The OIC and the Universality of Human Rights
by Aaron Eitan Meyer • Jan 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm
December 19th, 2008 saw the opening session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Inter-Institutional Forum on Universal Shared Values: Challenges and New Paradigms in Geneva. The keynote address was given by the Secretary-General of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. Throughout his speech, Ihsanoglu extolled the virtues of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), but a careful reading of the entire text reveals far more regarding how the OIC really views the universality of human rights.
Immediately after declaring that "the UDHR belongs to all of us" Ihsanoglu stated that Islam "established an exemplary code for human rights" and that "Human rights in Islam are firmly rooted in the equality among all mankind, transcending all considerations of place, colour, language and social status." Ihsanoglu concluded his conceptualization by declaring that "these rights go long way [sic] in line with the contemporary concept of human rights."
However, it is the sentence between the two just cited that is revealing. "These rights are part and parcel of the teaching of Islam that no ruler, government, assembly or authority can alter, curtail or violate in any way." In plain English, if any declaration, law, or covenant is in conflict with the Islamic definition of human rights (as defined by the OIC, of course), then the declaration, law, or covenant must give way.
Accordingly, when Ihsanoglu stated that ‘Islamic' human rights are in accordance with contemporary conceptions of human rights, what he's really saying is that contemporary conceptions of human rights are moving towards however he sees ‘Islamic human rights,' not the other way around.
Frighteningly, Ihsanoglu is absolutely correct in his assessment there – because the OIC has spent considerable effort in subverting traditional Western views of human rights, most glaringly through recent resolutions at the UN, such as those that criminalize ‘defaming' religion [read: Islam].
So the OIC is not being hypocritical when it extols the virtues of universal human rights, it sincerely wants them to be universally understood – so long as that definition is derived from the Qur'an, as interpreted by the OIC.
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