Amnesty International

The Lost Girls

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Over the last week or so, multiple stories in the news have been asking why the media is ignoring the kidnapping of more than 200 girls (some reports say as many as 276) by Boko Haram, an extremist anti-Western group in Nigeria. Yet there have been literally hundreds of Facebook posts, thousands of tweets, and dozens of stories in the media about what is going on. It took a week or two — longer than it should have, yes, considering the horror of what has been perpetrated — but in the end, this case has gotten more attention than any single case of girls abducted in armed conflict in recent memory, possibly ever. People are paying attention.

As that becomes evident, all the outcry over “why aren’t we paying attention” starts to look like it’s part of a deeper public distress: Why have we not paid attention in the past when thousands of girls — and boys — have been abducted in armed conflict? Why aren’t we paying attention, right now, to the girls caught in human trafficking webs or sold into early marriages or held in captivity as “wives” by armed groups? Why are we only now outraged? And will this outrage sustain itself as situations like this one unendingly arise? Will any amount of anger lead to any concrete solution? Read the rest of this entry »

Egypt death penalty verdict triggers global outcry

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AP Mohamed Morsy. File photo

An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced 529 supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy to death.

The death sentence passed by an Egyptian court against 529 supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy has triggered an outcry against the verdict among a wide cross-section of the legal community at home as well as influential human rights groups abroad.

The stunning verdict that has put hundreds on death row was issued by an Upper Egyptian court in the city of Minya. The defendants were found guilty of murdering Mostafa El-Attar, deputy commander of a local police station, who was killed during riots that followed the storming by security forces of two pro-Morsy sit-ins in August last.

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How Do You Prove Someone’s a Witch in Saudi Arabia?

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Call the religious police’s Anti-Witchcraft Unit and get them to set up a sting operation.

BY URI FRIEDMAN | DECEMBER 13, 2011

In yet another reminder that the phrase “witch hunts” isn’t only used figuratively these days, the Saudi Interior Ministry announced on Monday that it had beheaded a woman named

Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser for practicing “witchcraft and sorcery.” The London-based al-Hayat newspaper, citing the chief of the religious police who arrested the woman after a report from a female investigator, claimsNasser was tricking people into paying $800 per session to have their illnesses cured.

So, how did Saudi authorities prove Nasser was a witch? The government hasn’t gone into detail, but a look at the kingdom’s past witchcraft cases suggests the bar for proving someone guilty isn’t very high. Witch hunting is fairly institutionalized in Saudi Arabia, with the country’s religious police running an Anti-Witchcraft Unit and a sorcery hotline to combat practices like astrology and fortune telling that are considered un-Islamic.

But institutionalized is not the same thing as codified.

A top official in the kingdom’s Ministry of Justice told Human Rights Watchin 2008 that there is no legal definition for witchcraft (Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a penal code) or specific body of evidence that has probative value in witchcraft trials.

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Special Report from Yemen: The Looming Threat of Tribal War

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Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen October 2008, ta...
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Publication: Volume: 0 Issue: 0

March 1, 2011 05:51 PM

By: Michael Horton

On February 28, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salih announced his offer to form a national unity government that would be composed of members from all of Yemen’s opposition parties. The offer was quickly rejected by most members of the coalition of opposition parties, the Joint Meeting Party (JMP), and by the anti-government protesters that are demonstrating throughout Yemen (Mareb Press, February 28). On the same day, Yemeni cleric Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, the head of Yemen’s Society of Religious Scholars and an influential Read the rest of this entry »