February was another eventful month for the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). Most of our time was consumed with addressing international issues that have garnered little in the way of media attention or have fallen off the mainstream radar.
February 14 marked the seventh anniversary of the Bahrain uprisings, part of the ill fated Arab Spring revolts that convulsed the region in 2010-11. Despite an international commission of inquiry and promises of reform the government of Bahrain has slid back on human rights. We used the anniversary to write to the UN Secretary General reminding him of the duty of the international community to apply pressure on the government of Bahrain to honour its commitments and uphold domestic and international human rights law.
The situation surrounding the illegally detained leader of the Nigeria’s Islamic Movement , Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, continued to exercise human rights activists in and outside the country. With Sheikh Zakzaky’s already parlous health deteriorating, IHRC highlighted the many marches taking place to demand his release. Shaykh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah have been held by state security services since December 2015 following their arrest during a savage military assault against the movement. In the course of one of these peaceful protests, another leading member of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Qaseem Umar, was shot dead by Nigerian security forces leading IHRC to issue a condemnation.
In response to a heightened era of American exceptionalism under an overtly chauvinistic President and administration, IHRC convened a conference on 10 February, to unmask the more systemic problems that undergird US exceptionalism. This conference focussed on the Americanisation of human rights, and the praxis of human rights, arguing that they have become a tool of US-led foreign policy rather than a transformative discourse that seeks to liberate individuals, groups and indeed large sections of society who are oppressed by unjust systems.
At home, the conviction of Darren Osborne for the murder of a Muslim and the attempted murder of others last summer, was an opportunity for IHRC to highlight the growing relationship between hard-line Zionists and the far right. In the course of his trial it emerged that although Osborne had been brainwashed and radicalised into hating Muslims by far right social media spewed out by the likes of Tommy Robinson and Jayda Fransen, the origins of that hate speech can be found in the febrile atmosphere created at the time by the demonisation of Muslims by pro-Israel activists.
During the trial the court heard how the annual Palestinian al-Quds Day March was the killer’s original target but after he found surrounding roads closed he started searching for mosques in London.
The choice of the al-Quds protest was not coincidental. For weeks leading up to the march which has taken place peacefully every year for 30 years without a single arrest being made, the Zionist press and Zionist activists had engaged in a campaign to vilify the protest.
Also this month we were proud to host an author evening with Muhammad Mojlum Khan. His latest work, Great Muslims of the West, is a unique study. Through the lives of more than 50 great Western Muslims, this book reveals a remarkably rich and diverse cultural history spanning more than 1400 years. Challenging Eurocentric or essentialist views on Western history, culture and civilisation, this book argues that Islam – like Christianity – has always been a Western religion and culture. Indeed, the lives and contributions of the extraordinary and influential Western Muslims covered in this book shows that Islam is truly a global faith and culture, transcending race, colour, language and geographical boundaries.
IHRC is continuing its work with Decoloniality International Network (DIN), hosting the one-day training course ‘Decolonising The Mind’ delivered by Sandew Hira. The course explores the concepts and tools from the theoretical framework, Decolonising The Mind. Two narratives of liberation have dominated knowledge, culture and activism for the past 150 years: Liberalism and Marxism. They are rooted in the European Enlightenment. Decolonial thinking is a collection of contributions to a third narrative of liberation with different labels (postcolonialism, orientalism, subaltern studies, Islamic liberation theology). DTM aims to develop a coherent theoretical framework as an alternative to Liberalism and Marxism.
3 March 2018: Author Evening: ‘Whites, Jews, and Us: Toward a Politics of Revolutionary Love’ with Houria Bouteldja – http://ihrc.org.uk/events/12074-author-evening-whites-jews-and-us-toward-a-politics-of-revolutionary-love-with-houria-bouteldja
29 March 2018: Author Evening: ‘Europe’s Fault Lines Racism and the Rise of the Right’ with Liz Fekete – http://www.ihrc.org.uk/events/12057-author-evening-europes-fault-lines-racism-and-the-rise-of-the-right-with-liz-fekete
Watch IHRC events live online at IHRC.TV and on Facebook Live