Originally published at Gatestone Institute.
A stated Islamist goal, to replace Western civilization’s liberal democratic order with a Sharia-governed Ummah [community of Muslims], now seems to involve an effort to delegitimize Western international organizations, as seen this week by Saudi Arabia’s refusing a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Saudi Arabia’s refusal likely reflects its view of itself as helping to establish an alternative international order based on Sharia law. For Islamists, the United Nations, like all secular international organs, lacks legitimacy.
OIC vs. UN
The Islamic world threw down the gauntlet to the secular international order in 1990 when it drafted an alternative declaration of human rights, the Kairos Document, based on the Sharia law. The 56 countries of what was then called the Organization of Islamic Conference, since renamed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], criticized the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as being insensitive to religious concepts of the non-Western world. In Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi’s October 13, 2013 statement, explaining the sudden and unprecedented rejection of a seat on the Security Council, he cites Saudi Arabia’s “historical responsibilities toward its people, Arab and Islamic nations as well as toward the peoples aspiring for peace and stability in the world.” The Saudi explanation continues by enumerating a litany of UN failures to solve problems in the Mideast. This statement underscores Saudi Arabia’s role as the capital of a shadow-caliphate alternative to the current liberal democratic international order.
Riyadh’s sentiment was preceded by last summer’s rebuttal — which revealed the global scope of Islamist objectives — by the Pakistani Taliban fugitive, Adnan Rashid, to the UN address by the heroic Pakistani Malala Yousafzai (then 15 years old), shot by the Taliban for having asked for women’s education. In a letter, Rashid denounced Malala’s naiveté for placing trust in an international organization that he claimed is a tool of the West with which to punish Islamic nations.
Rashid’s riposte, however, has an unwritten corollary. He and his fellow Islamists bear allegiance to an alternate network that exists in parallel with the institutions of the current international order, the most visible symbol of which is the OIC. The OIC, which promotes Islamic social, economic, and political solidarity, is, in fact, already the second-largest international organization after the UN. It has not only attempted to negotiate disputes among Islamic factions in Muslim-majority countries, such as Iraq and Somalia, but has also helped to mediate disputes between non-Muslim-majority states and their Islamic minorities, as in the Philippines and Thailand. In adjudicating these disputes, the OIC has employed, as the legal frame of reference, the principles of Sharia law rather than international law.
One has only to examine the flag and the logo of the OIC to realize its ambition. A crescent moon encompasses the entire globe. The earth rests on a sea of green, the color of Islam, with the Kaa’ba in the center of the globe. The flag resembles the national banner of the al-Saud Kingdom (the only country among all the embassies in Washington D.C. that, on 9/11, did not lower its flag). The OIC, however, is just one of several all-Islamic multinational organs that parallel secular international community structures. There is also, for example, the International Association of Islamic Banks and several other organs for cooperation, such as the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Islamic States Broadcasting Organization.
Jihadi terrorists, as a matter of targeting policy, strike at representative symbols of the existing international order. One of the initial targets of Iraq-based al-Qaeda terrorists was the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq. Pakistani and Nigerian Muslim terrorists have routinely assassinated international volunteers, even those working to eradicate deadly diseases such as polio. The most extreme assassinations have occurred in Sharia-governed northern Nigeria and Pushtun tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan, where, in both places, the murders closely followed sermons that vociferously denounced ongoing inoculation campaigns. Any form of assistance from international organizations is rejected by Muslim extremists as part of a Western conspiracy to influence Muslims to abandon their faith. Inoculations against polio, for instance, have been described by Islamic extremists as a plot to sterilize Muslim children. It is more likely, however, that the radical clerics who urge believers to renounce such aid efforts are more concerned about losing control of their constituency.