Death penalty for man accused of homosexuality (Iran)

Nemat Safavi, arrested almost three years ago at the age of 16, has been condemned to death by a court in Ardebil, in the northwest Iranian Azerbaijan region.

Nemat has not killed anyone, stolen anything or even carried out any political activism.

Nemat has been accused of having homosexual relations.While that was not stated during the court case, he was accused of “sexual relations that were not admitted”.

A year ago, on a visit to Colombia University in New York, Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said “there were no homosexuals” in Iran in response to a question from a student.

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More Persecution of Copts (Egypt)

An illicit affair between a 17-year-old Coptic man and an 18-year-old Muslim married woman from the town of Tamiya in Fayoum resulted in Muslim demonstrations and the torching of Copts’ property last week. A Coptic-owned supermarket, timber store, and kiosk were torched, an attempt was made to set a gas station aflame but the fire was quickly put out. Two Coptic-owned cars were damaged, and two young men attacked.

The security authorities, however, played a positive role in containing the situation. They heightened security in town, confiscated motorcycles and tuk-tuks since these were used to throw fiery balls at the Copts’ shops, and detained scores of Muslim suspects. Eighteen of them were referred to the prosecution for investigation. They were charged with arson, mobbing, and ridiculing religion—the first time such a charge is levelled at suspects. The deputy prosecutor Wa’el Abdel-Hamid told Watani that the suspects were in the age group of 15 – 25 years old, most of them were uneducated, and none were related to the woman in question.

On Tuesday a reconciliation meeting was held in the town and was attended by more than 50 of the elders of the Muslim and Coptic families, as well as Fr Rufail Samy and MP Ahmed Abdel-Qawi. A written agreement was reached by which the Coptic young man on whose account the violence erupted was banished from town. It was also decided that Copts should be indemnified for the losses through community donations and that, if any such situation arose in the future, the same rules should apply.

Finally, the all too familiar sight in Egypt is met with something different!

It is no secret to the world that Coptic Christians are an object of persecution in Egypt. The State and Muslim majority are usually the aggressors whether it be by forced conversions, kidnapping, unjust laws or judicial corruption. However, this story ends with a twist. I am thankful that the police force, allegedly, is acting on the violence. I hope it is the last such acts that the Coptic community in that town will have to suffer at the hands of Muslim aggressors.

It is also noteworthy to commend the towns actions in holding a recocillation meeting.

Article Source: http://www.wataninet.com/article_en.asp?ArticleID=19380

Religious Persecution in ‘Secular’ Turkey

Blaming Others (Farooq Sulehria)

The Amnesty International report on human rights for the year 2007 is out. The Muslim world constitutes, as usual, bleakest chapter. Every single country across the Muslim world has been pointed out by the Amnesty International either for executions and torture or discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities. Punishments never handed down even during the Stone Age, have been awarded in 21st century Muslim world. In one case, two Saudi nationals were awarded 7,000 lashes. Yes, 7,000. And executions? Well, 335 in Iran, 158 in Saudi Arabia and 135 in Pakistan. Violation of human rights, it seems, is the only thing that unites the otherwise divided Muslim world.

The report is no exception. The Muslim world cuts a sorry figure every time a global watchdog releases its findings. Freedom of expression here remains curtailed, Reporters Sans Frontieres annually reports. Regarding freedom of expression, there is a joke often told in Arab world. At a meeting, a US journalist says: “We have complete freedom of expression in the US. We can criticise the US president as much as we like.” The Arab journalist replies. “We also have complete freedom of expression in Arab world. We can also criticise the US president as much as we like.”

Similarly, it is either Bangladesh or Pakistan or Nigeria which is on top of Transparency International’s corruption indexes. However, when Nobel laureates gather in Stockholm every December, Muslim scientists and writers are conspicuous by their absence. In case, as Naguib Mahfouz is crowned, he is stabbed and rendered paralysed. The irony, or tragedy, is that his attacker had not even read his excellent books. Or we disown Dr Abdul Salam just because he belonged to the Ahmadiya community. Salam’s case deserves special mention since it underlines the absurdity that characterises this part of the world.

When all else fails, “Jews” and “Christian” West are there to lay the blame for all our ills. Conspiracy theories instead of scientific, rational thought holds sway across much of the Muslim world. And every time a rights abuse is highlighted in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, a typical Muslim answer is: Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya. True, imperialism and Zionism have a hand in our predicament. However, there are many wounds one can only describe as self-inflicted.

Take, for instance, the Iran-Iraq war, one of the last century’s bloodiest conflicts. There is no denying the fact that the United States backed the Saddam regime. But it was the Arab sheikhdoms, panicked at the Iranian revolution, that stoked the flames of war. And, ironically, now in the post-Saddam era when the “Christian” West has written off Iraq’s Saddam-era debt worth $66 billion, Iraq’s Arab brothers refuse to write off that country’s $67 billion loans.

Similarly, last century’s bloodiest Muslim genocide was not carried out by Serbs, Israelis, Americans, Europeans or Hindus. It was Pakistan’s military that refused to respect a democratic verdict and plunged East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, into an ocean of blood. Millions were killed, maimed, raped and rendered homeless. Luckily, Pakistan has a “Hindu” neighbour. “Hindus are born enemies of Islam’. Hence, Pakistani children are now taught that a Bengali traitor (revered by Bengalis as founder of Bangladesh), in connivance with our “Hindu” neighbour, dismembered Pakistan. Ironically, of all her South Asian neighbours, Pakistan enjoys most cordial relations with the world’s only Hindu state, Nepal. The other big genocide was perpetrated by Indonesia. The target was: its own citizens who were members of the Communist Party.

Figures are not available but Israel perhaps cannot match Iran in executing Arabs. Iran’s confessional regime is a champion of the Arab cause in Occupied Territories but Arabs of its Khuzestan province are regularly sent to the gallows. Seizing the opportunity, one may also point out how only recently Afghan refugees were driven out of Iran as if Afghan refugees were not as Muslim as Palestinians. And, by the way in the fallen “Emirate of Afghanistan” itself, Hazaras were slaughtered by the Taliban in their thousands almost a decade ago – mainly because Hazaras are Shia. In Iraq, more people have been killed in Shia-Sunni clashes than in resisting the US occupation. Shia-Sunni clashes in Pakistan have claimed more lives than those lost in its wars against India. Ironically, this only “nuclear power” of the Muslim world is not being occupied on its eastern front by its “Hindu” neighbour but is losing territory on its western front to its own citizens.

One can mention from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait to the recent Hamas-Fatah infighting (a shameful tribute to Israel on its 60th anniversary). The list is long. Indeed, unending. However, the solution to all our problems is always simple: return to an imagined past which, mercifully for the people of the seventh century, never existed. Every time, a scientist in the West is ready with an invention, our readymade answer is: we knew about it 1,400 years ago what the West has found only now. We kill Theo van Gogh when confronted with a film. We burn down our own cities in response to a blasphemous and racist caricature. Still, we refuse to understand that our answer to every “provocation” is either a fatwa or mindless violence – perhaps because creativity is anathema to us. Not because we lack fertile minds, but because we lack liberation and freedom — liberation from self-imposed mental, moral, and cultural censors. And freedom to think and express. Time to heed the great Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, who said:

Five thousand years

Growing beards

In our caves.

Our currency is unknown,

Our eyes are a haven for flies.

Friends,

Smash the doors,

Wash your brains,

Wash your clothes.

Friends,

Read a book,

Write a book,

Grow words, pomegranates and grapes,

Sail to the country of fog and snow.

Nobody knows you exist in caves.

People take you for a breed of mongrels.

This great article appeared in the The News International:
http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=118852

Death Sentence for Blasphemy (Pakistan)

A Pakistani judge sentenced a Muslim man to death Wednesday on charges he insulted Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, a court official said.

Falk Sher, a court administrator, said Judge Shoaib Ahmad Roomi also sentenced the man, Shafeeq Latif, to life in prison and fined him $75,000 on a separate charge of desecrating pages of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, in 2006.

Latif was accused of making derogatory remarks about Muhammad.

The trial was held in the eastern city of Sialkot after police arrested him in a nearby village.

Latif’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment, but Sher said the defendant had the right to appeal.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone who insults Muhammad can be punished by death. Scores of people, including Muslims and minority Christians, are facing trial under the laws, which human rights groups have demanded be abolished.

New York-based Human Rights Watch urged the government on Tuesday to abolish the death penalty in a country where nearly a quarter of all inmates are on death row.

Why Islamists Persecute the Baha’is

By Amil Imani

Ideas and beliefs, including religion, are the software that determines how we behave. And some of the software of the past is no longer working because it is out of phase with the needs of the time as well as infected with destructive viruses.
Even a cursory look is enough to show that the software of Islam, over time, is so greatly manipulated by numberless sects, sub-sects and schools that it can hardly be considered a unitary belief system. And people are their ideas. Any assault on beliefs and ideas provokes the assailed to action.

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Ten Christian converts arrested (Iran)

Tehran, 28 May (AKI) – Ten Iranians who converted from Islam to Christianity in recent months have been arrested in the southern city of Shiraz.

According to Goodarz, a spokesperson for the Iranian converts, more than 35 of them have been arrested since the beginning of the year. Goodarz himself has taken refuge in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

The new Majlis or Iranian parliament which met for the first time on Tuesday will be discussing in the coming weeks proposed laws presented by the government to reform the penal code.

Under the new law, anyone born to a Muslim father who decides to renounce Islam and convert to another faith, faces the death penalty.

The punishment is currently absent from the Iranian penal code even though in the past, dozens of Christian converts and followers of the Bahai faith have been hanged.

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