Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The OIC Needs to Show It’s Serious About Human Rights

January 24, 2013 1:33 am 2 comments

The member states of the OIC Photo: Hal Switkay.

On January 21, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) placed a half-page ad in The New York Times (posted below) entitled “OIC-US Partnership: Building on a Solid Foundation.” The following is our open letter in response.

Dear Mr. Ihsanoglu,

We read with interest your depiction of a solid foundation between the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United States. Without question, a working relationship with the OIC, representing 57 member countries and 1.4 billion people, holds great potential.

You touched on many issues that concern Americans: health; empowerment of women; combating extremism, terrorism, incitement and hatred. Less clear is what the OIC is doing to address them.

You speak of human rights. Instead of standing behind the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, your organization has been pushing the United Nations to endorse a different document, the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights (CDHR). Article 22 states: “Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contradictory to the principles of Sharia.” What happens those who do not believe in Sharia? The Universal Declaration takes for granted the equality of men and women. Article 6 of your document, however, says that a woman, although equal to a man in human dignity, “has her own rights to enjoy.” Those rights rights do not yet extend to driving a car in Saudi Arabia, or to girls seeking education in Afghanistan, or the right of a girl to avoid rape in the form of child marriage – a right that may disappear under the new Egyptian Sharia-based constitution.

Less than a year ago, the UN Human Rights Council held its first sessions on discrimination based on sexual orientation. Do you remember that Pakistan spoke on behalf of the OIC? It stated that the discussion was at odds with “the fundamental teachings of various religions, including Islam,” and urged the topic not be brought up again.

Rightfully you worry about discrimination against the Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar. All of us need to be the voices for those who cannot speak. But has the OIC also raised its collective voice for other oppressed religious minorities, such as the Baha’i in Iran, or the atheists, Hindus and Buddhists who have no standing in your Sharia-based states?

And what about the most persecuted minority of all today: Christians. They have been ethnically cleansed in Iraq, and butchered in Nigeria by Islamist terrorists. In Egypt, the most populous Arab country, over ten million Coptic Christians, live in fear for their property and their lives.

We would ask you about Jews, but with precious few exceptions most were long ago driven out of virtually all of your member states. But the mere mention of Jews in the Arab and Muslim worlds often conjures up visceral hatred not witnessed on the world stage since Nazi Germany. No oneless that Mohamed Morsi calls Jews “sons of apes and pigs”, and as the President of Egypt, answered “amen” to a recent prayer in a mosque calling for the destruction of the Jews.

Perhaps it is unfair to criticize you for not mentioning other groups in your advertisement. After all, your first concern if for Muslims. But where has the OIC been for 60,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced Syrians? Fifty-seven countries, united under the banner of Islam, and no collective will to intervene and stop the carnage? Where is the outrage as Muslims kill other Muslims gathering at religious shrines? Where were you to lend a guiding hand to young Muslims seeking a brighter, more open future during the Arab Spring, which has now turned into a frigid winter?

Against this backdrop of silence, apathy and hubris, no one should be surprised that you fall back on the Israel/Palestine straw man. In addressing our President you insist that issue lies “at the heart of the most pressing concerns to the OIC.” Is it love of the Palestinians that motivates you, or a desperate attempt to find one unifying banner for Muslim rulers, even if its writ in hate, rather than hope?

You expressed appreciation for President Obama’s historic Cairo speech four years ago. In it our President reminded his audience, “America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.” The President recognized what most of the world outside of the OIC does. The solution to the Middle East problem lies in two states, one Jewish, one Palestinian, living side by side in peace.

With respect, the OIC hasn’t done much to quell violence, terror and hopelessness among its own. Some of that may lie beyond your grasp. But you can help advance peace in the Holy Land. Come to Jerusalem and begin to normalize relations with the Jewish state. Then drive to Ramallah and offer an economic package that invests in economic empowerment and hope, rather than in PA corruption or Hamas terror.

No can do? Then forget the public relations campaign in the US. Divert that budget to UNICEF to help save the children suffering within the borders of the OIC’s domain.

The OIC ad in the New York Times.

Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, serve as the Associate Dean and Director of Interfaith Affairs of the Simon Wiesenthal Center respectively.


2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →