Update: The prepared text for this intervention has been added to the bottom of the post.
The following video shows the intervention read by Clare Lopez, representing the Center for Security Policy, at OSCE Warsaw today, September 14, 2017, during Session 6, “Fundamental Freedoms, Including Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion, or Belief”.
Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this video:
Below is the prepared text for Ms. Lopez’ intervention:
America’s Founding Fathers understood that tyranny takes hold when men allow governments or religious systems to usurp the rights of the individual unto themselves
For this reason, they enshrined freedoms of belief, conscience & speech in 1st Amendment of our Constitution
These principles & these freedoms are Judeo-Christian-based, first articulated among the brilliant thinkers of the Enlightenment in Europe — although their roots trace back to Athens, Rome & Jerusalem
They derive from the revolutionary idea that the individual is the key pillar of society — not the clan, or tribe, or a religious belief system
The individual human being is entitled to these rights & freedoms because the laws of nature — which are knowable thru human reason — endow each & every person – men women equally — w/human dignity & the right to live free
Freedom of speech is among the most essential of our human liberties & one that gives voice & meaning to all the others – especially freedom of conscience & belief
Islam doesn’t have such beliefs or freedoms — there’s no such thing as ‘freedom of speech’ or belief articulated in Islamic Law (shariah)
Instead there is the “Law of Slander” — which defines ‘slander’ as anything that a Muslim would dislike — including the truth
Slander under shariah can carry the death penalty – indeed the Sira & hadiths tell us that some of the first assassinations ordered by Muhammad were precisely against poets for writing verses that he found insulting – apostasy from Islam likewise is a capital crime
I refer to the Council of Europe report from October 2016 on the ‘Compatibility of Sharia law with the European Convention on Human Rights: can States Parties to the Convention be signatories of the ‘Cairo Declaration’?
And I suggest the answer is ‘No.’ A government or system that defines itself as liberal, Western & democratic does not impose restrictions on free speech to shield itself from criticism – much less impose a death penalty for belief or lack of belief
We of Western Civilization dignify the individual by permitting all speech, no matter how we dislike it, if it is not explicitly inciting to immediate violence – and all beliefs or lack of belief
And so I recommend for the ODIHR 2017: Let us leave here today, renewed & inspired to reject liberty-crushing concepts like ‘hate speech’ & death penalties for religious beliefs or rejection of belief & instead committed to defend freedoms of belief, conscience & speech & all the principles of liberty we hold so dear.
For links to previous articles about the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, see the OSCE Archives.