Slovakia News | Muslims

New legislation effectively bars Islam from official status in Slovakia for foreseeable future
  • Legislation from the Slovak National Party (SNS) passed through Parliament increasing the number of adherents required for state recognition from 20,000 to 50,000 in the Catholic-majority country.
  • Official status allows for religious communities to run their own schools and receive subsidies from the state.
  • There are only between 2,000 and 5,000 Muslims currently in the country, but anti-immigrant sentiment in the country has ratcheted fears of a massive overrun by immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

Read more:
Slovakia toughens church registration rules to bar Islam” (Reuters)

Related reads:
PM Fico: Islam has no place in Slovakia” (The Slovak Spectator, May 2016)
Slovakia’s leader said Islam has ‘no place’ in his country. Now he’s taking a leadership role in the E.U.” (The Washington Post, June 2016)

Hungary News | Muslims & LGBT

Hungarian city council adopts mayor’s proposal to ban Islamic and pro-LGBT expression
  • The ban encompasses the construction of mosques or other places of worship in the town of Ásotthalom that “undermine” the Catholic Church as well as forms of devotional expression including face- and hair-coverings and the call to prayer.
  • The ordinance also bans “public propaganda” depicting marriage as anything but the union of a man and a woman across all media forms.
  • The mayor of the town, site of a fence along the Hungarian-Serbian border, defended the ordinance as protection against the two “pagans” of migration and liberalism, but the Hungarian Islamic Community (MIK) was quick to denounce it as xenophobic.

Read more:
Burqas, mosques, ‘gay propaganda’ all banned in Hungarian village” (RT)
Hungarian Muslim group criticises town’s ‘xenophobic’ decree” (The Guardian)
Hungarian City Bans Mosques, Burqas And Gay Marriage” (NewNowNext)

Additional reading:
In Hungary’s migrant vote, only the turnout is in doubt” (Reuters, September 2016)

(Image Credit: Facebook, via NewNowNext)

Mexico Feature | Afro-Mexicans

The Political Reemergence of Mexico’s “Invisible” Minority


Source: Fusion YouTube

Despite a half-millennium of life in Mexico, Afro-Mexicans have seen their political visibility decrease dramatically as the ideology of mestizaje (racial mixing) has become central to Mexican national identity. As in many parts of the Americas, how blackness is defined in Mexico is distinctive, unique to the convergence of circumstances that shaped identity through culture, economics, geography, ideology, and law. Today, the contemporary political landscape, with its interest in multiculturalism and the rectification of historical disadvantage, has pressed black Mexicans to seek greater administrative recognition. But with relatively small numbers and lacking a non-Spanish native language, Afro-Mexicans have been officially indistinct from either the majority non-indigenous and mestizo population or minority indigenous groups, unwilling to acknowledge the historical circumstances that have made recognition of Afro-Mexicans as a minority a priority and denying the financial and political support that such recognition would bring.

However, in 2015, an interim census allowed for respondents’ self-identification as “black”—itself a disputed term among Afro-Mexicans—for the first time, giving new visibility and coherence to the more than 1 million black Mexicans in the country. Mexican blackness—as defined historically, culturally, psychologically, and geographically—has joined the global stage of Afro-consciousness in the call for recognition and reparation of injustices against the community of African and Afro-descendent peoples. The official reemergence has attracted the attention of media outlets covering the renewed consciousness and political agency of Mexico’s “invisible minority.”

Read:
Afro-Mexicans: No longer ‘erased’” (The Daily Kos, April 2016)
The black people ‘erased from history’” (BBC, April 2016)
Now Counted By Their Country, Afro-Mexicans Grab Unprecedented Spotlight” (NPR, February 2016)
Mexico Finally Recognized Its Black Citizens, But That’s Just The Beginning” (The Huffington Post, January 2016)

Also:
The secret lives of Afro-Mexicans in America” (Fusion, February 2016)
México Negro A.C.

Netherlands News | Black

More than 100 arrested during anti-Black Pete protest in the Netherlands
  • Despite a day-long ban, demonstrators took to a holiday festival in Maassluis to protest the ongoing national reverence for Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), a controversial figure black Dutch and allies say perpetuates racist stereotypes.
  • The figure has been under fire for years as its status as a national holiday tradition has been called into question for its ties to the Netherlands’ racist colonial history, including by the U.N.
  • Adding to the controversy is the frequency with which Black Pete is performed by white people in blackface in parades and other celebratory events.

Read more:
Dutch police detain 100 Black Pete protesters” (AFP/Deutsche Welle)
Dutch Santa’s black-faced helper stokes anti-racism protest, police arrest 100” (Africanews)
Dutch race hate row engulfs presenter Sylvana Simons” (BBC)

(Image Credit: via Africanews)

Tanzania News | HIV+ Queer Men

Tanzania suspends funding for HIV/AIDS programs supporting queer men as crackdown grows
  • The country’s health minister indicated the programs had been suspended “pending a review,” while programs supporting adolescent girls, drug users, and others will continue uninterrupted.
  • The government has accused some community-based and internationally funded programs of normalizing same-sex relationships as part of their outreach to queer men, some 25% of whom are living with HIV.
  • Though same-sex relations are punishable by up to 30 years in prison in the country, the government only recently broke its silence on the issue to condemn groups “promoting” homosexuality, with a number of officials having announced anti-LGBT campaigns.

Read more:
Tanzania suspends HIV/AIDS programs in new crackdown on gays” (The Washington Post)
Tanzania suspends some HIV programs for gay men, says health minister” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
‘Seeds of hate’ sown as Tanzania starts LGBT crackdown” (The Guardian, August 2016)

(Image Credit: Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post)

Malaysia News | Artist-Critics

Popular Malaysian political cartoonist detained for work critical of PM
  • Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, also known as Zunar, faces charges for cartoons allegedly insulting scandal-embroiled Prime Minister Najib Razak, the latest in a series of sedition charges he faces.
  • Zunar’s work has satirized Najib’s lavish lifestyle and the scandal involving the alleged diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars from a Malaysian development fund into the PM’s personal bank account, which has led to Najib’s use of a colonial-era sedition law to quell critics’ dissent.
  • The detention came after the disruption of Zunar’s exhibition at the George Town Literary Festival, where Penang Umno Youth members stormed the festival and demanded the removal of his work.

Read more:
Malaysian cartoonist ‘Zunar’ arrested at literary festival, charged with sedition – again” (Deutsche Welle)
Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar arrested under sedition law” (Reuters)
Mob storms cartoonist Zunar’s show” (The Malay Mail)

(Image Credit: Zunar, via Deutsche Welle)

Austria News | Asylum-Seekers

Asylum center attack the latest in a series in Austria
  • Unidentified assailants threw a molotov cocktail at the center near Vienna, damaging a wall but leaving occupants uninjured.
  • Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, with anti-immigrant sentiments having ratcheted up ahead of the upcoming presidential election pitting the independent incumbent against a far-right nationalist candidate.
  • The attack follows the arson of a newly built but unoccupied refugee center in Altenfelden earlier in the year.

Read more:
Austrian asylum center hit by Molotov cocktail” (Reuters)
Haunted by asylum center fire, divided Austrian town prepares to vote” (Reuters)
Austria sees 13 attacks on refugee centres in 3 months” (The Local Austria, June 2016)

Armenia Feature | Blind & Visually Impaired

Raising the Voices of the Visually Impaired in Armenia

As the Internet has created new channels for the inclusion of marginalized communities, people with disabilities in particular have looked to the technology as a chance to discover and create new, accessible labor and creative opportunities. In Armenia, government agencies and international NGOs have worked together to promote information literacy and use among blind and visually impaired Armenians. One new program, Radio MENQ, has bridged the technical with the creative, offering blind and visually impaired people the chance to work as presenters and sound technicians for an internet radio station focused on issues and interests of relevance to the visually impaired community. Global Voices sat down with two of the project’s leaders to discuss the history and future of Radio MENQ and how opportunities like the station help combat pervasive unemployment and marginalization in the community.

Read:
How is Online Radio Helping to Empower Visually Impaired People in Armenia?” (Global Voices)

(Image Credit: via Global Voices)

Brazil News & Resource | Women

The Patricia Galvao Institute launches database cataloging gender violence in Brazil
  • Dossiê Feminicído (Femicide Dossier) debuted as a resource for women, educators, advocates, researchers, and others interested in learning more about femicide and other forms of gender-based violence in the country.
  • The platform also provides information about resources, services, rights, and policy for and affecting women confronting violence in their communities.
  • Recent data indicates an average of 13 women are killed in Brazil each day, making the country one of the most dangerous in the world for women.

View:
Dossiê Feminicído

Read more:
Brazilian Women Ramp up Fight Against Femicide with Open Data” (teleSUR English)

(Image Credit: Reuters, via teleSUR English)

Pakistan News | Turkish Immigrants

Pakistan court stays expulsion order for Turkish teachers following school closure
  • The Peshawar High Court temporarily blocked the government’s expulsion of more than 100 teachers at the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges, a network of private schools in the country, and their families.
  • The closure of the schools comes as a result of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ongoing purge of organizations perceived as connected to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, leaning on Turkey’s relationship with Pakistan to push the government to close the schools.
  • The administration has rejected the accusations, and staff have expressed fear at returning to Turkey, believing continued government antagonism awaits them.

Read more:
Turkish Teachers In Pakistan Face Uncertain Fate As Deportation Looms” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
PHC halts government order to deport Pak-Turk school staff” (The Express Tribune)
Peshawar High Court halts govt order to deport Pak-Turk school staff” (DAWN)

(Image Credit: via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Bulgaria News | Asylum-Seekers

Riot at refugee camp in southern Bulgaria leads to crackdown and extraditions
  • More than 400 asylum-seekers detained in the camp at Harmanli in southern Bulgaria clashed with police, throwing stones and setting fire to furniture before police shot them with rubber bullets and a water cannon.
  • Local media had accused refugees at the camp, home to 3,000, of carrying infectious skin diseases, leading to their confinement to the camp and stoking outrage among the detained.
  • The Bulgarian government has initiated arrangements to deport those involved as nationalists have called for the closure of all refugee centers.

Read more:
Bulgarian police fire rubber bullets during migrant camp riot” (The Guardian)
After riot, Bulgaria to send migrants to closed camps, plans extraditions” (Reuters)
Migrant crisis: Riot in Bulgaria’s largest refugee centre” (BBC)

(Image Credit: AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)

Central America Feature | Women & Girls

Young Central American Women’s Fight to Flee

The situation for girls and young women in the “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras has perhaps never been more dire. The persistence of organized crime, with its emphasis on patriarchy and the subjugation of women, has forced many women and girls from their homes, fueling a migration crisis in Mexico and the U.S. From education disruption to sexual slavery, young women have found their prospects circumscribed by a culture of entitlement, intimidation, and violence that severely limits women’s agency in the region. The Guardian investigates the conditions young women face in the region and

Read:
‘It’s a crime to be young and pretty’: girls flee predatory Central America gangs” (The Guardian)

Additional:
Central America’s rampant violence fuels an invisible refugee crisis” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: via The Guardian)

Iraq News | Refugees & Displaced Peoples

Mosul conflict displaces more than 68,000 in Iraq
  • The battle between the Islamic State and a coalition of Western, Arab-Iraqi, and Kurdish-Iraqi forces over one of Iraq’s largest cities has further fueled the migration crisis in the Middle East, with more than half of the displaced from Mosul children.
  • While Syria has borne the brunt of media myopia regarding migration coverage, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees have poured into the migration flows between the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.
  • Regardless of the outcome, analysts anticipate the fight for Mosul will create a migration surge that European countries will have to prepare for, either in accepting disaffected IS-affiliated citizens or refugees escaping the turmoil of the violence.

Read more:
UN Reports Steady Increase in Mosul Displaced” (Voice of America)
The Latest: UN says over 68,000 displaced by Mosul operation” (The Washington Post)
How Mosul’s Liberation Could Send Shockwaves Across Europe” (TIME)

Global News | LGBT

Measure to block LGBT rights investigator in U.N. fails
  • African, Middle Eastern, and Eurasian nations spurred an effort to retroactively block the establishment of the first U.N. Independent Expert on the Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI).
  • The position was established in June 2016 to investigate human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals and communities around the world.
  • An effort by a number of Latin American and Caribbean nations blocked the attempt to undermine the newly created position, paving the way for the newly appointed SOGI investigator (Vitit Muntarbhorn) to proceed without interference.

Read more:
African states fail to block United Nations’ LGBT rights protector” (The Guardian)
UN Creates LGBT Expert Post Despite Objections” (Voice of America)
Gay Rights Supporters Win UN Victory to Keep UN LGBT Expert” (AP via ABC News)

India Feature | Transwomen

Mayana Kollai: Hindu Transwomen’s Annual Oasis of Acceptance

Mayana Kollai, a festival honoring the Hindu goddess Angala Parameswari, provides a rare opportunity for the public acknowledgment of transwomen in India. The women—known as kothis, among other designations—transform into spiritually revered beings welcomed into homes for blessings and incorporated into major festival events. Offering brief respite from the social struggles faced by the Indian trans community including physical and sexual violence, the late-winter/early-spring celebration involves elaborate preparations for the women, some of whom have become minor celebrities in their own right. The New York Times features a photo series of kothis in the state of Tamil Nadu as they prepare for the festival, marking the bridge from social marginalization to divine honor.

View:
Mortal to Divine and Back: India’s Transgender Goddesses” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Candace Feit, via The New York Times)