Gaza Islamic Lecturer Tahani Abu Jazar: Islam defends the rights of women.
(photo credit: MEMRI)
Throughout the Muslim world, the human rights of women and minorities is systematically violated. Minority groups such as Yezidis, Christians and Hindus are being ethnically cleansed from countries they have lived in for centuries if not longer. However, the UN has virtually nothing to say about it since it is preoccupied with condemning the only democracy in the Middle East. It should not be like this!
According to Yezidi leader Mirza Ismail, over 3,000 Yezidi women and girls remain enslaved by Islamic State (ISIS) families. These women are tortured and raped on a daily basis and yet the international community has fallen practically silent on the subject recently. Furthermore, ever since the Kurds have been forced out of Kirkuk, as reported by Seth Frantzman of The Jerusalem Post ISIS has begun a new insurgency in the area. All of the gains obtained by the international coalition against ISIS are now in jeopardy.
Similarly, The Wall Street Journal
reported that many Syrian Kurds have abandoned the fight against ISIS due to their desire to help their brethren defend themselves against Turkish and Free Syrian Army attacks in Afrin. This increases the risk of ISIS re-emerging in the area.
ANF News reported that Turkey has bombed schools, bakeries and water stations in Afrin. They claim that most of the victims of Turkey’s assault upon Afrin have been innocent Kurdish women and children. Hundreds of thousands of Kurdish civilians are faced with death and starvation. There are reports that the Islamist rebels attacking Afrin have a special hatred for Yezidis. Similarly, when the Iraqi Army backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards attacked Kirkuk and other disputed areas, they created a humanitarian crisis, as over 180,000 Kurds were forced to flee for their lives. Where is the international outrage?
The plight of women and minorities in Iran is also horrendous. In Iran, the court testimony of a woman is worth half of that of a man’s. Furthermore, women are stoned to death for adultery and often women on death row are raped before they are executed so that they can be forever barred from paradise. In addition, Bahais are denied the right to obtain higher education and to practice their faith freely. However, according to Iranian dissident Mohsen Behzad Karimi, all of Iran’s religious minorities are oppressed: “Spreading the Gospel, which is part of the Christian belief system, is a big crime and can result in death. Many priests have been shot dead.”
Regarding ethnic minorities, Karimi emphasized that the situation in Iranian Balochistan is worse than in Yemen and that the Baloch people are persecuted: “The name Baloch was removed from the school books and was called Sistan instead. The killing off of the mawlawis [Sunni holy figures] and executing them has been happening for 40 years now.”
According to Kurdish Iranian dissident Kajal Mohammadi, “Persians make up around half of the population, and yet they have dominated and monopolized every aspect of social, political, economic and cultural institutions, and government, since the1920s. The Azeri, Kurdish and Baloch languages to date are not taught in schools and millions are denied the right to education in their mother tongue.”
For these reasons, many Iranians have been taking to the streets to protest against their regime. It is about much more than the high cost of living and the freedom to not wear a hijab. For Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities, it is first and foremost about the right to exist, to practice their faith and observe the traditions of their ancestors in a free atmosphere. For this reason, Iranian political theorist Reza Parchizadeh reported, “Azeris, Balochis and Kurds have been demonstrating against the regime.”
As the Iranian people continue to struggle against their regime in the face of brutal repression, where is the international outrage? Kurdish rebel Muhammad Alizadeh stressed that the Iranian people need external support to overthrow the Iranian regime but so far have not received it. The world acts as if there struggle has died but people are still protesting. An anti-riot truck was recently set ablaze in Isfahan.
In Bangladesh, Ashishek Gupta, the president of the India chapter of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, reported: “A new law in Bangladesh reduces the marriage age to zero years. According to the petitioners, it applies only in certain cases that benefit the children and parents but children’s rights organizations are horrified and are afraid of a wave of rapes. This forces minors under the age of 18 who enter unwanted pregnancies for example to get married. The children are not asked. There are better ways to ensure the future of a young girl.”
Mendi Safadi, the head of the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy and Public Relations, emphasized: “The recent law we see in Bangladesh testifies to the transformation of the Constitution of Bangladesh into Sharia law. Many of the changes that are happening now in Bangladesh remind me of Iran after the revolution.”
The minorities of Bangladesh also face grave persecution: “The Hindu minority in particular and other minorities in general are persecuted and threatened with ethnic cleansing. We are examining legal possibilities to bring to the International Criminal Court petitions against governments that violate human rights. It is our obligation in the free world to stand against any attempt to harm Hindus and other minorities.”
Where is the international outrage for all of these incidents? The late Elie Wiesel once proclaimed, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” It is time for the international community to stop wasting its energy criticizing Israel and to instead focus their energies upon the real issues facing both women and minorities in the Muslim world.The author is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is the author of
Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media.
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