If you recall, a while back, I and a number of other campaigners and rights organisations wrote an open letter to ‘Human Rights’ Watch Director Kenneth Roth criticising his apologetic stance towards Islamism. The letter was recently published in the New York Review of Books Blog along with a response from the organisation.
It’s basically the same old, same old.
HRW insists that it is possible that ‘a government guided by political Islam might be convinced to avoid such discrimination’ by saying there is a difference between the Taliban in Afghanistan and Erdogan in Turkey but Erdogan is not like the Taliban because of the role of secularism in Turkey and not because of ‘diverse, interpretive strains of Islam’.
It goes on to say that those of us who signed the letter ‘insist on “separation of religion from the state,” presented as “the most basic guarantee of rights.” But that is obviously not what the people of Egypt and Tunisia, when given a choice, voted for.’
Whilst I have discussed why this is so elsewhere, suffice it to say that irrespective of people’s ‘choices’ – if you can really call it that – shouldn’t HRW be more concerned about well err, human rights? If a ‘majority’ (which can sometimes even be a minority in parliamentary democracies) chooses to bring the death penalty back or vote the far-Right British National Party into power in the UK, would HRW be as eager to call for engagement? It is only eager to do so when it comes to the people of the Middle East and North Africa because in its worldview Islamism represents the will of the people. [Read more…]