No Afghans Allowed: Iranian Store Owner Punished Over Racist Shop Sign
No Afghans Allowed: Iranian Store Owner Punished Over Racist Shop Sign
Iranians protested after Afghans living in the city of Isfahan were denied access to a public park. One of the signs reads, “I Am Also An Afghan.
That was the sign on the window of a retail store in the Iranian city of Nazarabad, located in the western province of Alborz Video footage of the racist shop sign first appeared in May, prompting widespread outrage among Afghans and Iranians on social media
The estimated 1 million Afghan migrants and refugees who reside in Iran have long complained of mistreatment and discrimination. Many Afghans work in menial jobs and are blamed for crime and drug trafficking Prosecutor Ruhollah Ahmadi said on June 8 that the shop owner, whose name was not revealed, was arrested and expressed his regret and remorse for his ugly act according to Iran’s official news agency IRNA Ahmadi said the shop owner was given a suspended jail sentence and ordered to issue a formal apology to the Afghan community, offer discounts to Afghan nationals for three months, and conduct research on the history of the friendship between the two neighbors who have deep cultural, linguistic, and historical ties Ebrahim Noruzifar, the head of a media organization in Alborz run by the Basij paramilitary force, said the presence of Afghans alongside Iranians “on the battlefield” in Syria against the Islamic State (IS) extremist group was an expression of the fraternity” between the two peoples.
Uncle And Nephew Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder Freed After 42 Years
Uncle And Nephew Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder Freed After 42 Years
Clifford Williams, 76, and his nephew Hubert ‘Nathan’ Myers, 61, shed tears as the judge read out the ruling finally vindicating the pair after years of trying to clear their namesUncle And Nephew Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder Freed After 42 Years According to reports they are the first to have successfully cleared their names since the attorney’s office in Jacksonville began looking into claims of wrongful conviction last year
Cameras outside the courthouse caught the moment the pair left as free men with Mr Myers dropping to the floor and kissing the ground, while their supporters praised God for the ruling As he stood up Mr Myers was then heard saying:Speaking to local media he admitted he to nerves before the hearing saying I’m nervous you know because I feel like I’m still locked up he confessed Once I get with my family and you can look back and not have any officers telling me what to do and how to do it then reality hit me I think I’ll be alright Mr Williams told the press the most heartbreaking thing about being locked up for so many years was that he never got to reconnect with some of those closest to him sadly dying.
Why White Supremacist Attacks Are on the Rise, Even in Surprising Places
While President Trump answered a query about whether he thinks white nationalism is a growing global threat, in a press conference following the Islamophobic terrorist attacks that targeted two New Zealand mosques and killed 50 people on March 15, he was dismissive: “I don’t, really,” Trump said. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
This statement puts him at odds with the beliefs of people studying the matter. As University of Southern California homeland security scholar and former FBI agent, Erroll Southers has said, white supremacy is no longer a movement on the fringes but rather “is being globalized at a very rapid pace.” This is happening within a larger trend. University of Maryland professor Gary LaFree, who established the Global Terrorism Database, has observed that, “We’re seeing terrorism affecting a larger number of countries.”
But why is this happening now?
According to research conducted both at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, which I direct, and beyond, it has become clear that political polarization has provided an opportunity for violent bigots, both on- and offline. Times of change, fear and conflict offer extremists and conspiracists a chance to present themselves as an alternative to increasingly distrusted traditional mainstream choices. White nationalism has reflected a coarsening of mainstream politics, where debates on national security and immigration have become rabbit holes for the exploitation of fear and bigotry.
The U.K.’s Home Office reports that hate crime there surged following the Brexit vote in the summer of 2016, shortly before which a Member of Parliament who opposed the referendum was murdered. Our forthcoming analysis of FBI data, done in conjunction with Cal State’s John Reitzel and West Virginia University’s James Nolan, also found that November 2016 was the worst month for hate crime in the U.S. since September 2002, with 758 incidences; the day after the election, Nov. 10, was the worst day since June 2003, with 44 incidences alone. And while there was an initial increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes after the 2015 jihadism-inspired terror attack in San Bernardino, such crimes surged to even higher levels five days later, when Trump said there should be a “total and complete shutdown” of allowing Muslims to enter the United States.
President Donald Trump Message on Nowruz, 2019
President Donald Trump Message on Nowruz, 2019
I send my warmest wishes to those in the United States and around the world observing the ancient holiday of Nowruz.
Nowruz is a special time of thanksgiving and celebration for many across western and central Asia and especially in Iran to gather and reflect on the blessings of the previous year as they prepare with a renewed spirit of optimism for the coming of spring Sadly the Iranian people are once again unable to share fully in the joy of this occasion. This year as they have each year for the past four decades they mark the arrival of spring under the heavy burden of the oppression of their country’s ruthless and corrupt regime.The Iranian people desire to reclaim their country’s proud history expressive culture and rightful place on the world stage. They deserve a government that is accountable to them and that treats them with dignity and respect The Iranian regime, however rejects these principles. As a result every day life for the people of Iran is tragically at odds with the true meaning of Nowruz, which is Farsi for new day and carries tremendous hope for a day when good triumphs over evil and sorrow gives way to joy.
Safe drinking water, sanitation, are ‘basic human rights’: new UN Water Development report
Safe drinking water, sanitation, are ‘basic human rights’: new UN Water Development report
Safe water and access to proper sanitation are essential to eradicate poverty, build peaceful societies and ensure that no one is left behind on the path towards sustainable development according 2019 UN World Water Development Report, launched on Tuesday in Geneva
In collaboration with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs and the World Water Assessment Programme the report Leaving no one Behind stresses that water for all is entirely achievable Access to safe affordable and reliable drinking water and sanitation services are basic human rights the report spells out. And yet billions still lack these facilities. The report underscores that exclusion, discrimination poverty and inequalities are among the main obstacles to achieving the water related goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While the wealthy generally receive high levels of service at low prices, the poor often pay a much higher price for services of similar or lesser quality. It is insane that often in slum areas, people have to pay more for a volume of water than people living it better off neighbourhoods Stefan Uhlenbrook UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme coordinator said at the launch.
Trump-Kim Summit Seen Unlikely to Touch on Human Rights
North Korea’s human rights issues are likely to be sidelined at the upcoming second summit between Washington and Pyongyang, according to experts, but a top U.N. rights official hopes progress is made on the subject.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi Feb. 27-28, with hopes of making progress on denuclearization following vague outcomes reached at the historic first summit in Singapore in June.
Trump said he mentioned North Korea’s human rights issues at the first summit, but some observers criticized him for what they saw as shrugging off Pyongyang’s human rights record while meetiTomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea, stressed that it is important “North Korea meets and starts a dialogue” with U.N. officials, and said he hoped Trump would raise the subject of human rights at the summit.
“What I would like to see coming from the summit in the upcoming month is concrete and tangible results in regards to the engagement of North Korea with my office,” Quintana told VOA’s Korean service last week. “And that would be the starting point, the starting point to then address substantive issues on North Korea.”ng with Kim.
Not a security threat
Other experts, however, say human rights are unlikely to be on the summit agenda because North Korea’s violations of international norms do not directly threaten U.S. security.
Ken Gause, director of the International Affairs Group at the Center for Naval Analyses, said, “If the United States is planning on going in there and trying to make some headway on denuclearization, they will probably not say anything about human rights, or keep it to a minimum.”
Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said human rights were unlikely to be discussed because the subject “does not impact the U.S., its allies, and other [countries] of Northeast Asia in anything like the existential threat of missile and/or nuclear attack.”
Signs depicting U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are displayed in a barbershop in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 19, 2019. The two leaders have become style icons ahead of their upcoming summit in Hanoi.
Some experts also warn that bringing up human rights with North Korea in the early stages of negotiations on denuclearization will be counterproductive.
“If [Trump] wants to get anything done with North Korea, he probably shouldn’t bring it up, because North Korea will recoil against any attempts to lecture them on human rights,” said Gause.
John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy in Focus, agreed, saying, “I believe if the United States wants to get a deal on North Korea’s nuclear program, it should stick to talking about national security questions.”
‘Code’ for regime change
Manning said mentioning human rights to North Korea, which “terrorizes its citizens to maintain order and social control,” will be seen as “a code word for regime change.”
Quintana agreed, adding, “North Korea has seen the issue of human rights for decades as an issue used for political purposes, an issue used to change the system of North Korea.”
Experts said human rights would most likely be brought up in the future if there were improvements in North Korea’s relationships with the U.S. and the international community.
Discrimination and Inaccessibility Prevent Blind People From Obtaining Employment in Iran
Every October 15 is marked in Iran by White Cane Safety Day, which according to the National Federation of the Blind, is dedicated to raising awareness about safety and independence for people living with blindness and partial sight.
To mark the occasion in 2018, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) interviewed blind people in several Iranian cities about the obstacles they face obtaining employment despite the passage of laws during the past fourteen years guaranteeing people with disabilities jobs in certain employment sectors.
According to Article 15 of Iran’s Law for the Protection of the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which was approved by the Guardian Council on April 11, 2018, “The government is required to allocate at least three percent of official and contractual employment opportunities in government agencies, including ministries, organizations, institutions, companies and public and revolutionary organizations, as well as other entities that receive funding from the national budget to qualified persons with disabilities.”
Despite an earlier version of this law being ratified by Iran’s Parliament in 2004, the government has still not released any statistics on how the three percent rule is being implemented. Compounding this problem is the lack of accurate statistics on blind people in general.
The government’s lack of a system for compiling statistics about this vulnerable segment of society, such as how many people live in Iran with low vision or blindness, has resulted in officials making wildly different claims about important issues faced by this community, including the employment rate.
For example, on October 14, 2018, Hossein Nahvinejad, the State Welfare Organization’s (SWO) deputy in charge of rehabilitation, said the unemployment rate among blind people in Iran is 40 percent. But in 2017 he had claimed it was 80 percent.
“When there are discrepancies in the statistics about the blind in the country, naturally there will be differences in the unemployment rate,”
Pouya, an Iran-based advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, told CHRI.
“What is certain is that unemployment is very common among the blind and it would be impossible to imagine that half of them found jobs in the past year,” he added.
The individuals who agreed to discuss their experiences for this report requested anonymity to protect their personal security.
Humiliation and Unnecessary Pressure
Blind people in Iran face an array of obstacles obtaining employment, beginning with the lack of reading options for the blind, such as braille, when the job in question requires a written test.
Maryam, a 26-year-old resident of Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province, has a degree in psychology with a specialization on children with disabilities, yet she was treated like she was a nuisance instead of given a fair chance to apply for a job in the Education Ministry:
I mentioned my disability in the employment form but the evaluation test questions were not sent to me in braille due to the carelessness of the officials. On the day of the test, they were very rude to me and asked why I had not informed them of my blindness. I told them I had stated I was in their form. It wasn’t my fault.
Then a secretary there came and read the test questions for me. She had poor knowledge of math and literature and couldn’t read the questions properly so I didn’t mark answers for a lot of them. In the end, she told me to sign my test sheets. I always carry a stamp, which I use instead of signing my name by hand. But for some reason, they didn’t accept my stamp and told me to use a pen to sign my name.
My signature looks like a circle or sometimes like horizontal and vertical lines. But they didn’t accept that either and said I needed to properly sign all the sheets in the same proper way. I still don’t understand why I had to do that. These wrong attitudes humiliate the blind and put unnecessary pressure on them.
Reza, a 23-year-old resident of Rasht, Gilan Province, has a degree in social sciences. He told CHRI that even the SWO, the main agency tasked with providing services to people with disabilities, has not implemented measures that would enable blind people to take employment tests.
“You can even find problems in the employment tests conducted by the SWO, despite it being the top government organ in charge of caring for the disabled,” he said.
“One time I went to the SWO to apply for a job,” added Reza. “They blamed me for not having someone with me to read the questions on the form. They said it wasn’t their job to read the questions for me.”
“If the SWO doesn’t accept us, who will?”
According to Article 11 of the Law for the Protection of the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, 30 percent of telephone operator positions in Iran must go to people who are blind, living with low vision or to people with physical and mobility disabilities.
But Reza told CHRI that not only is this stipulation extremely restrictive, it has also become nearly obsolete due to the fact that most people don’t use phone operators anymore, opting instead for the ease of use of their mobile phones and other digital devices:
“Everybody thinks that a blind person can only be a phone operator. But with the advances in communication networks, there’s no longer a need for phone operators. It has disappeared from the job market for the blind. My friends and I went to look for jobs like marketing, packaging and typing but all the officials politely threw us out. They said we need healthy people.”
On October 14, the SWO’s deputy in charge of rehabilitation claimed there are “about 50 special training centers for the blind” that teach telephone operation and secretarial skills as well as handicrafts. But Reza told CHRI the facilities fail to provide sufficient training that could be applied to existing work opportunities in Iran.
The SWO is not providing any training in mobility directions or classes in areas such as computer science or the English language. Many families do not have high incomes and cannot afford private classes. The SWO has a duty to provide these classes, especially on how to find directions so that when blind go somewhere for work, they know how to navigate without help from others.
Maryam told CHRI that the SWO has refused to step in to enable blind and other people living with disabilities to obtain employment:
I have gone to the SWO office several times and asked officials to find us factory jobs. I even said I would accept all responsibility. We can do packaging operations very well. But they said they were not allowed to interfere in such matters.
My question is: If the SWO cannot step in, and state organizations can easily disregard the law, then why bother legally requiring the three percent allocation of state jobs for people with disabilities?
Since I have a degree in psychology, I asked for a job as an adviser in the social emergency services on an hourly basis. But the official in charge said I was not capable of doing it because I’m blind. If the SWO doesn’t accept us, who will?
Reza told CHRI he had applied at some 30 organizations but that they had all politely, and sometimes disrespectfully, rejected him:
At the state-funded Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation, “a gentleman made fun of me for asking for a job. He said ‘are you really asking for a job?’ I said yes. He said, ‘boy, if I hire you I would have to hire another person just to take you to the bathroom and do your work.’ I told him, ‘didn’t you notice I came here from home by myself? I came from downstairs to your office on my own.’ Then I angrily left.
Iran Fails to Deliver on Domestic and International Commitments
Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was ratified by Iran in 2008, urges member states to remove employment discrimination obstacles and provide job training and accessibility in the workplace for people living with disabilities.
But the people interviewed for this report told CHRI they haven’t seen positive developments beyond the words written on those legal documents.
“The SWO and people with disabilities are concentrating their efforts on implementing the three percent allocation of state jobs but the fact is that attention must also be paid to enhancing the skills of people with disabilities and improve accessibility in their work environment,” disability rights activist Pouya told CHRI.
“For instance, one of my blind friends had been hired by a private company but the ill-informed company officials would not allow him to screen-reader software for the blind on his office computer,” he said. “The question is, how do they expect a blind person to work like his colleagues if they don’t provide enabling capabilities?”
Research: Restricting free speech isn’t the solution to violence and hate speech
The fight to protect freedom of speech is ancient and can be traced through history from Socrates, Milton, and Voltaire to Hypatia and Goldman. The issue is currently undergoing a resurgence with figures like Jordan Peterson, Christina Hoff Sommers, Count Dankula, Sarah Silverman, Laci Green, Amy Schumer, and so on.
Whether politics or comedy, left-wing, right-wing, or apolitical, free speech permeates every aspect of life. What’s more is that censorship has led to some of the world’s greatest tragedies and most oppressive authoritarian regimes.
Most people want less violence, racism, sexism, and bigotry. In order to achieve this, we must find the most efficient approach to increasing peace so that we can generate a sustainable social fabric in our shared physical and digital worlds. To this end, we must examine censorship from an empirical and scientific viewpoint in order to establish optimal solutions.
In popular culture, there is a clear split in opinion about the best way to handle this. Major news outlets regularly publish pieces condemning free speech platforms, outlets and individuals they believe are guilty propelling the spread of bigotry. While this solution appears to be obvious, it disregards an existing and growing body of evidence that shows censorship most often backfires.
The Streisand Effect
This phenomenon is called the “Streisand Effect” after a well-documented study by the University of Wollongong. Barbra Streisand attempted to block access to photography of her Malibu mansion in 2003. She sued both the photographer and the photo sales company for violating privacy laws, but the publicity created a frenzy in which the photographs were downloaded 420,000 times within a month.
It completely backfired, as accomplished professor of history, Antoon de Baets, wrote in his book Censorship Backfires: “Censorship may not suppress alternative views but rather generate them, and, by doing so, become counterproductive.” (pp. 223–234).
Indeed, a 2017 study titled, “You Can’t Stay Here: The Efficacy of Reddit’s 2015 Ban Examined Through Hate Speech,” showed that banning hate speech on the website simply pushed people onto other sites. Although banning the hate speech did reduce controversial content on their specific platform, the overarching sentiment of the study is found in its conclusion:
In a sense, Reddit has made these users (from banned subreddits) someone else’s problem. To be clear, from a macro perspective, Reddit’s actions likely did not make the internet safer or less hateful. One possible interpretation, given the evidence at hand, is that the ban drove the users from these banned subreddits to darker corners of the internet.
The Reddit study serves as a focal point for the conclusions we can draw about censorship in the global community. Instead of isolated instances of banning, the world is causally affected by digital book burnings, ubiquitous web censorship, prohibition, and so on.
The constitutional ban on alcohol that took place from 1920 to 1933 is one of the most famous examples. Although it intended to prevent the distribution of alcohol, numerous retrospective studies show that it led to increased crime and consumption.
Studies by Pew Research show that America is the most tolerant country in the world when it comes to free speech. But hate groups do exist, and uncomfortable situations will happen. The most important question is how to deal with these situations.
We may be able to find the answer in the work of Daryl Davis, a famous blues musician with a hobby of befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. According to him: “Once the friendship blossoms, the klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided.” By having dinner with Klansmen, he has inspired over 200 members to give up their robes.
This idea was taken to a broader context by the American Civil Liberties Union. They promoted a powerful advertisement in which a woman wearing a hijab was standing before graffiti that read “Muslims Go Home.” In the following frame, young men held signs proclaiming “Freedom of religion” and “Love thy Neighbor.” The message ends with their ultimatum: “Fight Hate Speech with More Speech”.
Age of the internet trolls
On the internet, the most common abuse happens in the form of trolling. The knee-jerk reaction to simply censor or ban the trolls is commonplace, but just as dangerous as the above-mentioned studies show. A 2014 study from the University of Manitoba shows that many trolls share the trait of sadism. The trouble is that pushing sadistic trolls away from the mainstream is to push them into desolate corners where their desires will intensity.
A Unesco study says that banning trolls is akin to “whack-a-mole” — they’ll just pop up somewhere else. What’s more is that a Brooking’s study concludes that removing accounts will only “increase the speed and intensity of radicalization for those who do manage to enter the network.” In other words, engaging trolls in a discussion will ultimately disarm their greatest weapon of polarization.
This was clearly seen when the United Kingdom heavily censored internet traffic in 2011 as a result of political unrest around the world, including violent uprisings and the Arab Spring. The results of a study from the University of Greenwich concluded that the net result was actually an increase violence and uprisings.
Grouping people of dissenting ideas into one closed group only reinforces their undesirable behavior and entrenches their thought process into an endless loop of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias. In a word, it creates an echo-chamber of violence.
What is the path forward? It likely consists of a hybrid approach including:
- An alliance of social networks, thought-leaders, scientists, organizations, corporations, and governments to commit to a macro-global strategy of achieving peace through free speech and open source technology
- Technology that helps users control their experience as much as possible through muting, blocking, reporting, and filtering
- Human support to those in need, both online and offline
- A long-term study on the effects of transforming hateful and violent behavior through free speech, in a context that understands language, humor, etc. — with a combination of human review and AI tools (not without user-consent and fully in line with digital rights practices)
- Call for papers to create an archive of all research and studies related to censorship, free speech, hate speech, violence, and above-mentioned topics
It is essential that participants in this project come from across the political spectrum to face these issues head-on create a plan for a successful global initiative. The future of internet freedom and human rights depends on it.
Opinion: Racism under the guise of tradition
Ohio used to be home to many Native American tribes, most of which were murdered or displaced. But this information is not news to any of the folks at the June 12 meeting at Anderson High School, where the debate over whether to keep the name and logo “Redskins” ended on the affirmative.
I graduated from Anderson High School in 2001. I donned team uniforms and spirit wear bearing the name and visage of a racial stereotype. My friends and I naively painted our faces with war paint and put feathers in our hair before attending football games. I didn’t think twice about it, because I didn’t know anyone who was Native American. I barely knew anyone who wasn’t white. It never dawned on me that we were co-opting a culture for our own purpose while perpetuating racial slurs and stereotypes. I didn’t even realize they were stereotypes – until I moved away and grew up.
Full disclosure: I was not at the meeting on June 12. I am no longer an Anderson resident, nor did I ever intend to send my own children to Anderson High School. The reported behavior of some of the members of the Branding Committee and the audience members is largely why. The Native American community has already expended significant energy and resources informing the public about the harm of using the phrase “redskins,” and Anderson High School leadership continues to ignore it.
I’m embarrassed that adults argue on behalf of the majority at the expense of an intentionally disenfranchised minority. It’s horrific to cite finances as a reason to maintain racist institutions when we got rich and comfortable off the backs of the aforementioned minority. It’s misleading to cherry pick polls supporting your position, and it’s socially irresponsible to default to the impossibility of making everyone happy.
Doing the work of reconciliation is hard. It is expensive. It is uncomfortable. It is bound to generate some social casualties. But, it is also critical and must be championed by the resourced majority. If you actually want to honor the heritage and dignity of Native Americans, defend their lands. Reject Columbus Day. Advocate for programs that prioritize resources for impoverished Native Americans. Don’t continue the legacy of passing stereotypes down to our future generations, your children and the students in your district in the name of tradition.
In the words of Lewis Carroll, “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”