United Kingdom

I, Kiana Firouz, an Iranian Lesbian, born in 1983 in Tehran/Iran, have sought asylum in the U.K but my application was turned down by the Home Office, despite accepting the fact that I am a lesbian. I accordingly submitted my appeal which was dismissed incredibly by the adjudicator. According to my solicitor’s point of view there is a little chance to grant a permission to appeal against the adjudicator’s decision. It means that I will face with deportation soon.

Below follow two statements on the departure of the Head of the Gender Unit from Amnesty International following her making public her concerns regarding Amnesty International’s relationship with Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo detainee, now running an organisation called Cageprisoners which has championed the views of Anwar al Awlaki. Update to United Kingdom: WLUML Statement in Support of Gita Sahgal

Le Réseau international de solidarité Femmes sous lois musulmanes (WLUML), exprime sa solidarité à Gita Sahgal, une alliée de longue date, active dans diverses organisations, collectifs et mouvements engagés dans le combat pour le respect des droits humains universels. WLUML a appris qu'elle a, à maintes reprises, demandé des explications sur l’association d’Amnesty International à l'organisation "Cageprisoners", dirigée par Moazzam Begg, autour de la campagne judiciaire du Contre-Terrorisme. Le 07 février 2010, Sahgal était suspendue de sa fonction de Chef de la Division Genre d'Amnesty International. Vous pouvez agir en signant la Pétition globale en soutien à Gita Sahgal qui compte maintenant plus de 1800 signatures.

On Friday 9th April, 2010 Amnesty International announced Gita Sahgal's departure from Amnesty International. You can read her statement in full here. On 29 March 2010, the initiators of “The Global Petition: Restoring The Integrity of Human Rights” responded to Amnesty International's letter in which Claudio Cordone, Interim Secretary General of Amnesty International (AI), stated "Moazzam Begg and others in his group Cageprisoners also hold other views which they have clearly stated, for example on whether one should talk to the Taleban or on the role of jihad in self-defence. Are such views antithetical to human rights? Our answer is no, even if we may disagree with them...". Reiterating the imperative today for the public accountability of an organization such as Amnesty International, the initiators of the Global Petition set out why they believe that AI's attitude to defensive jihad raises very serious concerns: "The call for ‘defensive jihad’ is a thread running through many fundamentalist and specifically ‘salafi-jihadi’ texts. It is mentioned by Abdullah Azzam, mentor of Osama bin Laden, and founder of Lashkar e Tayyaba. It is the argument of ‘defensive jihad’ that the Taleban uses to legitimise its anti human rights actions such as the beheading of dissidents, including members of minority communities, and the public lashing of women...

Response from Amnesty international to the global petition and a Response from the petitioners: In a letter in response to the Global Petition to Amnesty International, the Secretary General of Amnesty International makes a shocking and incredible claim that "Defensive Jihad not antithetical to Human Rights". If this is the official position of the world’s leading human rights organisation, this would gravely undermine the future of the human rights movment.

For the last seven years, since its launch in 2004, the London-based Islam Channel has been hugely influential in the British Muslim community, where it has played a pivotal role in the development of a British Islam. Every night, thousands of British Muslims, many of them young, tune into the channel to watch programmes dealing with news, current affairs and religion from a distinctly Islamic angle. In addition, every few years, the channel organises a conference called Global Peace and Unity, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors, both Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as a smattering of senior politicians.

The UK government through its Border Agency has decided not to give priority to the asylum application of Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili, in exile in London. The application has been outstanding for nearly three years and while it is outstanding, Ali cannot travel. This decision directly impacts not just on Ali but on harshly persecuted Iraqi lesbians and gays through the reduced ability of their sole visible leader to raise their profile internationally.

The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network expresses its solidarity with Gita Sahgal, a longstanding ally of the network who is active in various organisations, collectives, and movements committed to upholding universal human rights. WLUML has learned that she has repeatedly raised internal inquiries into Amnesty International’s association with the organisation Cageprisoners, headed by Moazzam Begg, around the Counter Terror with Justice Campaign. On 7 February 2010, Sahgal was suspended from her position as Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International. You can take action by signing the Global Petition in support of Gita Sahgal which now has over 1,800 signatories.

On February 7, 2010 Gita Sahgal, head of Amnesty International’s Gender Unit, was suspended from her job. This was hours after the publication of an article in The Sunday Times, UK, where she made public her concerns about Amnesty International’s legitimisation of Moazzam Begg, a former Guantلnamo Bay detainee, as a human rights defender. This is not the first time that Amnesty International’s policies towards fundamentalists have been confronted from within and this is not the first time that AI has taken action, drastic action, against those who dare to voice their dissent, even if internally, about such policies.

The intersectionality of freedom of religion or belief and women’s rights is one of the most complex human rights issues faced by the world today. Down through the centuries, religious extremism and interpretation of holy books have shaped traditions and cultural stereotypes in a number of patriarchal societies. Some of these traditions and stereotypes have been detrimental to women, and have survived until the 3rd millennium. By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers.

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