Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Unfunny Pranks: The Cairo Declaration

In the manner of most April Fool's pranks, the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (text, background) offers more in the way of perversity than humor. Based on the solid bloc voting of OIC member states, the UN Human Rights Council recently passed a resolution condemning "religious defamation" in keeping with this declaration's cramped vision of human rights. Article 22 stands out in its absurdity:

(a) Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari'ah.

(b) Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari'ah.

(c) Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical Values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.

(d) It is not permitted to excite nationalistic or doctrinal hatred or to do anything that may be an incitement to any form or racial discrimination.
Say anything you like so long as it conforms with Sharia; freely speak, hear, write, and read "what is right" under Sharia to your heart's content. Outside of that you should shut your mouth and stop your ears, and the law should assist in that wherever possible, lest para-Sharia ideas "corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith."

The final two articles of the declaration seal the deal:
ARTICLE 24: All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari'ah.

ARTICLE 25: The Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.
The 2,400 words of the declaration really come down to two: obey Sharia. It's difficult to conceive of a document more hostile to genuine human rights.

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