FECRIS annual conference in Copenhagen:
A well-known journalist and human rights activist shocked by the dominant intolerant discourse
An interview of Bashy Quraishy, a Danish-Pakistani journalist and consultant regarding minority rights
1. Who is Bashy Quraishy?
2. Summaries of some excerpts
Who is Bashy Quraishy?
He was born in India, but grew up in Pakistan. He is a member of a number of Commissions, Committees and Boards involved with Human Rights, Ethnic/Religious Equality Issues, anti-racism, anti-discrimination, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, both in Denmark and internationally.
On the Danish level, he is the Chief Editor of MediaWatch, which is a quarterly magazine on media and minorities, Chair of media monitoring organisation, Fair Play and member of the Advisory Council of Danish Human Rights Institute.
On the international level, from 2001 – 2007, he was President of ENAR – Brussels that is the largest EU network against racism with over 700 member organisations. Since Nov 2007, he is Chairman of ENAR’s Advisory Council, Chair of the European Platform for Jewish Muslim Co-operation, member of the “Board of Trustees” of the Dutch Foundation ” More colour in the media”, General Secretary of the network, EMISCO – European Muslim Initiative for Social Cohesion and Member – Advisory Board – Migration Research Centre – Hacettepe University – Ankara.Turkey. He is also senior adviser to COJEP International, a France based inter-cultural youth organisation and from 2005-2007 sat on EU Commission’s High Level Committee on the Social and Labour Market integration of disadvantaged ethnic minorities in EU.
Quraishy contributes regularly to the Danish and European press with essays, chronicles and TV debates as well as lectures on various issues concerning Ethnic Minorities in EU, Islam in the Western Media, benefits of inter-culturalism, globalization, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, Racism’s consequences and Integration’s dilemma in Europe. Since January 2010, he hosts TV programme – Bashy’s Corner – at TV Channel Greater Copenhagen.
Summaries of some excerpts
The journalist shocked by the intolerant speeches against certain religious groups
“I had a personal experience with FECRIS recently. A friend of mine in Belgium in a conference gave me a booklet which was written by some German researchers, and the booklet is about religion state and society. When I read it, I was shocked. How much influence and power and money this organization gets to make negative campaigns about anyone they don’t like. So when a friend of mine told me there was a conference in Copenhagen, and as a journalist I could go there, I went there and I can tell you I was absolutely not happy. I was disgusted by the tone of the speeches there, the campaigns they were making against certain religions, and also how secretive they were. One speaker came after another and not one suggestion on how to deal with the issues. Just campaigns against certain sects and certain religions. That is not the way I think an organization which claims to be open, to protect the victims of sects and religions, to be themselves so secretive and so, I would call, you know, very strange way of acting.”
“Concerning a board member of FECRIS, a Russian expert who advises the Russian government, I saw recently many articles and lectures on YouTube which are totally anti-Islam and Islamophobic. They’re not helping people but they are actually sowing the seeds of hatred.”
The journalist publicly accused of being a Scientologist
“When I made an interview with their President Mr. Tom Sackville and I asked him “Why don’t you take people to court instead of making campaigns and why is it such a secretive conference. Why don’t you invite all people in the society? Then I asked him “Why are you going after Scientology and Jehovah’s Witnesses”? And they got very angry. They actually blamed me for being a scientologist. When I gave them my press card, and actually one of their board member the vice president of FECRIS had met me in Geneva in Human Right conference, he recognized me. But I was amazed by the way they were there and the way they were treating a guest, the way they were actually trying to harass. “No, you are from Scientology. What are you doing here? Are you a spy?” And their president went on podium and pointed at me and said “Here is Mr. Bashy Quraishy, he is a scientologist. Be careful.” (…)
“I was shocked. I could not believe that an organization that presents itself as the guardian of civil rights of individuals against brainwashing is doing the same. And when I challenged them, they didn’t like it. So I left and I have complained to the Council of Europe on the way they treated me, not me as a person but I went there as a journalist. I actually wanted to write something nice about them. I wanted to see what kind of good work they are doing. I wanted to see what kind of information they are bringing to the society. But unfortunately that experience was the most horrible I had in my life in hundreds and hundreds of conferences I’ve taken part in.” (…)
“The only job of their organization in Russia, in France, in Belgium, in UK, in Canada is to campaign against people who are spiritual or religious.” (…)
“It is the duty of civil society to stand up, to make alliances, to expose such organizations, to expose such movements, who are actually hindrance in communication, hindrance in people coming together. Instead of creating bridges, they are actually destroying those bridges.” (…)
Protests at the Council of Europe
“They are now part of the Council of Europe. They get money from the French government or from other governments, and they have influence in many decision-making processes, where they spread their poison against religions of different types.” (…)
“I complained to the President of NGO Federation of the Council of Europe, whom I have known and worked with for many years. I received a very kind email from their office telling me that they are looking into that issue and they will contact me very quickly. I can tell you now very openly that I’m not the type of person who will be oppressed or who will be trampled upon. Wherever I go, I have a very big international platform in many different ways. I talk about religious discrimination. I’ll talk about those forces who are actually harassing NGOs and the small religions and the big religions who are trying to fulfill certain needs among people. So I am not going to stop here. I am going to talk about it. It is not a vendetta for me, it is not that I am only against them, I am against anybody who spreads poison in society and who divides people instead of bringing them together. That is my biggest wish.”
HRWF Comment: It is noteworthy that representatives of government agencies of some EU countries have attended FECRIS annual conferences and have been guest-speakers for years without raising the slightest objection…