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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Members of Indian Parliament, Why hesitate to enact progressive laws?



Democracy becomes meaningless when Members of Parliament run away from the responsibility to learn new things and educate the masses they represent. Pandering to traditional evil practices might help them to remain in Parliament for some more time. When people become more aware of what is going on the world over, they will find new representatives. Action from the part of the voter is sure to compel them to change if they want to remain as Parliament Members. E- petitions have a great role in educating the unaware and thus bring about possible changes. We request you to read, sign and share the petition aimed at persuading the MPs of Indian Parliament to enact law so as to remove the discrimination against the LGBTQ community in India which finds its sanction in the Indian Criminal Procedure Code. For those who need background information: read this. 

The new petition :

Ask India’s Parliament to Kill Outdated Anti-Gay Laws


Thank You for taking action.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It Is Time For Other Countries To Tell Saudi Arabia To End Repressions



It is reported that Raef Badawi, an Arabian blogger has been recommended to be tried before a high court on charge of apostasy. If proved guilty by the obsolete judicial system, such accused persons are liable to be executed. Blasphemy carries death penalty under their interpretation of Sharia law.

The report


In spite of repeated requests, entreaties and invitations of attention to actual facts by individuals, groups and organizations who have deep concern for human rights, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is reluctant to heed. Crimes decided by laws fit only for a bygone tribal society as also equally cruel methods of punishment have made Saudi Arabia an anachronism. It is high time that other countries in the world wake up and see where the  inactivity by so called democratic countries are leading the global democratic yearnings of the modern world. International fora like the United Nations will become useless if the situation is permitted to continue like this. You are invited to a  CNN report :

Rights group: Saudi activists calling for change face harassment, jail

 

 Please also see the                                                                                                  

'Press briefing notes on Central African Republic, Egypt and Saudi Arabia' 

 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

All the gains of modernity are being effaced by sweeping tides of irrationality. Can we complacently let a different dark age reign ? 

  For background information :

 

 

Release Hamza Kashgari


        

 Let there be light!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Driving While Female






One might think these are stories made up by idiots. Many do not take such stories seriously. What if they are true? I am telling you about the struggle of Arabian women for the right to drive their cars! The clerics, the police and the state in Saudi Arabia are anxiously at war against women. Literally they are!
Women are banned from driving because the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam has found out that if allowed, the deviation would undermine the very structure of Saudi Arabian Islam. The country has no written law banning women from driving. Some of them possess International Driving licenses. The Saudi authorities do not issue drivers’ licenses to women.

Arabian Human Rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaider challenged the ban. The video showing her driving is available on the internet. (1). This was a message for women to drive on Women’s day 2008.
There were reports of an arrest of a woman in her 20s in Mecca in 2009.
On Saturday, November 07, 2009 , Saudi Gazette reported detention of two female professors of King Abdul Aziz University the previous day.(2).
It is guessed that there can be very many cases which were never reported anywhere. Even a Saudi princess made public statement to the effect that she had driven outside and wanted to drive in her country. (3).
Rym Ghazal writing for National Geographic  says there were protests in 1990 and 2011 and dozens of women participated in driving opposing the ban. A CNN report mentions that 47 women drove through Riyadh in the first demonstration.  Some were fined and jailed, some lost jobs and status in society, and were shunned by a superstitious society. (4,5) . In the “Women2Drive” campaign of 2011, dozens of women drove through streets of their cities, it reports.
A petition signed by more than 12,000 on the website,   www.oct26driving.com
asked the authorities to lift the ban. The online movement urging women to drive cars on October 26th  gained popularity within and without the country.
 It is said that the site was blocked on Friday afternoon and was replaced by a message, “Drop the leadership of Saudi women”. A leading cleric had issued a scientific fatwa to the effect that driving could cause damage to the ovaries and pelvises! He warned of clinical problems. (5).
On the eve of the planned protest, Turki al-Faisal, the interior ministry spokesman warned that even online support for the campaign could invite arrest. By Friday night the campaign organizers dropped the October 26th specification.
France 24 reported that at least 16 women had been fined for defying the ban. The campaign was entitled “Women’s driving is a choice”. They not only were fined but had to sign a pledge to the effect that they would respect the kingdom’s laws. (6). France 24 notes that this discriminatory policy is against ‘UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against women’ which Saudi Arabia had ratified in 2000.
According to TIME World, “On Saturday, more than 60 women said they defied the ban, although they faced little action from police.” It notes that men , most of them in their 20s and 30s were active in the campaign. The help provided by men seems to be crucial: “In the run-up to the weekend protest, men played a key role in helping wives, sisters and female friends to enjoy what they believe is a fundamental right.
Since the campaign was launched in September, they have produced videos of women driving and put them on social networks.
They have helped protect the female drivers by forming packs of two or three cars to surround them and ward off potential harassment.
And some have simply ridden as passengers with the women as they run their daily errands.”(7). From their views quoted, it is clear that they have the right perspective. This source further tells us about the now popular, “No Woman, No Drive” video: “Alaa Wardi of Riyadh, who says he is not involved in the campaign, has produced an online video called “No Woman, No Drive,” using a Bob Marley song to mock comments by a prominent sheik who said driving can harm a woman’s ovaries. It has had more than 8 million views since Saturday.” (8).
It is gratifying to note that several men knowing that their help in this respect might end up in risking jobs, getting detained and jailed, not to speak of social ostracizing, quietly helped to gather momentum for the movement. They know perfectly well that women are an essential part of social revolution.

Human Rights watch observes: "After more than 100clerics visited the Royal Court, the office of the king, to protest “the conspiracy of women driving,” as one cleric called it, the Interior Ministry issued a statement on October 23 warning that officials would enforce the law on October 26, when women were to drive. Saudi activists said that on October 24 a man who said he was from the Interior Ministry individually phoned women activists behind the “Women2Drive” campaign, warning them not to drive. He told them that officials would take measures against all women who defied the driving ban, and that women caught driving could be taken into custody. Some women who had planned to drive on October 26 decided against it, they said.” In spite of warnings, intimidations, harassments and obstructions, the campaign gets strengthened with the call to ‘normalize driving’.  The authorities are out to go to any extreme. The movement proposes to continue driving in public and posting videos or photos of themselves online. Twelve films have been posted on You Tube. The Guardian reports from activists: some other women had also driven but without recording their exploits on video or in photographs.(9, 10). According to the activists more than 60 took part which means October 26 demonstration is the biggest of all the ban demonstrations held in Saudi Arabia. They also report that they have succeeded in garnering 16,600 signatures on the online petition demanding change. One of the positive features of the campaign is the effective use of social media especially Twitter.

Joe Stork, Deputy Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch said: “Saudi authorities are retaliating against people who want a very basic right for women, the right to get behind the wheel and drive themselves where they want to go. The authorities should end the driving ban and stop harassing people for supporting women’s rights.”(11).
On 30, October 2013 (Wednesday), The Guardian reported the news of detention of Tariq al-Mubarak who was an active supporter of the campaign. A school teacher, he used to write in a daily, ‘Ashraq al-Awsat’. Though he was contacted regarding a stolen car, the criminal investigation department was interrogating about his activity in the campaign. His friends  who went to the investigator’s  office in the hope of  bringing him back were also detained for hours and interrogated. The Guardian says: “He said the courts in Saudi Arabia did not have sufficient provisions to deter those who threatened others against exercising their freedoms because "rights and freedoms … are not instilled in our culture, nor our interpretation of religion".
Mubarak, who also works as a schoolteacher, was among a core group of Saudis calling for women's right to drive. Around 60 women claimed they got behind the wheel on Saturday to oppose the ban. The campaign angered the kingdom's ultra-conservative religious establishment.”
Global Voices has correctly pointed out the unmistakable part played by the Saudi Government in the ban. Tariq al-Mubarak has been in detention since 3 p.m.,October 27th  without access to relatives or legal help . (12).The success of the campaign has angered the clerics and the bureaucracy. 



Please see the Post Script below. Tariq has since been released.

* The petition below was  delivered to:

The Saudi government

King Abdullah Al-Saud
 and

Closed with 125 supporters



You are requested to sign the online petition addressed to King Abdulla asking for the release of Tariq al-Mubarak:


    TheSaudi King & government: Free Tariq Al-Mubarak

     https://www.change.org/petitions/the-saudi-king-government-free-tariq-al-mubarak 

(If the above link does not work, kindly copy and paste in your browser) *

Post Scripts:

I. Tariq Al Mubarak has been allowed to return home. We thank all members and readers who co-operated and did what they could to end his detention.

II. a. The Courageous women continue driving- 1


     b. The Courageous Women continue driving- 2

 Ref:

      8.  NoWoman, No Drive  

      9. Saudi Arabian women vow to keep up campaign against driving ban 

       10.  YouTube channel of the October 26 driving forwomen group

      11. Human Rights Watch

        12.  Global Voices

 

            

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

'Blasphemer' accused Hamza Kashgari released from prison by Saudi Arabia



We gladly relay the news of release of Hamza Kashgari . Our previous blog-posts may be read at:

Help Saudi Arabian Enlightenment IV



We hope other prisoners held up for activities relating to free speech may also be released without delay. The international communities may kindly take up the issue of freedom for the liberals in Saudi Arabia.

For more details of Hamza's release:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/29/us-saudi-blasphemy-idUSBRE99S0E220131029


Friday, October 25, 2013

The film that is changing Kurdistan




"A film made over 10 years with the stories of girls and women affected by female genital mutilation is tackling a taboo subject"


http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/24/female-genital-mutilation-film-changing-kurdistan-law 

Apologetic Modernists may please stop confronting those who criticize superstitious practices. They are requested to exert all their efforts to stop this practice wherever found to exist.

If the link does not work on clicking, please copy and paste it on the browser.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Proclaim your solidarity for Saudi Liberal Raef Badawi






Saudi Liberal Raef Badawi Sentenced To 7 Years In Prison and 600 Lashes


Raise Your Voice For Raef Badawi




Please sign the petition and spread the word:





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Friday, August 2, 2013

A Stepping Stone To Secularism In BanglaDesh



Bangladesh High Court Strikes Down Jamaat-e-Islami's Electoral Registration 





We applaud the landmark ruling by the three member 

high court panel. August 1, 2013 has become  a very 

important day to remember for all activists in BanglaDesh 

who yearn for a Secular BanglaDesh. Not knowing the 

real nature (1.a,b) of this Islamo-fascist dragon, the people 

of BanglaDesh have suffered much. 

This is only a stepping stone. This particular Islamist party 

(Jama at e Islami) is adept at playing all types of political 

gimmicks and fraudulent strategies and tactics. One 

probable step is their infiltration in to other Salafist 

organizations which are not under ban. There is a potential 

danger of these virile elements succeeding in heating up 

extremist Jihadi enthusiasm among the devout youth 

creating theological bridges. Perhaps JI's literary arsenal 

already has enough of such popular guide books which are 

actually exercises in misguiding and criminal 

misinterpretations. It is up to the executives in the Police 

Department to confiscate such stuff and prevent 

propagation of Jihadi incitement materials in 

the country. We hope that the secular activists in Bangla 

Desh will be cautious and realize the fact that Islamic holy 

books including the Qur'aan have inflammable contents. 

While Rationalists, Humanists and Atheists point out such 

bitter truths some people are seen labeling us with 

Islamophobia crying out loud pointing accusing fingers 

unnecessarily as if they are hurt. It is of no use accusing 

critics of Islam. If these apologists want peace and 

harmony,they are to confront the Jehadi extremists and not 

Secular Humanists. We would like to forewarn the ruling 

parties in BanglaDesh against persecuting the genuine 

secularists. It is their bounden duty to assure that freedoms 

of conscience and expression are safe guarded in the case 

of Rationalists, Humanists and Atheists. No amount 

of misinterpretation by political ignoramuses,whose eyes are 

on vote banks only, can alter the fact that these secular 

activists are the lighthouses in the grim darkness of cultural 

dogmatism  bound to prevail in a country dominated 

by blind faith and superstitions.

We congratulate the peace loving people of BanglaDesh in 

having been granted the opportunity of legal support in their 

march to freedom and prosperity. Cheers!!



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