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Human Rights and Islam


Many of which have been arrested and forced to leave because they carried forged ... Do publishers of the cartoons in Jordan and Yemen deserve to be arrested? ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Human Rights and Islam

Human Rights and Islam
  • Liz Martin
  • Maayan Vodovis
  • Zehra Sadaf
  • Matthew Davis
  • John Collins

History of Human Rights
  • Nuremburg War Crimes Trials 1945-1946 Prosecuted
    for crimes against humanity
  • United Nations The preamble of the charter of
    the UN reaffirms faith in fundamental human
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights December
    10, 1948
  • International Bill of Human Rights Completed in
    1966 and is composed of Universal Declaration,
    Covenant of civil and political rights and
    Covenant of economic, social and cultural rights.

International Bill of Human Rights
  • Problem with IBHR- it is a resolution and not a
    treaty. Many nations signed, but no nation is
    required to adhere to or enforce these rights
  • Equality of rights without discrimination
  • Life, liberty, security of persons
  • Protection against cruel and unusual punishment
  • Recognition as a person before law AND equal
    protection of law
  • Freedom of thought, conscience, religion,
    opinion, expression, press, assembly and
  • Health care and social services
  • Education
  • Self determination

Definition of Human Rights
  • Legal vs. Moral rights
  • Legal claims, privileges, powers, immunities-
    any right protected by law
  • Moral any right claimed or justified by
    reference to some set of moral rules
  • Two English definitions of the word right
  • Right vs. Wrong
  • Right as an entitlement.
  • Western Definition Rights one has simply because
    one is human. They are held by all humans- they
    are universal rights

Cultural Relativism
  • Normative Hegemony One standard makes
    distinction between human rights and human
  • Weak Cultural Relativism One standard, but
    concessions allowed for various interpretations
  • Strong Cultural Relativism Cannot have one
    standard of rights because cultures and values
    are too varied.

Muslim Nations who signed IBHR
  • Libya- 1945
  • Malaysia- 1957
  • Morocco- 1956
  • Pakistan- 1947
  • Syria- 1945
  • Afghanistan- 1946
  • Iran 1945
  • Iraq- 1945
  • Lebanon- 1945
  • Sudan - 1956
  • Should Muslim nations be held to Western
    definitions of Human Rights, or should
    interpretations of cultures and values have more
    significance when determining human rights?
  • If these nations signed the IBHR, should they
    then be held accountable to same standards of
    rights as other nations?

Human Rights and Islam
  • In the Middle East

Human Development Index of 2001
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Authors can be charged for writing books that are
    deemed offensive to Islam.
  • Offensive language has arisen in cases between
    Muslims and Christians (articles 160 and 161 in
    the Penal Code for insulting Islam).
  • Laws and Politics
  • People have been suspected and imprisoned for
    alleged memberships in banned groups such as the
    al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group) and
    al-Gihad (Holy Struggle).
  • Since 1967 emergency laws in Egypt have given
    authorities extended powers to arrest and detain
    suspects without trial for prolonged periods.
  • Civilian defendants can be sent to court(s) where
    procedures have been less than fair according to
    international standards.
  • Prison and Court Sentencing
  • Security forces mistreated and tortured
    prisoners. Some detainees died in custody due to
    poor conditions, lack of medical care, and in few
    cases due to torture.
  • Some police officers have been charged for the
    beating and deaths of prisoners. Certain
    practices of punishment have been banned from
  • Egyptian courts have sentenced many people to
    death. Most death sentences were imposed for
    ordinary criminal offences.
  • Recent Report
  • Pleas for Egyptian President Mubarak to stop the
    deportation of 645 people scheduled to return to
    a high death risk in Sudan.
  • International law forbids the return of refugees
    to places of persecution and requires states to
    ensure children not be separated from their
  • Demonstrators (refugees) protested for various
    grounds of poor living conditions in Egypt and
    lack of lasting solutions to their plight.

Saudi Arabia
It is absurd to impose on an individual or a
society rights that are alien to its beliefs or
principles Crown Prince Abdullah bin
Abdul Aziz
  • Freedom of Expression
  • There is no independent press. Newspapers and
    media are entirely funded by the royal family.
  • There is a list of topics banned from
    publication. Violations are punished by prison
    time and fines.
  • There are several independent licensed Internet
    service providers, but the government seeks to
    monitor and restrict Web access in the country.
  • Punishment
  • Capital Punishment has been applied for crimes of
    murder, rape, armed robbery, drug smuggling,
    sodomy and sorcery.
  • Decapitation usually takes place in public
    squares while blindfolded, shackled, and
  • Courts still impose corporal punishment, such as
    amputation for robbery, and floggings for lesser
    crimes such as sexual deviance and drunkenness.
  • Religious Freedom
  • Government actively restricts religious freedom
    and practices (except Wahhabi interpretation)
  • Officially, non-Muslims are free to worship
    privately, in reality this is not always adhered
  • Religious minorities are harassed or arrested for
    peaceful practice of their faith.
  • Women in Saudi Society
  • Discrimination is still prevalent in regards to
    family, education, employment and the justice
  • A modesty code of dress is imposed based on
    religious law.
  • Still not allowed to drive/maintain a license.

  • Freedom of Expression
  • Freedom of expression, association, and assembly
    are limited in law and practice.
  • Some minorities (such as Kurds) continue to be
    denied basic rights.
  • Local media and Internet access remain state
  • However, levels of expressive freedom have begun
    to grow in small measures. Private Internet
    cafes have been allowed to open in Damascus. And
    the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment have
    blocked only Israeli materials and Syrian
    opposition Web-sites.
  • Domestic Laws and Prison
  • There are long-standing emergency laws that do
    not allow for any civilian protection against
    arbitrary arrest and torture.
  • Infamous Tadmor prison in Palmyran desert remains
    off-limits to all independent observers.
  • There was a scandal in 1980 when 1100 unarmed
    prisoners were massacred in Tadmor.
  • International Issues
  • Many Syrians live in political exile abroad.
    Many of which have been arrested and forced to
    leave because they carried forged passports.
    Syria does not allow Syrian exiles to obtain a
    Syrian passport (making them stateless).
  • Many foreigners have been imprisoned in Syria.
    Syrian government has purposefully not allowed
    their deportation. In the past, Jordan, Lebanon
    and the Palestinian Authority have issued a
    general amnesty for all political prisoners.

How it relates to Islam
  • The Middle East is a religious center in the
    World. For Christians, Jews and Muslims. The
    city of Jerusalem exemplifies this concentrated
    and diverse religious region.
  • Most Middle Eastern (Islamic) countries derive
    some of their laws from religious traditions or
    Islamic law (Sharia).
  • Especially regarding
  • Laws towards Women (esp. in Saudi Arabia).
  • Laws enforcing capital punishment (Hudud Crimes)
  • Some laws are not directly linked to Islamic law,
    but are established to defend Islamic religious
    practices, and or create an absolute Islamic
  • Governments try and diminish the freedom of
    expression, so to impede anti-Islam rhetoric
  • Most of the other inhumane laws in these
    countries are due to despotic regimes.
  • The Root much of the law comes from ancient
    Arabic tradition, rather than Islamic custom.
  • Not all of the laws in these nations are agreed
    upon. There are many divisions in Islam, some
    citizens support while others oppose these laws.

Human Rights Violations in Pakistan
Rights of Children
  • Children Accused of committing criminal offenses
    are routinely tortured by police
  • Long periods of detention without trials
  • 91 of the 2700 Juvenile in 98 waited for trials
    for months
  • Harsh and overcrowded facilities
  • Routinely subjected to various forms of torture
    or ill-treatment
  • Lack of recreational opportunities

Contemporary Slavery
  • Mostly children and many adults are denied the
    right to negotiate terms of employment
  • Harsh working conditions with long hours of work
  • Lack of proper tools and training

Violence against women
  • Domestic violence towards women
  • Horrifying conditions of womens prison, lack of
    protection from physical and sexual abuse
  • Hundreds of Bangladeshi women in similar
    situation in Pakistani prisons
  • About 150 women being smuggled in to the country
    for prostitutions of other domestic servitude
    each month

  • Ms Mai was gang raped, allegedly on the orders of
    a village council because of a misdemeanor
    attributed to her younger brother.

Honor Killings
  • Honor killings occur when men kill their female
    relatives for activities in which the female
    dishonors the family reputation for perceived
    misuse of her sexuality
  • Islamic leaders and scholars condemn the practice
    and deny that it is based on religious doctrine
  • They explain that it is a pre-Islamic, tribal
    custom stemming from society's interest in
    keeping strict control over familial power
    structures but many
  • It has been reported in Bangladesh, Brazil,
    Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan,
    Morocco, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda and the
    United Kingdom
  • According to the United Nations Population Fund
    estimates as many as 5000 females being killed
    each year

Malaysia Indonesia
  • Human Rights Perspectives

  • Demographics
  • Population 238,500,000
  • 88 Muslim
  • Largest Muslim Majority Country
  • History
  • Former Dutch Colony / Colonial Legacy
  • Sukarno (1945-1967) and Suharto (1967-1998)
  • Democracy?

Human Rights
  • Aceh and Papua
  • Indigenous Minorities
  • Muslim on Muslim Abuses
  • Freedom of Religion
  • Sharia Law
  • Recently instituted in Aceh
  • Only applies to Muslims

  • Demographics
  • Population 23,500,000
  • 58 Malaysian, 24 Chinese
  • History
  • Former British Colony / Colonial Legacy
  • Federal Constitutional Monarchy

Human Rights
  • Ethno-Religious Discrimination
  • Must be Muslim to be Malay
  • Malay / Chinese Tensions
  • Freedom of Religion
  • Conversion of Minors
  • Apostasy
  • Sharia Law

Comparisons Contrasts
  • Postcolonial Legacy
  • Sharia vs. Civil Law
  • Inherent Contradictions of Rights

The West Islam
  • A human rights perspective

Human Rights Abuses
  • Specifically looking at abuses against Muslims in
    non-Islamic states
  • For the sake of argument, we accept any denial of
    religious or civil freedom as an abuse of HR.
  • Questions to ask
  • At what points do security concerns override
    ones individual rights?
  • At what point should religion of any type take a
    backseat to secular national interests or

United States
  • Special interest detainees
  • 1,200 non-citizens held on suspicion of Al Qaeda
  • Held under immigration laws
  • Secret court proceedings
  • Unnecessarily restrictive conditions
  • Guantanamo Bay detainees
  • Geneva does not apply
  • Hold as long as the U.S. wishes
  • 2002 ruling courts do not have jurisdiction to
    hear complaints from aliens held by the U.S.
    outside of sovereign territory
  • Enemy Combatants
  • No more designation of Prisoner of War

United States
  • The U.S. has taken a hardened approach in dealing
    with Muslims suspected of international terror.
  • Questions
  • Is the secretive approach necessary?
  • What of the anti-Geneva arguments? Are any of
    them valid?
  • Torture and aggressive interrogation techniques
    is there a difference?
  • Culturally, can we differentiate between our
    treatment of Muslims living in our country versus
    those with enemy combatant status?

  • Headscarf legislation
  • containing the forces of Islamic theocracy by
    outlawing the most innocuous manifestation of
    Islamic anti-secularism
  • Ban of all public religious symbols in state
    schools ex large crosses, Sikh turbans, Muslim
  • Effective Sept. 2004 In five months, 39 Muslim
    girls and 3 Sikh boys were expelled

  • France is obviously suffering blowback from its
    colonial escapades in the early late 19th
  • Questions
  • Is supporting across the board secularism is
    French public schools really a bad thing?
  • Racial tensions between French nationals and Arab
    immigrants are rising what agency do immigrants
    have in assimilating into their new homes?
  • Can we consider this a human rights abuse?

The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy
began after editorial cartoons depicting the
Islamic prophet Muhammad were published in the
Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on September 30,
2005. Danish Muslim organizations staged protests
in response. As the controversy has grown, some
or all of the cartoons have been reprinted in
newspapers in more than fifty other countries,
leading to violent protests, particularly in the
Islamic world.
Critics claim that the cartoons are culturally
insulting, Islamophobic, blasphemous, and
intended to humiliate a marginalized Danish
minority. Supporters of the cartoons claim they
illustrate an important issue and their
publication exercises the right of free speech.
They also claim that there are similar cartoons
about other religions, arguing that Islam and its
followers have not been targeted in a
discriminatory way. Danish Prime Minister Anders
Fogh Rasmussen has described the controversy as
Denmark's worst international crisis since World
War II.
  • Again we have a clash of civilizations in which
    one group finds its right to religion being
    harassed, if not abused, by anothers right to
    free speech.
  • Is being offended a violation of your human
  • Should the U.N. pass a resolution banning attacks
    on religious beliefs?
  • What is more important, freedom of religion or
    freedom of speech?
  • Do publishers of the cartoons in Jordan and Yemen
    deserve to be arrested?
  • Is Malaysia correct in declaring it a legal
    offense to publish, product, import, circulate,
    or possess the cartoons?

The cartoon controversy as well as human rights
abuses against Muslims in France and the United
States, should be, understood against the
backdrop of rising Western prejudice and
suspicion against Muslims, and an associated
sense of persecution among Muslims in many parts
of the world.
  • The United States needs to temper its treatment
    of international prisoners, ensuring all
    necessary accommodations are made for proper
    religious worship.
  • Additionally, the U.S. should move along
    tribunals, commissions, and trials of detainees
    that should have been held long ago. For lack of
    a better term, its time to put up or shut up.
  • For all of our perceived misdeeds, the U.S.
    possesses a much more egalitarian mindset than
    that of France and Denmark. Our history as a
    melting pot helps us avert many of the violent
    cultural clashes that have occurred in Europe.

  • Frances problems are complex and result from a
    French and Arab populace that refuses to
    assimilate with each other.
  • Racism and xenophobia abound.

The country must find ways to solve these deep
cultural rifts, and simply banning religious
headgear will not do it. The country must
decide whether modernity and secularism will
reign in public society, or will religion be
allowed a place as well.
  • Denmarks tribulations are, like Frances,
    symptoms of a larger cultural problem in the
  • However, as Human Rights Watch points out, we can
    reject the disrespectful and prejudiced
    attitudes reflected in the cartoons, but affirm
    that, under the right of freedom of expression,
    governments are not entitled to suppress speech
    simply because it is offensive or disrespectful
    of religion.

The much larger human rights abuse would be to
censor the cartoons or anything else that might
offend Muslims.