It Can’t Happen Here? Muslim Organization Wants International Law Criminalizing Criticism of Islam

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is made up of 56 nations plus the Palestinian Authority, met Thursday in Jeddah and called for the adoption of an international law criminalizing criticism of Islam. But that kind of law could never be adopted in the United States, could it? Think again.

The OIC’s secretary-general, Dr. Yousef al-Othaimeen, called upon the nations of the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to crack down on speech that was “insulting religions or prophets.” It was clear, however, that al-Othaimeen couldn’t have cared less about speech insulting Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism or any of the revered figures of those religions. He cared only about criticism of Islam.

“There are laws against anti-Semitism and racism,” said al-Othaimeen. “So we request a law against mocking religions.” He didn’t explain why laws against racism should lead to laws against criticizing belief systems, since, after all, contrary to the assumptions of Rachel Dolezal, Shaun King, and Elizabeth Warren, one cannot change one’s race, but one can change one’s beliefs, including religious beliefs. Al-Othaimeen likely knows this, but cited racism because he knows how to pull the right strings to get the Western intelligentsia to do what he wants.

“Islamophobia,” he continued, “is a sentiment of excessive fear against Islam that is transformed into acts of intolerance and discriminations against Muslims and even violent crimes against people with Islamic attires.”

No one should discriminate against Muslims or anyone, and genuine intolerance, when it shades over into illegal activity, and violent crime should always be prosecuted. But the OIC wants to go much farther than that, and get Western societies to criminalize criticism of Islam altogether.

Al-Othaimeen added: “These issues are of great importance, to be worked on in collaboration not only with governments, but also with people and non-profit organizations, to prove to everyone that Islam is the voice of mercy, moderation and coexistence with Muslims and non-Muslims.”

Yes, everyone who remembers 9/11, and the Fort Hood jihad massacre, and the Boston Marathon bombings, and a host of other jihad attacks, all carried out in accord with Islamic teachings, knows all about Islam’s “voice of mercy, moderation and coexistence with Muslims and non-Muslims.”

But this muzzling of criticism of Islam could never happen in America, right? Wrong. In fact, this is a lot closer to happening than most people realize. In October 2009, the Obama administration joined Egypt in supporting a resolution in the U.N.’s Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to the freedom of speech for “any negative racial and religious stereotyping” (a highly subjective category). Approved by the U.N. Human Rights Council, the resolution called on states to condemn and criminalize “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton affirmed the Obama administration’s support for this on July 15, 2011, when she gave an address on the freedom of speech at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference on Combating Religious Intolerance. “Together," she said, “we have begun to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression and we are pursuing a new approach. These are fundamental freedoms that belong to all people in all places and they are certainly essential to democracy.”

But how could both religious sensitivities and freedom of expression be protected?

Clinton had a First Amendment to deal with, and so in place of legal restrictions on criminalization of Islam, she suggested “old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.” She held a lengthy closed-door meeting with OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in December 2011 to facilitate the adoption of measures that would advance the OIC’s anti-free speech campaign. But what agreements she and Ihsanoglu made, if any, have never been disclosed. Still, the specter of an American Secretary of State conferring with a foreign official about how to restrict the freedom of speech in order to stifle communications deemed offensive to Muslims was, at the very least, chilling.

Nor was that a singular case. In July 2012, Thomas Perez — then the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, was asked by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.):

Will you tell us here today that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?

Perez could have simply answered yes, and maybe even cited the First Amendment. Instead, Perez refused to answer the question directly. Franks persisted, ultimately asking it four times. Perez at one point responded that it was a “hard question.” He simply refused to affirm that the Obama Justice Department would not attempt to criminalize criticism of Islam.

This is today’s Democratic Party. If a Democrat wins the presidency in 2020 or thereafter, will that president advance the Left’s assault on the freedom of speech and move to implement Sharia restrictions on criticism of Islam in the United States? You can bet on it.

In that eventuality, I hope some of y’all will visit me in prison.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.