Monday in New York

I wish I’d been in New York last Monday. I wish I could have dropped in on the UN. I’d have liked to attend (if they were open to the public) the press conference or the seminar or both. All the more since two of the participants have contributed articles to B&W.

The main global humanist organisation and a group of former Muslims on Monday accused European countries of ignoring violations of human rights in their Islamic communities to preserve “multi-culturalism”…”Yet in Europe many women find themselves subject to domestic violence, undergo forced marriages or are even killed by family members because of some belief that they have tarnished the family honour,” Brown declared. That view was echoed later by three ex-Muslims and self-described atheists — Somali-born Dutch member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Iranian exile rights activist Azam Kamguian and historian of Islam Ibn Warraq — and French sociologist Caroline Fourest.

How I wish I’d been there. In the front row, taking notes, with a video camera, and a tape recorder, and a stenographer.

Hirsi Ali, who fled to the Netherlands in 1992 to escape an arranged marriage, told the news conference she condemned “the moral relativism in Europe whereby women from Third World countries do not enjoy the same freedoms as native European women enjoy”…Kamguian, a former political prisoner and women’s activist in Iran, who now lives in London, said this “cultural relativism” in Europe and Canada “was upside-down racism” which denied the universality of human rights, especially for women….Fourest, author of several books on religious extremism, told the seminar on the fringes of the commission that sexism and oppression of women “are the main values shared by fundamentalists of all three monotheist religions.”

Exactly. As the dear Vatican made so unambiguous the other day.

She told the news conference a resolution from Islamic states on “defamation of religion” passed by the commission last week was in line with efforts by the Catholic Church and other faiths to protect religion from criticism.

Oh, perfect – just what the world needs. UN resolutions protecting religion from criticism. For every Azam Kamguian and Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq there are whole football stadiums full of religion-protecters and multiculturalists telling them to shut up or else. This story didn’t exactly receive blanket coverage, one can’t help noticing.

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