Wednesday, April 22, 2009

COMMENT: The UN and Racism ... Part 2

Let's continue with a discussion of the Durban I document, which you can read in full here.

It's hard to find a worse recorded example of violent genocidal racism over the past century than the Holocaust of European Jews by the Nazis. No doubt other genocides and forced removal of various Turkic tribes in the Soviet Union and the current genocide in Darfur can also be mentioned, though the former is perhaps not as meticulously recorded. Paragraph 58 carries a short, dignified yet powerful statement about the Holocaust.
58. We recall that the Holocaust must never be forgotten.

There is also a clear statement about growing religious and ethno-religious xenophobia.
59. We recognize with deep concern religious intolerance against certain religious communities, as well as the emergence of hostile acts and violence against such communities because of their religious beliefs and their racial or ethnic origin in various parts of the world which in particular limit their right to freely practise their belief.

60. We also recognize with deep concern the existence in various parts of the world of religious intolerance against religious communities and their members, in particular limitation of their right to practise their beliefs freely, as well as the emergence of increased negative stereotyping, hostile acts and violence against such communities because of their religious beliefs and their ethnic or so-called racial origin.

Interestingly, the Durban I declaration mentions growing anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim prejudice in the same paragraph.
61. We recognize with deep concern the increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities.

There are good reasons for linking the two kinds of prejudice, some of which I have dealt with here. The parallels between the kinds of rhetoric used by today's Muslimphobes in Europe and India and the anti-Semites of yesteryear are striking. At the same time, anti-Semitism in Muslim countries and even some Western Muslim communities is a disturbing development.

The Durban I Declaration recognises that racism particularly affects women, children, the disabled and those affected by HIV/AIDS.

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran isn't the only world leader who should note para 83 of the Durban I Declaration which reads:
We underline the key role that political leaders and political parties can and ought to play in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and encourage political parties to take concrete steps to promote solidarity, tolerance and respect.

But it isn't just presidents, prime ministers, kings, emirs etc that have responsibility in this regard.
We note with regret that certain media, by promoting false images and negative stereotypes of vulnerable individuals or groups of individuals, particularly of migrants and refugees, have contributed to the spread of xenophobic and racist sentiments among the public and in some cases have encouraged violence by racist individuals and groups.

It's a long document and well-worth reading. If time permits, I'll go through more of it.


Phil said...

Not sure singling out any type of discrimination is wise or helpful.(antisemitism, islamopobia)

Brian said...

Hi Irfan, I'm a bit concerned with the Durban process. It conflates racism with criticism of religion. At least it seems to. If I say that Islam or Christianity is such and such and provide arguments or just express ignorance about the particular religion then there's nothing racist in that. I'm not criticizing believers, only the belief system. For example I find the doctrine of trans-substantiation that Catholics must believe in to be utterly ridiculous and in truth you would too if you believe there is only one god and Jesus was only a prophet. I have the right to say this without being labeled a bigot and it is no more attacking Christianity than you when you say the Shahada or state your belief that Islam is the only true religion. But Durban would class that as racism or christianophobia or religionophobia or inciting hatred. It's not, I'm not stopping any Catholic, Muslims or witches from practicing their creeds or believing what they believe. Nor would I want to we ought to have freedom of and from religion as one chooses. Religious folk come from many different ethnic groups, nationalities and "races" so criticizing a belief system is not the same as criticizing a believer for the color of their skin or their ethnic background.

I don't think it directly affects us here in Australia, but you can imagine what laws will be made on the back of this by hard-line regimes. Durban isn't all it cracked up to be it seems.

Do you see this as a legitimate point of view?