Yemen monitor, UK condemn Houthi discrimination against other groups

The persecution of members of the Baha’i community in areas of Yemen under Houthi control due to their religious beliefs is a serious violation of international human rights law. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 September 2018
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Yemen monitor, UK condemn Houthi discrimination against other groups

  • Houthi militia elements discriminate against Yemeni people who do not belong to their tribe
  • The UK also expressed deep concern by reports that the Houthi authorities in Sanaa held a mass trial of members of Yemen’s Baha’i community

DUBAI: Houthi militia elements discriminate against Yemeni people who do not belong to their tribe, Saudi state TV Al-Ekhbariya has reported, quoting a statement from the Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations.

“The Houthi militia considers discrimination a part of its religious heritage,” the human rights group said, explaining that the Iran-backed group practices violence against other sects and religions.

The statement stressed that the Houthi militias have become a threat to coexistence and social peace in Yemen.

The Houthis forced the displacement of many Yemeni families from their homes, which have been racially motivated, the group claimed.

Earlier this week, the UK also expressed deep concern by reports that the Houthi authorities in Sanaa held a mass trial of members of Yemen’s Baha’i community. The Houthis tried 24 people, including eight women and a child, and charged them with sentences that could result in death.

The Baha’i community has been harassed for years but activists say their situation is becoming increasingly dangerous under the rule of the Iranian-backed militia.

The Baha’i faith is a small monotheistic religion which began in Iran in the 1800s.

“The persecution of members of the Baha’i community in areas of Yemen under Houthi control due to their religious beliefs is a serious violation of international human rights law,” Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, said.

“New cases of arbitrary detention and continuing reports of the abuse of detainees by the Houthis are deeply concerning, and we wholly condemn this mistreatment,” he added.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they are working closely with partners to press for the release of detained individuals and called on their partners to take a strong stance on this matter during the Human Rights Council this week.


OIC body urges Muslim countries to promote culture of reading

Updated 8 min 28 sec ago
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OIC body urges Muslim countries to promote culture of reading

  • Critical shortage of ‘reading rates’ and ‘lack of access to books’ deplored
  • ISESCO calls on Muslim countries to support publishing industry

RABAT, Morocco: Muslim countries must do more to promote books and reading, the Saudi Press Agency reported one of the world’s largest Islamic organizations as saying.

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), which was founded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation 40 years ago, called on Muslim countries to improve the publishing industry, provide copyright protection, and preserve manuscripts by digitizing them so that current and future generations could benefit from them.

It made the comments ahead of World Book and Copyright Day, a UN event celebrated on April 23. 

ISESCO said that knowledge and science in Muslim communities soared when printing was discovered, adding that paper books would remain a pillar of culture and a driver for development because civilization was founded on the discovery of writing.

“The media through which knowledge and sciences were transferred have varied with the advent of the information and communications technology revolution,” ISESCO said. “The world now has digital as well as paper books and, in spite of this great leap achieved by humanity to disseminate knowledge and sciences, there is a critical shortage of reading rates, and a large segment of people lack access to books and intermediate technologies. In addition, certain categories of people, such as the visually impaired, do not benefit from a large number of publications.”

The ISESCO statement mentioned statistics that showed an increase in the proportion of published books compared with previous years, which were characterized by a decline in the sector. ISESCO said the functions of paper and digital books were evenly divided.

But the popularity of books and reading could not hide the difficulties and risks facing the written word, it added. Manuscripts faced destruction and theft in some areas of armed conflict and this phenomenon threatened Islamic culture and history, said ISESCO.

The body said that technology could be used to combat book piracy through practical measures such as standardizing legislation, closing legal loopholes and raising awareness about the dangers of piracy.

ISESCO called on member states to give attention to books and reading as well as people with special needs to help them access books.

 

Environment protection

Separately, ISESCO and the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection (PME) had a meeting on Friday in Rabat, Morocco, to discuss the Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management in the Islamic World (KSAAEM).

The meeting, held at ISESCO headquarters, was presided over by PME President Khalil bin Musleh Al-Thaqafi and ISESCO Director General, Abdul Aziz Othman Al-Twaijri.

The meeting hailed the support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the efforts of the PME and ISESCO in the field of environmental protection in the Islamic world, including raising awareness about the importance of protecting the environment and encouraging scientific research through KSAAEM.

The two sides highlighted their coordination, consultation and cooperation to achieve common goals. Mohammed Hussein Al-Qahtani, PME’s director general of media and public relations, commended the efforts made in this area and the results, and said there was a need to develop the award’s media plan to expand its outreach.

Dr. Abdelamajid Tribak, from ISESCO’s Directorate of Science and Technology, gave a presentation on the activities of KSAAEM’s General Secretariat.

He said the number of nominees had risen this year compared to the previous year, with 200 entrants from 40 Islamic and non-Islamic countries.