Islamic members of the United Nations Human Rights Council are attempting to shield Islamic Shari’a law abuses from any discussion within the Council.
Should the HR Council want to discuss female genital mutilation, the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) wants it forbidden. Should any violence against anyone at the behest of Shari’a law be introduced on the floor of the Council, Islamic HR members want it deleted from the record.
It all started when the heroic David Littman, undaunted by malicious attempts to expel him from the UN, tried to deliver a speech on violence against women and what Islamic scholars can do to prevent it. The Egyptian representative interrupted repeatedly and challenged the council president. “Regardless of the result of the vote — I couldn’t care less if I will win or lose this vote — my point is that Islam will not be crucified in this council!”
The president gave in: “Statements should refrain from making judgments or evaluations of a particular religion. . . I can promise that at the next evaluation of a religious creed, law, or document, I will interrupt the speaker and we’ll go on to the next one.”
David Littman, an historian, was at the Human Rights Council to read a joint statement of the Association for World Education, International Humanist and Ethical Union. After 4-1/2 lines into the statement, Egypt objected and the Council President Costea (Bogata) seemed to uphold Egypt’s stance and called on Pakistan. Pakistan, however, wasn’t finished with it:
There is an agenda behind it, and you have already given a ruling on the discussion of Shari’a law in this council. We have strong objections on any discussion, any direct or indirect discussion, any out of context, selective discussion on the Shari’a law in this council.
After statements from Canada and Slovenia, President Costea calls for a 45 minute break. He returned and allowed Littman to proceed:
Regarding FGM, our detailed written statement discusses the reasons why 96 percent of Egyptian women are still subjected to FGM despite state legislation in 1997 outlawing the practice.
“Almost 90 percent of the female population in the north of Sudan undergo FGM which in many cases is practiced in its most extreme form known as infibulation” — we are quoting from a report by the special rapporteur Halima Warzazi.
UNICEF figures indicate that over 3 million young girls are mutilated each year in 32 countries, 29 of which are member states of the OIC.
We believe that only a fatwa from Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Sayyid Tantawy replacing the ambiguous fatwas of 1949, 1959 and 1981 will change this barbaric criminal practice, which is now growing even in Europe.
Egypt objected again:
…This is an attempt to link bad traditional practices to Islam. Sheikh Al-Azhar is the president of the largest and the biggest and the oldest Islamic university in the world.
Egypt challengesd the President’s ruling to allow Littman to speak and puts this on the record:
…regardless of the result of the vote, I couldn’t care less if I will win or lose this vote, my point is that Islam will not be crucified in this council! That’s why we are challenging your ruling and the result of the vote will be indicative to what all… delegations think on this issue. And it will be a matter of discussion later of the OIC [Organization of the Islamic Conference]…
The President called for another short break then repeats:
I said that statements should refrain from making judgments or evaluations of a particular religion. We’ve just heard that a certain act which is a fatwa is considered ambiguous. This is a judgment, this is an evaluation.
Germany objected to Egypt’s “Islam will not be crucified in this council” remark and seems to indicate that such a statement is not “appropriate.”
President Costea advised everyone to “take a deep breath.”
Egypt requested the Council to:
…delete any reference to the fatwa by Sheikh Al-Azhar — to delete all reference to Sheikh Al-Azhar from this paragraph in the official records of the meeting.
David Littman received a “caution” and was allowed to speak again:
The government of Pakistan vigorously condemns the practice of so-called honour killings, and that such actions do not find any place in our religion or law.” This is a quotation from President Musharaf on the 28th of April 2000, yet this murderous practice seems to be on the increase in Pakistan and elsewhere. Even in Europe in certain communities. It must be criminalized and the law strictly applied.
The stoning of women for alleged adultery still occurs regularly in Iran, Sudan, and other countries. In Iran, they are buried up to their waists in pits, and blunt stones are used thereby increasing their agony in death. The marriage age for girls in Iran remains at 9 years old. In the year 2000 the Iranian parliament attempted to increase the age to 14 but the law was overturned by the Council of Guardians. Last week…
Iran objected and is given the floor:
Mr. President, the statement and the references made by the speaker in this statement is false and has nothing to do with the realities in my country. I just wanted for the record to say that. “The stoning of women occurs regularly in Iran” — that’s not true. It’s completely false and out of question.
Cuba and Slovenia gave short statements, it seems in support of President Costea, who gave the nod to Littman again:
Integrating the human rights of women throughout the United Nations System is part of Item 8, under paragraph 140. I will conclude, sir. Last week, Noble Peace Prize laureate, Shirin Ebadi, speaking in Geneva, denounced the fact that in Iran, a girl is considered an adult and liable to punishment, even execution, at 9, and a boy, at 15. She rejects the concept of cultural relativism, as does the French Secretary of State for Urban Affairs, Fadela Amara, who recently strongly criticized the ruling of a French judge in Lille for annulling a marriage between 2 Muslims because the girl lied about her virginity in the marriage contract. Mrs. Amara rightly called this aberration, and I quote, “A real fatwa against the emancipation and liberty of women.” [President bangs gavel.] Thank you, Mr. President, I was quoting a Minister in France, sir.
Costea banged his gavel, declared that time was up and the Council disband until the next day’s session.
Trackback URL for this entry: