Today is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by the United Nations to codify the “highest aspiration” of human beings for “freedom, justice and peace.” (December 10 is celebrated as Human Rights Day.)
One interesting aspect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is how Muslim nations responded to it.
When the U.N. General Assembly voted to approve the declaration, eight countries abstained: the Communist nations of the Soviet Bloc (of course), apartheid South Africa (natch)... and Saudi Arabia.
The problematic part for Muslim leaders is Article 18. To wit:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Yeah, right. Tell it to the imam.
Iran under the shah had ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But after the Iranian revolution of 1979, that country’s militant Muslim leadership denounced the U.N. document as a secular manifestation of Judeo-Christian ideals... and inconsistent with Islamic law.
In 1990, 45 Islamic countries put forth their own “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.” Rather than guarantee the freedom of religion, Article 10 of the Cairo Declaration proclaims:
“Islam is the religion of true unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of pressure on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to force him to change his religion to another religion or to atheism.”
As for freedom of speech: “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.”
Indeed, according to the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights, “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.”
In other words... tough luck, Hindus. Nice try, Baha’is. Keep on walkin’, Christians. And sayonara, Jews.
I am streaming on my Vox blog a 2-minute excerpt of a 1958 interview with Eleanor Roosevelt, the former First Lady. She chaired the U.N. commission that drafted the Universal Declaration.
Click here to hear Mrs. Roosevelt talk frankly about Muslim opposition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.