Tag Archives: Iraq

Global Feature | Atheists & Secularists

The Global Effort to Rescue Persecuted Atheists


Source: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science/YouTube (September 2016)

With more than a dozen countries criminalizing atheistic expression and anti-atheist sentiment widespread even in purportedly secular countries, organizations have popped up around the globe to rescue persecuted atheists, lobby for civil rights, and promote community and security for atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers. Secular Rescue was launched by the Center for Inquiry in 2016 in response to the recent spate of murders of secularist Bangladeshi writers and intellectuals, and its efforts have drawn attention to the plight of freethinkers living in the Global South in need of asylum. The Atlantic recently profiled the organization as well as the conditions contributing to the greater visibility of atheists in regions conventionally assumed to be inhospitable to the growth of secularism and freethought.

Read

The ‘Underground Railroad’ To Save Atheists” (The Atlantic | January 2018)

Center for Inquiry Launches ‘Secular Rescue’ to Save Lives of Threatened Activists” (The Center for Inquiry | September 2016)

Connect

Secular Rescue

Atheist Asylum Program

 

Global Event | Christmas

Christmas for the Vulnerable Christians of the World


Source: Al Jazeera YouTube

One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas

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)

Iraq Feature | Ethnic & Religious Minorities

The Unweaving of Mosul

As the battle rages between the Islamic State and a coalition of forces led by the Iraqi government for control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, many of the ethnic and religious minorities who called it home for generations fear the city will never again be the tolerant, culturally rich home it once was. Sunnis, Shiites, Yazidis, Christians, Kurds, Arabs, and others all coexisted in the vibrant cultural landscape of a city with both historical and contemporary significance, but the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq and the recent occupation of Mosul by the Islamic State have all but decimated the minority communities that called the city home. The New York Times takes a look at the city’s decline, the uncertainty of its future, and the stories of those who once flourished in a cosmopolitan city known for its diversity and tolerance.

Read:
In Once-Tolerant Mosul, a Social Unraveling That Feels Permanent” (The New York Times)

Additional reading:
Iraq: Can Mosul survive ISIL?” (Al Jazeera)

(Image Credit: Felipe Dana/Associated Press, via The New York Times)

Iraq & Syria News | Yazidis

Thousands of Yazidis remain in captivity on anniversary of massacre
  • The U.N. reported that around 3,200 Yazidi women and girls are being held in sexual slavery and thousands of Yazidi men and boys are missing, many presumed dead.
  • August 3 marks the second anniversary of the Islamic State’s attack on Sinjar, Iraq, which left 10,000 Yazidis dead or enslaved in what observers have increasingly called a genocide.
  • Prior to the attack, Sinjar had been home to the largest Yazidi community in the world.

Read more:
Thousands of Yazidis missing, captive, two years after start of ‘genocide’: U.N.” (Reuters)
Yazidis Mark Second Anniversary of Islamic State Massacre” (Voice of America)
Yazidi Activist Nadia Murad Speaks Out on the ‘Holocaust’ of Her People in Iraq” (TIME)

(Image Credit: Z. Yasar/Voice of America)

Iraq News | Shiite Muslims

Islamic State attack on Shiite mausoleum leaves dozens dead
  • At least 35 people were killed and 60 wounded after a triple suicide attack near the Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi near Balad north of Baghdad.
  • Worshipers were marking Eid al-Fitr when a suicide bomber detonated himself at the shrine, allowing IS militants to storm in and shoot visitors and a second suicide bomber to detonate in the middle of the crowd.
  • The attack comes at the end of a global Ramadan that has been particularly bloody with attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh, and Iraq.

Read more:
At least 35 killed in attack on Shi’ite mausoleum north of Baghdad” (Reuters)
Iraq says Balad suicide blast is Isis attempt to stir up sectarian war” (The Guardian)
Iraqi PM fires head of security after shrine attack” (AP via Al-Arabiya)

(Image Credit: Stringer/Reuters)

Iraq News | Shiite Muslims

IS bombing of predominantly Shia neighborhood in Baghdad leaves nearly 300 dead
  • A truck bombing ripped through the Karrada shopping district of central Baghdad, many of the victims children out with their families to celebrate the end of the school year .
  • The attack was claimed by the Islamic State, the fourth such global attack coordinated or inspired by the group within the last month (following Orlando, Istanbul, and Dhaka).
  • IS, a Sunni extremist group, claimed to have attacked Shiite Muslims, also taking credit for a second bombing in the predominantly Shia neighborhood of al-Shaab that left at least two dead.

Read more:
Bombing Kills More Than 120 in Baghdad” (The New York Times)
Nearly 120 killed in overnight Baghdad bombings claimed by Islamic State” (Reuters)
Iraq: Baghdad bombings kill dozens” (Al Jazeera)

(Image Credit: Reuters, via Al Jazeera)

Interregional News | Yazidi Women

IS to be tried for crimes against Yazidi women in international court
  • Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney will prosecute the Islamic State for crimes against the Yazidi community including sexual slavery, rape, and genocide.
  • The prosecution follows a campaign by Yazidi advocates like Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who petitioned the U.N. Security Council and the international community to take action.
  • IS has accused Yazidis of being devil-worshippers, driven more than 700,000 from their homes in northern Iraq, and enslaved more than 7,000 women and girls.

Read more:
Exclusive: Amal Clooney to represent ISIS survivor Nadia Murad and victims of Yazidi genocide” (The New York Times)
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to defend Yazidi women, ISIS sex slaves” (Reuters)
Amal Clooney to represent Yazidi sex slaves and demand Isis genocide investigation at The Hague” (International Business Times)

(Image Credit: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images, via The New York Times)

Citations | Refugee Education

Citations
Education for Refugees, from Preschool to Professorship

Global emergencies like war, natural disaster, and health pandemics have uprooted families and disrupted education at all levels as displaced students have been deprived of access to schools. Students in early childhood, primary, secondary, and higher education as well as teachers, professors, and other educational professionals have experienced delayed educational and professional development during times of crisis, disabling dreams and prospects for the future. Whether in Malaysia, Greece, or Lebanon, displaced communities have struggled to adjust to lost livelihoods, new cultures, and uncertain futures.

As the average duration of displacement has dramatically increased over the last three decades, international humanitarian organizations have been pressed to develop long-term programs and partnerships to replace short-term emergency educational provision. These challenges have been compounded by the disproportionate burden of education in emergencies shouldered by developing countries, where refugee populations vastly outnumber those in high-income countries. Over time, the educational pipeline has come to look less like a pipe than a funnel, with progressive exclusion and decreasing resources constraining opportunity as refugee children age. Workarounds developed in earlier stages have at times installed barriers for students at more advanced education stages as credentialing standardization and selective admissions disadvantage students from newly developed, temporary, and informal educational institutions outside of the national curriculum.

From connected learning hubs in refugee camps in Kenya to elementary classrooms in Canada, technological innovation and international coordination have worked to connect displaced students to well-resourced institutions and support educational continuity through crises. Meanwhile, new momentum in the development of transnational platforms for educational financing, advising, and service delivery has reinvigorated the global education community and increased commitment to education for all, regardless of circumstance. Here is a look at select recent news, features, and open research on and resources for global refugee education and scholar protection: Continue reading Citations | Refugee Education

Interregional News | Shiite Muslims

Execution of Saudi Shiite leader sparks protests throughout the Middle East and South Asia
  • From Saudi Arabia to India by way of Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, Shiite Muslims protested the Saudi government’s execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
  • Nimr had been convicted of order followers to attack the police, a crime of “banditry” that carries an automatic death sentence.
  • Before his arrest in 2012, Nimr had publicly called for nonviolent demonstrations to draw attention to the oppression of the minority Shia community in Saudi Arabia.

Read more:
Shi’ite Muslims worldwide decry execution of Saudi cleric” (Reuters)
Protests in Kashmir, Bahrain and Pakistan over killing of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr” (The Guardian)
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Figurehead Shia cleric” (BBC)

(Image Credit: AFP, via BBC)

Western Asia Feature | Middle-Eastern Christians

The Twilight of Christianity in the Region of Its Birth

The Middle East has seen its culturally diverse population fractured by ever-increasing fault lines over the last century, from colonialism and nationalism to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Sunni-Shia sectarianism to fundamentalist Sunni extremism.  As a dwindling religious minority, Christians in the Middle East have seen the threat to their existence multiply exponentially after nearly two millennia of peaceful coexistence with other religious communities in their homeland.  The New York Times Magazine explores Christianity’s decline and contemporary existential threats in a region where extremism has subjected the community to exile, forced conversion, and execution.

Read the full feature at the New York Times Magazine.

(Image Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times)

Iraq News | Muslims

Displaced Iraqis find support across sectarian lines in central Iraq
  • In cities like Najaf and Hillah, Sunni and Shiite Muslims alike have provided humanitarian support to those displaced by Islamic State violence regardless of affiliation.
  • Communities have rallied to include all in free evening iftar dinners and other forms of charity during Ramadan, with new arrivals discovering new economic opportunity as well.
  • In late June, the UN put the number of internally displaced Iraqis at 3 million, mostly from the northern and western provinces.

“In reality, the situation is very different from what media outlets interested in political spats report. … You will not find sectarianism here. Sectarianism is found among political elites and armed factions, especially those who came from outside of Iraq, most notably IS.”

Read the full story at Al-Monitor.

(Image Credit: Ahmed Saad/Reuters, via Al-Monitor)

Refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq, tries to bring hope to displaced youth through education
  • Led by Father Douglas al-Bazi in the neighborhood of Ankawa, the Mar Elia camp provides youth with a library, music lessons, games, organized trips, and English courses in addition to the standard education curriculum, funded by private donations.
  • The camp opened in Iraqi Kurdistan last year, initially taking in 500 displaced Christians.
  • With larger populations and few to no private resources, neighboring camps struggle to provide basic services like basic education and medical services, making a spot in Mar Elia a prized commodity in the region.

“When the kids arrived here, they were completely lost for the first two weeks, angry and selfish. I remember the first time we offered them toys; within five minutes they destroyed them all. … Our kids, if they don’t have education, if they don’t have someone to look after them, do you think they are going to work for NASA? I don’t think so. It’s easy for IS to thrive among abandoned people.”

Read the full story at Al-Monitor.

(Image Credit: Sebastien Chatelier, via Al-Monitor)

The NY Times has published a graphically enhanced look at the global migration crisis that is being called the worst since World War II
  • 38 million have been displaced within their own countries, while 16.7 million refugees have fled internationally.
  • Roughly 11 million Syrians and 3 million Iraqis have been internally displaced, while 4 million Syrians have left the country, straining the intake abilities of neighboring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
  • Approximately 25,000 Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants have been trafficked via sea in Southeast Asia, some finding conditional acceptance in Indonesia and Malaysia and others being repatriated.
  • To date, around 78,000 have traveled across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa and Turkey, fleeing violence, persecution, and poor economic prospects in North, West, and East Africa.
  • Finally, the conflict in Ukraine has displaced 1.3 million inside the country and sent 867,000 abroad, mostly to Russia with few European countries willing to accept them.

More on this story at The New York Times.