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Such a parcel of rogues
Unfortunately, it may mean the US getting into a huddle with "rogue states" but the important business of keeping women and gays in their place has seen the creation of an unlikely Islamic-Christian alliance
Eamonn McCann, 09 Jul 2002
In a world full of hatred it ought to be heartening to be able to report on different denominations coming together, and particular pleasing to note a convergence between Muslims and followers of Christ.
I was alerted to a new alliance along these lines by reports of American and Iranian officials “huddling” during coffee breaks at a UN gathering in New York in May. Huddling! Like lawyers on the steps of a libel court... or Celtic before a kick-off... or a men’s group seeking safety from rampaging feminazis... Iran, which is included in Bush’s “Axis of Evil”... The huddle suggested something of a sensational breakthrough. A whoosh of warm-heartedness went through me. I wondered why the scene hadn’t been splashed on the front pages.
Then I read of an assembly in Dallas which had seen a “meeting of minds” between Protestant fundamentalists and Catholics. Dallas! Which was also to host the conference of US Catholic bishops which evaded the sex abuse issue. I’d understood that the last Catholic seen alive in Dallas had been John Fitzgerald Kennedy. What’s going on, then?
It turns out that the initial impulse for the confessional conflux had emanated from the Protestant fundamentalists who had “set aside their doctrinal differences, cemented ties with the Vatican and cultivated fresh links with a powerful bloc of more than 50 moderate and hard-line Islamic governments.”
What was it, it might be wondered, which had propelled biblical Protestants into such an unprecedented concurrence with erroneous Catholics and adherents of Allah? What common interest had come to transcend the long-standing, jagged hostilities between these rival claimants to represent God’s will on earth?
Not a total surprise, I imagine, that it has to do with keeping children down, keeping women in their place and keeping gays where they belong – in the closet, a cage or a coffin.
The UN Special Session in New York from May 8th-10th had been convened to consider how better to protect the children of the world from violence, want and oppression – a project which, naturally, prompted outraged obscurantists the world over to gird themselves for action.
“The main issue that brings us all together is defending the natural family,” the Washington Post quoted Mokhtar Lamani, a Moroccan diplomat who represents the 53-nation Organization of Islamic Conferences at the UN. “This Republican administration is so clear in defending the family values.”
The appointment by the Bush administration of a range of anti-abortion activists to various positions on US delegations to UN and other world bodies has been a key factor in the formation of the new alliance.
“We look at (Muslims) as allies, not necessarily as friends,” said Austin Ruse, founder and president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (and star speaker at a recent “family values” conference in Cork). “We have realized that without countries like Sudan, abortion would have been recognized as a universal human right in a UN document.”
The new alliance now operates in an increasingly coherent way at global and regional conferences and negotiations on social and economic issues affecting the lives of a huge section of humanity.
The development has placed the Bush administration in the uneasy position in these fora of colluding with countries which it has otherwise stigmatised as “rogue States”. At one point, the US, Iraq and Iran were jointly organising “their” side’s voting strategy at the Special Session in May. At the same gatherings, the US is ranged against western European countries taking a generally more progressive line.
The Moroccan Mr. Lamani says that he was was first approached by a group of US Christian organizations during a UN General Assembly discussion of AIDS in June last year. The Christian groups pointed out that the declaration proposed at the Assembly by a number of western governments included references to the need to protect prostitutes, intravenous drug users and “men who have sex with men”.
“This was totally unacceptable to us,” explains Lamani. “Then the Vatican and so many other groups came up to us saying this is exactly the same position we are defending.”
At last month’s Special Session on children, the Islamic-Christian alliance weighed in behind the Bush administation – whose delegation included former Vatican official John Klink and Paul J. Bonicelli of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia, a Christian institution that requires its professors teach creationism – and successfully deleted a reference in the final declaration to “reproductive health care services”, a phrase which they believed could have been interpreted as giving girls pregnant as as result of rape the right to choose abortion.
The Islamic-Christian alliance is seeking to build on these gains. It sees itself as a continuing, influential element in global politics in the areas of sexuality, gender relations and women’s and children’s rights. In addition to the Special Session on Children in New York, the alliance has recently been active at the annual meeting of the World Health Organization in Geneva and at a UN preparatory conference on sustainable development in Bali in Indonesia.
“They are trying to undo some of the landmark agreements that were reached in the 1990s, particularly on women’s rights and family planning,” says one European diplomat. “The US decision to come into the game on their side has completely changed the dynamics.”
The Washington Post quoted Adrienne Germaine, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition: “This alliance shows the depths of perversity of the US position. On the one hand we’re presumably blaming these countries for unspeakable acts of terrorism, and at the same time we are allying ourselves with them in the oppression of women.”
But then, neither George Bush nor John Paul nor the bible-belters of Virginia are about to let differences over global terrorism deflect them from the oppression of children, women, gays and anybody who doesn’t conform to the norms of “the natural family”.
Feeling peckish for a BLT? Why not try Tesco’s “Healthy Eating” range? Note that they say they’ll supply on request a detailed and comprehensive list of the mouth-watering ingredients. Which they will. And here it is:
“Brown bread with oatmeal (44 percent) (wheat flour, water, wheat bran, rolled oats, wheat protein, yeast, salt, sugar, treacle, oat fibre, malt flour, vinegar, oatmeal, vegetable fibre, fruit juice concentrate, modified maize starch, emulsifier: mono and di-acetyltartaric esters of mono and di-glycerides of fatty acids, flavouring, flour treatment agent, ascorbic acid).
“Sweetcure bacon (15 percent) (pork, honey glucose syrup, stabilisers, sodium triphosphates, calcium dihydrogen diphosphates, sodium polyphosphates, antioxidant: sodium ascorbate, preservative: sodium nitrite).
“Tomato, iceberg lettuce, low fat dressing (water, dried skimmed milk, modified maize starch, spirit vinegar, sugar, white wine vinegar, salt, dextrose, white pepper, dried egg white, acidity regulator: sodium acetate, mustard flour, sodium chloride, preservatives: lactic acid, sorbic acid, colour: titanium dioxide, stabilisers: sodium bicarbonate, xanthan gum, sodium alginate, garlic powder).”
Anyone still labouring under the delusion that Israel is other than a State based on anti-Palestinian racism and religious fundamentalism should consider that Ariel Sharon has told a Zionist congress that Palestinians born in Israel but now living as refugees abroad will “never, ever” be allowed to return home and that “Jews everywhere” should leave where they live and come and settle in Israel.
“Since the establishment of the State of Israel, some people have forgotten the vow, `If I forget the Jerusalem...’”, he said. “Not only are those who remained in the Diaspora at fault, but so are the Israeli governments that accepted this state of affairs.”
All Irish Jews intending to continue to live in Ireland are “at fault”. It is their duty to get out now and go help settle land which has been cleared of Palestinians...
Zionism and Nazism always did have this in common – that they saw Jews as unassimilable into secular society.