The World Federation of KSIMC and Al-Khoei Foundation attended the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva to highlight the rise of religious intolerance and its various manifestations.
As an International NGO with consultative status to ECOSOC of the United Nations, The World Federation of KSIMC is perfectly placed to discuss violations of human rights. Among the various flagrant violations of human rights, the rise of religious intolerance encompasses the issues that our civil society cares deeply about.
Among the issues raised by our delegates were the fractionalised sectarian conflict, and the actions of non-state actors in carrying out egregious crimes against minorities in Pakistan. We also highlighted the state led restrictions on Shia Muslims in Malaysia, the persecution of Shia Muslims in Bahrain, and how various civil and political conflicts have impacted upon religious minorities.
The OHCHR convened the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva from the 3rd of March, and our delegates were present, across the High Level Segments, the Interactive Dialogues, The General Debates, and the various side panels organised by Permanent Missions and civil society organisations. Among the various events, busy schedules, various outcomes that were pertinent to our objectives were met, while giving our leadership an indication of the International scene.
Our interaction with the OHCHR was in four ways, we had submitted a written intervention, that highlighted a detailed account of religious intolerance. The Written Intervention covered the issue of Malaysia by saying, “An example of a state-led restriction on religious practise can be seen in Malaysia where Shia Muslims are regarded as a ‘deviant.’ The report published by the United States Department of State highlighted that the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM), established federal guidelines concerning what constitutes ‘deviationist’ behaviour or belief. With the consent of a Sharia court, the government may arrest and detain members of ‘deviationist’ groups for ‘rehabilitation’ to the ‘true path of Islam’. As of 2013, eleven out of fourteen Malaysian States have adopted this piece of legislation and empowered Sharia courts within their states to consent to the arrest and detention of members of minority sects.”
The World Federation of KSIMC, had also spoken on the issue of Pakistan in the General Debate on Friday 14th March 2014 in the main room of the Human Rights Council. We urged the Human Rights Council its member and observer states to support the establishment of an international Commission of Inquiry or similar mechanism to investigate the human rights violations, abuses, war crimes and other violations of international law committed in Pakistan. The World Federation of KSIMC intervention can be viewed on the following link at Item 7.
Aside from our written and oral interventions, at the Human Rights Council, The World Federation of KSIMC and Al-Khoei Foundation also held two parallel events at the Human Rights Council. We spent these sessions discussing the rise of religious intolerance. We had two coordinated events between the organisations in order to ensure we had a case-study led experiential event that highlighted the plight of the victims, and then on the second day to ensure we could tackle the broader concepts such as causes of and solutions to the conflicts in order to end of a positive note with a peaceful objective in sight.
Read written intervention
Read written intervention on protecting girl children
The first event was entitled, Human Rights violations in Sectarian Conflicts and speakers included,
• Dr Mariam Abou Zahab (INALCO),
• Father Nadeem Nassar (Awareness Foundation),
• Maulana Shahid Raza (British Muslim Forum),
• Sheikh Maytham Al Salman (Bahraini Interfaith Organisation) and
• Dr Mohd Faizal Musa (National University of Malaysia).
• The event was chaired by Fatima Manji, reporter for Channel 4 News.
The second event was entitled, Religious Sectarianism and its threat to Global Security and Human Rights. The speakers at this event were
• Father Nadeem Nassar (Awareness Foundation),
• Adam Mir (AA Mirsons Solicitors),
• Dr Simon Mabon (Lancaster University) and
• Dr Kathryn Spellman Poots (The Aga Khan University).
• The event was chaired by Francesca Washtell, Centre for Academic Shia Studies.
The delegation was also fortunate to be able to lobby on the freedom of Religion or Belief to the Special Rapporteur, who is UN’s appointed expert on issues related to religious intolerance and sectarianism.
Read paper on rise of religious intolerance and sectarianism
The World Federation of KSIMC went to the Human Rights Council with specific objectives, and a well-defined strategy in mind. Mr Munawer Rattansey, The Vice President of The World Federation of KSIMC said, “It was an eye opening interaction for us, being at the United Nations in Geneva allowed us to see the important role that civil society has to play at the International stage. Furthermore, it was great to interact with some amazing individuals, with whom we share a lot of causes with. These synergistic alliances adopted in such gatherings allow us to develop more concrete working relationships that will eventually allow us all to strive towards the implementation of basic human rights for all.”
Lastly, the delegation also met with the local Khoja community in Geneva, who attended an event at a local community centre in large numbers and interacted with the delegation by asking questions about their activities and ways to connect communities in Switzerland to our communities in Europe.
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