Bashy is Back: The Still Strange Views of Mr. Quraishy on Free Speech
by Andrew E. Harrod • Oct 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm
Bashy Quraishy, the Pakistani-Danish Muslim familiar to Legal Project (LP) readers from past articles by Adam Turner and me (see here and here), is back at his old stomping ground, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Speaking at the OSCE's 2012 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (September 24, 2012-October 5, 2012, in Warsaw, Poland), Quraishy showed that he and his Islamic supremacist, anti-free speech agenda has not changed.
Representing once again the European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion (EMISCO), where Quraishy holds the title of secretary general, he addressed a plenary session of the OSCE conference on October 1. In remarks filmed and posted to the website Gates of Vienna, Quraishy decried "reactionary forces in Europe and USA that demonize Islam, and thus make the lives of Muslim communities unbearable and the fulfillment of their human rights very difficult." Quraishy in particular cited the "United Kingdom, USA, France, Holland, and Denmark" as the "main criminals." Quraishy declared that EMISCO was "very worried about the hatred and propaganda against Islam and Muslims in the West and, for example, burning the Koran, insulting films and videos attacking the Prophet. Such actions were "restricting Muslims to fulfill their human rights and practice their religion in peace."
Echoing the same illogic manifested by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his response to the Innocence of Muslims internet trailer, Quraishy wanted "to remind the USA and the European governments and societies that their freedom to demonize Islam must stop where my rights begin." Absent an appropriate response, Quraishy feared that such "provocations" would "threaten the world peace and good relations between the West and the Islamic world." Quraishy appealed to "Europe and USA governments to live up to their responsibilities and protect Muslim communities as vigorously as they protect Jewish communities, gay and lesbian groups, and other visible minorities in their countries." Quraishy professed that "Muslims…want to live in peace, but please let us live in peace." In sum, Quraishy's comments argued that criticism and condemnation of the beliefs and behaviors of people, particularly Muslims, somehow constituted an infringement of their human rights, a position fatal for the right of free expression.
Quraishy, moreover, appeared to be availing himself of the violence of others in order to make good on his calls for special treatment of Islam. Participants in the Warsaw conference from the International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA), a transnational Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) of anti-sharia activists, denounced Quraishy's "shocking declaration" as a "thinly veiled threat of violence in the very heart of an organization dedicated to the preservation of security in the OSCE region." The ICLA found Quraishy "in perfect alignment" with the numerous Innocence of Muslim "riots" and their "aim to weaken the democracy countries' resolve to defend the fundamental right of free speech." The ICLA "strongly condemn[ed] such recourse of threats to free speech in the OSCE area" as "contrary to OSCE principles as well as to the spirit of cooperation and sincerity of this assembly."
Quraishy's reference to "hatred" against Islam paralleled the comments of another controversial participant in the Human Dimension conference, namely the American Muslim Salam al-Marayati. The Obama administration selected him as a member of the American delegation in Warsaw despite his history of apologies for Islamic terrorism and anti-Israeli/anti-Semitic conspiracy theorizing. "Hate speech," Marayati said to the conference on October 1, "that intends to degrade, intimidate or incite violence against someone based on religion is harmful." Yet even he, in terms often missing in global debates about Islam and freedom of opinion today, made the case for free speech:
Living in a free society entails allowing each individual to march to the beat of their own "different drummer", even if one person's views sound disharmonious to another. Any demand for approval of a belief and/or behavior, by contrast, necessarily entails infringing the autonomy of disapproving individuals. The price of freedom demands that individuals bear the responsibility of tolerating the most vehement of disagreements with other persons exercising their rights to free expression. People everywhere should strive to hold the OSCE and other international institutions accountable to such principles of freedom in the future, despite the disturbing influences of individuals like Quraishi.
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