Saudi to Address Muslim Rights Issues in Europe

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Raid Qusti, Arab News

RIYADH, 4 October 2007 — Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) will urge its counterparts in the European Union to ask their governments not to link terrorism to Islam and also to issue regulations to protect Muslims from prejudice and discrimination because of their faith.

According to a source at HRC, the government-funded rights body will also address various human rights issues in Europe: when Muslims are unjustly interrogated, treated with disrespect, physically or mentally abused, or not allowed to practice their faith freely such as Muslim girls being prevented from wearing the hijab (head cover) in some schools.

The points are expected to be addressed during HRC’s official participation in the Second Arab-European Dialogue on Human Rights and Terrorism, which will take place in Copenhagen on Oct.21-23. “The dialogue is significant because it is being held in Denmark, where the controversy started over the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) cartoons,” the source told Arab News.

HRC President Turki Al-Sudairi has assigned two HRC officials, Khaled Al-Obeid and Ali Al-Mustaneer, to represent the organization in the dialogue.

“HRC’s participation in the dialogue is part of its role to communicate and discuss with regional and international rights bodies matters that concern the rights of humans against discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, or sex,” the HRC said in an official statement.

Among topics up for discussion are “Islamaphobia” and the fear Europeans have of Muslims or Islam as a religion. People’s general attitudes toward Muslims will also be on the agenda. Another topic the rights body is expected to address is the history of Islam in Europe, specifically in Spain where Muslims contributed to the prosperity of humanity at a time when most of Europe was struggling through the Dark Ages.

According to HRC, this second dialogue is expected to come up with several recommendations similar to the first dialogue held in Amman on April 18 and 19 this year. The Amman conference concluded by backing the international bill of rights and other human rights instruments, emphasizing that states are obliged to ensure that anti-terrorist measures comply with human rights standards, and stressing the importance of national human rights agencies in advising governments and monitoring anti-terrorist legislation.

The delegates also urged governments, politicians and the media not to resort to discriminatory ethnic stereotypes in their battle against terrorism. In addition, the delegates recommended the establishment of an Arab-Euro working group, consisting of representatives from two Arab and two European human rights organizations.

These working groups would be able to enter into dialogue with governments and politicians as well as engage with professionals employed in the police force, intelligence services, the courts, civil society and the media


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