Press release: ICLA deconstructs “Islamophobia”

By • on September 22, 2013

Released: September 22nd 2013

ICLA, the International Civil Liberties Alliance, today publishes a comprehensive white paper entitled “The Problematic Definition of “Islamophobia””, where the concept of “Islamophobia” is subjected to a comprehensive analysis. Specifically, the definition in question is the one presented by the representative of Turkey at the OSCE conference in Tirana, Albania in May, 2013.

Quite unconventionally, OSCE has published material about “Islamophobia” without providing any definition of the term, in particular [Guidelines]. Despite repeated calls by human rights activists for clarification, only in 2013 a definition was provided. Which, remarkably, is very similar to one given by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a fact that in itself should raise concerns over its applicability to any issues pertaining to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The analysis is written by an ICLA team of experts, and demonstrates in meticulous detail that the definition is badly flawed on 13 major points, as well as on many more details pertaining to each of these points. The analysis shows the definition to be, various points, misleading, circular, self-contradictory and/or meaningless. It even turns out that, if the definition is to be applied as written, Islam as such will have to be considered “Islamophobic”, based on its own scripture and tradition.

It is the recommendation of ICLA that no institution aiming to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms make any use of this term. Any use of this and other ill-defined terms lends itself towards undermining fundamental freedoms rather than protecting them. In particular, ill-defined terms could be misused to justify the granting of special privileges and protections to specific groups, which would be contrary to principles of equal rights for all.

Instead, ICLA recommends that OSCE participating States and other relevant parties focus their efforts on protecting individual rights rather than group rights, and reject any request or intimidation calling for any form of special rights, status or protections for specific groups.

The release of the ICLA white paper on ”Islamophobia” is timed to coincide with ICLA participating in the annual OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, Poland. At this conference, the paper will be presented at a public side event entitled “How bad definitions violate fundamental OSCE commitments”. Refreshments will be provided.

Event location: Opera Room, Hotel Sofitel, Warsaw, Poland

Event timetable: Thursday September 26th 13-15 CET.

ICLA may be contacted on or by telephone on +45 2194 4044

OSCE may be contacted on [email] or [phone] for accreditation and other practical issues.