OIC Calls Charlie Hebdo Survival Cover An Extreme Act

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) calls the Charlie Hebdo survival edition front cover an “extreme act of provocation”, and calls for limits on free speech.

The Prophet stands with “All is forgiven” above him, and a tear rolling down his cheek, while holding a banner that reads “Je suis Charlie.” Caroline Fourest described it as a sweet cartoon that put Mohammed beyond the crimes of the killers. Indeed, it is about reconciliation that whatever our views on religion or satire, we are united against violence. Except Sky News cut short Caroline’s interview when she dared to try and show that cover. Her point that this solidarity was undermined by refusing to show was well demonstrated.

The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission has gone much further:

However, the Commission has noted with deep regret that the first edition of Charlie Hebdo after the attack, deliberately carried the most disrespectful and provocative caricature offensive to all Muslims, thus betraying the sense of abhorrence against the attack, as well as the sympathy towards the families of those killed during the incident. [my emphasis]

Portraying the prophet crying calling for reconciliation is “disrespectful and provocative.” Sympathy for those killed by fanatics should not be conditional on the survivors now doing what the fanatics want. That would be a huge mistake saying: kill us, and we survivors will do as you ask.

Indeed IPHRC go on to claim:

“Manifest stereotyping and ridiculing the most revered personality of a pristine religion is nothing but an extreme form of racial discrimination.”

If you ever thought “Islam is not a race” was an argument at nobody, well here it is warranted. Ideas are not living people, and revered religious icons are an idea worthy of exploration by all forms of art and humour.

It bears repeating this article for the OIC is based on this one front cover. Because with the car bomb in the past and assassination in the Charlie Hebdo press office this month, they should have stopped depicting the prophet.

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If anyone is tempted to repeat the killing the IPHRC stresses you are being provoked to violence:

The Commission urges Muslims around the world to continue to exercise restraints in their reaction to this extreme act of malicious provocation and hatred based on ill-founded presumption of the right to insult and defame the faith, values and cultures of others in the name of freedom of expression. [emphasis my own]

An extreme act is killing people, not drawing someone crying, that might lead others to reply in kind. A proportionate response would be satirising and drawing the Charlie Hebdo staff. If we must disagree would rather you used words and cartoons. Guns are for fundamentalists to settle an argument because bullets have a way not of being the last word, but ending the next.

The OIC try to argue that the front cover breaches international human rights law:

The Commission hopes that in line with the guidelines of UNHRC Resolution 16/18, the international community would rise to speak up against this utterly irresponsible and disrespectful act. IPHRC fully supports the freedom of expression and the need to discuss all ideas and issues in an open, well informed and frank manner including criticism on sacred beliefs. However, insults and negative stereotypes have never produced any positive results. On the contrary, its negative impact on targeted communities is well known to the world in general and Europe in particular.

The irony – this was a cover with a message of forgiveness and solidarity. That violence and discrimination were never to be accepted. We are one people, to reduce the rights of another is to threaten mine. This is solidarity.

Looking at the UNHRC Resolution 16/18 reveals:

2. Expresses its concern that incidents of religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative stereotyping of individuals on the basis of religion or belief, continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, as set forth in the present resolution, consistent with their obligations under international human rights law, to address and combat such incidents;

3. Condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means; [emphasis my own]

A cartoon of the prophet crying under the slogan “All Is Forgiven” falls well short of that. Rather, claiming it is an “extreme act of malicious provocation and hatred” with it being the “most disrespectful and provocative caricature offensive to all Muslims” really is trying to raise tensions that could lead to religious hatred and division.

People are being told to be outraged at tears and forgiveness. This is how divisions are sown, hatred cultivated and violence condoned as normal. Remember that solidarity you felt with the murdered and the grieving.

Stand for peace, stand with those crying till a sea change is caused by the compassionate and merciful united in grief and strong in solidarity that we will not be divided by those using religion to make us any less than the equal citizens we are.

Update:

The OIC is looking at European and French law, to launch legal proceedings against Charlie Hebdo for their survival front cover. [The Independent]

It is an improvement at least.

Thanks to Jane Grover for OIC links.

Update 19/1/2015:

Good link giving background to the creation of the resolution mentioned above, and the OIC involvement, mentioned here.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

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Filed under British Society, Culture, Religion, secular, World

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