OIC’s human rights body urges Dutch govt to ban anti-Islamic caricatures competition

A Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest is being organized later this year by anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, seen here at a rally in London
Updated 28 August 2018

OIC’s human rights body urges Dutch govt to ban anti-Islamic caricatures competition

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (OIC-IPHRC) unreservedly condemned the malicious plan of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders to hold an international competition on the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad later this year.
The body called on the Dutch Government to take immediate steps to prevent “this sacrilegious transgression,” saying it not enough to distance yourself, but it is the duty of every state to prohibit, by law, “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”. 
Earlier, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte distanced his government from a the contest, noting that Wilders “is not a member of the government. The competition is not a government initiative.”
Rutte’s comments came after angry reactions in Pakistan to the proposed contest, which Wilders plans to hold in November in his Party for Freedom’s heavily guarded offices at the Dutch parliament.
Opposition lawmaker Wilders is well known for his fierce criticism of Islam and has previously sparked fury in Muslim nations with a film about Islam.
“The event, if permitted to take place, has the potential to inflame and promote a culture of intolerance and incitement to hatred. Such acts also result in a wider sense of alienation, rejection, and polarization among affected communities leading to discrimination and violence, an antithesis to the coveted ideals of multiculturalism and pluralism,” the OIC-IPHRC said in a statement.
The Commission regards freedom of expression as a key human right, which is vital for development of stable, peaceful and progressive democratic societies.
However, the scope of freedom of expression, as provided in Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, more importantly, Articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), clearly stipulate that exercising of freedom of expression carries with it “special duties and responsibilities” to ensure societal cohesion, as well as “respect of the rights and reputations of others.” 
The Dutch Government must, therefore, take immediate steps to prevent this event to protect the religious and cultural sensitivities of its own and the wider international Muslim population as well as to preserve the societal harmony and ideals of tolerance and multiculturalism that are the hallmark of Dutch society.
While squarely condemning these coordinated and often repeated acts of incitement to religious hatred/discrimination, the Commission urges Muslims around the world to continue to exercise restraint in their reaction to such malicious provocations, which are squarely intended to incite racial and religious hatred, discrimination and violence under the garb of freedom of expression.
OIC-IPHRC emphasizes that growing xenophobia, intolerance and hatred in Europe, in particular, and the world, at large, could only be countered through the promotion of tolerance, respect for cultural and religious diversity and enhanced interfaith and intercultural dialogue at all levels. 
IPHRC also endorses the OIC Secretary General’s statement that “it is time to put in place internationally binding legal instruments to prevent incitement, racism, discrimination and religious hatred”.
To that end, the Commission reiterates the critical need to fully and effectively implement the universally agreed UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, which provides a comprehensive framework to combat religious intolerance through a multipronged action plan. 
Physical depictions of God or the Prophet Muhammad, even respectful ones, are considered blasphemous in Islamic tradition.


MH17 probe reveals close ties between Russia, Ukraine rebels

Updated 14 November 2019

MH17 probe reveals close ties between Russia, Ukraine rebels

  • The Joint Investigation Team issued a fresh appeal for witnesses and revealed details of secure communications between Russian officials and rebels

THE HAGUE: An international team of investigators piecing together a criminal case in the July 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine said Thursday that evidence suggests links between Russia and separatists in the region were closer than previously believed.
The Joint Investigation Team issued a fresh appeal for witnesses and revealed details of secure communications between Russian officials and rebels in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) rebel group in eastern Ukraine.
“The JIT has information that indicates that the influence of the Russian Federation extended to administrative, financial and military matters in the DPR,” the team said in a statement, adding that contacts between Russia and the rebels intensified in the first half of July 2014.
“There was almost daily telephone contact between the leadership of the DPR and their contacts in the Russian Federation,” the JIT said. “They spoke with leaders in Moscow, near the border with Ukraine and in Crimea. Communication mostly took place via secure telephones provided by the Russian security service.”
In June, the investigators announced they had charged four people, including three Russians, with murder over the July 17, 2014, downing of Flight MH17. All 298 passengers and crew on board the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight were killed.
The suspects are due to go on trial in a secure courtroom near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in March, though they are not in custody and will likely be tried in their absence.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the downing.
But investigators said their probe revealed that “Russian influence on the DPR went beyond military support.”
The team, made up of detectives and prosecutors from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine, last year said it was convinced that the Buk missile system used to shoot down flight MH17 came from the Russian army’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade, based in the Russian city of Kursk.
The team said Thursday it is looking for witnesses “who can share information about those who controlled the DPR leadership in Donetsk and commanded the deployment of the Buk” missile system.
“The indications for close ties between leaders of the DPR and Russian government officials raise questions about their possible involvement in the deployment” of the missile, the investigators said.