact the opposite may in fact be the case.
The European Union is an increasingly powerful institution that effectively bypasses the democratic process. It is true that elections are held but the power of the EU is not in the Parliament or its democratically elected members. More and more legislation comes in to being by bypassing democratic legislatures via the EU route. More and more national legislation is dictated by the EU oligarchs rather than the people. It seems very unfashionable for human rights organisations to highlight the despotic tendencies of the EU powerbrokers. We saw recently, with the Lisbon Treaty, how the wishes of the European people were completely ignored.
The United Nations Human Rights Council is yet another institution that has undermined the most basic tenets of human rights. The voices of non-democratic states with questionable human rights records appear to have been allowed to predominate on the Council. Much work has been done by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to subvert the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and replace it with the Cairo Declaration. This is not an attempt to enhance human rights but is a cynical attempt to expand the reach and influence of sharia and associated supremacism.
There are many neglected areas in the field of human rights and ICLA will continue its efforts to plug the gaps and help to give a voice to those who are bullied and cajoled into silence.