Interregional Feature | Bhutanese

Bhutan’s Refugees

Al Jazeera traces the history and future of the more than 120,000 ethnic Nepalis who have been driven from the country by an authoritarian government hostile to their culture and presence.  The feature follows a group of Bhutanese refugees as they make their way from their refugee camp in Nepal to the U.S.

View the full feature at Al Jazeera.

Morocco News | Women

Two women charged with indecent dress head to trial in Morocco
  • The women were arrested in Agadir in mid-June after passersby reported them for wearing too tight of dresses.
  • One women’s organization leader reported that 500 lawyers signed up to represent the women, but only 200 could fit into the courtroom
  • With “public indecency” and “gross indecency” offenders subject to up to two years of jail time, protests in solidarity with the women are set to take place in Agadir and Casablanca later in the week.

“The only sensible thing here would be for the case to be dropped and police officers in Morocco instructed not to make arrests in cases like these in the future. Meanwhile, the authorities need to set about amending a whole range of highly discriminatory laws including on rape, abortion, divorce and child custody.”

Read the full story at the Guardian.

(Image Credit: Abdelhak Senna/EPA, via The Guardian)

U.S. News | People of Color

95% of elected prosecutors in the U.S. are white, exacerbating distrust in the legal system for minorities
  • The study commissioned by the Women Donors Network and undertaken by the Center for Technology and Civic Life also found that white males account for 79% of elected prosecutors in 2014 and two-thirds of states that elect prosecutors have no black people in those positions,
  • While much attention has been focused on police behavior and demographics, prosecutors wield a more heady influence on the justice system, driving important decision-making such as whether to bring charges, which charges are brought, and determining punishments in widely used plea bargains.
  • Redressing the imbalance will be difficult as 85% of incumbent prosecutors are reelected unopposed, according to one study.

“I think most people know that we’ve had a significant problem with lack of diversity in decision-making roles in the criminal justice system for a long time. I think what these numbers dramatize is that the reality is much worse than most people imagine and that we are making almost no progress.”

Read the full story at the New York Times.

(Image Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images, via The New York Times)

Turkey News | LGBT

LGB Turks facing outspoken opposition from political figures and call for their murder
  • The government crackdown on this year’s Istanbul Pride is the latest in a series of official condemnations of LGB organizing, advocacy, and inclusion.
  • A group called the Young Islamic Defense has been putting up posters around Ankara calling for the murder of LGB people.
  • Politicians including the president, prime minister, and MPs have denigrated the inclusive People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which won important victories in this year’s elections, and cast LGBT support as anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim.

“This country’s order might be secular, liberal democrat, etc. but no one should forget that the overwhelming majority of our society is Muslim, which accepts homosexuality as immoral, homosexuals who explain themselves cannot join the community of honorable and virtuous people, the ‘fault’ they have committed will be met with disgust as a shameful act. A Muslim cannot defend a regime that equates homosexuals with people of the faith.”

Read the full story at LGBTI News Turkey.

(Image Credit: via LGBTI News Turkey)

Sierra Leone News | Women

Sierra Leone backs women’s rights treaty, but faces uphill road to eradicating female genital mutilation
  • The country has become the latest to ratify the Maputo Protocol, which establishes political commitment to women’s rights issues such as violence against women, child and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • Rights organizations expect Sierra Leone’s ratification to bind it to criminalizing FGM.
  • With nine in ten girls cut across the country, the practice has continued through the support of traditionalist groups, though the government began levying fines against practitioners as its Ebola crisis spread.

“The FGM crackdown needs to reach out to people on the ground and women in villages across the country, and a government-led outreach program may be required. Sierra Leone must take a blanket approach to include politicians, health workers and communities, and even consider how to involve the cutters in the discussions to eliminate the practice.”

Read the full story by the Thomson Reuters Foundation at Reuters.

Qatar News | Christian Immigrants

Evangelical mega-community in Qatar granted construction permission for church
  • The Evangelical Churches Alliance Qatar (ECAQ), home to a multi-ethnic community of 1,200, will construct its building outside of central Doha.
  • The granting of building permits to churches is a recent phenomenon, with the first officially sanctioned church since pre-Islamic times going up in 2008.
  • Only Abrahamic faiths are officially recognized in Qatar, and within Christianity, churches must belong to a select group of sects or receive sponsorship from one of the recognized sects.

“They have supported us throughout. … The government has been very supportive in providing us permissions to hold worship sessions, meetings and other celebrations like our Family Days over the years.”

Read the full story at Doha News.

U.A.E. News | Visitors & Religious Minorities

Dubai food courts open for non-fasters during Ramadan, easing restrictions for non-Muslims and non-observants
  • While eating in public during the day is criminalized in Dubai during Ramadan, food courts have been given the legal option to cover their entrances and open their services in designated areas to those not fasting.
  • The allowance is particularly welcome by tourists visiting Dubai’s sprawling malls, now able to eat in one of the Mall of the Emirates’s food courts and the Dubai Mall food court.
  • In addition, non-fasting Muslims including children and those abstaining for health purposes are able to access the designated eating areas.

Read the full story from the Khaleej Times at Yahoo! News Maktoob.

(Image Credit: via Yahoo! News Maktoob)