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Books and Documents

Islam and Human Rights

With the murder or expulsion of most of Libya’s African migrant population well on its way came the massacre and ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Black Libyans. And all the while Barack Obama and his band of criminal cohorts in the western capitals and television news channels strung together words like “pro-democracy”, “freedom fighters” and “liberation” to describe the orgy of looting and lynching being carried out. When Black Libyans took up arms to defend their families and homes from the Libyan lynch mobs they found themselves the beneficiaries of “pro-democracy” high explosives, delivered from on high by a freedom loving NATO air force. Bombed from on high, lynched on the ground, the only choice is flee for your lives and that is what hundreds of thousands of Black Libyan have been forced to do. And all under the approving eye of the first Black President in the White House. -- Thomas C. Mountain 

The hate speech and rhetoric against religious minorities, especially Christians, has done irreparable damage to our society. Minorities have been alienated; they consider themselves vulnerable and not viewed as equal citizens. The so-called religious clerics have been responsible for such rhetoric and, not surprisingly, always manage to herd the poor and ignorant populace in the name of religion, while silencing any opposition by threatening retribution and dire consequences. Our administration and centres of power are also held hostage by the situations created by these elements and are unable to take any measures. The immediate priority is to defuse the tension but, in the long run, these tensions always boil over at some point. Riots and incidents of terrorism targeting minorities throughout the history of Pakistan are evident examples of how the situation has been allowed to simmer, eventually reaching boiling point. What happened to the unfortunate eighth grade student had nothing to do with blasphemy. It was sheer discrimination against a non-Muslim. -- Gulmina Bilal Ahmad

The country is being sold to Western imperialist powers under the garb of globalisation, leading to immense pauperisation, which is hitting marginalized communities, such as Dalits, Muslims, OBCs and Muslims, the most. It is bound to lead to escalation of caste and communal conflicts as the ruling classes seek to deflect peoples’ attention from their economic and political concerns. Hindutva forces, agents of imperialism, are bound to become more assertive and aggressive. They are working in tandem with imperialist forces, including the USA, whose perceptions about Muslims they share…-- Mukul Sinha in an interview with Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

There is a famous incident involving the governor of the province of Syria Hadhrat Umer (R.A.). The second caliph Hadhrat Umar(R.A.) had appointed Hadhrat Umer the governor of the province of Syria as he was a very pious and God fearing man. After his appointment, Hadhrat Umar did not get any information about him for as long as three years. He apprehended that Hadhrat Umer had become corrupt and plundered public money. So Hadhrat Umar (R.A.) asked him to come back. He came back on foot not using any conveyance in the capacity of a governor. Hadhrat Umar enquired about him and found that he had been doing his duties as a governor perfectly well under the sharia. Upon asked about his experience in Syria, he said, “ I performed my duties according to the injunctions of the Holy Quran and the Prophet (PBUH). But I have only one regret. Due to my arrogance as a governor, I once cursed a Jew.” -- Maulana Aslam Qadri, NewAgeIslam.com

The World Uyghur Congress with the co-operation of the Australian Uyghur Association, the East Turkestan Australian Association and the Victoria Uyghur Association will hold a democracy-training workshop entitled “The Uyghur Issue in the Context of China’s Democratisation Process” in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia from March 21 to 28, 2011.  The workshop is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy Foundation (NED). Prominent Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer, thrice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, will be attending the workshop. – World Uyghur Congress

World Uyghur Congress and the East Turkestan Union in Europe Commemorate the Gulja Massacre and Organise Demonstration in Munich with Rebiya Kadeer

On 5 February 1997, a peaceful demonstration by fifteen to twenty thousand Uyghurs in the city of Gulja (in Chinese:  Yining), Ili prefecture in East Turkestan was brutally and lethally suppressed by Chinese security forces. At least 100 Uyghurs were killed and hundreds were injured. Approximately 4,000 Uyghurs were arrested during and in the aftermath of the demonstration. Many remain disappeared today and are probably either dead or in prison. According to Amnesty International, more than 200 Uyghurs were sentenced to death in unfair trials for their alleged involvement in the unrest and then executed. About 90 Uyghurs were sentenced to long prison terms. -- World Uyghur Congress

 

In the streets around Abdel Munim Riyad square the atmosphere had changed. The air which had held a carnival-like vibe was now thick with teargas. Thousands of people were running out of nearby Tahrir Square and towards me. Several hundred regrouped; a few dozen protesters set about attacking an abandoned police truck, eventually tipping it over and setting it ablaze. Through the smoke, lines of riot police could be seen charging towards us from the south....

We were hustled towards a security office on the edge of the square. As I approached the doorway of the building other plainclothes security officers milling around took flying kicks and punches at me, pushing me to the floor on several occasions only to drag me back up and hit me again. I spotted a high-ranking uniformed officer, and shouted at him that I was a British journalist. He responded by walking over and punching me twice. “**** you and **** Britain,” he yelled in Arabic. -- Jack Shenker

A “CONFEDERATION of tribes” with internal jealousies and conflict was not as conducive to the rise of unified Baloch nationalism like the homogeneity of the Bengalis was for their nationalism. Therefore Islamabad was better able to divide and rule the Baloch. This was reflected in the split between the nationalist tribal sardars of the Marri and Bugti tribes in the resistance movement of the 1960s and 1970s when the former picked up the gun against Islamabad and the latter sulked on the sidelines or actually embraced it. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Marris, Mengals and Bugtis tried to obtain a measure of political and economic autonomy from Islamabad but failed because the PPP and PMLN were busy making and breaking governments and ignoring economic development and national integration. The military government in the 2000s negated the benevolent effect of economic development by depriving the sardars and middle classes of Balochistan of its largesse ( Gwador was tied securely to anchors in Islamabad and the Bugti tribe was threatened with military reprisals for agitating about royalties from Sui and contracts from Pakistan Petroleum). Worse, in the 2002 elections, the military regime propped up the mullahs and religious ideologues of Balochistan ( and NWFP) at the expense of the tribal sardars, mainstream politicians and middle classes, effectively depriving them of power sharing. This culminated in alienating the Marri sardars and forcing them into exile and antagonising the Bugti sardars and compelling them to resist by force. The premeditated elimination of Nawaz Akbar Bugti via a military operation became the catalyst for an unprecedented unified stand by the Marris, Mengals and Bugtis against Islamabad. -- Najam Sethi

 

The Baloch people are among the worst victims of state discrimination. They are denied basic services, revenue which they generate, development opportunities and most awful of all, they are not regarded as full citizens.When Baloch people glance at their not-too-distant past, it becomes evident that in the years 1948, 1958, 1962, 1973-77 and 2002 to date, deep wounds were inflicted upon the body of Balochistan as a consequence of repeated military operations. In order to retain political and security control, Pakistan`s establishment crafted new colonial policies to suppress the Baloch people`s desire for development and progress.Small but historically evolved Baloch institutions including administrative systems were abolished, trained and experienced officials were dismissed and the medium of instruction was changed. There were also systematic restrictions and a policy of institutional discrimination was imposed to rule Balochistan-- Sanaullah Baloch

Bandukwala should know. On February 28, 2002, when a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra and subsequently sent Gujarat up in flames, the secular scholar-activist, who had even advocated a dialogue with the sangh parivar over the Babri Masjid issue, was at home. Bandukwala had never seen himself as a member of the Muslim community. That day this belief received a massive jolt. A mob, carrying LPG cylinders, moved towards his house. In the nick of time, he escaped from the back door and knocked at a Hindu neighbour’s door. While he shivered in the bathroom, the mob looted the house, setting it afire later. The fire was doused, but the house became unlivable.

“I don’t mourn the destruction of my house as much as I mourn the increasing intolerance in our society. Among the boys who came to kill me were those who would touch my feet out of respect,” recalls Bandukwala. He says that the rioters were instructed to target two famous Muslims of Gujarat—ex-Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and himself, both educated and champions of secularism. -- Mohammed Wajihuddin

On Oct. 22-23, a group of Arab intellectuals, politicians, and civil society advocates convened a Conference on the Future of Democracy and Human Rights in the Arab World in Casablanca. Citing the “dramatic and alarming backsliding of political reforms in the Arab world,” they issued a remarkable, frank and courageousappeal to the Arab nations. The “Casablanca Call for Democracy and Human Rights” represents a powerful consensus among disparate political groups that democracy must be the foundation for social and political justice in the region. As such, it represents a signal event for Arab democrats and for friends of democracy around the world. -- Shanker Blog, A Voice of the Albert Shanker Institute

 

It is the responsibility of the courts how they interpret the blasphemy laws. And it is the responsibility of the government, as well as parliament, to take notice of laws that allow impunity for such murderous bigotry and initiate a process that dismantles the architecture of these man-made laws. But it is also the responsibility of citizens, especially those who profit the most from Pakistan , to stand up again such attacks on its existential premise. In any civilised country, where the identity of the state was so contested that no one could face the wrath of the self-appointed gatekeepers of Islam, the educated elite would be forced to make common cause with the activist left to put its weight behind reform of laws they all condemn as unjust behind closed doors. -- Sherry Rahman

According to Mr Higgoda, Sri Lanka’s honorary consul to Bahrain, “We are handling many cases where the maids are assaulted by employers. Some were not paid for months and some were denied medial care, enough food or the right to go home, and also faced violence and harassment… If the maids want to leave their work and complain to the police, they are called runaways by their employers. As a result, the victim is usually deported, after serving time in custody.”

An extreme case of this nature is that of Ms Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa, a 23-year old Indonesian worker in Saudi Arabia, who was recently hospitalised after her face and mouth were savagely cut with scissors, and her body burned with a hot iron. Just seeing her slashed face is enough to give you nightmares. To the best of my knowledge, her Saudi employers – the people responsible for the attack — are still free, despite the government’s assurances to the Indonesian authorities of its intentions to investigate the assault. -- Irfan Husain

In all civilizations, there are forces that represent tribalism and forces that represent humanism. Orthodox Hinduism with its fixed caste hierarchy represents the tribal exclusiveness of the Indo-European tribes that conquered the Indian subcontinent and subjugated the indigenous peoples of this region. The caste system embodies that tribalism. On the other hand, the Bhakti movement and other anti-caste cults that evolved in our region represent universalism and humanism. Similarly, within the Islamic civilization, the Mu’tazila and the rebel Sufis represent humanism and universalism. Mainstream Sunnism and Shiaism are expressions of tribalism and exclusivity. -- Ishtiaq Ahmed

Contemporary examples of utilising the approach of religious natural law are Abdulaziz Sachedina and Dr Anver M Emon. Sachedina, in his recent work, Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights, argues for a theory of Islamic natural law. He uses Mu’tazilite philosophical and interpretive strategies and concepts to provide a framework of inclusive and liberal moral theology. Sachedina argues for a conversation and dialogue between religious liberals and secular moral theorists, since the goals are the same but the routes are different. This innovative set-up of moral pluralism where different cultures and traditions can reach the same conclusions but with different concepts of human nature, epistemology and ethics is attractive. Sachedina argues that we must utilise ‘religious reason’ to construct arguments from the Islamic tradition to provide a buttress for human rights. -- Ahmad Ali Khalid

In the Qur`an there is no mandatory death penalty even for these two crimes (5:33, 45, 2:178). In any case they are far more restrictive than in the Jewish tradition, which not only allows but requires death penalty for many more cases. In this way, the Qur`an makes another improvement over the earlier traditions.

Here is a long list of deeds punishable by death in the Bible, as against the two in the Qur`an:

Cursing or disobeying parents (Ex 21:17, Deut 21:18-21)

Murder (Ex 21:12, 21:15) And he that smites his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.

Adultery (Lev 19:20, 20:10)

Kidnapping and enslaving a man (Ex 21:16)

Bestiality (Lev 20:15-16)

Abominations (Lev 20:2)

Blasphemy (Lev 24:16)

Incest (Lev 20:11-14)

Witchcraft (Ex. 22:18, Lev 20:27, Num 3:10)

False Prophecy (Deu 13:5)

Rebellion (Josh 1:18, 2 Chr 15:13)

Lying with a woman having her menstruation (Lev 20:18)

Working on the sabbath day (Ex 16:25, 29, 31:14-15,35:2-3, Num 15:32-36)

Losing virginity before majority (Deut 22:21-24)

Worshiping or enticing others to worship gods of non-Jews (Deut 13:6-10, 17:2 -5)

Other pre-Islamic traditions are also full of mandatory death penalties. By totally doing away with mandatory death penalty for all crimes the Qur`an further raises the value of human life in comparison to other religions. -- Dr. Ahmad Shafaat

All nationalist forces must come together to fight occupation

While the people in both Indian and Pakistani Punjab enjoy cross-border cultural and commercial links, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakh are denied similar interchanges in the name of Kashmir issue. To date, the Line of Control remains closed disrupting trade along Kargil-Skardo and Astore-Srinagar roads. This has hurt livelihoods of the natives; obstructed the development of local cultures and languages, and refused the right of contact to thousands of divided family members.

Having said that, one fails to find any use of repeating these historical facts, if the natives would have to continue experiencing deprivation at the hands of Pakistani oppressors while the international community fails to persuade Pakistan to withdraw from the region and pay attention to the genuine needs and demands of the natives of Gilgit-Baltistan. 

Till date, these facts have failed to result in the right of self determination for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan which Pakistan proposes for the natives of Kashmir valley. Gilgit-Baltistan’s connection with Kashmir issue has failed to translate into reinstatement of State Subject Rule and resumption of cross-LOC trade and commerce for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. This connection with Kashmir issue has failed to result in the withdrawal of more than fifty thousand Pakistani forces and around one hundred thousand illegal settlers from Gilgit-Baltistan, which could have helped grant the natives control over their land and resources.

However, these ideas can become a reality only after all nationalist forces of Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan put a unified struggle against Pakistani occupiers. All Parties National Alliance (APNA) and Gilgit-Baltistan Democratic Alliance (GBDA) are two suitable platforms to pursue such rights and for all these dreams to come true, Gilgit Baltistan National Congress has joined hands with nationalist forces to continue the struggle with all its sincerity, conviction and integrity.-- Senge Hasnan Sering, Director, Gilgit Baltistan National Congress (GBNC), speaking at an informal seminar held at the United Nations Human Rights Council on September 22, 2010.

 

In a memorandum to the President of Pakistan, members of the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP), say: “We the members of United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP), through this memorandum intend to draw your kind attention towards a matter of immediate attention of your esteemed office. The United Kashmir People’s National Party, is a secular, progressive and pro-people political party of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Party has always stood for human rights, democracy and development in the entire region. Party also believes that only democratic governance could overcome on current issues like socio-economic, socio-political and growing phenomenon of extremism and fundamentalism in south Asian region. Party not only believes in the expansion of peace constituency but also struggling peacefully for these high human ideals.

Excellency; …The Chairman of United Kashmir People’s National, is well-known political leader and human rights defender. He has been peacefully striving and mobilizing local people for revival of their rights. Due to peaceful political struggle he became the target of Pakistani security agencies and eventually he was forced to leave the country in 1999…. --  Usman Kayani,  President, Jamil Latif,  General Secretary, United Kashmir People’s National Party.

During the last 62 years the situation of minorities in Pakistan like the general conditions in various fields has remained a matter of serious concern. Professor Marvin G. Vonbom, of University of Illinois, USA describes this situation in her article, Civil society and democracy in Pakistan that “Pakistan is a state owned by the Muslims but from their behavior it seems as if they are a minority surrounded by hostile threats. In this way they have developed a defensive mechanism that has no rationale. These people think that strengthening of minorities would be a threat to Pakistan and Islam. The reality is completely opposite. Though the Muslim rulers in the past had provided protection to the minorities yet it is a historical fact that the minorities were not given equal political status and equal political rights.” -- Junaid Qaiser

No one wants to hear about the degradation of innocent Christian girls, but to remain silent about it would be a greater crime. My hope is that, in sharing news of these crimes, you will not only be better informed of the harsh reality facing so many Christians in Pakistan every day, but also in a better position to help them win justice.

Christians and especially young Christian girls are paying a high price for being Christians in an Islamic society and the proliferation of attacks and accusations in recent months is reaching an unprecedented level. Christian girls are looked down upon with hatred, regarded as inferiors, and treated by men like ‘mal-e-ganimat’ (the term used to describe booty seized during the Islamic war). -- Nasir Saeed

Human Rights in Pakistan: Cultural and Ethnic Dimensions
Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Pakistani state’s continued involvement in promoting acts of terror abroad, even if it is more an act of omission rather than commission, as it claims, has to be inevitably viewed with concern by all those who believe in the indivisibility of human rights. One cannot protect human rights in one country and allow their violation in another country. But this is a cause for even greater alarm for Muslims who see the goings on in Pakistan, as tarnishing the fair name of Islam, thus immensely fuelling Islamophobia around the world. It is no accident that Islamophobic political parties have begun to gain ground in several European countries in the aftermath of continuing massive human rights violations in some Muslim countries and by Muslim extremists even after 9/11. 

Humanity in general, but Muslims in particular, have got to become very careful about how Islam is being projected by Muslims in the eyes of the world. Thus not only world organisation like the UN, but also Muslim Organisations like OIC must intervene and seek to impress upon offending Muslim countries like Pakistan to stop following domestic and foreign policies that sully the name of Islam. Suicide bombers trained in Pakistan are not only creating havoc in their own country, but also crossing land and seas to terrorise the world.

 It is strange that while the International community seizes upon the slightest violation of human rights in some countries to condemn them from all corners, it is quite reluctant to put pressure on Pakistan to change course. This is presumably because it is perceived as an ally in the ongoing war on terror. But it has to be understood that by its acts of omission and commission Pakistan is actually fuelling this war. It is not in Pakistani interest or at least in the interest of all-powerful Pakistan Army for this war to end. So those of us who are working towards creating a more peaceful world should take the issue much more seriously than we have done up to now. -- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam, addressing a parallel seminar on Human Right Concerns in South Asia organised by Inter-Faith International during UN Human Rights Council’s June 2010 session at Geneva.

The Islamic concept of justice is based on the divinely-ordained right of human dignity: “we hace honoured the children of Adam” (17.70). if honour, and dignity, is a common heritage of mankind, then it is only logical that they all must be trated as equals. It is important to remember that one of the attributes of God mentioned in the Quran is adl, that is justice, which denotes placing things in their rightful place. The Quran says, “God does command you to render back your Truths to those to whom they are due; and when you judge between man and man, that you judge with justice”(4.58) -- Arif M. Khan

On 13 June, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, published an article entitled Sakineh on the threshold of stoning and pointed out that there is now no legal obstacle to her execution being carried out at any time. In May 2006 she was convicted of having had an “illicit relationship” with two men and received 99 lashes as her sentence. Despite this, she was subsequently convicted of “adultery while being married", which she has denied, and was sentenced to death by stoning. -- Amnesty  International

 

In a strong statement to the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, June 9, 2010, IHEU main Representative, Roy Brown accused Pakistan of encouraging discrimination and hatred against religious minorities. Citing condemnation of Pakistan by the Muslim Canadian Congress and a recent resolution of the European Parliament calling on Pakistan to remove expressions of hatred from its government approved school textbooks, he reminded the Council and the government of Pakistan that it was government and media support for expressions of hatred that led to the Nazi Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda. 
 
Speaking to reporters after his statement, Brown accused the Pakistanis of playing with fire by permitting hate speech against minorities to run unchecked.
 
Here is the text of Roy Brown’s statement in full....

Many of the Islamist extremists who came here in recent years did so because they were wanted people in their own countries; they really are political refugees, but they regard us as the enemy, too. Yet the 1951 Geneva Refugees Convention, under which people like Chahal and Qatada were allowed into the UK in the first place, specifically states that asylum "cannot be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is". On this basis, they could be sent back if it were not for the ruling of the European court in the Chahal case.

Aside from not letting them in to start with, what can be done? Could we withdraw from the European convention? In theory, yes – but it might mean having to leave the European Union because observing the rights in the ECHR is now a condition of membership. One suggestion is to withdraw from the convention and rejoin the following day having entered a reservation to Article 3. This is possible under Article 57, which allows for a reservation to be entered when a country joins. It is not clear, however, whether this would be valid if a country left and rejoined or even if it would be allowed, since torture is prohibited by a fundamental rule of international law. -- Philip Johnston

 
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