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FrontPage’s Interview’s guest today is Deborah Weiss, an attorney, freelance writer and public speaker. A 9/11 survivor of WTC attacks in NYC, she formerly worked for the Committee on House Oversight in Congress and the Office of the Corporation Counsel under Giuliani. She is currently President of Vigilance, Inc., and is an expert in OIC UN resolutions. She has written a chapter in the new book, Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace. She can be reached at Deborah.Weiss@vigilancenow.org.
FP: Welcome Deborah. Glad you could join FPM today.
Weiss: Thank you for inviting me.
FP: Let’s begin with you telling us a about Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network.
Weiss: Thanks, Jamie.
As you know, Western petro-dollars have made Saudi Arabia a rich country. The Saudis use the money in part to export a radical Islamist ideology into the West. The ideology is antithetical to the Western values of freedom, equality and human rights.
The book was put together and edited by Sarah Stern, President of Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). It has chapters by various experts and well-known authors, including James Woolsey, Steve Emerson, Daniel Pipes, Rachel Ehrenfeld and others. Your readers are probably familiar with many of the authors.
For decades now, the West and America in particular, has been pretending that Saudi Arabia is our ally. This book lifts the veil off that myth by demonstrating the various ways that Saudi ideology has infiltrated America and the West, posing a threat to our freedom and way of life. It includes chapters on Saudi penetration into American NGO’s, American so-called “mainstream Muslim” organizations, the American school curriculum, finances, and more. The point is to illustrate the negative impact our addiction to oil will ultimately have on our society. It’s really about the stealth jihad.
FP: How did you got involved in the book?
Weiss: I am a 9/11 survivor from NYC, and have been working on the issues of non-violent radical Islam for years, as you know, Jamie. Every year, there is an event on Capitol Hill, timed to coincide around the time of 9/11, that showcases speakers and experts on the topic of Saudi infiltration. I was one of the speakers the last two years. So when Sarah asked me if I’d be willing to contribute a chapter on the same subject, of course I said yes.
FP: What is your chapter about?
Weiss: My chapter is titled, “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Defamation of Religions, and Islamophobia.” The OIC is the largest Islamic organization in the world, comprised of 56 member states plus the Palestinian authority. Its members tend to vote together as a bloc in the UN, so they hold quite a lot of power and sway. Yet, most people have never heard of them.
They are an Islamist organization, which seeks to make Islam a victorious political power and to deny freedom to anyone who doesn’t want to live under Sharia law, including Muslims who don’t want to live under Sharia law. One of its main goals is to eventually internationally criminalize free speech on any Islam-related topic, including Islamic theocracies, Muslims, Islamic terrorism, Islamic human rights violations, and Sharia law. I know it sounds crazy, but partly because the public is not paying attention to this issue, and partly because the OIC’s strategy is to achieve its goal in small increments, it is actually making significant inroads. The OIC has successfully targeted various UN bodies with resolutions on this issue, called “Defamation of Religions” and it has targeted several EU Parliaments as well. The language is presented in a watered down form, so instead of asking for speech to be criminalized, the OIC will ask for states “to take effective action” or “condemn” the speech or discourage the speech. It has also presented Muslims as the victims of so-called “Islamophobia” in order to win more support for their cause.
FP: What exactly is the Defamation of Religions?
Weiss: Well, in America we have the concept of defamation of individuals or groups. Generally, defamation in the U.S. has to be a false statement and with negligent or reckless disregard of the truth, depending on whether you’re defaming a public figure or a private citizen. And it has to be a statement that is likely to result in either a pecuniary harm or harm to that person’s reputation. In America, truth is a complete defense. And I might add that in our system, defamation only applies to statements of fact. The First Amendment gives us protection to express any opinion we desire, no matter how negative it might be.
Defamation of Religions by contrast, gives protection to an idea, in this case a religion, as opposed to protecting a person or group. Also, it constitutes protection from criticism, even if the statement is true. And to boot, the way it is applied in countries that implement it, and the way the OIC interprets it, it is really only applied to Islam. In fact, the original title was called Defamation of Islam, but in order to get more support for it, the OIC changed the title. Still, Islam is the only religion mentioned in the text, and in practice it is only Islam that is afforded protection from criticism. Believe me, the OIC is totally fine with Defamation of Judaism and Defamation of Christianity. Additionally, the Muslim countries that have these types of laws usually impose a harsh criminal penalty for its violation, rather than a civil penalty. People who “defame Islam” are often jailed, flogged, sometimes even executed.
FP: Implementing Defamation of Religions laws obviously harms people.
Weiss: Yes, Jamie, it does. What’s ironic about it is that the OIC wants to make “Defamation of Religions” a human right. But in reality, it constitutes the very opposite of a human right. In countries that have this law, there are gross human rights violations. Not only are the penalties very harsh, but it also has the effect of oppressing those with minority religions. For example, if you are Christian and you say, “I believe Jesus is the Son of G-d”, that is not only blasphemy, but could be considered Defamation of Religions. Saying this could have dire consequences. This law even hurts Muslims who have a minority interpretation of Islam that differs from the official interpretation of the government. For example, in Pakistan it is illegal to be an Ahmadiyya Muslim. Ahamadiyyas are peaceful, loving, egalitarian-minded Muslims. But because they believe in a Prophet after Mohammad (named Ahmad), the Pakistani government considers them heretics and openly practicing their faith is a crime.
FP: Defamation of Religions is clearly harmful to religious freedom and human rights. What are some other negative implications?
Weiss: The ramifications also include the hampering of national security and terrorism prevention efforts. If you know anything about war, the threat doctrine dictates that the first rule of war is that you must know your enemy and be able to name it by name. Unfortunately, to the degree that the West censors discussion of Islam and Islamic terrorism, it hamstrings the ability of intelligence professionals to come up with strategies to defeat the problem.
FP: Here in America, we are still allowed to discuss these things, right?
Weiss: So far, America is the last bastion of freedom in terms of free speech. Unlike Europe, we do not have hate speech laws – yet. However, we have moved from self-censorship to having our government and other institutions issue restrictive guidelines on speech. For example, DHS, the State Department and the NCTC have all issued memos to their professional employees discouraging them from using words such as Islamic terrorism. The National Security Strategy Memo, which guides our whole US national security policy, also has had all references to Islamic terrorism deleted. There have been various other measures taken, especially in this administration, to cleanse all official and unofficial policy from discussion, mention, or even acknowledgement of Islamic terrorism.
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