Sunday, September 23, 2012

Congress Passes “The Global Anti-Islam Review Act”

ESAM AL-AMIN prescribes in  "CounterPunch", the following remedy that will aid in healing old wounds and bridging the divide that exists between the West and the Global Muslim Community:

Even though peaceful demonstrations represent a civilized way to express strongly-held beliefs, and expressions of anger and protestations, the gulf between Muslim and Western societies is still very wide. While calls for international laws against libel, slander, or incitement that lead to the imminent breach of peace are legitimate, even laudable, unsubstantiated accusations are not. Muslim scholars, leaders, institutions, and governments must understand the cultural, legal, and political limits placed on secular democratic governments. While criticizing the U.S. or French governments of double standards when it comes to free speech against Muslim sensibilities is legitimate, accusing them of producing or promoting the vile movie or the offensive political cartoons is not only wrong, but also counterproductive.
There are two competing interests that prudent legal minds must reconcile in the interest of preserving global peace and harmony, namely free speech and expression that allow legitimate criticism, or unlimited harsh, even hostile, analysis, on the one hand, and the ban of libel, slander, and violent incitement on the other. Indeed all civilized societies have laws that criminalize or impose hefty fines on such transgressions.
Libel and slander are forms of defamation.  Defamation is a common law tort in which an individual makes a publication or representation of a defamatory statement concerning an individual or entity that damages his or its reputation or standing. The elements of such transgressions include: the defamatory statement; the publication of the statement which the instigator knew or should have known was false; and finally that such statement or depiction caused injury to the subject of thecommunication. One could easily argue that all these elements were covered in the current cases. The challenge is how to widen Western slander and libel laws to also protect the reputation and legacy of historical venerated figures and symbols from outrageous insults and despicable fabrications of their lives.
Western governments and societies certainly do not have to associate themselves with people who carry a political or cultural agenda. They certainly have a choice to make and thus bear the consequences of their choices. They can continue to sanction and promote such vile and slanderous speech by considering it a part of their tradition of free speech and expression despite its devastating implications on Muslims worldwide including their own Muslim citizens, in which case a world of constant tension and mistrust would continue. 
Or they can extend their libel and slander laws to cover these types of hate speech that result in injurious consequences in the same fashion any ordinary citizen or entity could charge or sue another person for the attempt to falsify his history or to slander and destroy his reputation.
Washington D.C. and on the campaign trail in Florida – October 16, 2012
In an historic election year to elect (or re-elect) a president, and with a continuous rise of anti-Islamic incidents around the world, the United States Congress rushed back to Capitol Hill from its October recess in order to pass “the Global Anti-Islam Review Act.”
The legislation to monitor and stop anti-Muslim acts or hate speech was passed unanimously in the House and Senate without a single dissenting vote. President Barack Obama immediately signed it in the White House with over 100 American Muslim leaders smiling behind him.
According to the Associated Press, President Obama said he signed into law a bill requiring the State Department to monitor global anti-Islamic conduct or speech and annually rate countries accordingly. “This nation will keep watch; we will make sure that the impulse of Islamophobia never finds a home in the modern world,” Obama said as he campaigned in the key battleground state of Florida.
“Extending freedom also means disrupting the evil of anti-Muslim haters,” Obama told thousands of cheering supporters packed in a sports arena usually used by the Florida Panthers professional ice hockey team. “Today, I signed the Global Anti-Islam Review Act of 2012. This law commits the government to keep a record of anti-Muslim acts throughout the world, and also a record of responses to those acts,” he said. American Muslim groups have hailed the bill’s passage, saying it provided a new avenue to fight Islamophobia.
Under the legislation, the State Department will have to produce an annual report on Islamophobia around the world and form a specific office headed by a special envoy to document such abuses and design strategies to combat them.
In the preamble to the bill Congress made the following findings:
(1) Acts of anti-Muslim hatred in countries throughout the world, including some of the world’s strongest democracies, have increased significantly in frequency and scope over the last several years.
(2) Islamophobia in old and new forms is also increasingly emanating in Western societies in a sustained  basis, including through books and movies.
(3) In 2012, anti-Islamic film was produced in the U.S. called “Innocence of Muslim,” which is based upon a fabricated history of the life of the prophet Muhammad to justify violence against Muslims.
(4) The sharp rise in anti-Muslim violence has caused international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to elevate, and bring          renewed focus to, the issue, including the convening by the OSCE of a conference in Vienna dedicated solely to the issue of Islamophobia.
(5) Anti-Muslim hate has at times taken the form of  vilification of Islam, the religion of over 1.5 Billion people, and incitement against Muslims.
In the sense of Congress section, the bill stated: It is the sense of Congress that:
(1) the United States Government should continue to strongly support efforts to combat anti-Muslim hatred worldwide through bilateral relationships and interaction with international organizations such as the OSCE, the European Union, and the United Nations; and 
(2) the Department of State should thoroughly document acts of Islamophobia that occur around the world.
In case you wondered if this was a daydream or fantasy, the answer is that every quote above from either the president or the bill did actually take place. The U.S. Congress indeed passed such a law with its related findings as outlined above
Just replace “2012” with “2004”, President Barack Obama with President George W. Bush, “Innocence of Muslims” film with “Horseman without a Horse,” an Arab TV Series, American Muslim leaders with American Jewish leaders, Muslims with Jews, vilification of “Islam” with vilification of “Zionism and Israel”, and every “anti-Islam”, “Islamophobia”, or “anti-Muslim hatred” word above with “Anti-Semitism” and you would get Public Law 108-332, The Global Anti-Semitism Review Act.

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