UN Human Rights Council, Sept. 25, 2007
Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC): “In many instances Holocaust survivors, instead of promoting . . . harmony, are campaigning against Muslim symbols in the Western world. They should be the most ardent advocates against discrimination. Islamophobia is also a cruel form of Anti-Semitism.” Click to Read PDF of Full Speech (ed. note: text is dated Sept. 21 2007 but was actually delivered on Sept. 25, 2007)
Algeria: “. . . a worrying upswing in Antisemitism which now targets Arabs and is extended by oversimplification to all Muslims.”
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Joint NGO Response
Sept. 28, 2007
His Excellency Ambassador Masood Khan
Organization of the Islamic Conference
Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN in Geneva
Dear Ambassador Khan,
We, the undersigned human rights groups and non-governmental organizations, write to express our grave concern over certain remarks that you delivered before the UN Human Rights Council this past Tuesday, 25 September 2007, which offend Holocaust survivors around the world and harm the cause of equality and human rights for all.
In your statement on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, you addressed the issue of “Defamation of Religions.” As representatives of civil society, we express our firm condemnation of all violations of freedom of religion. We strongly support universal respect for citizens of all faiths without discrimination.
We therefore can neither comprehend nor accept your unprecedented remarks which effectively accuse Holocaust survivors of practicing discrimination and promoting disharmony. In addressing accomodation for Muslims in the Western world and the potential for political and social harmony, you said that “in many instances Holocaust survivors, instead of promoting such harmony, are campaigning against Muslim symbols in the Western world. They should be the most ardent advocates against discrimination. Islamophobia is also a cruel form of Anti-Semitism.”
We are unaware of any such “campaigning” by Holocaust survivors. Moreover, even if it were true that individuals were engaged in such an alleged effort, it would constitute unjustifiable stereotyping to label an entire group — particularly surivors of a genocide — on the basis of the alleged actions of a few.
We believe that Holocaust survivors, elderly men and women who are often frail and suffering from illness, are deserving of our sympathy and respect, not denigration in a speech at the United Nations.
We also regret that the baseless accusation of discrimination on the part of Holocaust survivors was compounded by remarks that effectively deny these and other victims of Antisemitism recognition of their particular form of suffering. Islamophobia, Christianophobia, and Antisemitism are the recognized terms for the hatred of Muslims, Christians and Jews. However, saying that Islamophobia is itself a “form of Anti-Semitism” only serves to corrode and confuse the very meaning and existence of Antisemitism, the term coined in the 1870′s by proto-Nazi Wilhelm Marr as a euphemism for the German Judenhass, or “Jew-hate”. Not only is it nonsensical to claim that groups other than Jews are the objects of Jew-hatred, but it has the pernicious effect of blurring the meaning and impact of any condemnation of Antisemitism. We are gravely concerned that this is not the first time that Pakistan has made such statements at the UN.
Once again, pursuant to the values of the UN Charter, we express our unqualified support for the respect of all religions, and opposition to discrimination of any kind.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration and respect.
Dr. Theodor Rathgeber
German Forum Human Rights
Angela C. Wu
International Law Director
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
Hillel C. Neuer
United Nations Watch
Roy W. Brown
Main Representative, UN Geneva
International Humanist and Ethical Union
Rabbi François Garaï
World Union of Progressive Judaism
Chief Representative to the UN Geneva
Association for World Education
B’nai B’rith International
Dr Francois Ullmann
Ingénieurs du Monde
President of Social Ecology Foundation