The two-day International Conference on the Religious Right, Secularism and Civil Rights held in London during 11-12 October 2014 was a rousing success. A broad coalition of secularists, including believers, free-thinkers, agnostics and atheists assembled from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora at the unprecedented and historic gathering to discuss resistance against the repression and violence of ISIS and other manifestations of the religious-Right, including in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Israel, Libya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Tunisia and Yemen.
This week marks the beginning of the yearly commemoration of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence - a global campaign initiated and led by women's groups and movements in many parts of the world which put the spotlight on this pandemic. I have been a part of this campaign since its beginnings and through the lenses it has given me on why women are being targeted and subjected to the most inhuman manifestations of oppression, my feminist outlook has been sharpened and my activism for women's rights became an integral part of who I am. I am now a 62 year old feminist and human rights activist and on the road to slowing down while casting my vision to new fields where I can still be useful to my causes within my given limitations.
It has never been more imperative to take action toward ending gender-based violence and militarism. From the terrorism of the likes of ISIS and Boko Haram, to the threats of Western-led imperialism, down to personal lives marred by cultures of masculinist violence, women all over the world face insecurity owing to patriarchal and militaristic violence.
Notre époque est marquée par la montée des extrême-droites religieuses – non pas parce qu’on assisterait à un revivalisme religieux mais plutôt au fait que des mouvements politiques d’extrême-droite et des gouvernements utilisent la religion pour asseoir leur suprématie politique. C’est une conséquence directe du néo-conservatisme et du néo-libéralisme ainsi que des politiques sociales de communautarisme et de relativisme culturel. L’universalisme, la laïcité et les droits liés à la citoyenneté sont abandonnés et ce sont la ségrégation des sociétés en ‘communautés’ basées sur l’ethnicité, la religion et la culture qui deviennent la norme.
Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism. Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm.
At the United Nations on Wednesday, President Obama said "it is time for the world -- especially Muslim communities -- to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of Al Qaeda and ISIL." As a human rights lawyer proud of her Muslim heritage, I concur entirely, and I hope this call will be heeded from Detroit to Doha. There is no way to fight jihadist terrorism without undercutting its ideological base.
Rochelle Terman is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research examines the consequences of global human rights shaming campaigns, especially around women’s rights in the Muslim World and she is a member of WLUML’s Advisory Council.
With the crisis in the Mideast escalating, I keep hearing the argument that Israel is being “singled out” for its human rights violations. Some people assert that human rights activists and the international community are disproportionately – and unjustifiably – focusing their attention on the Jewish state. They are “ignoring” human rights violations elsewhere — Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Chad, wherever — in order to unfairly vilify Israel. This bias, the argument usually goes, is motivated by anti-Semitism.