By Joseph Klein
Secretary of State John Kerry should have extended his Nantucket vacation. That would have spared him and the nation from his embarrassing remarks praising Islam as a “peaceful religion based on the dignity of all human beings,” which he delivered just a day after ISIS released a video showing American journalist Steven Sotloff being beheaded.
Kerry was speaking at a ceremony honoring the State Department’s new special representative to Muslim communities, Shaarik Zafar. Rather than call on Muslim leaders around the world to publicly condemn ISIS in the strongest possible terms and do everything possible to counter ISIS’s recruitment campaign, ideology and financing, Kerry coddled them.
“I want to take advantage of this podium and of this moment to underscore as powerfully as I know how, that the face of Islam is not the butchers who killed Steven Sotloff. That’s ISIL,” Kerry said. He added that the real face of Islam is “one where Muslim communities are advocating for universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the most basic freedom to practice one’s faith openly and freely.”
Where exactly in Muslim-majority countries today is a non-Muslim free to practice his or her faith “openly and freely”? Ten out of the sixteen countries deemed of particular concern regarding their abuses of religious freedom are Muslim nations, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2014 Annual Report. The governments of these countries engage in or tolerate particularly severe violations of religious freedom, the report states.
The Commission makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. Evidently, Kerry has not read the Commission report’s findings regarding the state of religious freedom in Muslim-majority countries or did not take them seriously. It also appears that Kerry has not read or understood the implications of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, based on Sharia law, which is diametrically opposed to the principles underlying the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration’s organizing principle is that “[A]ll human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
The Universal Declaration promotes the ideal that self-governing human beings all have certain inalienable rights such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law. These universal rights apply to all human beings equally, whichever geographical location, country, race, culture or religion they belong to.
As the Islamic response to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers adopted the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam in 1990.
The Cairo Declaration reaffirmed “the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization in which harmony is established between this life and the hereafter and knowledge is combined with faith.” After reciting a litany of human rights that it pledged to protect, the Cairo Declaration subjected all of its protections to the requirements of Islamic law:
Article 22 (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.”
“All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.”
“The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification to any of the articles of this Declaration.”
By making Islamic law the sole authority for defining the scope of human rights, the Cairo Declaration sanctioned limits on freedom of expression, discrimination against non-Muslims and women, and a prohibition against a Muslim’s conversion from Islam. Such restrictions are completely at odds with the fundamental human freedoms spelled out in the Universal Declaration.
“The reality,” Kerry said, “is that our faiths and our fates are inextricably linked.” He is right about that, but not for the reasons he suggests. Jihadists with access to sophisticated weapons, money and willing recruits, including from the West, are seeking to determine our fates, which in their minds is a stark choice between subservience to Islam or death. The supremacism that permeates the Koran itself provides the jihadists with “moral” justification in their perverted world view. The sayings and actions of their Prophet Muhammad provide the jihadists with their roadmap. As an example, Islam’s prophet was quoted as saying, “Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah.” (Ibn Ishaq 992)
Secretary of State Kerry, perhaps suffering from a case of post-vacation sunstroke, used part of his remarks at the ceremony to connect what he called the “duty or responsibility” to confront climate change with the “scriptures, clearly, beginning in Genesis.” Then, remembering that he was speaking at a ceremony honoring his new special representative to Muslim communities, Kerry immediately tried to tie his elevation of climate change to Biblical heights with his concern for the fate of Muslims. He said that “Muslim-majority countries are among the most vulnerable.” Right after that, he added: “Our response to this challenge ought to be rooted in a sense of stewardship of Earth. And for me and for many of us here today, that responsibility comes from God.”
The Koran quotes the Muslim supreme deity Allah as declaring: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” (Koran 8:12) Is Allah the “God” whom Kerry looks to as the source of responsibility for our “stewardship of Earth”?
John Kerry takes his cue from President Obama. The president has focused his attention on the United States’ supposed failure to adequately protect Muslims’ human rights and recognize their sensibilities, instead of holding the Muslim world to account for its own problems. While ISIS’s barbarism does not represent the behavior of most Muslims, ISIS is not an isolated phenomenon as Obama and Kerry would try to have us believe. ISIS is an outgrowth of Islamic supremacism, which many so-called mainstream Muslim imams and teachers believe, preach and teach. They do so not only in Muslim-majority countries, but also in mosques and schools in the West. Until the United States leads the free world in directly confronting and defeating the ideological wellspring of jihad that feeds violent groups such as ISIS and stealth jihadists seeking to infiltrate our institutions from within, we will be deluding ourselves while playing whack-a-mole against the violent threat du jour.