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Torpedoing Islamophobia

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For the International Civil Liberties Alliance, the theme for this week’s OSCE in Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw was “Bad iclawarsawbannerDefinitions”. As readers have undoubtedly noticed, the most prominent bad definition is the word “Islamophobia”. There are plenty of other words than can be targeted as ill-defined, and those have been discussed here in earlier posts, and in the ICLA paper “The Problematic Definition of ‘Islamophobia’”. However, to make matters simpler, the ICLA team concentrated this week on “Islamophobia”.

On Tuesday night the ODIHR Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department convened a side event, “Educational initiatives and approaches for addressing anti-Semitism and intolerance against Muslims”. This sounded like a worthwhile opportunity, and a large contingent of people from ICLA, Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, the Center for Security Policy (CSP), the Stresemann Foundation, and other anti-Shariah NGOs decided to look in on it.

It was a good thing we did. It turned out that the side event was convened to highlight “Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education”, which was published jointly [pdf] by OSCE/ODIHR, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO in 2011. This document — which contains 49 instances of the word “Islamophobia” — was discussed in the ICLA paper, and was part of the focus of our research.

The first forty minutes or so featured presentation by the panelists, including some of the authors of the “Guidelines”. One of them was a British gentleman named Robin Richardson, who is associated with the Runnymede Trust. Among other things, Mr. Richardson told the audience: “We all know that nations are not capable of solving the world’s problems.” Only global institutions were capable of doing so.

His assertion was the last straw. Since the panelists had repeatedly mentioned “Islamophobia” — ICLA’s topic for the week — I decided to speak up. After comments by one other member of the audience, I had my say, and a lengthy discussion ensued, capped by devastating remarks made by Major Stephen Coughlin of CSP.

Below are relevant excerpts from the audio of the occasion. Many thanks to Henrik Ræder Clausen for making the recording, to CSP for the transcript, and to Vlad Tepes for editing the audio to produce this video:

The full audio of the final 48 minutes is available here, and a complete transcript of that audio is at the bottom of this post.

Ned May: Thank you, Mr. Moderator, about how long do I have to speak? A couple of minutes?

Moderator: A couple of minutes.

Ned May: Okay. Thank you for this opportunity.

And I’d like to thank my esteemed colleague from Belgium because I can’t help but agree with her.

We need new terminology. On behalf of the International Civil Liberties Alliance, I formally object to the use of the word Islamophobia. Any official use, including this document. It is ill-defined and was undefined for four years. We requested a definition for four years. And it’s not even defined in here. And when we finally got one, it was from the Turkish delegation this year. And it was based on a definition by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. That is a clear conflict of interest, to use a definition by an Islamic body of something that is used against non-Muslims.

That’s the first problem. The second problem is the definition itself as our extensive, well-sourced paper showed, has at least thirteen major problems including six logical failures. It cannot be used. And the biggest failure is that the definition calls Islamophobia based on unfounded fear of Muslims or Islam. That itself is difficult to prove in any given circumstance.

And any researcher who attempts to prove that someone has a well-founded fear of Islam is branded an Islamophobe. That turns the word itself into a Catch-22. It is circular; it is recursive.

The word must be defined through the agreement of people who share different points of view: those who object to Islamic law, those who support Islamic law, those who have no opinion.

It must be defined by Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agreeing together what Islamophobia is. Otherwise, it should be abandoned entirely. Stricken from existing publications including kept out of future publications. Thank you.

[…]

Bashy Quraishy: We have been asking OIC for years and years now not to call it intolerance against Muslims when they call it anti-Semitism, they call it Christianophobia, they call it everything — if Muslims want to call it Islamophobia, it is none of anybody’s business to call it something else. Thank you very much.

Moderator: Thank you. Now I will give the floor to panellists to respond and I will get back to you — you will be the first, okay? So Robin, do you want to [BACKGROUND VOICES]

Robin Richardson: I’ve got lots to say, but I’d like to hear other people, I think. It’s true that I was working for the Runnymede Trust. And the report — the definition which our friend mentioned was from the Runnymede report. But we had a huge argument at the time about it. We didn’t invent the word. And we did the best we could to define — to describe, not to define — we were describing. And we had that big argument and there’s been an argument going on ever since in academia. There’s huge academic literature on all this. And I do agree with our friend from Belgium, terminology is difficult. We’ve only got the words from the past. Human beings make their own culture as somebody once said — or make their own history. But always with conditions inherited from the past, a very famous statement about human nature. We’ll talk on — we’ll let other people talk for the moment.

[…]

Robin Richardson: Just finally, I do agree that terminology is important and we’ve got the wrong terminology. But there’s nothing new. Ever since human beings have been talking to each other, we have not had adequate words, never and never will.

We do our best with what’s there. There are lots of languages and we learn from each other’s languages. From each other’s struggles and so on.

So I’m not ashamed that our language isn’t good enough. The key thing is to work on getting better language. But, as I’ve already quoted, the great philosopher once, and without naming him, I might name him another time, it’s not Groucho Marx, but somebody with the same surname, but he said the task, philosophers have interpreted the world, the task is to change it. And we need language to interpret the world and to some extent we need language to change the world. But all the same, language doesn’t really change the world. It changes how we see it.

And I agree with — when you, you’ve got to make choices and continually you have to make choices, and suddenly the word Islamophobic was originally a French word so far as scholars can work out, came in at about 1910, it appeared in English in the work of an American Christian writer in about 1985. That was the first known use in English.

So it’s not a Muslim word, actually. But when you’ve got to make a choice, well, some of us choose to be on the side — I’m sorry to be histrionic and passionate about this, but some of us want to choose to be on the side of those who are suffering, those who are harmed and hurt. And people are being hurt and Islamophobia is as good a word as any to describe what it is that’s hurting them. But it’s not perfect.

[…]

Umut Topcuoglu: Thank you very much. It’s not a question, but rather I just want to clarify a point.

My name’s Umut Topcuoglu, I’m from the Turkish delegation and first of all, thank you for this very interesting side event. In fact, I waited until the end, because I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of comments, but I did hear my delegation being mentioned by the representative of the International Civil Liberties Alliance and I just wanted — and we’ve talked about terminology, so I won’t be going into that, I just wanted to clarify one simple point.

You, sir, mentioned that the Turkish delegation provided a definition of Islamophobia which came from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Now I’m sure I have really stated this before, the definition of Islamophobia, my delegation provided in some previous sessions or meetings on tolerance and non-discrimination was formulated by a retired Turkish ambassador, Mr. Ömür Orhun Now this retired Turkish ambassador was between the years 2004 and 2008 personal representative of the chairman in office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on intolerance and discrimination against Muslims.

So we have here, of course, right now he’s special envoy to the chairman, the secretary-general of the OIC. But the point is that the definition was formulated by someone who has deep experience in these affairs and who actually worked within the OSC in these affairs, so I think saying it’s an OIC definition is really sort of distorting the facts. I just wanted to let you know that.

I also wanted to let you know that the fact that we also discussed a very valuable tool here, the guidelines for educators on combatting intolerance against Muslims, well, the fact that this tool, that three international organizations chose to collaborate to formulate guidelines such as these obviously indicates that there is something there, whatever you call it, like other participants have said, there is a need to be addressed and I don’t think we should be, you know, haggling about terminology and giving the impression that what we actually are against is addressing the problem. Thank you. [BACKGROUND VOICES]

[…]

Bashy Quraishy: Can I just add, very quickly, the information of the delegates and for the speaker, in the last five years, there has been six international service by Amnesty International, fundamental rights agency, open society, European [UNCLEAR] and hundreds of others who have clearly documented the discrimination, prejudices, violence, hate speech, which is being, you know, used against Muslims, so we cannot just say that it is just what our own idea — it is very well documented and I can give the name, the link of the reports to [UNCLEAR] like to have. Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you. Now we have last intervention and then we will have to finish.



Stephen Coughlin: Yeah, my name’s Steve Coughlin. Center for Security Policy. The name of this forum has the word Islamophobia and we’re talking about a publication that concerned itself with Islamophobia when asked for a precise definition, and I did an intervention today where we’re calling for that.

It was precisely because it’s a term that stereotypes people for the purpose of attacking them. Which in theory is exactly what this concern for Islamophobia is supposed to be countering when they do it.

We’re being told there is an epistemic reason that we cannot linguistically arrive at a definition of this. We’re told that we’re supposed to rely on these international authorities, that they bought off on it.

But what I saw today was a refusal to give a definition, and I think in large part because you can’t.

Now the thing about it is, the term Islamophobia is applied to people for the purpose of attacking them. And so I noticed, sir, you brought up the fact that you work for Runnymede. It’s not lost on me that the OIC’s observatory publications, annual observatory reports, relies on Runnymede for the terms that they go after to attack people. And in fact, I just pulled one up right now where they’re quoting Runnymede.

So I think there’s something just not quite right about how this discussion is going. I mean, all people asked was that you define the term you’re going to use to attack people, when you attack them, when it’s clear that the OIC has observatory reports to go after people for doing exactly that.

So I mean, if the people writing this book find that the terms is so complicated they can’t define it, maybe they should defer to somebody else or maybe they should suspend use when attacking people when they can’t get their hands around it. I mean, there’s just something not right about this. Cause you did say you were going to give us an in detail discussion of what it means and that has not happened. [APPLAUSE]

Woman: Okay, I think we’re going to close the discussion right here. I think —

Robin Richardson: Just could I come back, I don’t think the word Islamophobia appears in here. It appears on the title.

Ned May: It’s in there forty-nine times.

Robin Richardson: Is it really? I guess you’re right. I stand corrected. I’m surprised. But anyway, on definition. At Runnymede, we had a working definition. I don’t think the OIC existed —

Ned May: The Runnymede definition is in here.

Woman: Okay, these are detailed questions —

Moderator: So there is no way of getting an agreement on this issue. We already told that it’s a — there are a lot of discussions, disagreements, even on the term of anti-Semitism. Even if you look at the issue from an epistemological viewpoint, you can’t reach an agreement on this —

Stephen Coughlin: Then how can you use that term to attack people — [OVERLAPPING VOICES]

Robin Richardson: I’ve never used — I have never used it to attack people.

Moderator: We — sorry, one response to that, we encourage critical thinking, open discussion. There is no suggestion, no suggested educational approach to attack people.

If you read the guidelines carefully, you would find that we encourage not to — when there is a manifestation of intolerance against any group, it’s not a good approach, pedagogical approach, to even accuse a student of being racist immediately.

This is not correct approach. So there is no way of suggesting attacking anyone. This is not — sorry, we have to, we can’t — that’s very clear that we can’t reach an agreement on that point. There is —

Stephen Coughlin: I didn’t ask you to reach an agreement. I asked you just to define your terms. Can I just take it that you’re not aware that the OIC publishes annual reports and now monthly reports on Islamophobia for the purposes of bringing action against them? So you’re not aware of that?

Moderator: You can mention — you can talk about this issue with the authorities of OIC. This is not the right place. Thank you. Yeah?

Woman: Thank you very much for coming to this side event. I think everybody’s hungry and ready for the Ukrainian chairmanship’s reception downstairs in the opera room. I hear there is also alcohol [LAUGHTER] So I think we can close the evening there. Thank you very much to our three distinguished speakers who were talking about practical initiatives. [APPLAUSE]



Below is a transcript of the full audio, mostly raw and unedited, with some of the times included for reference.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Warsaw, September 24, 2013

Side event convened by the ODIHR Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department:
“Educational initiatives and approaches for addressing anti-Semitism and intolerance against Muslims”


0:00

Ned May: Thank you, Mr. Moderator, about how long do I have to speak? A couple of minutes?

Moderator: A couple of minutes.

Ned May: Okay. Thank you for this opportunity.

And I’d like to thank my esteemed colleague from Belgium because I can’t help but agree with her.

We need new terminology. On behalf of the International Civil Liberties Alliance, I formally object to the use of the word Islamophobia. Any official use, including this document. It is ill-defined and was undefined for four years. We requested a definition for four years. And it’s not even defined in here. And when we finally got one, it was from the Turkish delegation this year. And it was based on a definition by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. That is a clear conflict of interest, to use a definition by an Islamic body of something that is used against non-Muslims.

That’s the first problem. The second problem is the definition itself as our extensive, well-sourced paper showed, has at least thirteen major problems including six logical failures. It cannot be used. And the biggest failure is that the definition calls Islamophobia based on unfounded fear of Muslims or Islam. That itself is difficult to prove in any given circumstance.

And any researcher who attempts to prove that someone has a well-founded fear of Islam is branded an Islamophobe. That turns the word itself into a Catch-22. It is circular; it is recursive.

The word must be defined through the agreement of people who share different points of view: those who object to Islamic law, those who support Islamic law, those who have no opinion.

It must be defined by Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agreeing together what Islamophobia is. Otherwise, it should be abandoned entirely. Stricken from existing publications including kept out of future publications. Thank you.

2:32

Moderator: I will have —

Robin Richardson: — wish to comment on that.

Moderator: Okay. Robin will —

Robin Richardson: Well, should we wait? I would certainly want to reply to that. Robustly. But in due course. [LAUGHTER, BACKGROUND VOICES]

Bashy Quraishy: My name is Bashy Quraishy I am at the University of [UNCLEAR] which is Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion. By the way, for record, I am not a religious person. So that should be said. I have been involved with Robin from the beginning for this course for talking about Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and I’m very happy that [UNCLEAR] has got that wonderful results, which were supposed to come at the time. Having said that, I would like to say something about this terminology thing. The people who are suffering the hate crime against Muslim, the discrimination, they are Muslims. They are not — they are not Christian, they are not other ethnic groups or other religion. So please, for democratic sake, let the Muslims at least accept and use this terminology and I can tell you my organization has been working on this. We have a very clear definition. And I will tell the gentlemen who spoke before me, this is not OIC who has funded it. Who has made this definition. It is NGOs, Muslim NGOs in Europe. And even before that, actually [UNCLEAR] came out of this very clear definition of that, I am sure you will talk about that a little more. So I would request that let the Muslims at least be charge of, you know, their own faith in Europe. What I — a question to Robin and people who work anti-Semitism and Islamophobia is that there is a lot of work being done on the educational level, on the NGO level, but what I’m missing actually is that we have done very little work about the internal prejudices which Muslims have about Jews and which Jewish people have about Muslims. And I work with those issues for many years and I know there are lots and lots and lots of — some are political, some are religious, and some are historical. So I think our next project maybe OCG [PH] can make is on that issue. Because we need to raise awareness among Muslims that we are in the same boat, but at least we can talk about that. And if we don’t talk about that, then we will never, you know, go further. It’s very — and the last thing which I will say is that the media plays a very, very important role in spreading Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. And the politicians also do that.

5:24

Bashy Quraishy: We have been asking OIC for years and years now not to call it intolerance against Muslims when they call it anti-Semitism, they call it Christianophobia, they call it everything — if Muslims want to call it Islamophobia, it is none of anybody’s business to call it something else. Thank you very much.

Moderator: Thank you. Now I will give the floor to panellists to respond and I will get back to you — you will be the first, okay? So Robin, do you want to [BACKGROUND VOICES]

Robin Richardson: I’ve got lots to say, but I’d like to hear other people, I think. It’s true that I was working for the Runnymede Trust. And the report — the definition which our friend mentioned was from the Runnymede report. But we had a huge argument at the time about it. We didn’t invent the word. And we did the best we could to define — to describe, not to define — we were describing. And we had that big argument and there’s been an argument going on ever since in academia. There’s huge academic literature on all this. And I do agree with our friend from Belgium, terminology is difficult. We’ve only got the words from the past. Human beings make their own culture as somebody once said — or make their own history. But always with conditions inherited from the past, a very famous statement about human nature. We’ll talk on — we’ll let other people talk for the moment.

7:00

Moderator: Okay, do you have any comments? [BACKGROUND VOICES]

Woman: Yeah, I will try to be brief. Yes, absolutely, about the need to work in our communities specifically between Muslim and Jewish communities on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Absolutely important. And we’re working with the training in bringing those two groups together. So we’ve done a project together before and we’re happy to do more, so I welcome that. And while terminology is important, what you name things does have meaning, at the same time, we have to be careful not to get stuck on that and move forward on what we’re living and the reality. So I think certainly describing what you mean by that term and setting the context is always important and something that we’re certainly doing in the trainings. I would also — just to clarify that, I don’t think I used the word tolerance, I used the word intolerance. We aim for respect. Of course, it’s very much the very least — at least tolerance. But that’s certainly not the goal and certainly not the concept that we’re promoting. But recognizing that intolerance exists does seem still appropriate recognition, from me, from my perspective. And while I mention that the terminology is a challenge and we decided — we could have been stuck in debate for a very long time before actually implementing the training, the training program. And we did have the issue of our Muslim partners and individuals and trainers who have been good partners and good trainers and working together on all of the issues and they said, if you change the name — because we have the right to self-define and I mean, anti-Semitism, as a term, if you look at the whole root, it’s not a perfect term either. Homophobia is not a perfect term either. We have to also move forward, not to say that there aren’t problems. I understand the French were talking about Muslim — it’s hard to say, mujamanaphobique [PH] Right? [BACKGROUND VOICES] I’m supposed to speak French, but that’s a hard one still for me, so Muslim-phobia, so there is — that’s work to find the right term. But in the meantime, let’s deal with the matters at hand and that was a decision that we took as an organization.

Robin Richardson: Hear, hear. I agree. [APPLAUSE]

9:49

Woman: I would also like to say some words. Actually, what you said about anti-Semitism, that’s also very, very problematic a term. Because what is anti-Semitism? It’s not anti-Semites, which is a language term, Semite —

Woman: It’s not a people. It’s a language.

Woman: Exactly. And so anti-Semitism is really a very, very difficult term also to use. But this is already since more than a hundred years, the term is for Jew hate. So if we are clear on terminology, we have to be very clear when we speak about it. I would like to say just a few words about this inter-community dialogue or whatever we should call it. In Sweden, there are maybe eighteen thousand Jews. And there are several hundred Muslims. So there is inter-religious dialogue. But it’s very, very difficult to get inter-community dialogue everywhere in Sweden. So we have to deal with this in a different way. And among the teachers in Malmö, there are I would say very, very many teachers with a different background. Different ethnic background. So in doing the teachers’ seminar in Malmo, we are in a way dealing with this inter-group dialogue in a way. [BACKGROUND VOICES] Yeah.

1:14

Moderator: Thank you. As all of our speakers made very clear, it’s — we shouldn’t start with all this terms, we should deal with this issue. The phenomenon. So please if you have any other comments, if you want to talk about other issues, then the terminology, the floor is yours. Could you please introduce yourself?

Kamal Parmi: My name is Kamal Parmi [PH] I am originally from Sudan. And I have quite an issue, I have. My [UNCLEAR] come from Turkey. Some from Syria. And some from Sudan and some from Egypt. So quite a big mixture. And I am quite actually thankful that you are working on helping us to be together. And your motivation is very good. But I feel the path you took is wrong. The problem with the way you took it here, in some ways, it is leading to discrimination. Because you are targeting and focussing in two groups, or three, concern that people are not tolerant toward them. So actually, in a sense, you are making people with phobia. Against atheists, phobia against Christians, phobia — I see this also, phobia against whites. But so it is very important not to start from this. The important thing is to teach our children the values of equality and justice. The values of freedom. To change the character in the sense that they understand that we are different and that we have to live as different together. So this is the main focus. Because if we don’t change the value system — and I believe we have the value system which can help us to live together, we have put a structure of being tolerant to one another and actually the whole day I was thinking of this, I was just saying the statement I wrote while I was sitting, I did it [UNCLEAR] the West has worked successfully for many years to establish a society built on democratic values of freedom, equality, and justice. Which are based on the universal declaration of human rights. Tolerance should be based on the implementation of these basic values of the individual. When for the sake of tolerance, we breach these values, we compromise democracy and the right of the individual. And I think everybody has to learn this phrase more. Not only certain group and emphasize other group, we have to help everybody to understand all the groups. So we have to speak about Christians. We have to speak about atheists, because we don’t want to create ghettoes. We want to create a group which is understanding of one another. And this is the goal. Our goal — how can we live peacefully together. We don’t want to isolate a group. And the children, they don’t understand these things. We have to help them to understand beginning the right bases, the right value system for them to grow with the right character. There is no group which is perfect. And so we cannot blame one single group. But this is important [UNCLEAR] with what you said about the whole world will read about it. I don’t agree with it. You have not asked me about this. So we have to have an input in this. And it is very important. [OVERLAPPING VOICES] [APPLAUSE]

15:38

Moderator: Okay, so, yes, you were asking [BACKGROUND VOICES]

Dierdre Berga: Hello, I’m Deirdre Berga [PH], American Jewish Committee, Berlin. Thank you very much. I was going to say something along those lines. I think there’s some victim competition going on here that’s most unfortunate. I think there’s a growing problem for Muslim minorities living in Europe today. And these problems need to be taken seriously. I don’t see the use of creating parallels with anti-Semitism. These are different patterns, this is different history, this is a different culture. And I think that bringing them together in one program creates dangerous precedents. What anti-Semitism is, above all, to build on what Ogamo [PH] said, is a problem, a challenge for democracy. And these are indeed the values that need to be instilled while distinguishing what are the mechanisms that lead to anti-Semitism. I don’t think there’s anything — it’s important to also address attitudes towards Muslims, attitudes towards Roma [PH] the largest problem in Europe today. But I think we need to be very careful to keep things separate enough that anti-Semitism, which has become a worse problem than the OSCE conference in 2004, is addressed by governments for that for what it is, a danger to — a large and serious ongoing danger to a minority that still is living in Europe, but if it continues the way it’s going, I’m beginning to have my doubts about it. [APPLAUSE]

17:08

Moderator: Thank you.

Man: Thank you, very good. I think it’s, say it’s 2006 that we are trying to work on this issue and after many, many years, all of these — of some other organizations and inter-governmental organizations, its activities, this situation is not better but worse. That’s why I’m happier about this program and you know that I try to — to support that. You know, there is, for us, for [UNCLEAR] and for — it was the case for [UNCLEAR] also there, we are talking about people, real people. And most of them in Europe today, they are working all of life to build some countries after the second World War. They are only trying to live peacefully and the believe in Europe because there is some worries as Kamal said. And the big challenge is for us today to protect these values. Because it’s targeted by the people or some of them who build it, and the challenges about some people who are targeted in cities, in the streets, in their homes, in their worship place, and that’s not acceptable. The challenge is not difficult in reality. It’s easy to see that some people who are walking the street are targeted by it. You know, you can talk about terminology, but what Breivik is doing in Norway is not terminology. It’s about real people who are not between us today. That’s our problem. Problem like the problem in Pakistan yesterday is also our problem. And [UNCLEAR] know that. As, you know, the big challenge of Europe, the biggest challenge, is about values, democracy, etceteras, etceteras. We are talking of that since years and years. It’s about equality and the possibility to include Muslim communities, are equal citizens. That’s the challenge. And if Europe and European people and also the people who are afraid about this new presence can do this challenge that Europe, our Europe, may be much stronger. That’s the only question. Thank you for that. And I’m very happy because two weeks ago in Istanbul, we organized the big conference on Islamophobia through law and media and they made an interesting report which is now for years was one of the main tool that we used. Thank you very much again for that, Robin.

19:59

Moderator: Thank you, [UNCLEAR] now I will give the floor for the reflections of our speakers. But it’s important to have this civilized conversation. It’s — of course, people don’t have to agree on everything. But it is important that we have such discussions in a constructive and civilized way. As to how to addressing the — how to address Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, first I want to underline that when we developed, when we drafted the guidelines for educators on intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, we underlined the key principle that the educational approach in addressing intolerance and discrimination against Muslims should be human rights-based. So the whole approach that we adapted is the same for intolerance against Muslims, the same for anti-Semitism. It’s all about human rights. Equality, freedom, justice. It’s not about religion, it’s not about Islam. It’s not about Judaism. And whether that can be in parallels between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, we are not suggesting this. Of course, the history of anti-Semitism is totally different than the history of Islamophobia. That’s not the issue. The issue is to build partnerships, to build coalitions, to create platforms, to address all forms of intolerance in their own specificities. I think that this doesn’t mean that we are establishing any parallels. We acknowledge that the history of anti-Semitism is quite different than the history of discrimination against Roma and all the other people. And it is very important, in order to address it, educate the — challenge those stereotypes, you need to acknowledge the specificities of those different forms. But I’m not going to talk too much about this and I will give also the opportunity to our speakers to reflect. Maybe if Robin, you would like.

22:29

Woman: Well, I would just recall, basically, what’s been said and recall a little bit the beginning of the presentation which I made which is we’re taking an anti-bias diversity training approach, right, which is looking at diversity in a very broad way and building the foundation is the very first step which includes values and participation as key skills and attitudes to have in dealing with each other. And then I talked about diversity of religion and belief as a training program. And there was — and how to bring believes and non-believers across the various groups in order to address the issues of living together. And I have to say, one thing I didn’t mention before wasn’t only about the believers and non-believers, but how do we also make a place for those who are invisible, basically, right, who are not usually mentioned, such as Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, new religious movements, we heard also from Jehovah’s Witnesses earlier today who made several statements and those who don’t quite fit anywhere, even if there may be some religious, cultural belonging, right? Who are eclectic. Where are they in that? Right, so a religious diversity approach is inclusive of everyone to have their place and to talk about questions of values and how do we live together. And then there are specificities to each. So there is a program on anti-Semitism. And we have a program on Islamophobia. And I mentioned, also, some other programs. And then there is a place and a time to do them in a dialogue kind of thing together so that people can be in solidarity because we know that there are issues of anti-Semitism in the Muslim community. We know there are issues of Islamophobia in the Jewish community. And sometimes we need to deal with them also together. And they are a relationship, so that it’s not escalating either one or both anymore.

24:35

Woman: For our organization, though we are called Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, it’s very, very important to be consequent, consequent against prejudice, consequent against — my English is not so very good here, but to be consequent, to always stand up for whoever is persecuted. We made a statement about I think, some of you know, there has been a registration of Roma in Sweden, for instance. It’s turned up a register in the police in Skåne and they have registered Roma population. Four thousand, two hundred Roma, something like that, even small children. So we made a statement, we actually made a statement immediately. And so for us, it’s very, very important. And the prejudices against the anti-Semitism and Islamophobia is not present in Jewish and Muslim group and it’s not the Jews who are anti-Semitic, so we don’t target the Jewish group, of course. It’s us, it’s the other people, of course, we have to deal with. And not to — so, for us, we don’t have any specific — we are not a Jewish organization, we are a human rights organization. And so for us it’s not a problem.

26:04

Man: But we have Islamophobic Muslims. [LAUGHTER] [BACKGROUND VOICES]

26:11

Robin Richardson: Just finally, I do agree that terminology is important and we’ve got the wrong terminology. But there’s nothing new. Ever since human beings have been talking to each other, we have not had adequate words, never and never will.

We do our best with what’s there. There are lots of languages and we learn from each other’s languages. From each other’s struggles and so on.

So I’m not ashamed that our language isn’t good enough. The key thing is to work on getting better language. But, as I’ve already quoted, the great philosopher once, and without naming him, I might name him another time, it’s not Groucho Marx, but somebody with the same surname, but he said the task, philosophers have interpreted the world, the task is to change it. And we need language to interpret the world and to some extent we need language to change the world. But all the same, language doesn’t really change the world. It changes how we see it.

And I agree with — when you, you’ve got to make choices and continually you have to make choices, and suddenly the word Islamophobic was originally a French word so far as scholars can work out, came in at about 1910, it appeared in English in the work of an American Christian writer in about 1985. That was the first known use in English.

So it’s not a Muslim word, actually. But when you’ve got to make a choice, well, some of us choose to be on the side — I’m sorry to be histrionic and passionate about this, but some of us want to choose to be on the side of those who are suffering, those who are harmed and hurt. And people are being hurt and Islamophobia is as good a word as any to describe what it is that’s hurting them. But it’s not perfect.

28:18

Moderator: Okay, thank you. Still, we have some time and maybe I can take some more questions — okay, first, you and then the other person. Could you please use microphone?

Man: So I am from the [UNCLEAR] Centre, Budapest. Which is, I can probably say the only city which is lucky enough that after the whole [UNCLEAR] still has a large Jewish population. But also it has, as we heard, and I was sort of — I felt really bad that it’s through that, it’s a very disturbing thing that’s still — anti-Semitism [UNCLEAR] prejudice and hatred is widespread. And so my question is that in what way is you think we can include in the education to afford to fight that and push back that ignorance in a way that go deeper than just teaching tolerance and I would add appreciation of minorities, but which would sort of alter the whole underlying narrative of those nation-states where such prejudices, mostly out of ignorance, but those who are just negative elements of the national narrative, can sort of exist. So what I mean and then I finish is just to add one point, that in Hungary the context is really specific and it cannot be understood without knowing and understanding how Jewish Hungarians in the Austro-Hungarian Empire played a very important part in modernizing Hungary in collaboration with the transitional Hungarian aristocracy and noblemen. So that’s a special role Jewish Hungarian played and then if somehow that is not part of education in a clear way, then people might say, oh, what is this kind of two influential role some Jewish people played in Hungary, then of course, that fits all sorts of prejudices and so forth and so the question should be, how do you think educational effort can include changing the national narratives that sort of accommodate prejudices based on, of course, a lot of ignorance. Thanks.

31:00

Moderator: Thank you for this question. Our anti-Semitism advisor [UNCLEAR]

Woman: Thank you. Thank you very much for you question. As it happens, I mentioned we have the fifteen country versions of the teaching materials on anti-Semitism. They come in three themes. One deals with traditional anti-Semitism only, the history of anti-Semitism. Theme two deals with contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism and theme three touches on intolerance in general and questions of discrimination and identity. We have a Hungarian version of this tool. It was developed in cooperation with the Sahov [PH] Foundation. And we will present it at a forthcoming conference at the beginning of October with the Tomland [PH] Institute in Budapest, so you’re welcome to find out more about the specific tool there. I think drawing on the wealth of experience that we have in dealing with this topic, anti-Semitism, in fifteen countries in educational context, I said, actually it helps to bring in a multilateral or European perspective to overcome all challenges related to potential national narratives, as you mentioned. And I want to give you an example. We’ve implemented these materials extensively in Ukraine and we’ve worked with the Ukrainian teacher training organization that has developed very interesting methodologies of presenting these tools to teachers and we made it possible that a Ukrainian trainer attended a teacher training in Hungary. To just talk to Hungarian teachers about his experience in Ukraine, about overcoming anti-Semitic prejudice through this tool and I hear back from the Hungarian colleagues that it was a very powerful message. To hear that, yes, anti-Semitism is a problem in Hungary, but it is also a problem in Ukraine. It is also a problem in Germany. It is also a problem in Sweden. So the teaching materials that Lena was talking about refer back also to the European dimension of the problem and tie that back into the national approach with national examples. And from what we can tell, this is a helpful way of also overcoming the resistance that some teachers may have, as some experts mentioned, the resistance, first of all, of engaging with such materials, but also engaging with their own prejudice to hear that it’s something that is a challenge in other countries as well and there are multilateral, international narratives that seek to address these challenges. These materials also contain examples of Jewish history in each country, but also in the European dimension, so it touches on both the history of anti-Semitism and also the history of Jews in Europe. And I hope that answers the question.

Moderator: Thank you. There was another question.

33:51

Umut Topcuoglu: Thank you very much. It’s not a question, but rather I just want to clarify a point.

My name’s Umut Topcuoglu, I’m from the Turkish delegation and first of all, thank you for this very interesting side event. In fact, I waited until the end, because I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of comments, but I did hear my delegation being mentioned by the representative of the International Civil Liberties Alliance and I just wanted — and we’ve talked about terminology, so I won’t be going into that, I just wanted to clarify one simple point.

You, sir, mentioned that the Turkish delegation provided a definition of Islamophobia which came from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Now I’m sure I have really stated this before, the definition of Islamophobia, my delegation provided in some previous sessions or meetings on tolerance and non-discrimination was formulated by a retired Turkish ambassador, Mr. Ömür Orhun Now this retired Turkish ambassador was between the years 2004 and 2008 personal representative of the chairman in office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on intolerance and discrimination against Muslims.

So we have here, of course, right now he’s special envoy to the chairman, the secretary-general of the OIC. But the point is that the definition was formulated by someone who has deep experience in these affairs and who actually worked within the OSC in these affairs, so I think saying it’s an OIC definition is really sort of distorting the facts. I just wanted to let you know that.

I also wanted to let you know that the fact that we also discussed a very valuable tool here, the guidelines for educators on combatting intolerance against Muslims, well, the fact that this tool, that three international organizations chose to collaborate to formulate guidelines such as these obviously indicates that there is something there, whatever you call it, like other participants have said, there is a need to be addressed and I don’t think we should be, you know, haggling about terminology and giving the impression that what we actually are against is addressing the problem. Thank you. [BACKGROUND VOICES]

36:05

Felix Strüning: Thank you, Mr. Moderator. I have [UNCLEAR] okay. So we don’t want to talk about —

Moderator: Could you please introduce yourself?

Felix Strüning: Okay, yes. My name is Felix Strüning I’m from the Stresemann Foundation based in Germany. So let’s don’t talk any longer about terms, but if we look at this booklet about Islamophobia, this is maybe the following questions mainly to Mr. Richardson, as a political scientist, I have some questions to the source or to the arguments delivered there. I only take up four short ones. They will not be much more. First, you talk about a widespread discrimination and intolerance towards Muslims in Europe. I’m quite into these studies. And they say directly the opposite of course there. But mainly against the people of, let’s say, the peoples of Europe mainly are against Islam as an ideology. And not against Muslims as believers. This is what most of the studies found. Second, maybe I have a different one. Second, this brochure says, if they are stereotypes, which for sure are, they lead automatically to discrimination. This is not true. Maybe it’s likely, but it’s not true. Psychologists can tell you a lot about this. Third, you mention several sources or roots of resentments against Muslims in this brochure, like the war on terror, the economical crisis and so on. But what you never mention is what could be also a root source or a root for resentments, yes, the Islamic legitimized terror. That or missing integration of Muslims in Europe, in the European societies. And the most high crime rates among all the migrant groups all over Europe. First, and this is my concluding point the pursuit of [UNCLEAR] special rights for Muslims, for instance, in schools. And as far as I know, we don’t have group rights in Europe, in our constitution of the states, we have only individual rights. So group rights is maybe not state of the art. So maybe you can comment on this, too. Thank you.

Moderator: You want to comment on these [UNCLEAR]

38:41

Robin Richardson: Well, I agree with some of the things you said. I’m not sure — it’s difficult to have this conversation, you know, with microphones in a large group and so on. This was not an exercise in political science and objections of the scholarly kind that you mention that I agree with, but I don’t think they’re appropriate for this sort of document. But I’ll just concede, stereotypes don’t lead to discrimination, you said. That wasn’t the first thing. That’s true. Discrimination leads to stereotypes. The document does say at one stage that ignorance leads to hostility. I think the document oversimplifies because also hostility leads to ignorance. Now it is more complicated than the document says, but it’s that sort of document where you’ve got hundreds, literally hundreds of people, trying to influence it and it’s easy to find some sentences which are less than perfectly phrased. So I grant that point. I don’t agree with your first point that people are against Islam and not Muslims. This, again, is a very complicated discussion. But actually, my understanding — and I think that is prescient here — is that it is Muslims that cause anxiety more than Islam, but again, it’s a very complicated matter which can’t be settled briefly. Your last point, I don’t quite understand about group rights. So we’ll leave that for the moment. Your point that Islam is connected with terrorists and lack of integration and high crime rates, well, I just disagree. I don’t think it is connected and I’m afraid I would use the word Islamophobic to describe the view they’re connected. [LAUGHTER]

40:51

Moderator: Thank you. Just a few words — I will give the floor to you, but as Robin explained quite clearly, you can’t solve all the problems of Islamophobia with only one basically brochure guidebook. This has to be general and it has certain limitations. It provides only some certain guidelines and it’s — we can’t now get into whole discussions about this words and it’s a very complicated issue. But it is important that those three organizations that — UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the OIC, came together and produced such a publication in a very broad consultation process. During this process, we got experts not only suggested by the OIC, but the experts who worked together with the Council of Europe on those topics, who have a lot of experience. And also UNESCO, which is a very recognized civil organization. So they — and there were a lot of discussions. It took quite some time to produce this document. So — and this is what we produced so far. But it is important to make those forms of intolerance, discrimination, to be recognized. [BACKGROUND VOICES]

42:40

Woman: So just a technical question or comment, as far as I’m aware, Germany doesn’t collect the statistics based on ethnicity or religion. How do you have the data? I would like the source, because I’m doing research relevant to this. Where do you get the data about the highest crime rates among Muslim communities?

42:58

Bashy Quraishy: Can I just add, very quickly, the information of the delegates and for the speaker, in the last five years, there has been six international service by Amnesty International, fundamental rights agency, open society, European [UNCLEAR] and hundreds of others who have clearly documented the discrimination, prejudices, violence, hate speech, which is being, you know, used against Muslims, so we cannot just say that it is just what our own idea — it is very well documented and I can give the name, the link of the reports to [UNCLEAR] like to have. Thank you.

43:35

Moderator: Thank you. Now we have last intervention and then we will have to finish.

43:46

Stephen Coughlin: Yeah, my name’s Steve Coughlin. Center for Security Policy. The name of this forum has the word Islamophobia and we’re talking about a publication that concerned itself with Islamophobia when asked for a precise definition, and I did an intervention today where we’re calling for that.

It was precisely because it’s a term that stereotypes people for the purpose of attacking them. Which in theory is exactly what this concern for Islamophobia is supposed to be countering when they do it.

We’re being told there is an epistemic reason that we cannot linguistically arrive at a definition of this. We’re told that we’re supposed to rely on these international authorities, that they bought off on it.

But what I saw today was a refusal to give a definition, and I think in large part because you can’t.

Now the thing about it is, the term Islamophobia is applied to people for the purpose of attacking them. And so I noticed, sir, you brought up the fact that you work for Runnymede. It’s not lost on me that the OIC’s observatory publications, annual observatory reports, relies on Runnymede for the terms that they go after to attack people. And in fact, I just pulled one up right now where they’re quoting Runnymede.

So I think there’s something just not quite right about how this discussion is going. I mean, all people asked was that you define the term you’re going to use to attack people, when you attack them, when it’s clear that the OIC has observatory reports to go after people for doing exactly that.

So I mean, if the people writing this book find that the terms is so complicated they can’t define it, maybe they should defer to somebody else or maybe they should suspend use when attacking people when they can’t get their hands around it. I mean, there’s just something not right about this. Cause you did say you were going to give us an in detail discussion of what it means and that has not happened. [APPLAUSE]

Woman: Okay, I think we’re going to close the discussion right here. I think —

45:38

Robin Richardson: Just could I come back, I don’t think the word Islamophobia appears in here. It appears on the title.

Ned May: It’s in there forty-nine times.

Robin Richardson: Is it really? I guess you’re right. I stand corrected. I’m surprised. But anyway, on definition. At Runnymede, we had a working definition. I don’t think the OIC existed —

Ned May: The Runnymede definition is in here.

Woman: Okay, these are detailed questions —

46:09

Moderator: So there is no way of getting an agreement on this issue. We already told that it’s a — there are a lot of discussions, disagreements, even on the term of anti-Semitism. Even if you look at the issue from an epistemological viewpoint, you can’t reach an agreement on this —

Stephen Coughlin: Then how can you use that term to attack people — [OVERLAPPING VOICES]

46:35

Robin Richardson: I’ve never used — I have never used it to attack people.

Moderator: We — sorry, one response to that, we encourage critical thinking, open discussion. There is no suggestion, no suggested educational approach to attack people.

If you read the guidelines carefully, you would find that we encourage not to — when there is a manifestation of intolerance against any group, it’s not a good approach, pedagogical approach, to even accuse a student of being racist immediately.

This is not correct approach. So there is no way of suggesting attacking anyone. This is not — sorry, we have to, we can’t — that’s very clear that we can’t reach an agreement on that point. There is —

47:31

Stephen Coughlin: I didn’t ask you to reach an agreement. I asked you just to define your terms. Can I just take it that you’re not aware that the OIC publishes annual reports and now monthly reports on Islamophobia for the purposes of bringing action against them? So you’re not aware of that?

Moderator: You can mention — you can talk about this issue with the authorities of OIC. This is not the right place. Thank you. Yeah?

Woman: Thank you very much for coming to this side event. I think everybody’s hungry and ready for the Ukrainian chairmanship’s reception downstairs in the opera room. I hear there is also alcohol [LAUGHTER] So I think we can close the evening there. Thank you very much to our three distinguished speakers who were talking about practical initiatives. [APPLAUSE]

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