GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY (WASHINGTON, D.C.) Reiss Building 103 – Oct.22, 2002, 19:15 – 21:30 Lecture subject: The Ideology of Jihad, Dhimmitude and Human Rights BAT YE’OR : 19:30 – 20:00 – Q/A SESSION DAVID LITTMAN : 20:15 – 20:45 – Q/A SESSION MODERATOR : Prof. Alan Parra (Human Rights Law) The principal aim of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was to create a framework for a world society that was in need of universal codes based on mutual consent in order to function. This need was reaffirmed in the U.N.’s Vienna Declaration of 1993, which stressed that: “… the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels should be universal and conducted without conditions attached. The international community should support the strengthening and promotion of democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the entire world.” (I:8)

Therefore, we must be extremely vigilant that the international standards not be undermined by calling into question the universality of human rights standards. A crucial aspect in the establishment of universality has been to bring national legislation into conformity with universal human rights standards, as expressed in the International Bill of Human Rights. By and large, states that ratified the International Covenants modified their national legislation when it was not in conformity.

The problem with such goals is that they can be repeatedly nullified by obfuscated attempts to confuse human rights issues. I shall not attempt to deal with the vast array of such cases tonight, as time is short and some of my articles on this subject are available on the table outside. One of them covers the question of “Universal Human Rights and `Human Rights in Islam'” (Midstream, Feb.-March 1999), as defined by the “Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights” – announced with much fanfare in 1981 at UNESCO, and by the later 1990 “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.” Another detailed article is titled: “Islamism Grows Stronger at the United Nations” (Middle East Quarterly, Sept. 1999).

Since October 1998, we have alerted members of the U.N.’s Commission on Human Rights and key watchdog U.N. treaty bodies; and also requested from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights an explanation for the inclusion of this self-proclaimed religious “Cairo Declaration” in the U.N. official publication: A Compilation of International Instruments, vol. II. Regional Instruments (1997), pp. 478-84. Our position would be identical if in any past or future Compilation published by the OHCHR – a Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu or other specifically religious “Declaration on Human Rights” was included for any reason.

It is significant that article 24 of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam states that it is “subject to the Islamic shari’a,” and its article 25 hammers home the point that the shari’a “is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of this Declaration.” It is thus absolutely clear that the shari’a law has supremacy and that the 1990 “Cairo Declaration” has primacy – in the view of its authors – over all other international instruments, such as the UDHR and the other International Covenants.

A brief quote from the preamble of this 1990 Cairo Declaration is worth meditating on: “The Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization in which harmony is established between this life and the hereafter and knowledge is combined with faith .”

Soon after this “Cairo Declaration” was thus consecrated by some as a sort of “international instrument” – according to the U.N. jargon – an “Islamic Perspectives” seminar took place at the U.N. in Geneva. On taking office in 1997 Iranian President Mohammed Reza Khatami had called for a global “Dialogue of Civilizations.” A few months later, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, the first speaker at the Jubilee Commemoration of the UDHR (after the ceremonial addresses by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, President Vaclav Havel and Elie Wiesel), called for a “revision of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in a statement to the UNCHR (March 17, 1998). Then on Nov. 9 to 10, 1998, the OHCHR jointly hosted a seminar in Geneva: “Enriching the Universality of Human Rights: Islamic Perspectives on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” At that event, financed by the OIC countries at a cost of about $500,000, 20 Muslim experts on Islam presented their papers. In his opening Address, the Secretary-General of the OIC, Dr. Azeddine Laraki, stated, inter alia: “An elite of Muslim experts in the field of shari’a and law are thus being offered the opportunity to present researches which expound the Islamic perspective as to human rights and recall the contribution of Islam to the laying of the foundations of these rights through which Islam aimed at leading people out of the obscurities and into enlightenment, at ensuring dignity in their life and non-submission to anyone but God, and at asserting their freedom and their right to justice and equality on the basis of the two sources of Islamic Shari’a: Qur’an and Sunna and on Fiqh jurisprudence, away from politicking, demagogy or reliance on local practices and mores which are subject to variations according to historical legacies.” [Additional information provided: In her letter of explanation to all delegations, dated Oct.16, 1998, Mary Robinson wrote: “We have agreed that for the purpose of this seminar, Islam is understood in terms of Shari’a (Qur’an and Hadith) and not in terms of tradition or practices that may vary and mix with historical heritage.” For the first time at a U.N. seminar, no questions were allowed from the more than 250 participants, from about 80 States, inter-governmental and U.N. bodies, as well as 41 NGOs.

Yet, six years earlier (Feb. 1992), the secretary-general of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, Adama Dieng, a Senegalese jurist, had strongly criticized, in these terms, the “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam,” by a joint Statement delivered to the UNCHR (speaking also for the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights):

1) It gravely threatens the inter-cultural consensus on which the international human rights instrument are based; 2) It introduces, in the name of the defense of human rights, an intolerable discrimination against both non-Muslims and women; 3) It reveals a deliberately restrictive character in regard to certain fundamental rights and freedoms, to the point that certain essential provisions are below the legal standard in effect in a number of Muslim countries; 4) It confirms, under cover of the Islamic Shari’a (law), the legitimacy of practices, such as corporal punishment, that attack the integrity and dignity of the human being.

In spite of this clear warning in 1992 by a much-esteemed NGO, himself a Muslim – later to become a U.N. Special Rapporteur – the recently appointed HCHR, Mary Robinson, warmly welcomed the invitation from Iran’s foreign minister for a seminar at the United Nations.

However, already in 1998 there were others who worried that this seminar was not just an intellectual analysis, but foreshadowed what a Muslim researcher at the University of Geneva, Mr. Hasni Abidi, called: “Human Rights a la carte.” In an article published in the Tribune de Geneve of Nov. 25 1998, he warned: “Are we going toward a new Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Mary Robinson surely doesn’t share the viewpoints expressed during this seminar, but accepting this type of manifestation risks opening a breach in the universality of human rights. Worse, this seminar could constitute support for political attitudes totally in contradiction with the founding principles of human rights.”

At that same period in 1998 the year 2001 was officially designated by the U.N. General Assembly as a “United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations” – again on the initiative of Iran, even while the Rushdie fatwa still hovered in the air. This “Dialogue of Civilization Year” included the U.N.’s “Durban World Conference against Racism,” when the United Nations underwent a most shameful metamorphosis, as racist attempts were made to reanimate that deranged demon “Resolution 3,379” that had assimilated Zionism with racism – created in 1975 on the anniversary of the 1938 (Nov. 9-10) Kristallnacht. Thus, the Durban Conference, which was intended to combat racism and discrimination, was callously hijacked by many dictatorial regimes – including Iran – and the most demagogic of NGOs.

It is symbolic that this disastrous Durban travesty ended only two days before the barbaric attacks that struck New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. This clearly announced act of jihad-warfare would never have been undertaken while another form of jihad-struggle was being played out in Durban. The one had to follow the other, and so it did – by two days! A year before that climacteric in world history, we had received a written answer (dated Sept. 14, 2000) from the Special Assistant to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, concerning the reasons for the inclusion of the Cairo Declaration in the U.N. publication of International Instruments published by the OHCHR, already referred to. It stated succinctly: “The Member States which have acceded to and ratified United Nations Human Rights Conventions remain bound under all circumstances by the provisions of those texts, as well as by the erge omnes obligations under customary international law.”

[I then explained that we had been told that if the Cairo Declaration had not been included in Vol. II, the OIC Member States might have called for a vote at the U.N. General Assembly.]

This diplomatic reply from the OHCHR would seem to be clear, but at about that time – to give but one example, a bill in the Iranian Parliament to end marriages for young girls of 9 years old was overthrown by the mullahs, claiming that it would be against Islamic teachings to make changes to the current law, as “Islamic scholars had put a lot of efforts into these laws” (Muhammad Ali Sheikh quoted in Parliament; see in “Iran Bill to End Marriage at 9. Guardian Consent Still Needed,” International Herald Tribune, Aug. 10, 2000).[In 1994 Iran signed and then ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Its article 1 states: “A child means a person below the age of 18 unless, under existing law, majority may be attained earlier.”]

[Another example was the “show trial” of the Jews of Shiraz (in 2000), when the eight Muslims also named were never seen in court with the 13 Jews, probably because the testimony of a non-Muslim has no validity for or against a Muslim in an Islamic court. We had officially asked the HCHR, in two urgent appeals (July 3 and Sept. 21, 2000), to enquire whether Iran was here applying shari’a law or the international norms it had ratified, which were stressed at an Islamic Symposium (Teheran, May 3-5, 1999), under the heading: General principles, A. point 9. Mary Robinson informed us orally that the reply she received was “unclear.” (See AWE’s written statement: /CN.4/2001/ NGO/50: “The Ancient Jewish Commmunity of Iran and the Shiraz Show Trial]”

In order to understand this Kafka-esque reality at the United Nations – where states sign and ratify Human Rights Covenants, and then act in total contradiction with what they pretend they have accepted – let me give the example of the Sudan. In 1994, the Report of the then Special Rapporteur on Sudan, Dr. Gaspar Biro, called upon “the Government of Sudan to bring its legislation into accordance with international instruments to which it is a party.”

On Feb. 17, 1994, the Delegation of the Sudan to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva circulated a paper entitled (in bold letters): ATTACK ON ISLAM! It stated: “Paragraphs 59, 60, 61 and 133 (a) of document (E/CN.4/1994/48)” (Report by Mr. Gaspar Biro, “Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan”) dated Feb. 1, 1994 represent a vicious attack on the religion of Islam and contains a call for the abolition of its Penal Legislations. Since the attack is contradictory to the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, all parties concerned are called upon to stop manipulation of the human rights system.”

In its official Comments on the Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Gaspar Biro (E/CN.4 /1994/48, Feb. 18, 1994), the Government of Sudan also announced that: “All Muslims are ordained by God to subject themselves to shari’a Laws and that matter could not be contested or challenged by an Special Rapporteur or other U.N. agencies or representatives.” Dr. Biro was threatened both at the Commission and at the U.N. General Assembly until a U.N. General Assembly Resolution of Dec. 5, 1995 directly referred to “the unacceptable threat against his person.” Here are the exact words used by the permanent secretary of the Sudanese Ministry of Justice, Dr. Ahmad Al-Mufti, speaking at the U.N. Third Committee in New York in November 1995: “And we don’t want to speculate about his fate if he is to continue offending the feelings of Muslims worldwide by maintaining that call (for the abolition of Sudan’s Penal Legislation).”

Nine months earlier I, too, as a simple NGO representative, had been accused of using the Commission on Human Rights to launch – what the representative of the Sudan had called “attacks against Islam and its adherents.” The accusation was made in a “reply” to my statement of Feb. 6, 1995 at the UNCHR which had included this statement of fact (verbatim): “. We are also concerned with similar situations in Iran and in the Sudan, where persons accused of blasphemy and apostasy (ridda) are in constant danger of being imprisoned, flogged and killed. These facts are well known. We hope that the Sudanese government will modify its attitude toward Mr. Gaspar Biro, the Special Rapporteur on Sudan. Last year, the Sudanese Delegation reacted to his report, alleging that it was an ” Attack on Islam!” The government newspaper New Horizon published an article `The Satanic Report: From Salman Rushdie to the Biro Case,’ in which the Special Rapporteur was lambasted for criticizing traditional shari’a punishments, particularly the death penalty for an apostate and lapidation for adultery. The article concluded: `His act will cost him dearly and will constitute the main subject of the decade. (AFP, French, Feb. 14, 1994). Dr. Gaspar Biro is still banned from entering the Sudan, and under a threat of death.”

All this happened in 1994/95! Irony of ironies, only six months ago, on March 14 and 15, 2002, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, representing 57 Islamic countries, organized another “Symposium of Human Rights in Islam” at the United Nations in Geneva, just before the six week session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The title of the first paper was: “War Against Terrorism: Impact on Human Rights.” The speaker was the same Dr. Ahmad Al-Mufti, reborn as director general of the Khartoum International Centre for Human Rights. One conclusion from his dense, written paper, which I have here, affirmed that: “Islam adds new positive dimensions to human rights, since, unlike international instruments, it attributes them to a divine source thereby adding a new moral motivation for complying with them.”

When asked (by me) whether he would still justify today the death threats that he had made at the United Nations in 1994 and 1995 against Biro, he replied – as in 1994 – that this was a matter of “freedom of religion guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” In other words: the chopping off of hands for minor theft; the stoning of women accused by their husbands of adultery and the crucifixion of convicts – to give but three examples – was merely a matter of … “freedom of religion!” Nothing more than that, and obviously the shari’a law, in this respect, prevailed over the International Covenants, which Sudan had signed and ratified – the same Sudan, which was elected in 2001, by its region, to hold one of the three vice chairman posts of the UNCHR! This year we had the dubious honor of having the Syrian ambassador as a vice chairman; and it is now known that, for 2003, the Chairperson of the Commission will be Libya’s lady ambassador – Colonel Kadhafi oblige!

Five months later, at the Sub-Commission on Human Rights, speaking as a representative of the Association for World Education, I again denounced the NIF regime in Khartoum, and particularly its ongoing slavery-like practices (not “abduction!”), citing the reports from all UN Special Rapporteurs – beginning with Biro’s in 1994; and that of NGOs: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Christian Solidarity International, which has redeemed over 80,000 Black African slaves since 1995, both Christians and animists. In his `right of reply’ of Aug. 16, 2002, Sudan’s Ambassador Mubarak H. Rahamtalla simply made the usual ad hominem attacks, a form of fatwa, without being checked by the Chairman “… David Littman of the Association for World Education … has made a statement on Sudan that was malicious, superfluous and contained baseless accusations against Sudan. It is well known that r. Littman advocated the most aggressive and hateful views, not only against Sudan, but also the entire Islamic people and their countries.” (press release HR/SC/02/24)

Let me now turn to jihad – in the context of the Sudanese tragedy, which has endured for over 20 years during which over 2 million people have been killed and about 4.5 million internally displaced. We warmly welcome the “Sudan Peace Act” enacted by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in Jan. 2002, and signed into law by President Bush yesterday.

As a former representative at the U.N. (Geneva) of the Zurich-based NGO, Christian Solidarity International, I chaired a meeting of representatives of States and NGOs on March 22, 1999 at the Commission on Human Rights, when Dr. John Garang – American-educated Chairman of the Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Movement, and army chief – asked a question: “In 1992 the regime in Khartoum declared jihad against the people of Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. Since then, jihad has been declared again and again. I ask this very important question: is the jihad a religious right of those who declare and wage it, or is it a violation of the human rights of the people against whom it is declared and waged?”

In this same context, it is worth quoting from a long letter of arch 24, 1999 – just two days later – addressed to the HCHR, which was widely circulated at the Commission soon after the John Garang “incident” that ruffled many feathers and led to the deplorable ousting of CSI as an accredited NGO. Here is how former Sudanese Prime Minister Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi described both jihad and slavery under a subheading entitled: “Section III: War Crimes:”The traditional concept of jihad is based upon a division of the world into two zones: one the zone of Peace, the other the Zone of War. It requires initiating hostilities for religious purposes … It is true that the (NIF) regime has not enacted a law to realize slavery in Sudan. But the traditional concept of jihad does allow slavery as a by-product.”

Nothing can be clearer than John Garang’s question or the precision by Sudan’s last elected prime minister – a pious and moderate Muslim, the great grandson of the Mahdi who defeated General Gordon in 1885 at Khartoum – who was ousted by a military coup in 1989. Nothing can be clearer than the words of that distinguished jurist and a U.N. Special Rapporteur for Haiti – Mr. Adama Dieng, a Muslim. And nothing could be clearer than the taped ravings of Osama bin Laden and his cohorts, and those who reason like him, and who speak of the necessity of the shari’a law dominating the world: to be achieved one day through the means of a sacred jihad – as interpreted by them – in a bloody genocidal holocaust of death, destruction and desolation throughout the world!

In two articles, available here, we show how the shari’a’s interpretation of “blasphemy” in 1997, and other such cases, have slowly crept into the U.N. system – what I called three years ago: “Islamism Grows Stronger at the United Nations” (Middle East Quarterly, Sept.1999). But time does not allow me to cover all these Islamist manifestations at the U.N. or elsewhere.

The barbaric terror jihad-war that struck New York and Washington – stunning the American people, free peoples of the world’s democracies and all those who cherish freedom, liberty and universal human rights – occurred over a year ago. It is time, it is high time, for all Muslim leaders, both religious and political, to speak out unequivocally in their countries, making it crystal clear to all – to Muslims and non-Muslims alike – that this “jihad ideology,” this religious interpretation of the jihad-genocidal war, is no longer accepted by the international community and by the free peoples of the world.

Jihad leads to slavery (in Sudan, and elsewhere), to dhimmitude, and to “toleration,” which is not the same as inherent human rights, that are guaranteed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and in what is called the International Bill of Human Rights.

There is a great difference between universal human rights and any rights of “protection” or “toleration” that are granted to non-Muslims under the shari’a dhimmi rules. I shall simply quote from George Washington’s letter (August, 21, 1790), which he wrote to Moses Seixas, the rabbi and president of the Jewish congregation of the Touro synagogue in Newport, R.I., who had asked about their future in the new United States. His reply is pertinent today: “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.”

I shall conclude by quoting the British philosopher Sir Karl Popper, best known for his philosophy of critical rationalism and his emphasis on the way in which we learn through the making and correcting of mistakes. His words are meaningful today for all of us who cherish universal human rights and wish to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, and what is called the International Bill of Human Rights.

“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed and tolerance with them .We should therefore claim in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade.”

David G. Littman is a historian and has been working since 1986 on behalf of several nongovernmental organizations at the UNCHR in Geneva. Since 1995 he has been a representative for the Association for World Education and has also represented Christian Solidarity International. In 2001 he was again accredited to represent the World Union for Progressive Judaism, having been its chief delegate to the United Nations (Geneva) from 1986-91.

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