Posts Tagged ‘intolerance’

UAE: whitewashing specialists get help from the UK

September 14, 2019

Aimed at students aged between 16 and 18, guidelines for entrants urge them to consider “What can the world learn from the UAE’s model for tolerance?” and “How does the Year of Tolerance reflect the already established values of diversity within the UAE?”

UAE launches ‘pledge of tolerance’ despite continued crackdown on dissent

But the guidelines also tell entrants that they must abide by media laws in the UAE, which forbid criticism of the Emirati government and ruling families, its monarchical system, political decisions or “defaming public officials”. Earlier this year, the UAE upheld a 10-year jail sentence for Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati blogger, for “insulting the UAE’s leaders online.” [see also:]

Hiba Zayadin, a Gulf Rights expert for Human Rights Watch, criticised the British government for its participation in this initiative and said it was “helping whitewash” the UAE government. “It is not just ironic to host such an initiative in one of the world’s most repressive countries, but downright irresponsible,” Zayadin told Middle East Eye. “The UAE is a country where the red lines are constantly shifting, and where journalists, academics and critics have been targeted, harassed, threatened, and jailed simply for expressing their opinions.” She added: “By launching such an initiative, the British embassy is not supporting the growth of journalism around the world so much as it is helping to whitewash a repressive regime’s near-obliteration of the space for free speech.”

Press freedom in the UAE has been a constant source of criticism for the Emirates. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked the UAE at 133rd in its 2019 Press Freedom Index and described the country as the “masters of the online surveillance of journalists”.

Moshe Kantor launches €1 million European award to combat extremism with Albert II as first laureate

April 13, 2018
Image: Moshe Kantor Launches €1 MN Prize to Combat Extremism
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor launched in early March 2018 a new award – the European Medal of Tolerance – aimed at fighting extremism and promoting peace in Europe. The European Jewish leader announced the prize at the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) round-table event at the Salon Bellevue in Monaco.The €1 million prize also referred to as the “Kantor Prize for Secure Tolerance” is awarded by ECTR’s panel of academic advisers to those who achieve exceptional research that advance the idea of “secure tolerance.” Candidates for the award need to present original and creative research on the ways the practice of tolerance can address the challenges of a globalized world and societies that exhibit rich diversity. The award is intended to foster progressive thinking that will be helpful for Europeans as they deal with security and human rights threats.

See also:

Monaco’s Prince Albert II was the first laureate of the 2018 European Medal of Tolerance. Moshe Kantor expressed his admiration over the commitment of HSH Prince Albert II in advancing a true account of the Holocaust. He praised the Monaco prince’s focus on historical accuracy as it supports “the best traditions of the Principality in tackling challenges of coexistence, respect, and compassion.

Moshe Kantor Launches €1 MN Prize to Combat Extremism |

Over 1000 muslims formed ring of peace around a synagogue in Oslo

February 23, 2015

From the blog “News You May Have Missed” I picked up this interesting news item showing how each person can be a human rights defender when they want to:

Photo from Muslim Public Affairs Council's Facebook pagePhoto from Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Facebook page

More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around a synagogue in Oslo, Norway on February 21  in response to the attack on a synagogue in Denmark last weekend.  Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” an estimated 1200-1400 Norwegian Muslims formed a “ring of peace” around the synagogue, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community.  See video coverage on the NRK website here.  One of the speakers in the video is 17-year-old Hajrah Asrhad, one of the event’s organizers.

News You May Have Missed (15-21 February 2015) – The Human Rights Warrior.

Charlie Hebdo attack: intolerance extreme

January 8, 2015

What a way to start the human rights year: yesterday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo. One of the victims is Bernard VerlhacTignous” who was a member of the Cartooning for Peace Foundation. A good moment to recall the posts on the power of (political) cartoons:, that their work may continue to inspire.

Smear campaign by Sri Lankan State radio station against HRD Nimalka Fernando

November 17, 2013
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), expresses its great concern about the smear campaign and threats suffered by Ms. Nimalka Fernando, attorney-at-law, women’s rights activist and President of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) in Sri Lanka. [Ms. Fernando was also a convener of the alternative summit to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which is taking place in Sri Lanka from November 10 to 17, 2013 amid strong criticism of the country’s human rights abuses.] Read the rest of this entry »

Malaysian NGO Suaram notes culture of impunity, intolerance, and missing reforms

October 1, 2013

On 26 September the NGO Suaram released its “Malaysia Human Rights Report 2012: Civil and Political Rights” in Kuala Lumpur. The report highlights several key trends in human rights in 2012, including:

1 the increasingly serious and repeated cases of abuses of power by the police and law enforcement agencies with impunity;

2 the heightened intolerance towards dissent; and

3 the government’s cosmetic approach to reform and compliance with human rights standards.

Suaram’s 2012 report is launched to honour human rights defenders in Malaysia and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and of Association, Maina Kiai in his foreword writes: “This annual report is a critical tool to support civil society actors in their effort to advocate and contribute to strengthened implementation of human rights. Its continued publication is vital to a vibrant democracy in Malaysia”.

via Putrajaya tarnished by culture of impunity, intolerance, and missing reforms — Suaram | What You Think | The Malay Mail Online.

Pakistan ‘gone mad’ says regional human rights organisation after murder of Perveen Rehman

March 14, 2013

Ms. Perveen Rehman (56), worked for the betterment of the poor and neglected

A statement of 14 March 2013 by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) starts dramatically with this “When a small lady weighing hardly 60 kilograms working for the betterment of poor slum-dwellers, and amongst the under-privileged in poorer residential areas, is viewed as a dire threat to the Taliban and the local administration, the sanity of these institutions, and those that man them, is called into question. However, with yesterday’s murder of Ms. Perveen Rehman, an even more fundamental question confronts us: the raison d’être of the Pakistani state itself.”

Ms. Perveen Rehman, an architect by profession, was targeted and murdered in broad daylight yesterday, March 13th. Fifty-six years of age, having worked for the poor and underprivileged for 25 of them, Ms. Rehman was murdered close to her office as she arrived in a car. Armed men riding two motorcycles approached and opened fire on her. She was struck twice in the face and once in the neck. She was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where she succumbed to her wounds. It is believed that she was assassinated by Deobandi militants of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ). These are said to be the same militants responsible for the deaths of the four anti-polio workers and the attack on Malala Yusufzai.

The statement then continues to describe Ms. Rehman as a tireless social activist, working for people living in slum areas. She had, however, been receiving death threats for some time. Read the rest of this entry »

Russian Federation persists in criminal investigation against human rights defender Maxim Efimov

February 5, 2013

On 25 January 2013, the Investigatory Committee of the Republic of Karelia, Russian Federation, resumed the investigation of the criminal case against human rights defender Maxim Efimov. He is charged with “actions aimed at the incitement of national, racial, or religious enmity, abasement of human dignity, and also propaganda of the exceptionality, superiority, or inferiority of individuals by reason of their attitude to religion, national, or racial affiliation, if these acts have been committed in public or with the use of mass media”, under Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

Maxim Efimov

Maxim Efimov is Director of the Karelian regional branch of the inter-regional Youth Human Rights Group (YHRG). He is also Chief Editor of the human rights newspaper Chas nol (Hour zero). The above mentioned charges were brought following the publication by Maxim Efimov of an article in early 2012 regarding the Russian Orthodox Church, in which he criticised state sponsorship of the Church.

On 25 January 2013, investigator A A Voronin decided to reopen the investigation against Maxim Efimov and to seek a sixth expert opinion [SIC] on whether the article published by Maxim Efimov contained any illegal statement. The additional expert opinion was ordered on the basis of the alleged insufficient clarify of five previous expert opinions, which all found that the article did not contain any illegal statement. On 1 February 2013, Maxim Efimov sent a letter to the Director of the Investigatory Committee of Russian Federation, A Bastrykin, protesting the reopening of the investigation.

Front Line Defenders reiterates its concern at the risk of criminal prosecution facing Maxim Efimov, and calls on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against him. Front Line Defenders believes that the charges and criminal case brought against Maxim Efimov are solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful human rights work in the Russian Federation, as is evident by the investigator’s failure to accept the unanimous decision by five previous expert opinions declaring that the article published by Maxim Efimov did not contain any illegal statement.

In May 2012 Human Rights First and other NGOs had already reported on sinister efforts – reminiscent of old Soviet practices –  to force activist Maxim Efimov to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in a mental hospital. Ironically, while churchgoers were routinely hospitalized for ‘insanity,” this time it was Efimov’s criticism of the Orthodox Church that triggered his prosecution. Regional human rights group AGORA, whose lawyers represent Efimov, promised to conduct an independent psychiatric evaluation for their client, reminding the government that “the European Court has a clear and unequivocal position in relation to the grounds on which people can be placed in psychiatric hospitals,” which are hardly applicable in this case”. AGORA is preparing to take this case to the Supreme Court of Karelia.

Meanwhile, state pressure on Efimov kept mounting. Two days after an arson attack on the Saint Catherine Cathedral in Petrozavodsk, Efimov was summoned for another round of questioning, and the investigator alleged that the attack was carried out by his supporters—another effort by the government to interfere with his work. Efimov had condemned the attack on the cathedral and sent condolences to congregants and denied any involvement, claiming that his being at the center of this arson investigation is baseless and is yet another example of interference in his daily work as a human rights defender in Karelia.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

for more information on this case, see Front Line Defenders’ urgent appeals on the case of Maxim Efimov dated  18 April 2012 <>  and updates dated 7 August 2012 <> , 3 July 2012 <>  and 15 May 2012 <> .

What is remarkable but perhaps not surprising is the absence of Christian NGOs in defense of Efimov’s freedom of expression – the more regrettable as it would have the most impact.


October 12, 2012

On Monday, September 24, 2012 (yes 2012!) a Greek man was arrested for making a Facebook page that lampooned the Eastern Orthodox monk Elder Paisios, a religious figure to whom some have arbitrarily attributed saintly properties.  The authorities charged the man with “malicious blasphemy,” because he had named his page “Elder Pastitsios” a reference to the popular Greek pasta dish, and the page parodied the monk and his work in the vein of Pastafarianism, a lighthearted, satirical movement that promotes irreligion.
My good friend the Greek comedian Silas has the nerve and creativity to give his views on where freedom of expression, opinion and satire stand in Greece today (subtitled in English). How a stand-up comedian can be a HRD (even if – better exactly because – you may not agree with him)

ΣΤΟ ΜΥΑΛΟ ΤΟΥ ΣΙΛΑ – 181 – Tα όρια της θρησκείας – YouTube.

Intolerance a threat to Sindh

September 4, 2012

Yesterday the newspaper Pakistani DAWN contained a short piece by GULSHER PANHWER on the increase in religious intolerance and risks to ‘dissidents’ in Sindh. He says that there is an urgent need to train and educate the youth on tolerance and bring the old trained cadre of human rights activists and the new generation of human rights defenders on one platform. This would be a great barrier against the threat of violence which is a direct result of intolerance.

via Intolerance a threat to Sindh | DAWN.COM.