KUALA LUMPUR – Anti-Islamic protests broke out in the United States in January this year after a period of “silence” following the tragedy at the Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said.
The Jeddah-based organisation said in a statement that some mosques were threatened, while the controversial policy of broad surveillance on Muslim communities applied since the Sept 11, 2011 attacks on the US, found new justifications.
It noted that the US media facilitated the campaigns of Islam haters such as Bill Maher and Salman Rushdie, while the US public showed suspicion towards policies regarded as “Islam-friendly”.
The OIC said the overall situation of Islamophobia in France was quite brittle since the Charlie Hebdo incident where three masked gunmen opened fire at its office on Jan 7, killing 12 people and leaving three others critically wounded.
The dead included the magazine’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, and three cartoonists. Charlie Hebdo is well known for its scathing satirical critiques of politicians, the extreme right and of all religions.
The OIC said that French President Francois Hollande’s stance in responding to the critical situation in France should be noted, especially his gesture towards Muslim immigrants.
It said the president made an argument that it was not importing religion into government that guaranteed minority rights but rather for a secular government, which tolerated all religions equally.
“France has made strong waves when its president put anti-Muslim sentiments on the same level as anti-Semitism,” the statement said.
The Vatican, meanwhile, has been active in showing an opposing stance towards unfavourable manifestation of freedom of expression, including cartoons mocking Prophet Muhammad by the western media, it further said.
The OIC also noted that in Europe, constructive debates on freedom of expression vis-a-vis its limit and manifestation, tended to be overridden by the strengthening of anti-Islam sentiments.
It pointed out that public opinions were overshadowed by the idea that free speech is a “fixed price” for European societies and there should not be any space for negotiation with other “ideologies”, including Islam.
The OIC said that in certain countries, the burqa, niqab and veil started to be fashioned as Muslim women’s dress code but in many other countries, they were considered as a threat and violation to national laws. – BERNAMA