Browsing 'rights' News

As per the 28th Human Rights Watch Report that reviewed human rights practices in more than 90 countries, this is the right time for Middle East and North African countries to act on the popular demands that have become voice of the youth in the region.

As people today are more aware and exposed to various government systems and mechanisms they expect relative changes for betterment of quality of life, on the humanitarian grounds. They understand their rights well and now are not patient to compromise their rights further. Hence it is important to make necessary changes in the existing regime structures by ensuring that citizens get their due respect, liberty and dignity essential to do it’s over all development overcoming the traditional biases.

The major five reforms that are immediate implementation in the existing MENA regimes include Rights of Women, who are generally have to suffer the most of injustice given the laws that curtail their freedom to make decisions of their life, ranging from dress code to choosing a life partner to moving friendly. They need to experience the equality that women around the world experience. Moreover they must not be treated as a dependent but a strength that have the ability to contribute to country.

MENA women made some advances on nationality issues in 2017. Tunisia repealed a decree that prevented Muslim women – but not men – from registering marriages with non-Muslims; it also passed a landmark law on violence against women, instituting measures to prevent violence, protect survivors, and punish their abusers. In response to Qatari women’s demands to pass nationality onto their children like Qatari men, Qatar pledged to grant residency to children of Qatari women, providing most but not all rights that non-citizen children have.

Notably, Qatar for the first time allowed women in its ‘Shura’ Council which was another change towards providing equal status to women and Saudi has also taken few steps in this direction but there is still a dire need to dismantle the entire system. Governments of the MENA region must take ownership to abolish systemic discrimination in opportunities, divorce, child custody, and inheritance against women giving them equal status and dignity they deserve.

MENA governments nevertheless devoted extensive resources to prosecuting people for their adult, consensual bedroom activities. Young people in the Middle East are well aware that their governments enforce morality but that will no more prove to be successful in covering inefficiency of governments. They need to understand that they cannot impose moral principles and must allow the due liberty to the residents.

MENA government officials jailed people for alleged insults to them or to loosely defined notions of the country’s “reputation,” “national interest,” “culture,” or “religion.” Saudi Arabia went so far as to define “insulting the king,” crown prince, or head of state as a terrorist offense for which the punishment is five to 10 years imprisonment. Bahrain jailed human rights activists like Nabeel Rajab for an “insulting” tweet. Kuwait sentenced a writer to seven years in prison for insulting the state of Qatar. Blocking Doha News in Qatar was another breach of freedom of expression. MENA governments should abolish any law that even uses the word “insult” in its definition of a crime. Limiting freedom of speech is like hampering chances of a country to develop further. The governments need to understand that criticism are required to be accepted and reforms needs to be undertaken for progress.

MENA governments have treated their countries – and sometimes the countries of others – as massive jails, arbitrarily denying people the right to leave or the right to enter. Saudi Arabia has imposed arbitrary travel bans on many Saudis, and detained visiting foreign government officials like Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Yemen President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, while Israel has refused to allow Gazans to exit even for urgent medical treatment or education abroad. Bahrain stripped hundreds of its nationals of their citizenship to punish families of activists. Israel refused entry to people – including Jews – whose political views it doesn’t like, and blocked human rights workers and journalists from accessing Gaza. Governments needs to stop treating their citizens like property to be held on to or disposed at their will and need to act like custodians not bosses.

It is important that these changes are not ignored further as they are already under the vigilance of international organisation demeaning their role in the country and international community. Making these reforms is bound to push progress of the countries and respect in the world.

 

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Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s new Emir, has named a new Cabinet, including one female minister, Dr. Hessa Al Jaber, as Minister of Communication and Information Technology, making her the third in the country’s history.

The new cabinet members were sworn in this evening at the Emiri Diwan, with Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani being named both Prime Minister and Interior Minister, making him one of the most powerful people in the country.

Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, formerly the minister of state for foreign affairs, was confirmed as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, and QNA reports Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani’s resignation as PM/FM was formally accepted by Sheikh Tamim.

Sheikh Tamim also issued a decree giving his father an official title, QNA reports:

HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued today an Emiri order, stipulating that the official title of HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is (HH the Father Emir).

Naming a woman to a ministerial position is not unprecedented, but remains an uncommon occurance. Dr. Hessa Al Jaber, now Qatar’s third female minister ever, has headed state telecom and technology regulator ictQatar since 2004 and has previously been named one of the Arab world’s most powerful women.

The first woman to serve in Qatar’s cabinet was Sheikha Ahmed al-Mahmoud, who was named Education Minister in 2003, while Dr. Ghalia bint Mohammed Al Thani previously served as Minister of Public Health.

Another addition to the government is Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, who resigned as head of the Al Jazeera Media Network to take up the post of Minister of Economy and Trade.

Among others, Dr. Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada and Dr. Hamad bin Abdul Aziz Al Kuwari retain their positions as Minister of Energy and Industry and Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage. Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali Al-Attiyah was promoted from Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces to Minister of State for Defence Affairs/Cabinet member.

Here is the full list of names on Qatar’s new cabinet, as published by QNA:

  1. HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prime Minister and Interior Minister 

  2. HE Mr. Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid Al-Mahmoud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs 

  3. HE Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, Foreign Minister 

  4. HE Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali Al-Attiyah, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, and Cabinet member 

  5. HE Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning 

  6. HE Dr. Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry 

  7. HE Mr Ali Sherif Al-Emadi, Minister of Finance 

  8. HE Dr. Hamad bin Abdul Aziz Al Kuwari, Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage 

  9. HE Mr. Abdullah bin Khalid Al Qahtani, Minister of Public Health 

  10. HE Dr. Ghaith bin Mubarak Al-Kuwari, Minister of Endowments (Awqaf) and Islamic Affairs 

  11. HE Mr. Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali, Minister of Youth and Sports 

  12. HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al Thani, Minister of Economy and Trade 

  13. HE Dr. Hassan Lahdan Saqr AL-Mohannadi, Minister of Justice 

  14. HE Dr. Issa Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi, Minister of Administrative Development 

  15. HE Dr. Hessa Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Communication and Information Technology 

  16. HE Dr. Saleh Mohamed Salem Al Nabit , Minister of Development Planning and Statistics 

  17. HE Mr. Mohammed Abdul Wahed Ali Al Hammadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education 

  18. HE Mr. Abdullah Saleh Mubarak Al-Khulaifi, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs 

  19. HE Mr. Ahmed Amer Mohamed Al Humaidi, Minister of Environment
     
  20. HE Mr. Jassim Seif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport

The appointments take effect immediately.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo courtesy of ictQatar. 

Editor’s note: The headline and story have been corrected to show Dr. Hessa Al Jaber is not the first Cabinet member in Qatar, but rather, the third. Additionally, Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali Al-Attiyah’s former position was previously incorrectly stated.

I wish the king did not say that he consulted senior clerics. When I heard the speech and what was said about consultation, without a doubt I had no knowledge of it before hearing the king’s speech.

– Senior Saudi Sheikh Saleh Al Luhaidan in regards to King Abdullah announcing voting rights for women.

Al Luhaidan said in broadcast remarks last Friday that he was not consulted about the king’s decision to grant more rights to women.

Although he didn’t directly criticize King Abdullah, Reuters reports that he alluded to an Arabic proverb warning that “the thread between a leader and his people” will snap if it is pulled too hard.

It’s the first public sign of discontent with the king’s decision from powerful religious leaders in the country.

The sheikh has taken controversial stances in the past. He was removed from his position as Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Council after saying in 2008 that it was permissible to kill the owners of television networks broadcasting “deprivation and debauchery.”

He also previously encouraged young Saudis to go to Iraq to fight US forces there – a message notably at odds with the government.