Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Secretary-General of the United Nations Islamic Council of South Africa
Young Mali Muslims Union
Islamic Supreme Council, Mali
International Interfaith Centre
Muslims Australia – Sydney Head Quarters
CAIR National Headquarters
The Muslim Council of Britain
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue
Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council
The Canadian Islamic Congress
Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland (ZMD)
Mr. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Delegation of the European Union to Saudi Arabia
Botschaft des Königreichs Saudi Arabien
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Washington, DC
Herrn Guido Westerwelle, Bundesminister des Auswärtigen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
To: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)- Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
Dear Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt,
Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2011, Western countries and GCC states have been involved in funding jihadis rebels, in order to remove totalitarian governments in North Africa and Syria. The U.S government - largely regarded a leader of human rights and democracy, globally - worked with Saudi and Qatar to allow Al Qaeda into Libya, to help topple Gaddafi (the same Al Qaeda we understand is responsible for the greatest terrorist act on American soil, to date). Al Qaeda who helped topple Gaddafi in 2011, then made their way to Mali, where they joined other extremists (including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb who is involved in multiple kidnappings in the region).
Since invading Mali, these jihadis have banned music festivals, music from being played on radio stations altogether, sports; destroyed ancient heritage sites, and generally terrorized locals with public floggings, amputations and executions; and broken into homes to steal and force women to wear veils. The Council of Foreign Relations then said last year (Aug 6, 2012), whilst the world was aware of these ongoing atrocities in Mali, that it was further enlisting the help of Al Qaeda in another country, Syria, because the “influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, [and] funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf”! In the words of Marvin Gaye, Mr Bielefeldt, what’s going on? Why are world leaders whom young people look up to, funding, training and enabling in the Middle East and North Africa, the same terrorist network they claim to be at war with in America and now West Africa?
This relationship between U.S and Saudi, that allowed both countries to fund borderless Mujahadeen - albeit in Afghanistan during the Cold War - preceded the global war on terror, which culminated in a sovereign country Iraq being invaded, so many war crimes committed there, and innocent lives and communities left devastated. Desmond Tutu even said recently that it was unacceptable that the ICC had still not brought to justice, those responsible for war crimes in Iraq. When will this cycle of aiding a fundamentalist jihadis ideology and terrorist network, and then intervening to save terrorized communities from such imposed extremism, end? Wouldn’t the U.S be guaranteeing the safety of its own citizens, if it wasn’t involved in as many wars abroad?
We call on Saudi and U.S governments to halt the continued funding and enabling of the religious intolerance that is jihadism (which is authorized under Political Islam), and all rebel militias (especially Al Qaeda and any groups with links to Al Qaeda) who pursue this anti-human ideology.
1. To halt immediately, all creation of virulent madrassas that indoctrinate people into jihadis.
2. To stop sending monetary and mechanical funds to Al Qaeda and all groups associated with Al Qaeda, whether in Camps, underground Bunkers, or Quarters; and whether in Syria or in countries in Africa.
3. To stop funding, or enabling in Africa - by way of promoting or justifying - religio-political mandates like Islamism/ Political Islam that institutionalize religious intolerance, give way to terrorism, and endanger lives in Africa. We want to eliminate all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religious belief, and feel that the concept of an ‘Islamized state’ is severely opposed to preserving pluralism. It isn’t fair, Mr Bielefeldt. We certainly don’t see the need to have sharia/christian laws, when we can have civic laws to represent and protect the rights of all citizens. We also want to help preserve indigenous culture in Africa, for the african people, and an Islamic theocracy only helps to erase it.
4. To support progressive secular movements in Africa and the Middle East (secular ideas similar to those of Pan-Africanist Nkrumah - ideas that allow for religious equality of all (religious and irreligious) citizens, no preferential political exaltation of any religion above the others, and consideration and respect for indigenous religions that are not necessarily Islamic/Christian), by specifically encouraging the voices and efforts of secular muslim leaders in Mali, North Africa, Senegal and every muslim-dominated region in Africa, and in the Middle East.
5. We ask Saudi to move towards secularism within its own borders, and stop threatening people for expressing nonorthodox views of Islam or religion in general; to promote moderate, inclusive, secular ideals; and be considerate enough to support efforts of secular Islamic religious leaders in Africa, who do not acquiesce to Islamism (Political islam). Saudi must help do this, in order to build global brotherhood. All we ask for is an outcome of “moderate enlightenment”, as described by Malala. We want peace, we want and end to institutionalized religious supremacy and intolerance.
As custodian of Islam, Saudi Arabia is in a position of influence to effect progressive change and to spearhead religious tolerance in the muslim world. We want Saudi Arabia to consider developing a secular framework of governance and human development in its own country, which in the long run, will actually help to improve the rights of women there. Separating religion from politics, especially in Africa, is important because of the colonial legacy of Political islam in Africa, under whose auspices many African communities were raided and Africans enslaved some twelve centuries before the European colonial era even began! We ask that you work with us in our efforts to build brotherhood and safeguard upstanding relations between Black and Arab Africa, Africa and the Middle East, muslim and non-muslim Middle East, and between the Developing world and the rest of the world.
Sincerely, [Your name]
Without religious tolerance, it is impossible to counter dangerous beliefs of religious extremism that lead ultimately to terrorism, increase paranoia, justify gross military expenditure, threaten the safety of people around the world, and destroy the fabric of global brotherhood. Militant jihad and punishments for apostasy are two of many things in a non-secular society, that equate to spreading religion by the sword. Spreading religion by the sword is in itself, colonialist and dangerous. Matters of personal convictions of faith should be an issue between a person and his/her deity, not one for a civic state to police. To the contrary, a civic society really has not performed its duties, if it cannot safeguard the right to religious freedom, of all its citizens; Neither can members of such a society claim to be their brothers’ keepers, knowing that religious intolerance is afforded legislative legitimacy.