Visit our new British Pakistani Christians website

Visit our new British Pakistani Christians website
This site will no longer publish new material. Please join our new website

Saturday, 18 June 2011

House of Commons debate on Iranian persecution was a great success.

Learned people discussed the issues facing Pakistan.

Omid Djalili  impressed with his humour and wit whilst describing the prejudices he faced as  a young man.

Dr Nazila Ghanea - Oxford University Professor, Shadi Sadr - Iranian lawyer and women’s rights activist, Louise Ellman - MP (Chairman), Mike Gapes - MP Foreign Affairs Committee, Unnamed speakerOmid Djalili - Actor and comedian.

Dr Nazila Ghanea,Wilson and Omid Djalili 

On Wednesday 15th June 2011 I was invited to attend a debate in the House of Commons titled "Iran Human Rights in Crises".  The invite provided a brief synopsis of the direction of the discussion:

"Freedom of Religion and the Rights of Women.It has been three years since the arrest of seven Bahá'í 
leaders in Iran. They were detained on capital charges that their lawyer, Nobel laureate Dr Shirin Ebadi, has said are baseless.The seven Bahá’ís are today being held in appalling conditions – and the lives of the two women are in danger. To mark this anniversary, the All Party Parliamentary Friends of the Bahá’ís invites you to join the UK Bahá’í community, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and United for Iran, for a seminar on the freedom ofreligion and belief and the rights of women in Iran."

I have listed the panel guest below one of the pictures above and so will not repeat the excercise here, suffice to say it was a high powered panel with great influence an understanding of the situation facing Iranian Minorities.  UK Bahá’í community invited a number of Christian groups and it was great to see the collaborative effort to highlight persecution as a Minority issue and not specific to on faith (all Speakers ensured they spoke of the persecution of other minorities not just their own).  

The event was a productive one and in my usual manner I ensured I posed an early question, recognising that these debates allow sparing time for Q&A and second opportunities are rare.  My Question called for the creation of a working party commissioned to research and advocate for minorities globally.  I also sought a more open approach to religious asylum applications in the UK, as the majority are dismissed casually, due to a perceived reluctance to accept that religious intolerance exists.

Mike Gapes disagreed that a working party would serve any purpose, believing it would confuse things.  He said; "The UNHCR should be made to do their job.".  Although I agree in part with his premise I still desire a specific body in this country that will be able to challenge Governments and the UNHCR on religious persecution, as this would prevent the current UNHCR slippage and remove governmental disregard.  Besides in contemporaneous times who will make sure the UNHCR does what they are supposed to do?

Mike failed to respond to my question regarding asylum cases, but fear not another guest speaker concurred with my proposal and even highlighted the ridiculous investigation strategy deployed by the UKBA.  " some cases"  she said; "they simply ask what the sixth commandment is?"  

The naivety of the UKBA in understanding the level of literacy in minorities and their ability to hold to a blind but strong and passionate faith, makes me wonder who is the illiterate..?

My favourite bit of the day was when Omajid Djalili talked of how good a footballer he was in his youth.  Obviously he made a jest of it, and his visible physical shape has somewhat deteriorated since those days of course.  Omajid described how he was part of an Iranian university football team and got them to the semifinal by scoring a number of goals.  One night sometime before the final a colleague made a remark about Bahai's one that he responded to by explaining that he was from that particular faith.  As a result of the ensuing conversation he never received a call form the team again and missed the final. This unsavoury incident illustrates that cultural prejudices are global and that even today here in our beloved UK much must be done to create a more harmonious society.

No comments:

Post a Comment