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Mainstream Islam Rejects Freedom of Conscience

On September 28-30, 2010, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in cooperation with the American Islamic College (AIC), is sponsoring a program at the AIC’s Chicago campus titled “The Role of the OIC and the scope for its relations with American Muslims.”

Founded in 1969, the OIC is now a 56-state collective which includes every Islamic nation on Earth. Currently headed by Turkey's Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC thus represents the entire Muslim umma (or global community of individual Muslims) and is the largest single voting bloc in the United Nations.

John Laffin, the late (d. 2000) military historian and prolific writer on Islam, warned in 1988 that the Jedda-based OIC, under Saudi Arabia’s patronage, was persuading Muslim nations to jettison even their inchoate adoption of “Western models and codes,” and to revert to pre-colonial era (pre-Western) retrograde systems of Sharia, or Islamic law. The Saudis proffered sizable loans and grants from their institutions in return for the more extensive application of Sharia in these targeted OIC countries. Laffin also noted the unprecedented Saudi distribution of media and print materials which extended to non-Muslim countries, including tens of millions of Korans, translated into many languages for the hundreds of millions of Muslims (and non-Muslims) who did not read Arabic. He concluded at that time:

Propaganda is carried on from Riyadh on a scale comparable to Moscow’s effort to spread communism.

Fast forward 22 years, and two special U.S. envoys to the OIC later (both the former, Sada Cumber, and current envoy, Rashad Hussain, will be in attendance at the Chicago OIC program), and one must seriously consider the extent of OIC propaganda efforts aimed at the Islamization of our country. Perhaps in Chicago some intrepid (and informed) mainstream media reporter -- underscoring how the OIC’s agenda is diametrically opposed to the U.S. Constitution -- will ask the representatives of this avatar of mainstream Islam about its blatant rejection of freedom of conscience, described below.

Elizabeth Kendal, in a recent commentary about the plight of brutalized Egytpian Muslim “apostates” Maher el-Gowhary and Nagla Al-Imam, made a series of apt observations which illustrate the most salient aspect of Islam’s persistent religious totalitarianism: the absence of freedom of conscience in Islamic societies. Egypt, Kendal notes, amended its secular-leaning constitution in 1980, reverting to its pre-colonial past and designating Sharia (Islamic law) as “the principal source of legislation” -- an omnipresent feature of contemporary Muslim constitutions, including the new constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq -- rendering “constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equality before the law illusory.” This is the inevitable outcome of a Sharia-based legal system, because:

Sharia’s principal aim concerning religious liberty, is to eradicate apostasy (rejection of Islam) through the elimination of fitna (anything that could tempt a Muslim to reject Islam) and the establishment of dhimmitude -- the humiliation and subjugation of Jews and Christians as second class citizens [or non-citizen pariahs]; crippling systematic discrimination; violent religious apartheid ...

In Egypt, as in virtually all Muslim states, a person’s official religion is displayed on their identity card. According to Sharia, every child born to a Muslim father is deemed Muslim from birth. According to Sharia, a Muslim woman is only permitted to marry a Muslim man. (This is the main reason why Christian men convert to Islam, and why female converts to Christianity will risk life and liberty to secure a falsified/illegal ID, for without a Christian ID they cannot marry a Christian.)

Thus Kendal concludes:

There is no religious liberty in Islam, for Islam survives as religious totalitarianism that refuses rejection.

Islam’s refusal to abide rejection by its votaries -- the global Muslim umma’s strident rejection of freedom of conscience -- is now openly codified, and has been for two decades. The 1990 Cairo Declaration, or so-called “Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam,” was drafted and subsequently ratified by all the Muslim member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Both the preamble and concluding articles (24 and 25) make plain that the OIC's Cairo Declaration is designed to supersede Western conceptions of human rights as enunciated, for example, in the U.S. Bill of Rights and the UN's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The opening of the preamble to the Cairo Declaration repeats a Koranic injunction affirming Islamic supremacism (Koran 3:110; “You are the best nation ever brought forth to men ... you believe in Allah”), and states:

Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which Allah made the best nation ...

The preamble continues:

Believing that fundamental rights and universal freedoms in Islam are an integral part of the Islamic religion and that no one as a matter of principle has the right to suspend them in whole or in part or violate or ignore them in as much as they are binding divine commandments, which are contained in the Revealed Books of God and were sent through the last of His Prophets to complete the preceding divine messages thereby making their observance an act of worship and their neglect or violation an abominable sin, and accordingly every person is individually responsible -- and the Ummah collectively responsible -- for their safeguard.

In its last articles 24 and 25, the Cairo Declaration maintains:

[Article 24] All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia. ... [Article 25] The Islamic Sharia is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification to any of the articles of this Declaration.

These statements capture the indelible influence of the Islamic religious law Sharia: the Cairo Declaration claiming supremacy based on “divine revelation,” which renders sacred and permanent the notion of inequality between the community of Allah and the infidels. Thus we can see clearly the differences between the Cairo Declaration, which sanctions the gross inequalities inherent in the Sharia, and its Western human rights counterparts (the U.S. Bill of Rights; the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights), which do not refer to any specific religion or to the superiority of any group over another, and stress the absolute equality of all human beings.

Enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights is the guarantee that laws may not be made that interfere with religion “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Absent the right to freedom of thought, or conscience, other rights such as the right to freedom of speech are rendered meaningless. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo reasoned elegantly in Palko v. Connecticut (1937):

Freedom of thought ... is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom. With rare aberrations a pervasive recognition of this truth can be traced in our history, political and legal.

This principle of freedom of conscience is also upheld in Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which further makes explicit the fundamental right to change one's religion:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.