Human Rights, Liberty Are Values Practiced by Most Muslims, Says Rice
by Patrick Goodenough
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the appointment of Washington's first-ever special envoy to the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference will help to promote principles that Muslims and non-Muslims alike "hold dear," such as human rights, liberty and the rule of law.
"These are not American values or Western values," she told OIC ambassadors in Washington on Monday. "They are universal values, values that are lived and practiced by the majority of Muslims in the world, many of whom are citizens of democracies."
Fourteen of the OIC's 57 members qualify as "electoral democracies," according to criteria applied by Freedom House in its latest report on freedom in the world. None are Arab states.
And only six of the 57 -- Benin, Guyana, Indonesia, Mali, Senegal and Suriname -- are deemed "free" according to a Freedom House evaluation that scores nations for both political rights and civil liberties, and classifies them as "free," "partly free" or "not free."
Sada Cumber, the man appointed by President Bush to serve as the first U.S. envoy to the OIC, acknowledged that he will have his work cut out for him.
"I will be advocating American interest on a range of hard issues from Iraq to Palestinian issue to nuclear issues," he told the OIC ambassadors and others gathered at the State Department ceremony.
"While I do not expect to always reach consensus on ever issue, but I do hope and pray and desire that we can foster a climate of mutual respect and trust," the Pakistani-born Texas businessman added.
Rice told the ceremony that the envoy's appointment was part of a broader administration effort to increase its engagement with Muslims worldwide.
1) Human Rights, Liberty Are Values Practiced by Most Muslims, Says Rice