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September 19, 2010

Fanning the Flames

These past weeks have proven productive for those who seek gain from a good crisis. Seemingly unrelated events appear more interconnected as I trace their origins and those who will ultimately benefit from the crisis. Amidst the Cordoba Mosque controversy, a new crisis has added fuel to the fire. The accelerant: the global media attention which focused on a church in Gainesville Florida and its 30-50 member congregation who planned to burn Korans on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

While the press remains perplexed how it
lost control of the Koran burning story, inquiry should guide them to the conclusion that they were manipulated. United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon blames Pastor Terry Jones as the one who “hijacked” the media. But it was not Jones who kept feeding the media frenzy; it was those sympathetic to the Alliance of Civilizations continually added fuel to the flames. How could an event having next to nothing for financial resources­­—one which promoted itself on YouTube—have gained worldwide attention? Hmm, “I wonder when there will be a Koran burning event” is hardly something I would ever have imagined people tying into their YouTube search engines. It is worth taking a closer look at those fanning the flames of this crisis.

None of us would have known anything about the Dove World Outreach Center’s plans until the September 6 online edition of the Wall Street Journal quoted General Petraeus as saying that the Koran burnings would endanger U.S. troops. Incidentally, Petraeus is now defending himself against Pentagon officials who charge he crossed the civilian-military line. The very next day following the Journal’s report, the International Crisis Group posted a media alert on the Alliance of Civilizations’ Global Expert Finder web site. The International Crisis Group functions as a crisis management tool within the AoC network. The purpose of the Global Expert Finder is to provide journalists with information on how to report on issues surrounding cross-cultural and inter-religious tensions.

Petraeus’ statements have consequently generated debate on whether free speech needs to be balanced against safety concerns for U.S. military personnel. I could not help but remember the Alliance of Civilizations’ High Representative’s speech that our rights need to be balanced to achieve global social cohesion.

"…to build inclusive and cohesive societies we need to find the right balance between the rights of cultural communities and the need to maintain social cohesion respecting the principles of human rights that bind together all countries worldwide.
And if Petraeus hadn’t already drawn international attention to Terry Jones, the attention directed towards them by Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Obama was certain to destine this as an international crisis. Considering that the Obama Administration has incorporated the Alliance of Civilizations into the United States’ political landscape, the spontaneity of this controversy started to resemble the cartoon crisis. This prompted me to take a closer look at you know who and, not surprisingly, their signature is there.

Could it be merely a coincidence that Akbar Ahmed who serves as an advisor to Petraeus published a piece in CNN International which directed the world’s attention to “Burn Koran Dayor that Ahmed is active with the Dialogue Among Civilizations which is the framework the Alliance of Civilizations used for its launch? Akbar Ahmed and the Ground Zero Mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf are both involved with the Daniel Pearl Foundation’s interfaith dialogue. Ahmed is also a Bookings Institute Senior Fellow for the global governance think tank.

I believe the Pearl family is sincere in their dialogue efforts to combat the extremist ideology which led to the murder of their son. And while I do not wish to cause the Pearl family any additional pain, I’ve noticed that they have become integrated with Alliance of Civilizations’ personalities. Whether they understand and share the Alliance’s ideology I cannot say for sure, but I strongly urge them to closely examine the interfaith objectives and how the Alliance’s definition of extremism slates countless innocent people as terrorists.

Imam Rauf claims himself as a moderate as he can profess to be Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. One of the best critical assessments I’ve read on this statement and interfaith dialogue is written by an atheist. Rauf is able to make this claim because his belief system teaches that Jews and Christians are, in fact, Muslims who have not yet realized who they are. But when these faiths reject this belief system, according to the Koran and the Alliance of Civilizations, they become “exclusivist” extremists against whom they intend to conduct a war.

The Alliance of Civilizations and the Organization for Islamic Conference are politically partnered organizations who jointly call for restrictions on free speech. This past April, the OIC-Alliance action plan for combating Islamophobia cited Terry Jones’ as an example of one whose speech incites violence and discrimination against Muslims. The OIC envisions legislation such to Ireland’s anti-defamation law as a model for combating Islamophobia. Per the report:

“On July 10, 2009, Ireland passed the Defamation Bill. One of the aspects of this bill would make it illegal to criticize religion, any religion under penalty of fines up to 25,000 Euros. It was a most important development in conformity with OIC’s call for effective normative and legal frameworks to deal with the grave threat posed by Islamophobia. The following are some excerpts from the Blasphemy Clause:

(1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000[Amended to €25,000]

(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if (a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

The Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue issued a statement on Terry Jones which reiterates this position on free speech: “We believe that all laws protect freedom of expression unless it constitutes to an act of insult, and abuse of others.”

While I believe book burnings is disgusting, I do believe it to be consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that flag burning is a constitutionally protected form of speech. If a burning were to take place outside a place of worship or its intent one of intimidation, I would view that differently. It is clear, though, that to make Islamic culture socially cohesive with the West, the Alliance seeks to adjust our freedoms to accommodate Sharia law. At this year’s Cordoba conference on religious freedom, the Alliance indicated it is watching to see which will win out: the Protestantisation of religion or Islamisation of Christianity? For they conclude that Protestantization of religion will let secularization prevail while Islamization of Christianity will create a totally new agenda.

As with the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, the Koran burning crisis is being used to instigate a “clash of civilizations” which ultimately serves the Alliance of Civilizations’ political agenda. And as a tool they are using the First Amendment as a double-edged sword.

Terry Jones, agent provocateur or unwitting dupe? I suspect the latter. Either way, Jones’ actions has served the interests of the Alliance of Civilizations in labeling Christians as extremists and emboldened others to identify Christianity with terrorism. Once again, as in the cartoon crisis, the benefactor of this controversy is the Alliance of Civilizations.


JD said...


I did happen to know about Jones intent before the media blew the story up, nearly three months before. This of course was the result of a fluke search that returned information about it. I state this simply to solidify the point that the story was not a new one. Had the desired result been to change the mind of Jones, the story would have been picked up much sooner and a much different tactic used.

Out of this the city of Gainesville is now attempting to make Jones and his church pick up the tab for the expense of added security, at the tune of nearly $200k. All for a event that never took place? This sets a bad precedent for protection of ones first amendment if Gainesville is able to make them pay. People will think twice about protesting or congregating anywhere if they are going to be saddled with a huge bill for their activities.

Rich Peterson - Medford said...

JD and anyone who may have have archived early coverage of this Koran burning, I'd like to read those reports.


Anonymous said...

The bigger problem is that there is no dialogue between the groups. The Muslims and those on the political are doing all of the talking. The Muslims are the ones being given coverage by the media, the ones being made to look like the victims, which they are not. The Muslims are never challenged to clean their own house of bigotry in public dialogue.

Muslim organizations are a very useful tool for those leading New Age thinking. How stupid the New Age thinkers are. They have no way to control the Muslim community once they have subdued Jewish and Christian thinking. They will be trying to hold a tiger by the tail, a tiger which will eat them and anyone else. Call it the destruction of any kind of civilization unless there are those brave enough to expose it.


Rich Peterson - Medford said...

Dorothy's comment is right on target. From the very beginning the Alliance of Civilizations placed the entire blame for the "clash of civilizations" on the West. The hostility is especially visible in what they say about the United States. We are are blamed for supporting Israel and allowing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to continue. By Alliance standards, when Iranean sponsored terrorists fire rockets into Israel that is understandable. That is dialogue. When Israel responds their strategy is to remove from public view the context of the situation and further condemn Israel for its "disproportionate response".

This is one-sided dialogue which is not dialogue at all. Now in the interest of social cohesion the West is expected to curtail its freedoms to accommodate the sensitivities of a culture not accustomed to democracy.

Perhaps rather than putting us through more sensitivity training they need to learn to develop thicker skin--that freedom of speech means we will often be offended by what others have to say yet it is critical that we protect their rights to dissent.

Alfred the Ordinary said...

I notice that the AoC is flexing its muscles elsewhere. In the "Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council 13/16 Combating defamation of religions" The Human Rights Council, “ Welcoming all International and regional initiatives to promote cross-cultural and interfaith harmony, including the Alliance of Civilizations, the International Dialogue on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace and Harmony and the Dialogue among the Followers of World Religions and Cultures, and their valuable efforts towards promoting a culture of peace and dialogue at all levels,'”

It would seem that the rights of the individual are being transferred to the rights of a religion. What then the rights of the individual when he/she stands up against abuse against some person who is in a culture where abuse is common place? The 'rights of the religion' can then be brought into play. Next stop, jail?

” Requests the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to report on all manifestations of defamation of religions, and in particular on the ongoing serious implications of Islamophobia, for the enjoyment of all rights by their followers, to the Council at its fifteenth session. 42nd meeting, 25 March 2010
[Adopted by a recorded vote of 20 to 17, with 8 abstentions.”


JD said...

Unfortunately, I did not archive anything from when I first read about it. At the time it was threat from a small church that seemed like a non issue. The media wasn't paying any attention to it, and I thought it would probably stay that way as not to give such a small group any weight. There is a wikipedia article up about the incident, which while not a good source does reference that Jones made the original declaration in July via Twitter. I will attempt to see what else I can find that was out before the circus arrived.

Rich Peterson - Medford said...

Clearly Jones had been trying to promote the event through Twitter and YouTube and perhaps even received some local media attention. But for Ban-Ki Moon to equate YouTube and Twitter to hijacking of the media is crazy nonsense. Nonetheless, I'd like to collect as much early media attention to this event as I possibly can. If anyone has anything please email me.

Rich Peterson - Medford said...

Dorothy emailed me an EXCELLENT piece on interfaith dialogue. Thanks Dorothy for sharing.


RT said...

“We believe that all laws protect freedom of expression unless it constitutes to an act of insult, and abuse of others.”

This is so vague and subjective, anyone can claim insult for anything and there is no freedom of expression. Who decides what is insulting to someone else? Who draws the line as to what constitutes "abuse".

Thank you Rich for bringing us up to speed, your articles are always very well put together and informative. Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

It has been such a long time since you have posted anything. Are you OK?

A Reader

Alfred the Ordinary said...

I share "A Reader's" concern. Looking forward to hearing from you