Is radical Islam form of racism?

A group calling itself the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights is turning the tables on Israel’s enemies who seek to use the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, this weekend to condemn Zionism as a form of racism.

The coalition, a group claiming to represent peoples of all faiths and ethnic groups, is condemning "radical Islamism as a form of religio-racism."

In a letter to United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, and high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson, the coalition asked that the voices and plights of those oppressed, enslaved and murdered by adherents of the ideology of "radical Islamism – a deviation from Islam" – be heard at the conference beginning tomorrow.

Coalition spokesperson Mary Elizbeth Hansen said, "Radical Islamism is not the religion of Islam, founded by Mohammed 13 centuries ago. It is a 20th century movement based on a totalitarian ideology, which promotes violence and militancy in the form of Jihad. Its segregationist view of society – based on the concept of 'dhimmitude' – is racist, intolerant, xenophobic, supremacist, discriminatory, anti-democratic, and has become genocidal."

Israeli and U.S. officials debated for weeks whether representatives would be sent to Durban to participate in the conference, which seemed stacked against Jerusalem. Washington announced yesterday it would send Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Michael Southwick and a small delegation to South Africa to try to amend language in a proposed final communique that is offensive to Israel and Jews, before the conference opens. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Southwick could leave Durban before the conference's official opening, if the language singling out Israel is not taken out. The State Department announced earlier this week that Secretary of State Colin Powell would not attend the conference because of the anti-Israel clauses.

President George W. Bush said last week that the U.S. would not take part at all if the conference "picks on" or denigrates Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.

"We felt it was necessary for us to have representatives out there to do what the president asked us to do, and that's to work to eliminate this language," Boucher said yesterday. "If we can do that, then we can make the further decisions on how we participate."

If Southwick remains, Israel will have to decide whether to send Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior or dispatch a lower-level official, according to reports from Jerusalem. Some American Jewish leaders, who lobbied Powell not to attend, are said to have urged Melchior not to go.

Meanwhile, the report from the coalition was released today on its website. The declaration of the coalition is titled, "Radical Islamism = Racism = Genocide: Jihad-Islamism (not Islam) abuses human rights worldwide."

The coalition is trying to draw a fine distinction between Islam and "radical Islamism," in its condemnation. Who are the "radical Islamists," according to the coalition?

They are the people who do the following:

persecute the Copts in Egypt;

in Sudan, massacre and enslave the black African Dinkas;

in Lebanon, terrorize the Christians;

in Nigeria, butchered Biafran Ibos and oppress the Christians;

in Iraq and Syria, secular radical regimes … penetrated by Jihadic norms suppress native Christian cultures;

in Iran, persecute Christians and Bahais;

in Kashmir, wage a terrorist war against the Hindu minority;

in the southern Philippines, terrorize Catholics and kidnap foreigners;

in East Timor, endorse ethnic cleansing against Christians;

in Indonesia, routinely assault the native Christians, particularly in the Moluccas.

"Radical Islamism is a world ideology, fielding a world terror-army, and now oppresses millions with its racist ideology," said Hansen. "This threat to world peace and racial, ethnic and religious harmony needs to be urgently addressed at the U.N. conference."