In late 2006, I traveled to Saudi Arabia on behalf of Human Rights Watch to discuss human rights with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, then the assistant interior minister for security affairs. He explained to me the merits of his country’s project to rehabilitate extremists by detaining several thousand Saudis until religious leaders declared them reformed.
It wasn’t a problem, he argued, that the detentions were arbitrary and outside the law or that no evidence of wrongdoing had been brought before a judge. Everyone knew the people detained were caught up in extremism, and it was for the good of the country, he said.… Seguir leyendo »
The killings of 12 journalists and others at Charlie Hebdo in Paris has led many to wonder about the role of Islam in fueling vicious attacks on civilians in the name of the religion.
Policymakers wring their hands about how to curtail the spread of extremist religious ideologies that terrorize Western targets, but also Muslims and non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East, who are extremism’s primary victims.
Where are some Muslims getting the idea that violence against journalists who offend them is OK? Why do they see beheadings as a fitting punishment?
A good place to look for answers would be to examine Saudi Arabia’s policies of intolerance and extremism.… Seguir leyendo »
Egyptians say the mood is different now. Gone is the call of the revolution demanding justice for the brutal torture and killing of a young man and an end to the police abuse his case exemplified. In its place is a weary, national shrug toward brutal attacks, now that they’re directed against the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters. There is little popular demand for justice and little prospect for accountability. If Egypt’s military-backed government can get away with killing more than 1,000 protesters in broad daylight in 2013, what has really changed since the days of Hosni Mubarak?
Since the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, the only democratically elected leader in Egyptian history, security forces have launched a campaign of persecution against the Muslim Brotherhood, with mass killings of protesters, dragnet arrests of its supporters and attempts to ban the Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party.… Seguir leyendo »
The Iraqi government has hurled the country to the brink of a new civil war. In under a month, Baghdad launched a vicious assault on a Sunni protest camp, resulting in 44 deaths; executed 21 alleged Sunni terrorists in one day, and suspended the licenses of 10 satellite channels, 9 of them deemed pro-Sunni.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s message to his country’s extremely disaffected Sunni minority, which resists with an increasing sense of futility joining the battles between Maliki’s forces and extremists? “Bring It On!”
The country remains in shambles after years of gruesome civil war pitting the minority Sunnis against the newly dominant Shias.… Seguir leyendo »
When I first met Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, now the chairman of Libya’s Transitional National Council, in April 2009, he was the beleaguered justice minister in Muammar el-Qaddafi’s Libya, virtually the sole brave voice among senior officials demanding accountability from the country’s security services.
He had been brought in as a concession to the restive western city of Benghazi, where he was a judge for many years. Abdel-Jalil minced no words in denouncing the corruption of the Interior Ministry, which operated outside the law to detain and abuse Libyans with impunity. Commenting on the fledgling reforms under Qaddafi, he characterized Libya as a country “going through the difficult and painful pangs of birth.” Little did he know how utterly transformed Libya would find itself just over two years later.… Seguir leyendo »
A year ago, my colleagues and I organized an unprecedented news conference in Tripoli to release our report assessing Libya’s human rights record and steps toward reform. We invited victims of government abuses to join us and speak about what they had suffered.
Seif Islam Kadafi, one of the sons of Libya’s ruler, was primarily responsible for persuading officials to allow us to hold the news conference. As the semi-sanctioned internal voice for reform, his “private” foundation had pushed publicly for changing the country’s laws and freeing political prisoners, and it helped establish two private newspapers that sometimes criticized government policies.… Seguir leyendo »