By Baron Bodissey
This article was first published at Gates of Vienna.
For the International Civil Liberties Alliance, the theme for this week’s OSCE in Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw was “Bad Definitions”. As readers have undoubtedly noticed, the most prominent bad definition is the word “Islamophobia”. There are plenty of other words than can be targeted as ill-defined, and those have been discussed here in earlier posts, and in the ICLA paper “The Problematic Definition of ‘Islamophobia’”. However, to make matters simpler, the ICLA team concentrated this week on “Islamophobia”.
On Tuesday night the ODIHR Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department convened a side event, “Educational initiatives and approaches for addressing anti-Semitism and intolerance against Muslims”. This sounded like a worthwhile opportunity, and a large contingent of people from ICLA, Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, the Center for Security Policy(CSP), the Stresemann Foundation, and other anti-Shariah NGOs decided to look in on it.
It was a good thing we did. It turned out that the side event was convened to highlight “Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education”, which was published jointly [pdf] by OSCE/ODIHR, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO in 2011. This document — which contains 49 instances of the word “Islamophobia” — was discussed in the ICLA paper, and was part of the focus of our research.
The first forty minutes or so featured presentation by the panelists, including some of the authors of the “Guidelines”. One of them was a British gentleman named Robin Richardson, who is associated with the Runnymede Trust. Among other things, Mr. Richardson told the audience: “We all know that nations are not capable of solving the world’s problems.” Only global institutions were capable of doing so.
His assertion was the last straw. Since the panelists had repeatedly mentioned “Islamophobia” — ICLA’s topic for the week — I decided to speak up. After comments by one other member of the audience, I had my say, and a lengthy discussion ensued, capped by devastating remarks made by Major Stephen Coughlin of CSP.
Below are relevant excerpts from the audio of the occasion. Many thanks to Henrik Ræder Clausen for making the recording, to CSP for the transcript, and to Vlad Tepes for editing the audio to produce this video: