A Conference in the Name of Human Rights

During the conference that the “Averroes” Study Center held at the Senate of the Italian Republic on October 3, we examined the serious and systematic violations of human rights that above all the United Nations and the Western governments continue to overlook

By Souad Sbai

When we talk about human rights it is possible to tackle many issues, all of which are extremely topical and connected to the main areas of crisis. Children, women, working conditions, political and civil liberties: from this point of view, the Middle East is replete with relevant cases although, in front of some of them, the international community seems to close its eyes or to look the other way.

Therefore, during the conference that the “Averroes” Study Center held at the Senate of the Italian Republic on October 3, we examined the serious and systematic violations of human rights that above all the United Nations and the Western governments continue to overlook.

In Yemen, the Houthi Shiite militias backed by Iran are accused by the UN Security Council (Resolution 2216) of not respecting the international humanitarian law, of using anti-personnel mines, and even of looting humanitarian aid, while the population is at the end of its tether due to a longstanding crisis that the Houthis themselves have provoked by occupying part of the country, including the capital Sana’a. Yet, the latest report of the UN Human Rights Council has adopted an ambiguous equidistance, failing to recognize that the triggering cause of the armed conflict between the Houthis and the legitimate government lies in the aggressive conduct of the former and of their Iranian sponsors.

In Qatar, tens of thousands of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern migrants keep working in the construction of stadiums for the 2022 World Cup amid absolute slavery conditions: repeated accidents and deaths on construction sites, unbearable living and sanitary conditions, seized passports, unpaid wages. All these violations of human rights have already been documented and reported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and various United Nations agencies. But the ultra-billionaire machine set in motion by FIFA – which has more member states than the UN – does not stop even in the face of slavery, forgetting that human rights are not a sport.

Other disturbing news are coming from Qatar. The opponents to the regime of Hamad and Tamim Al Thani have been subjected to heavy discrimination, illegal arrests and tortures, confiscations of property and expulsions for over twenty years. The Al Ghofran tribe is the one who has suffered the most from Doha’s repression, and its exiled members abroad are desperately trying to convince the UN Human Rights Council to take severe measures against the regime, but so far to no avail. Actually, the Al Ghofran tribe would receive even less support from the European countries, which continue to cultivate “excellent political and economic relations” with the regime of the Al Thani clan, quoting once again the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The most recent developments in Iraq should be at the top of the international agenda. The Shiite jihadist militias backed by Iran are using terror as a tool to establish their political hegemony over the country, much like what ISIS did earlier on. The consequences on human rights are heavy, to say the least: the opponents are arrested, tortured, silenced or eliminated from the scene, especially if women, as happened recently to the activists Tara Faris and Souad Al Ali. Women, along with their rights and freedoms, are the worst enemy of extremism. The jihad against women launched by the Iraqi Shiite militia derives from the misogynist approach typical of the Iranian Khomeinist regime. The high representatives Federica Mogherini and Michelle Bachelet, both feminists and leftists, however, remain deaf to the cry of protest of the women imprisoned in the notorious Evin prison, near Tehran.

Even in the Turkish prisons there is a strong cry of activists, journalists, and opponents, who dared to say no to Erdogan’s Islamist regime. The alternative to prison is to remain silent or resign from prominent newspapers. The last journalist to resign has been Murat Yetkin: he left “voluntarily” the direction of the famous independent newspaper Hurriyet, which has recently been purchased by an editorial group closely tied to power system of the Sultan. Europe is aware of what is happening in the Bosphorus and its surroundings, but the indignation and requests to respect freedom of press and opinion do not translate into concrete measures that aim to face the dangerous dictatorship established by Erdogan in a straightforward and authoritative way. On the contrary, the Sultan keeps strengthening his absolute power thanks to Europe itself, which is ready to provide him with the economic and financial assistance necessary to cope with the serious economic crisis that has hit Turkey due to Erdogan’s policies.

Iran, Qatar, Turkey: the main forces of contemporary extremism united by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. Women are their worst enemy in Italy as well, and for this reason the conference on human rights organized by the “Averroes” Study Center featured the launch of “Never Alone Again,” a new emergency number aimed at assisting women who are victims of violence. The number of abused women is still high, especially in those contexts strongly influenced by the fundamentalism of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Senate of the Republic has heard the message of “Averroes,” and it is now time to turn it into concrete measures, such as the ban on the use of burqas in public places: there is a new attempt to approve a bill in this regard, and all the institutions, unlike the past, are called to facilitate its entry into force. The institutions are also called to strengthen the measures to thwart the funding coming from rogue states like Qatar and Iran. These countries keep sending money to illegal mosques, pseudo cultural centers, and do-it-yourself imams, which are the main vehicle of extremism and radicalization in Italy as much as in the rest of Europe. Stopping them is a duty in the name of human rights.


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