Posts Tagged ‘islamic fundamentalists’

Pakistan: a bad country for religious tolerance

March 17, 2019

Nothing new but it being a Sunday here in Crete, where lots of people go to church, one is struck by the continuing religious intolerance in certain parts of the world. Here two short items  relating to Pakistan, both from March 2019:
reports that on 6 March 2019 human rights defender Afzal Kohistani was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Gami Ada, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Afzal Kohistani was a human rights defender who had been campaigning against “honour killings”, or choar, in the Kohistan region of Pakistan. He had been the central figure seeking justice for the killing of five young women and three young men in 2012 and 2013.

The 2012 and 2013 “honour killings” were linked to a video, which went viral after it appeared online in 2012. It showed five young women singing and clapping, while two young men performed a traditional dance during a local wedding in Palas, a remote area in Kohistan. The mixing of genders is considered a serious violation of tribal norms in Kohistan and the young people were killed as a result of the “dishonour” they had brought on their families and community…..Prior to his death, Afzal Kohistani had received numerous death threats for seeking to bring the perpetrators of the Kohistan killings to justice. The human rights defender and his family were forced to leave their home in 2012 and had been in hiding for the past seven years. A few days prior to being killed, the human rights defender had written to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in Hazara seeking police protection but his request never received a response. The Supreme Court’s orders for the provincial government to provide the human rights defender with protection were also not heeded. (for more detail see the link below).[ One of my first posts in 2013 concerned https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/09/28/pakistan-and-rights-of-women-unbearable/]

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A story in the Business Standard of 17 March refers to the a protest rally in Geneva by living in parts of Europe  objecting to “Islamists misusing blasphemy law to harass Christians in Pakistan”. The protesters walked from Palais Wilson, to ‘Broken Chair’ in front of the UN, during the 40th session of the

They demanded that the government must abolish the ‘dangerous’ law misused by the state and non-state actors to target the minorities. Frank John, of Drumchapel Asian Forum in Glasgow, said: “We are unhappy with the functioning of the government in because the mindset of ‘maulvis’ (Islamic hardliners) towards Christians is immoral. Every day, atrocities are being committed against our children, especially girls, which is not acceptable. Our girls are being kidnapped by misusing PPC 295C and they are converted into ” He added: “.. If we have an altercation with any person, they put us under PPC 295C. This is a and needs to be abolished.”

Dr Mario Silva, Executive of for Rights and Security said: “Pakistan systematically discriminates against minorities. Christians are particularly targetted by the law. Christian persecution is a real threat to democracy and it’s a real threat to human rights. It’s something the community needs to take a look at. He added, “The state has a responsibility to protect its minorities rather destroying them. They have to go against the perpetrators of crimes against Christians. There are attacks on Christians, suicide bombings are taking place and the government is doing nothing to investigate the persecution of Christians in the country.” Criticising the law, he said: “Blasphemy law should in fact never be a part of any democratic system of government because blasphemy law is meant to target minorities…..” [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/12/24/pussy-riot-freed-in-russia-but-the-bigger-issue-is-blasphemy-laws-everywhere/]

Christians make up less than two per cent of the population in Pakistan. Their numbers are decreasing as many of them are migrating to other countries for their safety.

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/human-rights-defender-afzal-kohistani-shot-dead-seeking-justice-“honour-killings”
https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/islamists-misusing-blasphemy-law-to-harass-christians-in-pakistan-activists-119031700034_1.html

Women Human Rights Defenders in Iraq have to live dangerously

January 7, 2019

Activist Hana Adwar speaks as she follows online news of the the assassination of Tara Fares in Baghdad. (AP)
Activist Hana Adwar (AP)

Human rights activism is a risky business in the Middle East in general but it is more so in Iraq where female activists have been targeted, wrote Oumayma Omar on 6 January 2019, based in Baghdad for the Arab Weekly. A series of killings in 2018 sparked fears of a coordinated campaign to silence successful and outspoken women in Iraq. In August and September 2018, four prominent women were assassinated, including activist Soad al-Ali in Basra and Tara Fares in Baghdad. They had campaigned for women’s freedoms and rights in a conservative, tribal society.

The new political situation in Iraq has been detrimental on all Iraqis, especially women,” said Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) from self-exile in Canada.. “After the US-led invasion (2003), a new political system was created leading to a most sectarian, tribal and religious society where women’s lives don’t have much weight.” [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/01/iraqi-human-rights-defender-yanar-mohammed-laureate-of-2016-rafto-prize/]

Discriminatory practices against women have become a fait accompli and the norm in Iraqi families in rural areas as well as big cities, including Baghdad, after the rise to power of Islamist parties. “They introduced extremist religious ideas based on hatred for women and viewing them as sexual and reproductive tools,” added the human rights defender…Despite intimidations and accusations of promoting secularism and encouraging women to go against their families, OWFI, which provides shelters for women who survive domestic violence, has been expanding since it was established in 2003.

Activist Hana Addour, president of Al-Amal organisation, said entrenched tribal values are still largely applied although Iraq has endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stipulates freedoms of expression, movement, opinion and the right to choose a partner without force or intimidation……She refuted as “baseless” accusations that activists were provoking women against social traditions. “We did not import our ideas and we do not contest customs or religious texts,” Addour said. “We only seek to implement the constitution by rejecting forced and early marriages and many other matters that we cannot accept under any pretext.”

Mubashir Naqvi writes a requiem for Pakistani human rights defender Khurram Zaki

May 18, 2016

Mubashir Naqvi wrote on 17 May 2016 a personal account of his last meeting with the recently-murdered Pakistani human rights defender Khurram Zaki [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/pakistan-killing-zaki-non-progress-perveen-rehman-impunity/]:

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Charlie Hebdo columnist Zineb El Rhazoui at the Oslo Freedom Forum

May 30, 2015

Another speaker at the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) 2015 was Charlie Hebdo columnist, Zineb El Rhazoui, who paid tribute to her colleagues slain in the January 2015 attacks [she was at the time of the attack abroad] and describes her own experience facing thousands of death threats. In her passionate defense of free speech, El Rhazoui argues that criticism of religion should be encouraged, not avoided. The personal touch in her presentation is moving.

Another killing of a human rights defender in Libya: Intissar Al Hasairi

February 26, 2015

In the morning of 24 February 2015, the bodies of human rights defender Ms Intissar Al Hasairi and her elderly aunt were discovered in the boot of the human rights defender’s car in Tripoli, Libya, by security forces. The human rights defender and her aunt had allegedly been shot by members of an armed group.  The human rights defender had been missing since the previous evening.  Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Defenders from York: Hikma Rabih, Sudan

January 26, 2015

On 16 February 2015, the York Press carried a feature story by Stephen Lewis about 5 human rights defenders in the temporary shelter programme at York University. The aim of the placements is to give those fighting for human rights around the world a breather, as well as the chance to forge contacts with other human rights workers and organisations around the world.

In York, Hikma can wear jeans – something she’d never be able to do in her own country. “Sudan is a very patriarchal society,” the 33-year-old human rights lawyer says. “Women cannot wear trousers, and I cannot go out in public without a scarf on my head. I want to wear my trousers.

Born in North Darfur, she graduated with a law degree from Elnileen University in Khartoum in 2002, then started work as a protection officer at a refugee camp in South Darfur for civil war victims. In 2009, her organisation was closed down by the government.

York Press:
Hikma Rabih

Undeterred, in 2011 she set up a legal aid centre in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. Her organisation provides legal aid and representation for women who would otherwise have no chance of getting justice. Because of strict adultery laws, women who have sex outside marriage face 100 lashes, she says: married women who commit adultery can be stoned. If a woman is raped, but fails to prove it in court, she can be given 100 lashes as an adulteress. “The men always go free,” Hikma says.

5 human rights defenders in York tell their incredible stories (From York Press).

Terrorist attacks in Europe by islamic groups are a surprisingly low number

January 19, 2015

Oliver Wheaton in Metro.co.uk of 15 January 2015 writes that “the number of terrorists who are actually Muslim or religiously motivated will surprise you”.  This surprised me and perhaps also many of my readers who – like me – followed the impact of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week.

According to statistics from Europol, less than two per cent of all recorded acts of terror in Europe were perpetrated with religious motivations, with an even smaller number being committed by Muslim extremists. Estimates suggest only around two per cent of all terrorist attacks were committed by Islamic groups or individuals. For example, out of the 152 terrorist acts in the EU in 2013, only two were religiously motivated. In 2011, none of the 174 attacks were ‘inspired’ by religious organisations.The majority of terrorist activity concerns ethno-nationalist organisations, who often commit acts of terrorism that have low, if any, casualty rates, meaning they do not get extensive news coverage. However Europol added: “Islamist terrorists still aim to cause mass casualties.”

The number of terrorists who are actually Muslims motivated will surprise you
Data from the last five years (2010-2014) of terrorist attacks in Europe (Picture: Europol / Metro)

Islamist terrorist groups are also far less of a danger than their nationalist counterparts in the USA, with researchers at Princeton University finding that Islamist extremists were responsible for only 6 per cent of attacks between 1980 and 2005

via: The number of terrorists who are actually Muslim or religiously motivated will surprise you | Metro News.

Help free my mother, Souad Al-Shammary, human rights defender in detention in Saudi Arabia

November 10, 2014

Help free my mother, Souad Al-Shammary, prominent human rights activist and women's rights advocate
Change.org is carrying a petition submitted by Worldwide Women’s Support Circle. It concerns the human rights defender Souad Al-Shammary in Saudi Arabia. The story is very effectively put in the mouth of her daughter who asks for her release:  “My mother’s name is Souad Al-Shammary. She is a liberal activist in Saudi Arabia who has called for the government to distance itself from radical Islamic clerics and to provide women with equal rights. On October 28th she was arrested and jailed for speaking out against the government — and I need your help to get her back.

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Kurdish Yazidi Woman Wins Anna Politkovskaya Award

October 11, 2014

More on awards: The winner of the 2014 Raw in War Anna Politkovskaya award is Kurdish Yazidi member of Iraq parliament Vian Dakhil .On Monday 6 October, RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) selected Vian Dakhil who has courageously spoken out and campaigned to protect the Yazidi people from the terror of Islamic State. She is the only ethnic Yazidi in the Iraqi Parliament and, despite being injured in a helicopter crash while delivering aid to survivors on Mt Sinjar, she continues to advocate and to mobilize support for her people, for the refugees and for those trapped in towns and villages under the regime of Islamic State. “I make no secret of the fact that I’m proud to be honored with your esteemed award, but the real way to honor someone is by protecting their freedom and rights. It is by bringing our prisoners back,’ said Dakhil in her speech while receiving the award.

Previous women human rights defenders who received this award: Malala Yousafzai 2013, Marie Colvin 2012, Razan Zaitouneh 2011, Dr. Halima Bashir 2010, Leila Alikarami on behalf of the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality in Iran 2009, Malalai Joya 2008 and Natalia Estemirova 2007. See also: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards

via Kurdish Yazidi Woman Wins International Award | BAS NEWS.

Cairo Institute launches a new research project on political islam and human rights

September 28, 2014

On September 25, in an event held at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies [CIHRS ] launched a new three-year academic research project on political Islam and human rights.   Read the rest of this entry »