First, anti-semetic Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the United Nations condemning the Jewish religion, for which he was given a standing ovation and a hug. Now, Saudi Arabia, a nation whose record on human religious rights violations is so bad that it has few peers in that category, is hosting a forum on religious tolerance.
What is going on and why are President Bush and Secretary of State Condi Rice attending?
From Colum Lynch at the Washington Post:
|Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of the event drew criticism from human rights advocates, who said that a country that oppresses its religious minorities lacks the moral authority to lead such a gathering.
“Saudi Arabia is not qualified to be a leader in this dialogue at the United Nations,” said Ali Al-Ahmed, a Saudi national who serves as director of the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs. “It is the world headquarters of religious oppression and xenophobia.”
Most leaders from Europe — with the exception of Britain and Finland — Latin America, Africa and Asia stayed away, sending lower-ranking representatives. Some U.N. delegates said they were put off by the prospect of holding a religious event in the world’s premier diplomatic venue, the U.N. General Assembly chamber. They also expressed concern about having their top leaders participate in an event on religious tolerance sponsored by a government that has such a poor record on the issue.
“We all know what happens in Saudi Arabia,” one U.N. ambassador said.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch, said a U.N. discussion on religious discrimination should spotlight places “where religious intolerance runs deepest, and that includes Saudi Arabia.”
Actions, not words, are what we need if people are to be allowed to worship as their own conscience dictates.
You can access the complete column on-line here:
Saudi Arabia To Lead U.N. Faith Forum
The Washington Post
November 12, 2008