Reflections on a World Gone Mad: Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff’s Report From The Recent Meeting of The UN Alliance of Civilizations

By • on March 9, 2013
Neville Chamberlain at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938.  Unlike Chamberlain, Elisabeth was not gullible.

Neville Chamberlain at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938. Unlike Chamberlain, Elisabeth was not gullible.

This essay by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was previously published over at Gates of Vienna as a 3 part series (Part 1. Part 2Part3.).  It is a report about the 5th Annual Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations on 27th-28th February 2013 that we recently suggested might be a pro sharia front.

Part 1: Chamberlain is cloned!

“One of the major tasks of our generation is to build a global community, where people of all persuasions can live together in harmony and mutual respect.”

— Karen Armstrong, AoC goodwill ambassador

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”

— George Orwell

“Dialogue means persuasion through threats, ‘cross-cultural understanding’ is translated as submission.”

— Bat Ye’or, in Europe, Globalization and the Coming of the Universal Caliphate

In past decades, there has been a more or less covert movement to deliberately dissolve the sovereignty of nation-states, particularly in Europe. Decisions regarding politics, culture and information which should be taken on a national or even a local level have been relegated to a great extent to an international level represented by organizations such as the Anna Lindh Foundation or the Alliance of Civilizations, both of which are, putting it mildly, obscure and unknown to the public. The sinister instruments used in these organizations are called “dialogue”, “peace and harmony”, “partnerships”, and “multiculturalism”. According to eminent scholar Bat Ye’or:

Europeans are hemmed by a game of multiple mirrors, which radiate at every level and into infinity, prefabricated opinions in accordance with political and cultural agendas, of which they know nothing and often disapprove, but which they finance with their taxes. […] This opaque, elitist system undermines democracy. It also lacks visibility, doubling and multiplying itself like a hydra into networks and sub-networks. (Bat Ye’or, Europe, Globalization and the Coming of the Universal Caliphate, p. 125-6)

The setting could not have been more bizarre: the Vienna Hofburg, the hub of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, all glitzed up and shiny, hosted the most undemocratic event imaginable outside North Korea’s borders. The Austrian monarchy can be hailed a beacon of democracy compared to the Alliance of Civilizations, which celebrated its 5th Global Forum in Vienna, sucking up financial and other precious resources and taxes along the way and producing — unsurprisingly — no tangible results.

More than 1,000 men and women attended this forum, young and old, clergy and imams, from near and far, all in perpetual smiles, chatting with each other in the imperial hallways about how to make the world a better place, all the while ignoring the usual elephant in the (Hofburg) castle. Peace and harmony for 72 hours, then it was a collective exodus to the airport to return to reality. In fact, for these 72 hours, the Forum completely negated the outside world, as if the inter-religious tensions existed only in the minds of a few loonies, and if there were only more talk about peace and harmony, these loonies would acknowledge their idiocies and disappear in history’s dustbins. Irksomely, these men and women constituted a non-elected body, for not one spoke for himself, but rather identified with a group, most likely with a Muslim group.

In light of the Alliance’s evil machinations, and before we delve into the actual meeting, it is well worth the effort to examine its origins and aims. The 2004 attacks in Madrid perpetrated by “Muslim extremists” shocked Spain, toppled its (conservative) government, and gave birth to the creation of the Alliance of Civilizations, which — in the words of the inimitable Bat Ye’or —

“would operate in the political and cultural spheres of the rapprochement of Islam and the West, thereby fulfilling the wishes of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). […] This fell to a UN strategy on a world-wide scale. […] This project was not [Spanish prime minister] Zapatero’s but the OIC’s — Zapatero merely became their European representative.” (p. 93)

The Spanish university professor Isaias Barrenada argues that the name of the Alliance itself is misleading, lacking correspondence with its content. Furthermore, he adds, “it is very difficult to define ‘civilization’, which tends to be identified with religion and culture. What constitutes a civilization today? Who represents it? Who speaks on its behalf? The Center for Inquiry [pdf], in turn, condemns the Alliance’s lack of “discussion of Islamist movements and organizations world-wide; the question of tensions between Islamic law and government and universal human rights norms.”

Then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan then set about selecting personalities for the Alliance’s so-called High Level Group which would be in charge of solving the clash of civilizations once and for all. The members of the HLG were not elected nor did the public even know about the creation of this group, nor does any member represent a secularist organization. This is significant, since the HLG adopted the Islamic view of history, shifting all the blame onto the West for any and all conflicts. Colonialism and Zionism, of course, are at the top of the list of shame.

The HLG, in the name of the Alliance’s 100-plus members, decided — without any democratic process or discussion — that “world conflicts are reduced to conflicts between the privileged and the poor, between the powerful and the weak, because […] poverty leads to despair and alienation.” (Bat Ye’or, Europe, p. 94) An action plan was recommended to “reduce conflicts through affirmation of mutual respect between peoples, creating a relationship that gives special attention to relations between Western and Muslim societies.” (p. 95) All of this takes place in the hope of reducing hostility and promoting harmony among nations and cultures of the world. Apart from the fact that these plans will influence millions of people in Europe and the United States and Canada, none of these millions of citizens have been informed of, let alone asked about, the Alliance’s deals and plans, while the interests of the OIC are being implemented through the backdoor. Before we move on, a few questions come to mind immediately:

1.                           What does reducing hostility mean?

2.                           What is the definition of harmony?

3.                           What does the promotion of harmony entail?

But apparently there is no need for any definition, as we shall see later. Makes dialogue and harmony much easier, doesn’t it?

Bat Ye’or’s assessment of the reports issued by the High Level Group is devastating. They are

“unilateral, granting the United Nations, the OIC and international organizations the right to determine the policies, laws, culture and thought processes of [500] million Europeans [and Americans]. It is an international, multipolar, fascist-type and totalitarian government that carries out such a cultural inquisition [that] would replace their democratically elected national systems. Conclaves acting without the public’s knowledge insert their decisions by means of networks, partnerships and ‘representatives of civil society’, who have been elected by no one but themselves and paid by mysterious humanitarian ‘foundations’ aiming at world ‘peace and justice’. (pp. 108-9)

Part 2: Ignoring the central problem of our times

Waving its magic wand of laws, treaties, and human rights, the Alliance of Civilizations ignores what I would argue is the central problem of our times:

Are we talking about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and other international human rights instruments?

Or are we in fact discussing matters in terms of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which defines human rights according to the sharia and contradicts all other human rights conventions?

Indeed, the words human rights were mentioned only twice (!) during the entire opening plenary, while at the same time the words peaceful dialogue, harmony, intercultural dialogue, discrimination against Muslims, xenophobia, mutual respect and Islamophobia were repeated ad nauseam. Universal human rights were left hanging on the coat racks.

The AoC, represented by AoC High Representative Jorge Sampaio from 2007 until 2013, generally shies away from solid explanations:

… the Alliance gives special attention to improving relations between the so-called Western and Muslim societies by deconstructing prejudices, misconceptions and stereotypes that fuel fears, feed hostility, ignite tensions, and spark violence; by promoting education for valuing cultural diversity and learning how to live together with our differences and commonalities. (Sampaio, speaking at working breakfast with Kevin Rudd, Australian MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs, October 2011)

These pompous words deserve closer scrutiny.

“so-called Western and Muslim societies”

Why does Sampaio use the words “so-called”?

Are societies defining themselves as secular, democratic societies which observe the rule of law and which consider men and women equal before the law not indeed Western?

Do Muslim societies not conform to sharia law, which in fact does not acknowledge the equality of men and women?

Do Muslim societies not in fact segregate themselves willingly in European cities like London, Paris and Rotterdam?

And finally, why is there no priority for China, Russia, or South American countries? Could it be that they have no serious conflicts with the West?

deconstructing prejudices, misconceptions and stereotypes

And what might these prejudices, misconceptions and stereotypes be exactly?

Is the gang-rape of white British girls by Asian Muslim men considered a misconception?

Or is the openly Muslim hatred of Christians, as demonstrated by the torching and/or desecration of churches in Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq, and Indonesia falsely seen as stereotyping?

Isn’t it much more convenient not to ask questions like these in order to escape having to answer them?

feed hostility, ignite tensions, and spark violence

Do not those chanting “kill the infidels wherever you may find them” or “Jews back to the gas chambers” feed hostility?

Who ignites tensions and sparks violence?

The non-Muslims obstetrician who is forcibly removed from the delivery room by the Muslim father-to-be?

The Muslim youth gangs roaming the streets of Rotterdam hunting down and harassing Jews?

by promoting education for valuing cultural diversity and learning how to live together with our differences and commonalities

As a result of this violence, hostility and tension (by members of so-called Muslim societies), we need more education. Of course! This the perfect way to deal with violence, hostility, and tension!

Moreover, what are the commonalities uniting Western and Muslim societies?

Where is the evidence that there is, in fact, anything that binds these two societies together?

There is more, of course!

[The AoC] tries to restore trust and understanding within and among communities by promoting education for cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and understanding, and fighting against misconceptions, stereotypes, prejudices, discrimination, racism and hate speech; it contributes to reinforc[ing] human security, peace and development worldwide.

I will skip all the brainwashing in the first part of this paragraph. But what on earth is “human security”?

What is the definition of “peace”? The absence of war, or perhaps the Islamic definition of “peace”, the future time when all the world has accepted the authority Allah and his apostle?

But now we come to the definition of dialogue. Finally!

However one defines it, dialogue is a democratic method aimed at resolving problems through mutual understanding and concessions, rather than through the unilateral imposition one side’s views and interests.

Ah yes, dialogue is democratic. How is it democratic?

Who decides what, and at which ballot box?

I would argue that dialogue is a method of imposing problems that cannot be solved through mutual understanding, tolerance and inclusion.

Regarding concessions: doesn’t the OIC impose its views on the Western, non-Muslim world by extracting concessions on freedom of speech?

Isn’t the OIC’s view unilateral, in that any criticism of Islam must be considered Islamophobia and thus punished in a court of law?

Does the Muslim side, as represented by the OIC, offer concessions in any way?

Jorge Sampaio also specifically addresses Islamophobia in one of his many speeches. He notes that:

Although there is currently no legally agreed definition of Islamophobia, nor has social science developed a common definition, it is well known that this term stands for “prejudice or discrimination against Islam and Muslims. [It] covers attitudes and action against Muslims based on unjust stereotypes and criticism of Muslim beliefs that can be seen as undermining fundamental rights. (Speech held at Roundtable in Rio 2012)

Sampaio adds the usual rhetoric that Muslims are not an undifferentiated group and there are many differences in religious beliefs, so that we “really need to avoid stereotypical generalizations” — in other words, we need to avoid saying something that would actually be truthful: that the West and Islam are locked in an irreconcilable conflict.

But Sampaio would never admit this. No, he adds that “Muslim societies add a substantive bulk of common values that can be summed up, according to available surveys, in ‘people’s sincere adherence to Islam’ that they feel denigrated by Westerners.” Of course, he conveniently neglects to mention those common values shared by the West and Islam. Might this be because there are none?

And so the Alliance holds a special responsibility in confronting Islamophobia, we are told. Not a peep about the hundreds of thousands Christians and Hindus currently persecuted in the Muslim world. Not a word about apostates, many of whom are at risk of being killed by Muslims. No, this game is all about peace and harmony, and it is an inclusive one, a platform for dialogue and cooperation.

Inclusive in that it excludes apostates.

Inclusive in that criticism or dissent are unwelcome.

Inclusive in that genuine NGOs such as the International Civil Liberties Alliance or representatives of civil society other than those personally invited (and most likely vetted) by the Alliance are not welcome.

Or could it be that the Alliance wants to prevent something entirely different? If apostates like Dr. Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Kacem El Gazzali or Sabatina James were to address the forum, the narrative of the Muslim as a victim would be exposed for what it is: blatantly false. These brave men and women would be a voice proclaiming the truth loudly and clearly. They would demonstrate that no matter how often the Alliance proclaims that “in spite of being a system of beliefs, a religion doesn’t imprison its believers in it” (Sampaio speech in Bern, Switzerland, October 14, 2010), the truth remains entirely different.

Let us turn to the classic sharia manual, Reliance of the Traveller, and what it has to say about apostasy:

Chapter O8.0: Apostasy from Islam (Ridda)

(O: Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst.)

o8.1When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed.

If the above does not constitute a prison, then I don’t know what does. Either Sampaio doesn’t want to know this, or he knows it and chooses to ignore it — but then, in the latter case, he is being dishonest. I would argue that he is an outright liar. Mr. High Representative has the moral duty, if nothing else, to scrutinize religious teachings before making claims.

And he doesn’t leave it at that. He goes on by throwing the secular society under the bus:

In our modern times we are witnessing the resurgent role of religions almost everywhere. […] People now talk about God all the time and fundamentalists of all kinds [here he lists all religions] are growing and have been very vocal in their request to express their faiths in the public sphere… […] Extremism is a challenge for all communities.

As a matter of fact, this is blatantly untrue. The only religion demanding to express its faith in the public sphere is Islam. Judaism generally does not make that demand, and the Christian faiths have found their place in a secular society.

And while we’re at calling for definitions: what constitutes extremism? If one were to exhibit a preference for a secular society, with democratic values and based on the rule of law — rejecting Islamic sharia law — does this make one an “extremist”?

Not to be unfair to Mr. Sampaio, he did address secularism in a 2011 conference on Jewish-Christian-Muslim Interfaith Dialogue in Hungary:

How do we best ensure that secularism continues to be the safest basis to preserve the core of democratic principles and values?

Thankfully, he provides the solution in the same speech: Interfaith dialogue should be promoted at large.

To repeat: in order to safeguard secularism we need more inter-religious talk?

What do adherents of religions talk to secularists about? Where is the common ground? What do we want, a secular society or theocratic regime?

Part 3: Implementing the results

How does the Alliance of Civilizations propose to implement its strategies of re-education? In order to achieve alignment with demands voiced by the OIC, the Alliance aims to address youth, education, media, and migration, picking up initiatives proposed by the OIC:

1.                           Intercultural and interfaith dialogues

2.                           Media education

3.                           Teaching religion in school

4.                           Governmental, university, and civil society programs and initiatives “that educate and empower Muslim immigrants in the US and Europe”. (Bat Ye’or, p. 163)

Concerning education, it was Kofi Annan who, back in 2004, urged the “need to unlearn the habit of xenophobia, that people are taught to hate by leaders who exploit fear, ignorance or feelings of weakness.” In order to combat this, we must engage in the process of unlearning the stereotypes about the “other” or “the others”, unlearning the habit of xenophobia, and unlearning intolerance.

And what better way to accomplish this evil than to re-educate youth? This constitutes Goebbels-like indoctrination at the lowest and weakest level of society, our children, who are to be conditioned to tolerate even the intolerable.

Would that include tolerance of religiously sanctioned domestic violence? Just a cultural matter which must be respected. Acceptance of the death penalty for apostasy? A minor matter which inter-religious dialogue can talk away. A woman receiving only half of what her brother inherits, as sanctioned by religious law?

So this is suddenly no longer a matter of fundamental rights after all, and must be unquestionably respected in the name of diversity? And why is there nothing said about religious and cultural norms and practices which promote hatred of Jews, Christians and apostates, those institutions which oppose freedom of expression and which see blasphemy as a serious moral vice, or even a capital crime to be punished according to sharia law?

How does one square this circle of preventing one thing — undefined hatred, according to the Alliance — by allowing and “safeguarding” something else — freedom of expression? I have asked the OSCE about this apparent contradiction, but then again, neither the OSCE not the UN has any misgivings about this discrepancy.

Sampaio even goes as far as to question whether “existing legal instruments on freedom of thought, conscience and religion are capable of meeting the new ongoing challenges.”

Once re-education through changing laws and norms has been successfully implemented, the Alliance will turn “to a wider strategy: education about all religions and beliefs so that myths and misconceptions can be seen for what they are.” This is to be followed by media literacy in order to prevent the media and the internet from being used to spread hatred, whilst safeguarding freedom of opinion and expression. (Sampaio address to the OSCE Conference on Tolerance and Non-discrimination in Astana, June 2010).

We now turn to the youth who are seen as a crucial participants in the Alliance. In the so-called Concept Paper presented to the attendees of the Global Forum, we are told that “experts and participants endorse nurturing dialogue, starting at a young age [my italics], and to create public space for inclusive cross-cultural, inter-religious and intra-religious interaction”, in addition to teachers’ awareness of their social and moral responsibilities. How are these social and moral responsibilities defined? Whose morals are to be taught? These are innocuous words without any substantive meaning and it seems this is intentional.

To underscore the importance of their contribution to the Alliance of Civilizations, the youth held their own one-day forum prior to the Global Forum. Here some of the recommendations presented to the Global Forum, beginning with a group discussion on the topic of Integration — Diversity, multiple identity and social inclusion [pdf]:

Recommendation 1:

Creating polylogue between various stakeholders including civil, government, business community with an aim to enhance political and active participation of minorities in society to ensure and / or create long-term social inclusion and integration. We propose this through including migrant histories in the political discourse of host nations, by highlighting and replicating best practice outreach and affirmative programs and actions and by ensuring that outreach is comprehensive and inclusive through political campaigns/elections.

Recommendation 2:

To achieve a successful inclusion crossing language divides and creating a sense of community, we recommend to provide children with free education equally in their mother tongue and the main language spoken the respective region/country, create an international open source platform where migrants can share their experiences, needs and best practices to achieve mutual benefit and to guarantee equal and free access to quality of language education for refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants, regardless of their legal status.

Group discussion on the topic: For a new narrative on migration [pdf]:

Recommendation 1:

Form a task force which includes all stakeholders -especially migrants -to develop practical solutions through a multi-perspective approach in order to depoliticize the narrative of migration.

Recommendation 2:

Make the path to citizenship easier.

As expected, the content is a bit shallow. The language bears a remarkable similarity to that of the Alliance.

The message of the two-day Global Forum may be summarized as follows:

Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism must effectively be countered by even more dialogue and more funding.

The only concrete result the Global Forum presented to the participants and the media might be summed up as follows:

“More dialogue for more dialogue, which needs more funding.”