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OSCE Vienna 2013 – Repudiate the Cairo Declaration

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 22, 2013

Published on Saturday, 20 July 2013

This is the seventh in a series of posts on this week’s OSCE “Supplementary Human Dimension” meeting in Vienna. More will be coming in the next few days. See the reference to a list of links at the bottom of this post for previous articles.

The following paper (official pdf version) was filed at today’s OSCE meeting in Vienna by International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA). It calls for the repudiation of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam as having no relevance to what Western nations or the OSCE identify as human rights.

Note: The abbreviation “pS” in the text below is short for “participating State(s)”

OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting

Rule of Law in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Vienna, July 12th 2013

Session II: Effective National and International Instruments to protect human rights and prevent human rights violations: Best practices, current challenges and solutions

In reference to the excellent discussion of the universality of human rights, ICLA wants to draw attention to a deficiency in this field that can easily and usefully be corrected.

Before we can discuss effective national and international human rights, we need to define the terms unambiguously.

As most here would know, we have two main definitions of human rights, the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the European Human Rights Convention, both sound human rights instruments.

However, a third and potentially dangerous alternative definition exists, sponsored by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), namely the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. This declaration, originally drafted by the Iranian theocratic regime, makes each and every right subject to Islamic law, also known as Sharia. This, in turn, negates the very notion of inalienable individual rights and several other essential values.

The Cairo Declaration is recognized as a so-called “regional instrument” by the United Nations, but rarely, if ever, used or referred to. It is thus functionally redundant, yet its approval creates an unneeded and potentially dangerous ambiguity in the formal definition of the human rights. For Sharia is incompatible with democracy and fundamental human rights, as stated in 2003 by the European Court of Human Rights, and thus the Cairo Declaration is equally incompatible with any meaningful definition of human rights, as well as with several OSCE commitments.

Thus, to avoid willful misinterpretations of what “human rights” refer to, it would be good for the protection of human rights defenders to have the Cairo Declaration explicitly repudiated by those OSCE pS that also hold membership of the OIC. If they do not do so, they should provide a detailed justification for keeping this declaration on the books, and the intended use of it.

ICLA thus recommends that:

  • OSCE makes a statement that the Cairo Declaration has no relevance to its understanding of human rights.
  • OSCE pS that are also members of OIC explicitly repudiate the Cairo Declaration as being of no relevance, now or in the future, for the interpretation of “human rights”.

Source: Right Side News


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Ihsanoglu Tasks Myanmar’s Government On Responsibility To Eradicate Discrimination Against Muslims

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on July 9, 2013

07/07/2013 |  The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, tasked the Government of Myanmar to assume its responsibility to eradicate all forms of discrimination against Muslims and not allow Buddhist extremists to incite against any section of the community. He noted that this discrimination includes the 2005 law which imposes on all Rohingya Muslim families the policy limiting them to only two children in Buthidaung and Maundaw cities in Arakan State. He described this law a violation of all human rights standards. 

In his speech to the Arakan Rohingya Union Congress held at the OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah from 7 – 8 July 2013 and read on his behalf by the Director of Muslim Minorities in the OIC, Talal Daous, the Secretary General stated that the violence targeted at Rohingya Muslims last June led to killings and destruction of properties and created thousands of refugees and displaced persons. He asserted that this type of violence should not continue and that it is the responsibility of the authorities to address the root causes of the issue and protect peoples’ lives and properties in Myanmar. 

Ihsanoglu explained that the OIC continues to support and participate in all national, regional and international efforts and initiatives geared towards finding peaceful and lasting solution to the problems in Myanmar. It also supports the return of refugees and the restoration of the rights and privileges they have been denied by the authorities. In this regard, the Secretary General expressed its gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz who supported the Rohingya minorities, gave them a generous welcome and granted them the opportunity to live and work in Saudi Arabia. This year has already been marked by an important event of official issuance of residence permits to Rohingya refugees. 

Ihsanoglu remarked that today’s meeting is the second for the Union since it was inaugurated at the OIC General Secretariat on 30 May 2011. The Arakan Rohingya Union was established on the basis agreed upon principles o achieve peaceful coexistence, democracy and human rights. OIC Member States has supported the establishment of the Union in Resolution No. 4/38-MM adopted by the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in Astana. 

The Secretary General stated that the Arakan Rohingya Union had in the last two years made tremendous progress considering the various challenges it faces and the dearth of resources. He stressed that the Arakan Rohingya Union plays its role as the legitimate representative of the Rohingya people across the world, defends their cause and improves their conditions in Myanmar, and helps to find a lasting solution to their suffering.

Source: OIC

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Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on September 7, 2012

The Nineteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (Session of Peace, Interdependence and Development), held in Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt, from 9-14 Muharram 1411H (31 July to 5 August 1990),

Keenly aware of the place of mankind in Islam as vicegerent of Allah on Earth;

Recognizing the importance of issuing a Document on Human Rights in Islam that will serve as a guide for Member States in all aspects of life;

Having examined the stages through which the preparation of this draft Document has, so far, passed and the relevant report of the Secretary General;

Having examined the Report of the Meeting of the Committee of Legal Experts held in Tehran from 26 to 28 December, 1989;

1- Agrees to issue the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam which will serve as a general guidance for Member States in the field of human rights.



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; and the role that this Ummah should play to guide a humanity confused by competing trends and ideologies and to provide solutions to the chronic problems of this materialistic civilization.

Wishing to contribute to the efforts of mankind to assert human rights, to protect man from exploitation and persecution, and to affirm his freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah

Convinced that mankind which has reached an advanced stage in materialistic science is still, and shall remain, in dire need of faith to support its civilization and of a self motivating force to guard its rights;

Believing that fundamental rights and universal freedoms in Islam are an integral part of the Islamic religion and that no one as a matter of principle has the right to suspend them in whole or in part or violate or ignore them in as much as they are binding divine commandments, which are contained in the Revealed Books of God and were sent through the last of His Prophets to complete the preceding divine messages thereby making their observance an act of worship and their neglect or violation an abominable sin, and accordingly every person is individually responsible – and the Ummah collectively responsible – for their safeguard.

Proceeding from the above-mentioned principles,

Declare the following:

(a) All human beings form one family whose members are united by submission to God and descent from Adam. All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of race, color, language, sex, religious belief, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True faith is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human perfection.

(b)All human beings are God’s subjects, and the most loved by Him are those who are most useful to the rest of His subjects, and no one has superiority over another except on the basis of piety and good deeds.

(a) Life is a God-given gift and the right to life is guaranteed to every human being. It is the duty of individuals, societies and states to protect this right from any violation, and it is prohibited to take away life except for a Shari’ah prescribed reason.

(b) It is forbidden to resort to such means as may result in the genocidal annihilation of mankind.

(c) The preservation of human life throughout the term of time willed by God is a duty prescribed by Shari’ah

(d) Safety from bodily harm is a guaranteed right. It is the duty of the state to safeguard it, and it is prohibited to breach it without a Sharia-prescribed reason.

(a) In the event of the use of force and in case of armed conflict, it is not permissible to kill non-belligerents such as old man, women and children. The wounded and the sick shall have the right to medical treatment; and prisoners of war shall have the right to be fed, sheltered and clothed. It is prohibited to mutilate dead bodies. It is a duty to exchange prisoners of war and to arrange visits or reunions of the families separated by the circumstances of war.

(b) It is prohibited to fell trees, to damage crops or livestock, and to destroy the enemy’s civilian buildings and installations by shelling, blasting or any other means.

Every human being is entitled to inviolability and the protection of his good name and honor during his life and after his death. The state and society shall protect his remains and burial place.

(a) The family is the foundation of society, and marriage is the basis of its formation. Men and women have the right to marriage, and no restrictions stemming from race, color or nationality shall prevent them from enjoying this right.

(b) Society and the State shall remove all obstacles to marriage and shall facilitate marital procedure. They shall ensure family protection and welfare.

(a) Woman is equal to man in human dignity, and has rights to enjoy as well as duties to perform; she has her own civil entity and financial independence, and the right to retain her name and lineage.

(b) The husband is responsible for the support and welfare of the family.

(a) As of the moment of birth, every child has rights due from the parents, society and the state to be accorded proper nursing, education and material, hygienic and moral care. Both the fetus and the mother must be protected and accorded special care.

(b) Parents and those in such like capacity have the right to choose the type of education they desire for their children, provided they take into consideration the interest and future of the children in accordance with ethical values and the principles of the Shari’ah

(c) Both parents are entitled to certain rights from their children, and relatives are entitled to rights from their kin, in accordance with the tenets of the Shari’ah.


Every human being has the right to enjoy his legal capacity in terms of both obligation and commitment, should this capacity be lost or impaired, he shall be represented by his guardian.

(a) The question for knowledge is an obligation and the provision of education is a duty for society and the State. The State shall ensure the availability of ways and means to acquire education and shall guarantee educational diversity in the interest of society so as to enable man to be acquainted with the religion of Islam and the facts of the Universe for the benefit of mankind.

(b) Every human being has the right to receive both religious and worldly education from the various institutions of, education and guidance, including the family, the school, the university, the media, etc., and in such an integrated and balanced manner as to develop his personality, strengthen his faith in God and promote his respect for and defense of both rights and obligations.

Islam is the religion of unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of compulsion on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to convert him to another religion or to atheism.

(a) Human beings are born free, and no one has the right to enslave, humiliate, oppress or exploit them, and there can be no subjugation but to God the Most-High.

(b) Colonialism of all types being one of the most evil forms of enslavement is totally prohibited. Peoples suffering from colonialism have the full right to freedom and self-determination. It is the duty of all States and peoples to support the struggle of colonized peoples for the liquidation of all forms of colonialism and occupation, and all States and peoples have the right to preserve their independent identity and exercise control over their wealth and natural resources.

Every man shall have the right, within the framework of Shari’ah, to free movement and to select his place of residence whether inside or outside his country and if persecuted, is entitled to seek asylum in another country. The country of refuge shall ensure his protection until he reaches safety, unless asylum is motivated by an act which Shari’ah regards as a crime.

Work is a right guaranteed by the State and Society for each person able to work. Everyone shall be free to choose the work that suits him best and which serves his interests and those of society. The employee shall have the right to safety and security as well as to all other social guarantees. He may neither be assigned work beyond his capacity nor be subjected to compulsion or exploited or harmed in any way. He shall be entitled – without any discrimination between males and females – to fair wages for his work without delay, as well as to the holidays allowances and promotions which he deserves. For his part, he shall be required to be dedicated and meticulous in his work. Should workers and employers disagree on any matter, the State shall intervene to settle the dispute and have the grievances redressed, the rights confirmed and justice enforced without bias.

Everyone shall have the right to legitimate gains without monopolization, deceit or harm to oneself or to others. Usury (riba) is absolutely prohibited.

(a) Everyone shall have the right to own property acquired in a legitimate way, and shall be entitled to the rights of ownership, without prejudice to oneself, others or to society in general. Expropriation is not permissible except for the requirements of public interest and upon payment of immediate and fair compensation.

(b) Confiscation and seizure of property is prohibited except for a necessity dictated by law.

Everyone shall have the right to enjoy the fruits of his scientific, literary, artistic or technical production and the right to protect the moral and material interests stemming therefrom, provided that such production is not contrary to the principles of Shari’ah.

(a) Everyone shall have the right to live in a clean environment, away from vice and moral corruption, an environment that would foster his self-development and it is incumbent upon the State and society in general to afford that right.

(b) Everyone shall have the right to medical and social care, and to all public amenities provided by society and the State within the limits of their available resources.

(c) The State shall ensure the right of the individual to a decent living which will enable him to meet all is requirements and those of his dependents, including food, clothing, housing, education , medical care and all other basic needs.

(a) Everyone shall have the right to live in security for himself, his religion, his dependents, his honor and his property.

(b) Everyone shall have the right to privacy in the conduct of his private affairs, in his home, among his family, with regard to his property and his relationships. It is not permitted to spy on him, to place him under surveillance or to besmirch his good name. The State shall protect him from arbitrary interference.

(c) A private residence is inviolable in all cases. It will not be entered without permission from its inhabitants or in any unlawful manner, nor shall it be demolished or confiscated and its dwellers evicted.

(a) All individuals are equal before the law, without distinction between the ruler and the ruled.

(b) The right to resort to justice is guaranteed to everyone.

(c) Liability is in essence personal.

(d) There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Shari’ah

(e) A defendant is innocent until his guilt is proven in a fair trial in which he shall be given all the guarantees of defence.

It is not permitted without legitimate reason to arrest an individual, or restrict his freedom, to exile or to punish him. It is not permitted to subject him to physical or psychological torture or to any form of humiliation, cruelty or indignity. Nor is it permitted to subject an individual to medical or scientific experimentation without his consent or at the risk of his health or of his life. Nor is it permitted to promulgate emergency laws that would provide executive authority for such actions.

Taking hostages under any form or for any purpose is expressly forbidden.

(a) Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari’ah.

(b) Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari’ah

(c) Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.

(d) It is not permitted to arouse nationalistic or doctrinal hatred or to do anything that may be an incitement to any form or racial discrimination.

(a) Authority is a trust; and abuse or malicious exploitation thereof is absolutely prohibited, so that fundamental human rights may be guaranteed.

(b) Everyone shall have the right to participate, directly or indirectly in the administration of his country’s public affairs. He shall also have the right to assume public office in accordance with the provisions of Shari’ah.

All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.

The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.

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OIC Secretary General Condemns Attacks On Churches And Calls For Restraint In Nigeria

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on June 25, 2012


Date: 19/06/2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has expressed his strong condemnation of the bombings on 17th June 2012 of churches in Kaduna and Zaria and the subsequent reprisals on innocent persons which led to the death of tens of people and the injury of hundreds of others.

Prof Ihsanoglu reiterated his firm rejection of violence targeting religious sites and worshippers which he said had no place under any religion. He also conveyed his sincere condolences to the families of the victims, the government and people of Nigeria over the tragic incidents.

The Secretary General appealed for calm and restraint from all Nigerians in order to avoid worsening an already complicated situation and shun acts and pronouncements which could ignite a sectarian conflict in their country.


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The OIC on Democracy and Human Rights

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on June 1, 2012

Interview with Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General, Organization of the Islamic Conference

Interviewer: Toni Johnson, Senior Editor/Senior Staff Writer
October 1, 2010      

With Islam the subject of intense scrutiny around the world, the Organization of the Islamic Conference–a group of fifty-six Islamic states–has launched efforts to take a broader role in international affairs. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, secretary-general for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, says the organization is working on a meeting of religious scholars in Afghanistan similar to one it had in Iraq in 2006 to address sectarian violence and remind people “that nothing in Islam would allow them to kill anybody.” İhsanoğlu says Islam is compatible with democracy but notes sometimes the road to democracy is not easy. “It’s not that everybody is born democratic,” he says. “We have to work for that. We consider what happened in Afghanistan a step forward to democracy.”

You’ve said that the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is trying to organize a meeting of religious scholars, or ulema, for Afghanistan to combat radicalism. How this would work and what might it accomplish? You mentioned something the OIC had done similarly in Iraq?

In Iraq, during the heat of the sectarian fighting between Sunni and Shiite, and [with] civil war in sight, we looked to the matter. There were many attempts of reconciling, and I said, “Let’s take one aspect.” We took on the sectarian issue between the Sunnis and Shiites. We had in our organization a jurisprudence academy where scholars get together–this is separate from our political work. I asked them to prepare the ground for a meeting where we could get these people together.

Then we had to lobby with the ulema, all the leaders of sects in Iraq, to convince the muftis, the ayatollahs, to come together. Then we organized a kind of Islamic [consensus] to shun killing on basis of religious affiliation. We asked them to send their representative, and we sat together working a kind of an agreement, on the basis of religious texts, that prohibits killing on any basis.

Then we invited the grand ulemas–the grand muftis, the grand ayatollahs–and they came. It was October 2006 that they signed the [Makkah Al-Mukarramah] document and it was announced. Immediately it received big support from all over the Muslim world. Everybody committed himself to it. That was the way that violence on the basis of sectarianism stopped, because we reminded them that nothing in Islam would allow them to kill anybody–to kill people on the ground of if they’re Sunnis or Shiites or to destroy the mosques or shrines. Now the time has come to do that in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan recently had parliamentary elections in which voting fraud has been an issue. Last year’s presidential election in Iran was also contested. How important is democracy promotion and reform to the OIC? And given the challenges of some member states, how do you see OIC’s role in promoting democracy?

I do believe, firmly, that democracy is compatible with Islam. I think the parliamentarian system also is compatible with Islam. And I think the only way now for any society, whether a Muslim society or otherwise, to have good governance is through democracy. This is my personal conviction, and I think, to a great extent, I managed to put this in the new charter (PDF).

I come from [Turkey] which is fully democratic, where you have the change of power, change of govern

ment goes by
 ballot not by bullet. [But] European societies, Western societies, America–they did not reach this level in one goal. You see revolutions, civil wars, crowns were beheaded. And some European countries–not the socialist ones who joined the Western club after the demise of the Soviet Union, but even in Western Europe, countries like Spain, like Portugal–lately joined democracy. In my generation there were no democracies in many European countries. 

It’s not that everybody is born democratic. We have to work for that. We consider what happened in Afghanistan a step forward to democracy. 

The OIC adopted a separate Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in 1990, a parallel document to the UN’s 1948 Universal Human Rights Declaration. Why do Muslims need a separate declaration? Are there provisions of the 1948 declaration that Muslims think are not, indeed, universal?

I believe that universal human rights are compatible with Islam, and I have no problem on that. I had made a statement in Geneva in the Humans Rights Council that we look forward to integrating our system [the Cairo declaration] with the United Nations system, and now we have established a new human rights committee for us.

Of course, you should not also deny or exclude other sensitive matters. There are certain areas where you have to respect the cultural diversity of the people. You should not take that everybody has to follow you 100 percent, because you don’t follow others 100 percent.

You’ve indicated that the 2005 Danish cartoon incident, in which Mohammed was depicted as a terrorist, was intended to incite hatred. The OIC is pushing for the UN Resolution on Defamation of Religions, which is intended to protect Islam from insult. Some critics see it as a potential international legal mechanism for censorship.

We are not for censorship. This is wrong notion, and the resolutions we’ve been submitting to the UN and will be [submitting to the] Humans Rights Council in Geneva or General Assembly don’t speak only about one religion. They speaks about religions, with “s.” So it is not only for ours. Of course we have to defend our faith. We have to defend our holy prophet, our values, and everybody, as we so respect others. We ask people to respect us, because dehumanizing, stigmatizing, insulting others is not freedom of expression at all.

There are plenty of things said in political discourse that could be construed as insulting. How do you decide what can and cannot be said?

Politics has its own rules, its own norms. This is a subject matter that doesn’t relate to our criticism or our sensitivity. In the Jyllands-Posten in my visit to Denmark, that same newspaper which published the cartoons, I said, “We are not against critique. You can criticize us as much as you like.” And there has been a literature of critique within Islam itself, otherwise all these mazhab schools of thought would not have come up. And European scholars, Russian scholars, American scholars, Muslim scholars themselves have written many books and critiques of many aspects of Islam.

The problem is that when you make a public insult by publishing demonizing cartoons, stigmatizing the Holy Prophet in a newspaper or in the TV or in the film, when you write a book, when you write an article, you challenge the feelings of 150 billion people who consider Mohammad as their holy prophet. Don’t show him as a terrorist, don’t show him in a naked way, don’t ridicule him. Like any other red line you have in any other culture. In many countries where these cartoons were published, the king or the queen or the head of state has a certain respect and nobody can criticize him or ridicule him. The same goes for the flag of the country.

In the United States, you are free to ridicule your leaders, you can burn the flag, you can desecrate any sacred object.

But in other countries it is not the case. You don’t need to ridicule Jesus Christ or to burn the Bible. This is an insult. Is burning the Quran or the Bible a sign of freedom? If I come and punch you, is it a sign of freedom? This is not ideas. There is a limit of decency. There is a limit of freedom. Your freedom ends where my freedom starts. You need freedom and responsibility. Otherwise it will be jungle.

Who decides what is sacred and what’s not sacred?

The international community decides. We are not are not encroaching on freedom of expression. We invite people to respect our values as they expect us to respect their values.

There’s a vocal anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States right now. How does this political discussion look to Muslims in the rest of the world?

These are unjustified sensitivities. That those who perpetrated 9/11 were Muslims; that is not the same as “Islam is responsible for that.” To equate them to Islam and say Islam that was the reason for that, that’s simplemindedness. They didn’t kill only Christians or Americans. There were Muslims who were killed there.

Source: Council on Foreign Relation 

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OIC Human Rights Commission and the Challenges Ahead

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on June 1, 2012

By Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu  (Secretary General of the OIC)

With the approach of the first official session of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) in Jakarta, Indonesia on Feb. 20, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is embarking on a path replete with challenges, not the least of which is promoting and protecting human rights in the Muslim world.

It seemed only appropriate that a year marked by popular uprising in different parts of the Muslim world against injustice, corruption and abuse of power should conclude with the landmark establishment of a human rights commission duly equipped with a progressive vision and mandate.

The announcement of establishing the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission at the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) in Astana, Kazakhstan in June 2011 is a milestone achievement that is part of a process for restructuring the OIC, which began in 2005 at the Extraordinary Summit in Makkah.

The historical significance of establishing the commission is derived not only from the timing but also from the foresight and commitment of the member states reflected in the decision. The statute of the commission entered into force within the considerably short time of three years after it was accorded the statutory status by the new OIC charter adopted in Senegal in 2008.

The establishment of the Commission is the start of a new journey for reform in the Muslim world, and it will most likely be a long and strenuous journey.

One of the main factors that would contribute to the success of the IPHRC is proving its credibility in the shortest time. This shall be a real and serious test for joint Islamic action in one of its most sensitive and significant aspects. This shall also reflect the seriousness of the IPHRC and its abidance by the principles of the OIC Ten-Year Program of Action (TYPOA) adopted in the Makkah Summit in 2005 and the spirit of the new OIC Charter.

The commission is launching its activities in a highly charged period of rising Islamophobia. In some sections of Western mind and media there are deep-seated misperceptions — due, in large measure, to either ignorance or deliberate misrepresentation — regarding incompatibility between Islam and human rights. We have to acknowledge that human rights violations occur in the Muslim world as in other parts of the world. It would, however, be a mistake to associate or confuse such violations with Islam. Islam was the first religion in the world that called for full equality among people regardless of their race, language, ethnic origin, social status, etc. It emphasized and enforced the concept of “rights” long before it acquired currency in modern existence.

It is in this backdrop that the 18-member commission — four of whom are women — is faced with an onerous task. However, the commission gains its confidence from the realization for the need to serve the Ummah and all humanity toward peace, harmony and coexistence. Therefore, one of its primary roles is to complement the efforts and contributions of other international organizations in this area and interact positively with them.

The commission will also turn a critical eye inward, of introspection, as a unique instrument for self-reform that helps the Ummah rectify any defects. It is meant to adopt a corrective rather than a value-judgmental approach, build capacities and provide solutions for the OIC member states in the area of human rights in a gradual and sustainable manner. Naturally, the nascent IPHRC is not expected to perform its duties in an optimal manner immediately after its establishment or do everything at the same time; so the need for prioritization is essential. It would take an incremental and progressive approach.

I sincerely hope that the commission will have the support, cooperation and encouragement it needs and deserves from the member states as well as the international community to perform its functions for the benefit of the member states and the world at large.

Finally, the establishment of the IPHRC is stemmed from a vision that takes into account the inevitability of progress. It thus counters those outdated concepts that confine the OIC to a limited frame of action ignoring the broader potentialities that should be invested in to achieve the aspirations of the billion and a half Muslims worldwide.  

Source: Arab News, Februari 16th, 2012

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Statement Of The OIC Secretary General International Ministerial Conference On Refugees In The Muslim World

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on May 15, 2012

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
11-12 MAY 2012

Your Excellency Mr. Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOV the President of Turkmenistan,

Your Excellency Antonio Guterres, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,

Your Excellencies Ministers and Heads of Delegation,
Distinguished Delegates,

Distinguished Observers and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to address you as we all gather here today in the opening session of the OIC International Ministerial Conference on Situation of Refugees in the Muslim World. At the outset, I wish, on behalf of all of us, to express our sincere thanks and deep appreciation to H.E. the President of Turkmenistan, the Government and People of Turkmenistan for hosting this important conference. At the same time, I express my appreciation for the High Commissioner for Refugees and my utmost satisfaction for the effective partnership between our two organizations, in a process that successfully led to the convening of this Conference. We also thank all OIC Member States and institutions and others who have made various contributions and in different forms, to facilitate the holding of this historic humanitarian event.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

When we took a decision within the OIC to hold this Conference on Refugees, we established a partnership with the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in order to ensure that this humanitarian endeavor serves our noble objectives and translates the will of our member states into actions that satisfy our moral, legal and deeply rooted humanitarianism. Providing asylum, protecting refugees and assisting them in compassion and conviction are fundamental pillars in our Islamic tradition. Assisting and protecting refugees, irrespective of their faith, color or ethnic origin ,is not only a legal obligation, but also a moral and a religious duty as stipulated in these teachings and embodied in deeds throughout history within the Muslim World. The idea of protecting ” Almustamin” or asylum seeker was never compromised in these teachings and practices. Hence, the extradition of “Almustamin” was prohibited, a notion which was much later in history, came to be known in international refugee law as the principle of “non-refoulment” a corner stone of modern refugee law.

In essence, there is total compatibility between refugee principles in Islam and those of our modern day international refugee law. This doctrinal base, has been a strong driving force in our efforts to play an effective role in the humanitarian arena, not only within the domain of our member states, but also, whenever possible, beyond that and in the world at large.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are over 17 million refugees and displaced persons within the OIC Member countries, and that includes some protracted refugee situations . We should tirelessly continue to make every effort possible , to address these refugee and displacement situations, with provision of assistance and protection, as the case may be, in a purely humanitarian effort . We should also engage , with the will of all concerned governments, in durable and lasting solutions to these refugee situations, in order to end the suffering of these human beings and enhance social harmony, peace ,stability and development. Our common political will and coordinated efforts are corollaries for achieving this objective, and I must hasten to add here that this is an international problem that goes beyond state or even continental borders and its solutions require solidarity of the international community while cooperating with all sovereign governments concerned. In this light, we see the objective of this Ministerial Conference as a historic opportunity to shed ample light on the refugee problem in the Muslim World, mobilize efforts to address this humanitarian problem and find ways and means of enhancing these efforts. Such collective and well coordinated approaches will no doubt generate solutions that address the immediate humanitarian needs and aim at the root causes within a long term and durable arrangements for the interest of all.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is evident that refugee problems are not limited to the Muslim World and they have been experienced in all regions, in all cultures and in all religions. Our endeavors within the OIC is not meant to overdramatize this problem in our midst, but rather meant to give it its proportionate and realistic dues. We all know that we do live in a less- than- perfect world community and coexistence amongst states and communities requires interaction of different cultures in an environment of multiculturalism. Hence, refugee situations continue to be products of intolerance, xenophobia, injustice, denial of basic rights, conflict over resources domestically or across state borders and instances of foreign intervention. Accordingly, we look forward to see that, root causes are addressed consciously, objectively and systematically. Standards should therefore be set without subjective variations, while addressing these problems, and I can assure you that the OIC member states have been exerting strenuous efforts to assist in refugee and displacement situations without any shadow of subjective factors. And we will continue these efforts within the OIC and we will maintain coordination and collaboration, whenever possible, with UNHCR and all other humanitarian organizations dedicated to this humanitarian cause.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we consider the cases of refugees in the Muslim World , we should underscore the plight and injustice to which the Palestinian refugees continue to be subjected. Their situation, being the most protracted situation of refugees in the world since the late 1940s remained unresolved and their rights continue to be usurped unless a political settlement is concluded within the UN resolutions and the Arab Initiative, guaranteeing their legitimate rights. Thus, theirs is not just a refugee humanitarian issue, but it is a political cause that should be dealt with accordingly. The OIC member states, continue to make all possible efforts for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to remind us all that this Conference is indeed a land mark event in our search for solutions to problems of true humanitarian nature. To this end, we reiterate our commitment to a strategic partnership with UNHCR and we will continue to find ways and means of appropriate and effective cooperation with them and others to achieve our noble humanitarian objectives. For this reason, we hope that declaration of this conference would help us charting the way forward.

Finally, Let me take the opportunity, to reiterate that our OIC Charter and our guiding principles enable us to remain an effective force of wisdom, peace and fruitful dialogue, in a world faced by constant economic, political and social challenges. Indeed, no one would dispute the fact that refugees are amongst the most vulnerable populations and they deserve our serious attention. It is not only an attention of the moment, but it is an attention of our political resolve, an attention of provision of lasting solutions , in a spirit of international burden sharing. In sum, let us turn the refugee challenges into opportunities for action.

I wish all, fruitful, substantive and inspiring deliberations and above all a successful outcome.

I thank you.

Suorce: OIC Secretariat General

Posted in Human Rights and Islam, OIC Meeting, Other Rights, Press Release, Turkmenistan | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Vigilante groups ‘could battle’ Muslim radicals

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on May 15, 2012

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 05/15/2012 8:00 AM

Muslim activists are warning that people might form vigilante groups if the government takes no action against the violent campaigns carried out by a number of hard-line organizations.

Wahid Institute pluralism activist Rumadi said members of the public were likely to take the law into their own hands because they believe the police have been protecting hard-line groups .

“It is possible because the police continue to side with the hard-line groups and people know they can’t rely on the police anymore for protection,” Rumadi said on Monday.

After harassing minority groups across the country, some radical groups recently turned their attention to attacking individuals and institutions that promote liberal ideas.

Last week, such groups disrupted book discussions featuring Irshad Manji, a Canadian liberal Muslim activist, both within and outside of the capital.

Muslim scholar Ulil Abshar Abdalla said that the violent actions taken by firebrand groups had raised the ire of some members of the community.

Ulil said that communities could set up a “neighborhood watch” to contain the movement of radical groups.

“It’s not an ideal solution to the problem, but it would probably do for now because we can’t expect much from the police,” he said.

Ulil, member of the Democratic Party’s central board, said that he once suggested that the government disband these hard-line groups.

But the government declined to do so because it lacked the legal grounds to take the action, Ulil said.

On May 4, members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) broke up Manji’s discussion at the Salihara Cultural Center in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta.

Five days later, the rector of Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University (UGM) cancelled Manji’s speech, organized by the Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies, citing “security reasons”.

UGM said that it had been under pressure from a number of groups to cancel the talk.

The following day, members of the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) ransacked the office of the Institute for Islamic and Social Studies (LKiS) in Yogyakarta, where Manji was expected to participate in a discussion.

The mob vandalized the publisher’s office and tore pages out of Manji’s books, which had been displayed for sale.

Manji and her assistant suffered minor injuries in the attack.

Witnesses have said that no police officers were seen during the attack.

Between January 2011 and May 2012, as many as 20 attacks on minority groups were recorded in

Ahmadiyah communities, Shiite groups and Christian congregations were among those targeted.

Irfan Abubakar, the director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, said the government could no longer promote Indonesia as a model for a pluralist society to the rest of the world.

“This has turned into an empty slogan used by the government in international diplomacy,” Irfan said.

His comments came as Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin from the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) said that Indonesia should protect the rights of minority groups.

The IPHRC oversees human rights issues for the Organization of Islamic Conference’s (OIC) member countries.

She said that member countries should protect minority groups with the same zeal that they have called for protection for Muslim minorities in other countries.

She also said that OIC has the authority over what was considered Islamic and non-Islamic.

“The OIC has never banned the Ahmadiyah and Shiite movements, and this should mean something to Indonesia,” Siti said. (tas)


Posted in Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), Indonesia, OIC Human Rights News | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

OIC Secretary General denounces military coup in Guinea-Bissau

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on April 16, 2012

Date: 14/04/2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, firmly denounced the coup d’état conducted on Saturday 13 April 2012 by army rebels in the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, an OIC Member State.

The Secretary General condemned the coup as an outrageous and inadmissible act which will only thwart the stabilization efforts and democratic process unraveling in the country over the last few months. He noted with profound regret that this unconstitutional coup is launched a few weeks prior to the run-off presidential election.

Prof. Ihsanoglu called on the military in Guinea-Bissau to exercise responsible restraint, refrain from violence, and release all detained officials as a prelude to restore the constitutional order, peace and stability in the country.

Source: OIC

Posted in International Human Rights, OIC Human Rights News, Other Rights, Regional Mechanism of Human Rights | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

UN HRC Resolution: Combating intolerance, incitement to violence and violence against based on religion/belief

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 22, 2012

Human Rights Council

Nineteenth session (Agenda item 9)

Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related form of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

19/…      Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief

The Human Rights Council,

       Reaffirming the commitment made by all States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to, inter alia, religion or belief,

       Reaffirming also Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 of 24 March 2011 and General Assembly resolution 66/167 of 19 December 2011,

       Welcoming the panel discussion on strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs, held during the seventeenth session of the Human Rights Council pursuant to paragraph 9 of resolution 16/18,

       Reaffirming the obligation of States to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion or belief and to implement measures to guarantee the equal and effective protection of the law,

       Reaffirming also that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides, inter alia, that everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, which shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching,

       Reaffirming further the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance,

       Deeply concerned about incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons based on their religion or belief in all regions of the world,

       Deploring any advocacy of discrimination or violence on the basis of religion or belief,

       Strongly deploring all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their homes, businesses, properties, schools, cultural centres or places of worship,

       Concerned about actions that wilfully exploit tensions or target individuals on the basis of their religion or belief,

       Noting with deep concern the instances of intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence in many parts of the world, including cases motivated by discrimination against persons belonging to religious minorities, in addition to the negative projection of the followers of religions and the enforcement of measures that specifically discriminate against persons on the basis of religion or belief,

       Recognizing the valuable contribution of people of all religions or beliefs to humanity and the contribution that dialogue among religious groups can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind,

       Recognizing also that working together to enhance implementation of existing legal regimes that protect individuals against discrimination and hate crimes, increase interfaith and intercultural efforts, and to expand human rights education are important first steps in combating incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence against individuals on the basis of religion or belief,

       1.             Expresses deep concern at the continued serious instances of derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief, as well as programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at creating and perpetuating negative stereotypes about religious groups, in particular when condoned by Governments;

       2.             Expresses its concern that incidents of religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative stereotyping of individuals on the basis of religion or belief, continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, as set forth in the present resolution, consistent with their obligations under international human rights law, to address and combat such incidents;

       3.             Condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means;

       4.             Recognizes that the open public debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national and international levels can be among the best protections against religious intolerance and can play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating religious hatred, and convinced that a continuing dialogue on these issues can help overcome existing misperceptions;

       5.             Notes the speech given by Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the fifteenth session of the Human Rights Council, and draws on his call on States to take the following actions to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect, by:

       (a)           Encouraging the creation of collaborative networks to build mutual understanding, promoting dialogue and inspiring constructive action towards shared policy goals and the pursuit of tangible outcomes, such as servicing projects in the fields of education, health, conflict prevention, employment, integration and media education;

       (b)           Creating an appropriate mechanism within Governments to, inter alia, identify and address potential areas of tension between members of different religious communities, and assisting with conflict prevention and mediation;

       (c)           Encouraging training of Government officials in effective outreach strategies;

       (d)           Encouraging the efforts of leaders to discuss within their communities the causes of discrimination, and evolving strategies to counter these causes;

       (e)           Speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence;

       (f)            Adopting measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief;

       (g)           Understanding the need to combat denigration and negative religious stereotyping of persons, as well as incitement to religious hatred, by strategizing and harmonizing actions at the local, national, regional and international levels through, inter alia, education and awareness-building;

       (h)           Recognizing that the open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue at the local, national and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence;

       6.             Calls upon all States:

       (a)           To take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries in the conduct of their public duties do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief;

       (b)           To foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion, and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society;

       (c)           To encourage the representation and meaningful participation of individuals, irrespective of their religion, in all sectors of society;

       (d)           To make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures;

       7.             Encourages States to consider providing updates on efforts made in this regard as part of ongoing reporting to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

       8.             Calls upon States to adopt measures and policies to promote the full respect for and protection of places of worship and religious sites, cemeteries and shrines, and to take measures in cases where they are vulnerable to vandalism or destruction;

       9.             Calls for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs.

Distr. by UN HRC Extranet / Original: English/ 16 March 2012

Posted in For Your Information, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Religion, Human Rights and Islam, International Human Rights, Pakistan | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

OIC body told to engage civil groups

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 15, 2012

Rabby Pramudatama, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 02/22/2012

The newly-established human rights commission at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should work together with civil organizations in order to improve human rights protection, rights watchdogs have said.

To make the collaboration run smoothly, the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) needs to give civil society access to information about human rights issues.

“Based on my experience, state-level organizations’ credibility and accountability improves if they succeed in building constructive engagement with various civil society groups,” Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) executive director Rafendi Djamin said on Tuesday.

The OIC, an organization that attempts to be the collective voice of the Muslim world (Ummah), set up the IPHRC in June 2011, in Astana, Kazakhstan.

As a member, Indonesia has been appointed to hold the first meeting, which took place at a Central Jakarta hotel from Monday to Friday this week. Other elements of civil society expressed hopes that the IPHRC, as the new commission, was perceived as more progressive compared to other human rights bodies at the regional level.

The IPHRC recognized the role of civil society organizations in promoting and protecting human rights in Muslim countries as stated in Article 15 of its statute. National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) chairperson Yuniyanti Chuzaifah said it was crucial for the IPHRC to expand its mandate.

“The IPHRC should have the authority to monitor its member countries and the results should be verified with information provided by civil society,” she said.

Zannuba “Yenny” Wahid, the director of the Wahid Institute and also the daughter of Indonesia’s fourth president, the late Abdurrahman Wahid, highlighted the challenges that the IPHRC faced.

“The commission is facing a great challenge, because according to its statute it has no binding resolution,” she told The Jakarta Post.

The IPHRC’s statute article 12 stipulates, “The commission shall carry out consultative tasks for the council and submit recommendations to it. It shall also carry out other tasks as may be assigned to it by the summit or the council.”

Despite its lack of binding power, Yenny said that the commission was still making good progress in regard to its function as an official permanent body that could, at least, set standard recommendations on human rights issues.

She said that on a domestic level, Indonesia’s main problem on human rights issues was the government’s lack of political will, which she deemed as the source of almost all human rights violations occurring across the country.

Many deemed that the creation of the IPHRC was a major breakthrough in the Islamic world, because many Muslim countries were criticized for their incompatibilities with human rights norms.

On Monday, the first day of the IPHRC’s meeting, Indonesia’s representative to the commission, Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, was appointed as the chairperson of the commission among all 18 commissioners.

“I think the protection of religious minority groups is one of my missions in the IPHRC,” she told the Post.

She said that the issue had not become the commission’s agenda but she would highlight violence against religious minority groups to commission members.



Posted in CSO Participation, Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), Indonesia, OIC Human Rights News | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »