African migrant workers violently attacked, one deported in Lebanon
- A crowd of people beat and dragged two migrant workers in Bourj Hammoud, a suburb of Beirut.
- The police arrested the two women along with two of the attackers, and one of the women was reportedly deported back to Kenya on an alleged visa violation.
- Progressive advocates condemned the treatment of the women by both the mob and the justice system, arguing it reflects broader abuse of the some 200,000 migrant workers in Lebanon including wage withholding and limited access to justice.
“Lebanese activists angry after assaulted Kenyan is deported” (The Guardian | July 2018)
“Kenyan woman beaten in viral video deported” (The Daily Star | July 2018)
“Assaulted, imprisoned, deported: Shamila’s story – an all-too-familiar violent narrative facing migrant women in Lebanon” (The Anti-Racism Movement, commentary | July 2018)
Israeli parliament passes law formally establishing country as Jewish nation-state
- The new basic law codifies a number of ultranationalist principles, including Hebrew as the sole national language, the expansion of Jewish settlement as a national priority, Jewish symbols as national symbols, and a unified Jerusalem as the nation’s capital.
- Previously, Israel existed formally as a multiethnic democratic state, with Arabic as the second national language and the concerns of Arab Israelis—who comprise a fifth of the population—at least nominally afforded equal weight in matters of national identity and self-determination.
- While some observers have dismissed the law as largely symbolic, Arab lawmakers and progressive advocates argue it provides the legal ground for segregation and discrimination and reduces ethnic and religious minorities to a second-class citizenship.
“Israel Passes Controversial Jewish Nation-state Bill After Stormy Debate” (Haaretz | July 2018)
“Israeli Law Declares the Country the ‘Nation-State of the Jewish People’” (The New York Times | July 2018)
“Israel passes controversial ‘Jewish nation-state’ law” (Al Jazeera | July 2018)
Israeli troops kill dozens, injure more than 2,000 Palestinians as U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem opens
- More than 50 Palestinian protesters—most unarmed and including children—have been killed and more than 2,200 injured by Israeli forces after tens of thousands of Palestinians arrived at the fence between Gaza and Israel to protest.
- Multiple nations and international organizations condemned Israel’s use of lethal force as a violation of international law.
- Nearly 100 have died since the Great March of Return began in late March, when Palestinians initiated demonstrations demanding the right to return to their homeland ahead of the 70th anniversary of their expulsion.
“Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border as U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem” (The New York Times | May 2018)
“Israeli forces kill dozens in Gaza as U.S. Embassy opens in Jerusalem” (Reuters | May 2018)
“Gaza clashes: 52 Palestinians killed on deadliest day since 2014” (BBC News | May 2018)
Israel announces deportation plan for tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers
- Some 40,000 African asylum-seekers—many activists and other dissidents from Sudan and Eritrea—are facing expulsion or imprisonment in Israel, with fewer than 1% of applicants having been granted refugee status.
- The Israeli government announced that asylum-seekers will have 90 days to accept $3,500 and a plane ticket to a classified third country (speculated to be Rwanda or Uganda) or face incarceration.
- In response, a network of more than a hundred rabbis called the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement has formed and pledged to protect asylum-seekers from deportation.
“Israel to tell African migrants: leave or face indefinite imprisonment” (The Guardian | January 2018)
“Mass expulsion under way as Israel begins deporting 40,000 Africans” (Middle East Eye | January 2018)
“Inspired by Anne Frank, Rabbis in Israel Plan to Hide African Asylum Seekers Facing Deportation” (Haaretz | January 2018)
“Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees” (Foreign Policy | June 2017)
The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants
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.
“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)
Atheist Asylum Program
The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.
Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.
“As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)
“For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)
Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli facilities win increased visitation rights following hunger strike
- Incarcerated Palestinians were granted a second visitation day per month following a 41-day hunger strike in the lead up to Ramadan and the 50th anniversary of Israel’s seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- Nearly 1,000 protesters took part in the strike, which ended following a deal struck by Israeli prison officials, the Palestinian Authority, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- More than 6,000 Palestinians are incarcerated in Israeli prisons for offenses ranging from throwing stones to murder.
“Mass Palestinian hunger strike in Israeli jails ends after visitation deal” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Palestinian Prisoners End Hunger Strike in Israel After 40 Days” (The New York Times | May 2017)
“Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike, Israel says it met none of their demands” (The Times of Israel | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters, via The New York Times)