Mohammad Mostafaie, a human rights defender and lawyer of Sakineh Ashtiani, the woman whose sentence to death by stoning in Iran in June received worldwide public attention, has been arrested and detained by Turkish authorities. On 24 July 2010, his wife, Fereshteh Halimi and brother in law, Farhad Halimi, were arrested and are now detained at the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran. Prior to their arrest, Mostafaie was invited for interrogation and subsequently released by the police but was immediately ordered to be arrested again.
The most widely mentioned text in Israel over the last few weeks has been the famous quotation by Pastor Martin Niemöller from 1946, which begins: "First they came for the Communists". Cited by journalists, politicians and academics, or by commenting readers on websites (known in Hebrew as "the talkbackists"), the quotation serves to communicate one idea: the increasing persecution of Palestinian citizens has led to verbal threats against Jewish radical left activists, and is now directed at proposed laws against Zionist-left activists, university professors, journalists, artists and others. The warning from the quotation is clear: "Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
This is an update to the January 2010 WLUML Statement on charges against Imrana Jalal: Women Living Under Muslim Laws warmly welcomes the July 30th decision by Justice Priyantha Fernando of the Fiji High Court to stay the remaining charge against Fijian human rights lawyer and longtime WLUML networker Imrana Jalal. Along with the rest of the international human rights movement, WLUML will now be closely watching the treatment of Justice Priyantha Fernando to make sure that he is not subject to adverse consequences of any kind for his appropriate ruling in this case. We note that according to the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, “it is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary.”
Honourable Chair of Iran Bar Association, Honourable members of the management committee, You are aware that on Saturday 2nd Mordad 1389 (24th July 2010) the security forces invaded the offices of Mr. Mohammad Mostafaei, one of the most active human rights lawyers in Iran, but could not find him. A few hours later they arrested his wife and brother-in-law in front of his office and took them to the Evin Prison. The investigator at Revolutionary Court in Evin prison has told them that they will stay in prison until Mr. Mostafaei gives himself up.
Since the recent controversy surrounding the French government’s ban on total face coverings (burqa or niqab), the head scarf issue has once again attracted the world’s attention. Indeed, only very few Muslim women cover their face completely, which is a reflection of the attitude preached by Sayed al Tantawi, an imam of Al-Azhar in Cairo, who boldly stated that total face coverings are not in accordance with Islamic teachings. It is therefore not surprising that the education ministry in Syria, a Muslim majority country, has also issued a ban on niqab in all state and private universities.
The vote by the Spanish Senate to ban the use of Burqa by Muslim women no doubt has sent multiple signals across the globe and in particular the Muslim world. The vote which was a narrow one, 131 to 129, in favour of the ban is part of the trend sweeping through Europe in the last few years.
The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women (SKSW Campaign) and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) are seriously concerned about the reported arrest of the wife and brother-in-law of human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei. They were arrested on 24 July 2010 and are being held in the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran. His wife, Fereshteh Halimi, called her parents to confirm her arrest and detention. Her brother, Farhad Halimi, is also believed to be detained there. There are strong indications that their arrest is intended to pressure Mohammad Mostafaei to turn himself in. Mohammad Mostafaei is a leading human rights lawyer who defended Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning, and a number of other detainees in Iran.
As protests against the stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani arose amongst the public and western officials, the IRI embassy in London announced that the verdict would not be stoned to death. On the contrary, the Secretary of Judiciary Commission of Human Rights declared that death by stoning does exist in the law of the country and that it would be implemented. Now, it is feared that the Islamic Republic of Iran may decide to suddenly execute all those sentenced to stoning, either by stoning or hanging, in an attempt to quiet the rising western opposition as quickly as possible.
The French parliament's vote this week to ban full-length veils in public was the right move by the wrong group. Some have tried to present the ban as a matter of Islam vs. the West. It is not. First, Islam is not monolithic. It, like other major religions, has strains and sects. Many Muslim women -- despite their distaste for the European political right wing -- support the ban precisely because it is a strike against the Muslim right wing.