Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Spineless EU

In the wake of my post on the EU's effort to appease the Mulsims rioting against the Danish cartoons comes this article describing the EU's plans to support a proposal by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to get the UN to action against "blasphemy." The OIC is lobbying to get language banning blasphemy or defaming religion included in the tenets of any new UN human rights body.

One would think that the EU would be hestitant to make concessions to states that fail to live up to the basic standards of liberal human rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of the press and speech, and equality of women, for example. Just take a look at this map of freedom created by Freedom House. How many Islamic countries rate as free, or even partly free? Among states with Muslim majorities (46 countries), 3 rate as "Free," 20 as "PartlyFree," and 23 are "Not Free." However, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana sided with the OIC, saying that "We have been talking today on how we can send a message to the people in both communities, the Islamic and European, that we need this not to happen again ... We strongly hope that people will be now sensible to understand that. Be sure we are going to do our utmost for this not to happen again, because we need each other... I don't think honestly it will happen again."

Just to demonstrate that this is not a case of an official's personal views deviating from stated policy, Solana's chief of staff concurred: "[The Islamic states] want mechanisms to guarantee this is not repeated and we should be able to find it in UN conventions on human rights."

An unnamed EU official close to the talks between Solana and the OIC dissented, arguing that the EU had and would make no promises to the OIC on anti-blasphemy legislation. But, he went on to say that "We deviated from the word 'laws' and moved to concentrate on conventions, resolutions and such things. We have to be careful of Western public opinion." Ah yes, the European commitment to free speech and press is not a moral one, but merely a reflection of public opinion.

Actually, I hope that the EU's spineless appeasement succeeds. What better way to demonstrate the complete and total irrelevance of the UN than to have its human rights codes be stronger in preventing satiric criticism of religion than genocide or oppression? Such an act would truly consign the UN to the ashbin of history where human rights are concerned. Good riddance.

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