Day 2 at Durban II: Islamic States condemn Israel, “defamation of religions”

At Tuesday’s high level segment of the Durban Review Conference, Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Palestine and Cuba all highlighted “the plight of the Palestinian people” and condemned Israel as a “racist” state.

Libya said, “Israel is a Jewish State that is seeking racial and ethnic purity,” and that it wishes states boycotting the conference would stop the Israelis from such practices. It also noted its reservation to the conference’s outcome document for omitting mention of Israel’s actions.

Yemen argued that “hatred manifests itself through statements made in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament),” as well as by “Israeli civilians against Palestinian civilians.”

Pakistan, Indonesia, Zimbabwe and others decried the non-participation of certain states in the conference.

Zimbabwe said, “We could not understand why anyone would boycott this conference”

Pakistan argued that “one of the most insidious arms of racism is the defamation of religions,” which “poses a serious xenophobic challenge” to Muslims around the world. It went on to highlight the problematic linkage between Islam and terrorism, saying “terrorism has no faith.”

Libya also condemned the “phenomenon of Islamophobia, especially after September 11.”

Switzerland emphasized its support for the conference’s “consensus” outcome document and commended it because it “does not single out specific situations, mentions the Holocaust, reiterates the importance of freedom of expression.”

Switzerland also said it supports the document’s provisions against “incitement to hatred,” explaining that its domestic laws also punish such public incitement. (This contrasts to a few other Western countries who only prohibit “incitement to violence,” not “hatred,” because of possible clashes with free expression, and the potential for such provisions to be abused on the international scale to lobby for laws criminalizing the “defamation” of Islam).

Click here for notes on Syria’s speech, which garnered a large applause.

Click here for notes on Sudan’s speech, condemning the International Criminal Court as a racist instrument.

Click here for notes on Palestine’s speech, here for notes on Cuba’s speech.

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