Letter to the Editor: UN’s World Conference Against Racism contrary to the group’s ideals

The UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) has a name worthy of respect and optimism, as it alludes to the idea of a conference that seeks to generate peace between the different races. But do not let yourself be fooled, the conference seeks to limit our freedom of expression and to promote antagonistic messages towards the state of Israel.

The first problem is that the conference will be run by the so-called Bureau of the Preparatory Committee, chaired by Najat Al-Hajjaji from Libya and the rapporteur will be Resfel Pino Álvarez from Cuba. Cuba and Libya are hardly countries worthy of praise for their humanitarian efforts, according to the U.S. Department of State’s annual human rights report for 2007, Libya has a very poor record in the area of human rights.

The committee also includes countries such as Iran, Pakistan, and Russia, all of which are known for violations of human rights. According to the first draft of the conference, some of the main concerns are “…that a most disturbing phenomenon is the intellectual and ideological validation of Islamophobia,” and, “[beliefs] that association of terrorism and violence with Islam or any other religion, including through publication of offensive caricatures and making of hate documentaries, would purposely complicate our common endeavors.”

The indirect mentioning of the Muhammed cartoons that were published in a newspaper located in my home country, Denmark, and the documentary Submission, directed by Theo van Gogh (who was shot and almost decapitated as a result of the movie) is an embarrassment and proves that the conference seeks to limit our freedom of expression. It is essential that all countries that value basic human rights such as freedom of expression boycott this conference and send a message to the participating countries. Tell them that we will not submit to the primitive restrictions of countries where journalists are thrown in jail or even executed because they do not agree with the ideas of religion. Religion should not be treated with velvet gloves, but should be questioned at every opportunity and it should, by all means, never compromise ideals that are essential for a democracy.

-Jason Jensen