Tag Archives: equal rights

Copenhagen International Human Rights Conference

An international conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender human rights entitled “Love of Freedom, Freedom to Love,” is now going on in Copenhagen. Danish Socialist MP Kamal Hameed Qureshi, a heterosexual born in Pakistan, told the conference how he had to overcome prejudice and bigotry among family members and his community in order to speak out in favor of human rights for those whose sexual preferences did not fit normal ideas of Muslims. He emphasized the experience of growing up as a minority person in Denmark had sensitized him to issues of those who daily encounter bigotry and prejudice. Qureshi noted that while Denmark recognizes same-sex marriages the law dictates they can not take place in a church, let alone a mosque.

The Danish MP argued for an ombudsman who would deal with issues of sexual equality. Among the surprising aspects of his talk was discussion how there are already signs of change towards gays and lesbians in his conservative Muslim Pakistan community. Most probably, this arises from living in a multicultural society in which law supports the premise of equality for all members of the community.

Turkish Alevi Seek Equal Rights

Turkey’s Alevi community is a religious group which differs from other branches of the Muslim religion. It is more flexible in its approach to the Muslim faith and does not support a religious control of society as do so many fundamentalists. Alevi supporters are planning massive rallies all over Turkey to demonstrate the need for equal rights. They want all examples of prejudice and discrimination against the religion to be voided. Their demands include making state-run religious classes non-compulsory, having their religious houses of worship recognized by the government and full implementation of citizenship. It is part of their believe that all groups and religions should be treated in an equal manner.

Alevi leaders object to efforts by the government to push for assimilation of the Alevi religion within existing Muslim entities. A few efforts by the Justice and Development Party have been made such as aiding a few pages of information about the Alevi religion in textbooks and sometimes turning a blind eye to failure of Alevi students to attend compulsory religious classes.

There is no question the Alevi religion is the most liberal and open within the Muslim religion. It is time for them to be accepted as Muslims.

Malaysia Cracks Down On Equal Rights Group

The government of Malaysia has banned an ethnic Indian group which has been fighting to obtain equal rights for minorities in the Muslim controlled nation. Home Secretary Minister Syed Hamid Albar claimed the Hindu Rights Action Force was “detrimental to public order and security.” The organization has been working through peaceful means to have the government address legitimate concerns about discrimination against Indian and Chinese minorities in the country. According to the government directive anyone who joins the group can be prosecuted and face up to five years in prison.

The Indian group gained fame last November when it led tens of thousands of ethnic Indians in a massive protest against discrimination in fields like education, jobs and business opportunities which tend to give preference to Muslim members of society. Muslims can use force to destroy opposition groups, but as division arises within Muslim groups, there will be an outreach to Indians and Chinese to help a Muslim party gain power in parliament.

Egypt Rethinks Muslim Female Rights

At last week’s round table discussion conducted by Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights(NCHR) keynote speaker Zeinab Radwan urged putting “an end to incorrect though which does not agree with Islam, but rather is used as justification for preventing Islamic exegesis from stepping in line wwith successive development and changes in today’s world.” She wants the testimony of just one woman to be acknowledged in business tranactions versus current laws which require the views of two women who are witnessing such action. Her view was challenged by fundamentalists who claim the Quran says the testimonies of two women equal that of one male. “The text of the Qurtan is related to a specific situation in which women were illiterate at the time and could have forgotten the detials of the incident since what they were giving was verbal testimony, not written.”

Ahmed El-Sayeh, a professor of Islamic philosophy at al-Azhar University, strongly attacked what he termed “the beliefs of some memers of the centre which were inherited from extremist sects in pre-islamic eras, underestimating the position of women.” He insists that Islam provides for full equality between men and women. A majority of members of the Islamic Research Council support such an interpretation.

The winds of change are sweeping through nations such as Egypt which, hopefully, will restore to Muslim women the rights they once enjoyed and which are denied by extremists who fail to accept the teaching of the Quran.

Muslim Women In Algeria Gain Power

Algeria is a Muslim nation, but its policies toward the rights of women differs sharply from that of other nations in the Arab world. In Algeria, women drive trains, hold positions as judges and make up a majority of students in college. Since the end of the deadly civil war beween radical Islamists and he government, Algeria has been in a state of flux. There are more girls enrolled in high school than boys, and almsot 61% of university graduates are women. Journalist Zeinab Ben Zita, noted, “education is many women’s only window on the outside world.”

Algeria is a fairly young nation and its couontry is also young with half the population under the age of 25. There is extensive unemployment among young men. But, women appear to be more eager to learn,more flexible and make better use of opportunities. Women now constitute about one-third of the work force. Over half of univeristy staff, 60% of hospital employees, 30% of judges and over 55% of journalists are women. Thirty women sit in parliament and several hold senior government positions.

Algeria’s Constitution ensures equal rights for men and woemn. However, the Family Code passed in 1984, has reversed many of those rights. Women in Algeria have the right for a divorce since 2005 but they cannot marry without peermission and the signature of a male relative. Algerian family law still classifies women as minors.

The movement of women into the economy and education ensures within the coming years some of the discriminatory practices will change and eventually they will achieve equal rights.