Egypt accuses IHEU of inciting hatred

  • Date / 29 September 2008

An Egyptian delegate to the Human Rights Council has accused IHEU of inciting and promoting hatred. “Every statement [by this organization] is incitement to hatred. Every statement is promoting hatred” he said. The accusation was made during a point of order by Egypt’s Amr Roshdy Hassan, who objected to the statement being made by IHEU representative Roy Brown on the subject of Islamophobia. We have a transcript of the Egyptian intervention in full (below). Readers can decide for themselves whether the accusation was justified. We now have video of this intervention.

The same delegate interrupted two other NGO speakers on points of order during the same debate. For the record, we have transcribed all of his interventions here, here and here. These interventions were clearly intended to prevent any speaker from making any reference to Muslims or to any aspect of Islam. Indeed some of his claims verged on the bizarre, such as his assertion that “except for the distinguished representative of the Holy See, nobody in this Council is qualified to discuss religion”.

We find such harassment of speakers completely unacceptable. Unlike States, NGOs have no right of reply and are not permitted to intervene on points of order. They are thus powerless to rebut baseless accusations and ad-hominem attacks by States’ delegates. Having no other means to defend ourselves we shall have to consider what possibilities exist and whether to lodge a formal complaint to the Council.

Point of Order by Egypt

President: “I give the floor to Egypt for a point of order”.

Amr Roshdy Hassan: “Every time I listen to a statement by this organization I wonder what kind of ethics they are promoting. Every statement is incitement to hatred. Every statement is promoting hatred. [emphasis added] What has September 11th to do with this discussion today? What is the value added of making references to [inaudible] unless the idea is to mention at the end that it was committed by Muslims? I don’t know what we are doing in this Council. Are we promoting dialogue among nations, civilizations and religions or are we provoking confrontation? How would it appear if this statement is published in the media in Muslim countries? [inaudible].
“Unless there is a value added from any statement why is it delivered? At this stage, Mr President, I will not ask for this statement to be ruled out of order, I just want to flag this so that the Council would know who are here to really defend human rights and who are here just to insult others. Thank you”

Other points of order by Egypt

The same Egyptian delegate had interrupted David Littman earlier in the same debate when he attempted to deliver a statement on behalf of the Association for World Education to highlight statements by two Muslim clerics that incited hatred of Jews and Christians. Littman was finally ruled out of order by the President for attempting to mention these cases.

Amr Roshdy Hassan: “Mr. President, here in the Council, we’re here to promote religious freedom. We can discuss religious freedom, but we cannot discuss religion. We cannot discuss the basic tenets of religion. I argue that except for the distinguished representative of the Holy See, nobody in this Council is qualified to discuss theology. So if we go in analysing the statements made by Sheikh Al-Azhar [Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi] – I don’t think the speaker or even me can make the analysis …” Hassan went on to suggest that Littman should “do something more useful, get a hobby, grow a mustache or something”..

Another attempt to disrupt Council proceedings – this time unsuccessful – was made by Hassan immediately after IHEU’s statement when he tried to have a statement by Rabbi Francois Garai on behalf of the World Union of Progressive Judaism ruled out of order. Readers can again judge for themselves the merits of the Egyptian’s case; a translation of the Rabbi’s statement and the full transcript of the point of order are given at: www.iheu.org/node/3287

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