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Feb 27 2012

A debate with ‘Human Rights’ Watch

If you recall, a while back, I and a number of other campaigners and rights organisations wrote an open letter to ‘Human Rights’ Watch Director Kenneth Roth criticising his apologetic stance towards Islamism. The letter was recently published in the New York Review of Books Blog along with a response from the organisation.

It’s basically the same old, same old.

HRW insists that it is possible that ‘a government guided by political Islam might be convinced to avoid such discrimination’ by saying there is a difference between the Taliban in Afghanistan and Erdogan in Turkey but Erdogan is not like the Taliban because of the role of secularism in Turkey and not because of ‘diverse, interpretive strains of Islam’.

It goes on to say that those of us who signed the letter ‘insist on “separation of religion from the state,” presented as “the most basic guarantee of rights.” But that is obviously not what the people of Egypt and Tunisia, when given a choice, voted for.’

Whilst I have discussed why this is so elsewhere, suffice it to say that irrespective of people’s ‘choices’ – if you can really call it that – shouldn’t HRW be more concerned about well err, human rights? If a ‘majority’ (which can sometimes even be a minority in parliamentary democracies) chooses to bring the death penalty back or vote the far-Right British National Party into power in the UK, would HRW be as eager to call for engagement? It is only eager to do so when it comes to the people of the Middle East and North Africa because in its worldview Islamism represents the will of the people.

HRW goes on to say: ‘So what exactly do the letter writers propose? A military coup should not be recommended lightly. Taking the position that adherence to democratic principles can be achieved only when non-Islamic parties prevail, as Bush did, is a disaster for those principles. Promoting tolerance of women and gays by way of intolerance for Islam, an approach epitomized by Geert Wilders of the Dutch Freedom Party, does not seem a productive approach.’

And there you have it in a nutshell – the despicable post-modernist approach which defends Islamism and will paint anyone that opposes it as advocates for military coups, far-Right politics and racism.

Listen up, Human Rights Watch: We are opposed to military coups, racism and far-Right politics. That is exactly why we are also opposed to Islamism, which is our far-Right. We are merely reminding you to do your job and defend human rights. That is your job, isn’t it?

Then please do it and stop making excuses for the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists.

As I said in an earlier blog, Human Rights Watch, you are disgusting!

If you agree with the open letter criticising the Human Rights Watch director’s position in defence of Islamism, you can sign a petition here.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Rob

    “Promoting tolerance of women and gays by way of intolerance for Islam… does not seem a productive approach”

    The government of any country which does not protect the equal right to liberty of all its citizens needs to be criticized, especially if that discrimination is enhanced by governmental and religious authority.

    But it seems HRW now believes certain people should be treated more equally than others in Muslim countries.

  2. 2
    Bjarte Foshaug

    Promoting tolerance of women [humans] and gays [humans] by way of intolerance for Islam [a set of ideas]… does not seem a productive approach

    You know that something has gone horribly wrong when:

    1. anything other than discrimination in Islam’s favor is considered anti-Islamic discrimination or “islamofobia”.
    2. a set of abstract, philosophical ideas about theology and metaphysics is seen as deserving of the same rights, equality, tolerance and respect that used to be reserved for living people.
    3. the interests of beliefs, practices, ideologies and ways of thinking are allowed to trump the interests of real live human beings.
    4. beliefs are thought to become especially deserving of respect if they are held for bad reasons (otherwise we never talk about “respecting people’s beliefs”, we simply evaluate their reasons).
    5. ”respect” has become synonymous with infantilization (i.e. assuming a priori that people are too immature to handle your honestly held reasons for not sharing their beliefs).
    6. people who consider themselves liberal and “progressive” assume that anyone not of white, European decent cannot possibly have any other goal in life than to carry on living as prescribed by their ancestors (even if they have never been given any realistic opportunity to choose).
    7. even the most basic human needs, like freedom from oppression and violence, are believed not to apply to anyone who’s (ancestors’) culture doesn’t explicitly endorse it.
    8. the same people who would be the first to object if a western secularist did X are the most offended if someone criticizes a Muslim for doing X.
    9. Muslim extremists resort to threats, violence and even murder over cartoons, tweets and the names of teddy bears, and the only thing that many people can bring themselves to criticize are the cartoons, tweets and teddy bears.
    10. news like this are becoming too typical to even qualify as news, yet people are more concerned about “militant” secularists whose only weapons are logic and humor.

    1. 2.1
      One Furious Llama

      Oh man, that was well put. RAmen!

  3. 3
    ...

    If a ‘majority’ (which can sometimes even be a minority in parliamentary democracies) chooses to bring the death penalty back or vote the far-Right British National Party into power in the UK, would HRW be as eager to call for engagement?

    Well done. And I’m not being sarcastic – it is astonishing how many people confuse “democracy” or “the will of the majority” with liberty.

  4. 4
    Eristae

    Yes! How dare you not be tolerant of my intolerance of gays and women?! It’s wrong of you to be intolerant towards my desire to oppress others.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Rob

    Some of Austin Dacey’s 2006 article Believing in Doubt seems very relevant:

    “…the truly harmful kind of relativism… is the misguided multiculturalism that keeps Western liberals from criticizing the oppression of women, religious minorities and apostates in Islamic societies for fear of being accused of Islamophobia. In such cases we should not shrink from the ideals of autonomy and equality but affirm them openly for what they are: objectively defensible principles of conscience.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/03/opinion/03dacey.html

  7. 7
    supernova

    (which can sometimes even be a minority in parliamentary democracies)

    Err bit nitpicky but I think you’ve confused governmental system with voting system. It is the first-past-the-post voting system that can give a minority party a majority in a legislative chamber, but this would affect a presidential democracy just as surely as it would a parliamentary one (just look at the United State, no third party has any chance of getting a candidate into the legislature mostly because of FPTP).

    Parliamentary democracies which have proportional voting systems are actually better at getting smaller parties into the executive, through coalition government. Whereas in the Presidential system, with its unitary executive formed by a single individual, a candidate from one of the largest parties will always ultimately gain control of the whole of the executive branch.

  8. 8
    Annie

    “…strains of Islam”.

    Incidentally, “strains” is also the word we use in science to refer to virus lineages.

    Annie

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