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Working with the Muslims at the UN.

Austin Ruse - The Catholic Thing - Mon, Jan 16th 2012


The 10 p.m. negotiating session was set to go all night long. This was the last night of a two-week process that had been in planning for years before. All the hard things would be decided in the dead of that final night, when everyone was exhausted, the cafeteria was closed, and the translators had all gone home. 

I walked out onto the floor of the immense negotiating room in the basement of the United Nations. Concentric half rings of desks cascaded from the front to the back with one hundred and eighty-something national “flags” arranged alphabetically, and floor-to-ceiling windows 100 feet high overlooking the moonlit East River. 

On the negotiating floor, I approached a Muslim ambassador and said, “This session is going all night long and its going to be very tough going. And when it gets really hard, I want you to know that right over there,” and I pointed to a section of raised seats off to the side, “twenty Christians will be praying for you.” 

That night this man was a tiger in defense of unborn children. The gathered western governments, along with U. N. bureaucrats, hungered for a right to abortion that would require nations to allow for the unrestricted killing of their unborn babies. 

He rose time and time again to stop dangerous language from entering into that document. He pounded on his desk. At one point, he even rose in defense of our Christian NGOs who had come under attack from the European Union. As the sun rose, his efforts, our efforts, paid off. An alleged right to abortion was stopped once more. 

Many will applaud the result of this meeting and others like it, and those same people will cringe that we accomplish this task with governments that allow the persecution of our co-religionists. It would be good if the coalition of those who support unborn children at the U. N. were broad and vast and deep. It is not. 

If only the so-called Christian nations stood with us. It is post-Christian Europe that leads the fight to make abortion the law of the world. Even such solid countries as Poland and Malta go along with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom after the EU takes a common position, which is almost always in favor of the culture of death.  

What about Catholic Latin America? There are a number of reasons they are not with us. Their elites long ago sidled up to Europe on the question of abortion. They view abortion practically as a sacrament and also a badge of sophistication. Their governments also do not want to be hectored by U.N. “human rights” committees who push for a universal right to abortion. 

They also tend to throw a bone to their domestic radical feminists and allow them to represent their countries at U.N. negotiations. These governments also do not want to be labeled as part of what the prestige media calls the “unholy alliance” of the Vatican and the Muslim states. So, Catholic Latin America largely takes a powder on these issues. 

Africa? They are so poor they cannot give up even a single dime proffered by the U.N. and the donor nations. Is financial assistance linked to support of the pro-abortion agenda? A few years ago a new diplomat questioned her country’s sponsorship of a resolution. Immediately afterward the lobbyist from the U.N. Population Fund threatened her country with losing financial aid. That is a potent weapon.  

I could go on throughout the all the regions of the world and find similar reasons why our pro-life coalition at the U.N. is so small. 

Some will say it is not worth protecting the unborn child if we have to make common cause with the Muslim states. Recently, at Andrew Breitbart’s “Big Peace” website, respected columnist Diana West suggested that in working with the Muslims, pro-life Christian NGOs help spread Sharia and radical Islam. She believes that religious persecution is a more important issue than protecting unborn babies from their own holocaust. 

Many individuals and groups would agree. They work on religious freedom and ignore the plight of the unborn. That is their right. Groups must choose their mission. But West and, I suspect, others go further. They actually want us to stop our work because the cost is too high if it includes Muslims.

No one knows the yearly global body count owing to abortion. Is it 50 million? The “official” data say so, but it is likely more; possibly much more. This represents the grossest human rights tragedy of all time and would get exponentially worse if U.N. radicals get their way. 

If one were simply adding up columns of death, this column would dwarf all others; all wars, all persecutions, all pogroms, and all final solutions. It is all the more barbaric because these victims have no way to fight back, and nowhere to run.  

And we are supposed to stand aside because the Muslims make defending the unborn possible?   

We in the U.N. pro-life movement believe we are called to this fight in particular. We applaud those who work on other legitimate human rights issues like religious persecution. But we believe the right to life comes first. It is the right that makes all other rights and freedoms possible including freedom of religion. 

We also believe that in our own way we do fight for religious freedom. In working with Muslim diplomats, in becoming friends with them, even by loving them, we believe we are changing hearts and minds. And in our own – perhaps mysterious – way, we do help our beleaguered brothers and sisters. This commonly misunderstood way is the way of Christ.


Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.

© 2012 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. 

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