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Support Separation Between Religion and State: A Petition and Open Letter to Human Rights Watch

10 February 2012

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In an Open Letter to Kenneth Roth, we express our concern that the director of Human Rights Watch has used his introductory essay in the 2012 Human Rights Watch World Report to urge support for newly elected governments of the Islamic right in the Middle East and North Africa. Our letter points out that he does not need to urge engagement where there is no threat of a boycott; that he mirrors security discourses relating to Muslim contexts where the choice is between "autocrats" or "moderate Islamists;" and that he is dismissive of the threats to sexual rights and to religious minorities and silent on the struggles of labor, secularists and others who initiated and sustained the mobilizations and movements against oppressive regimes.

Having experienced the ways in which religious fundamentalists have used both armed violence and state power to attack fundamental freedoms, we want to express our alarm at the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and other representatives of political Islam. We believe that secularism is a minimum precondition for the freedom and equality of all citizens. It is intrinsic to democracy and the full realisation of human rights.

Rather than becoming complicit with religious fundamentalists in power, we call on Human Rights Watch to report violations and threats against those targeted by fundamentalists and to support the call for secularism, and the continuing struggle for social justice.

GO HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION ONLINE

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Full Text of Open Letter to Kenneth Roth (Director, Human Rights Watch)
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