Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Islamic States Urged to End Religious Intolerance

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2006

Christian Solidarity International (CSI)
870 Hampshire Road, Suite T
Westlake Village, CA 91361

CSI Deplores Wave of Islamic Violence against Freedom of Expression

Christian Solidarity International (CSI) deplores the continuing use of violence and threats of violence in Islamic states, especially last weekend's demonstrations for the restriction of freedom of opinion and expression regarding Islam as a religion and political ideology.

We are particularly dismayed at the murder of Catholic priest Fr. Andrea Santoro in the Turkish city of Trabzon by a youth shouting "Allahu Akbar", the stoning by Muslim mobs of St. Maroun Church in Beirut, the arrest in Amman of Jordanian newspaper editor Jihad Momani, and the burning of Western embassy buildings.

The role of the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), representing 57 Muslim states in creating a climate for violent confrontation and press censorship is a cause of deep concern.

The OIC set the stage for demonstrations against free speech at its extraordinary summit in Mecca in early December 2005. The Muslim heads of state resolved to pressure, through a program of Joint Islamic Action, international institutions to criminalize insults of Islam and its founder, Mohammed. The summit's final resolution referred specifically to the satirical caricatures of Mohammed published last September in Denmark, which were used as a pretext for the violent demonstrations. On the 4th of February - the day the mob violence commenced - the OIC described publication of the caricatures as acts of "blasphemy". Blasphemy is punishable by death, according to Shariah law.

The OIC's understanding of freedom is enshrined in its Cairo Declaration of Human Rights. This Islamic charter subordinates international norms for human rights to discriminatory Shariah law. Political repression, religious discrimination and the publication of anti-Jewish and anti-Christian literature are widespread phenomena within OIC member states, especially in its Arab heartland. Last weekend's demonstrations have the hallmarks of an OIC power-play aimed at imposing censorship on public discussion of Islam.


CSI urges the OIC and member states to desist from fanning the flames of religious intolerance. We also call on the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, Mohammed Tantawi, and the Supreme Leader of Shiite Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to create conditions for genuine, non-violent dialogue with the non-Muslim world by affirming unconditional support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which provides for freedom of expression, religion and conscience for all of mankind, regardless of race, creed or gender. Finally, CSI urges Western governments and civil society, especially the media, to resist the OIC's efforts to manipulate and censor public discussion about Islam and the Islamic world.

CSI is a Christian human rights organization for religious liberty, helping victims of religious repression, victimized children and victims of disaster.

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