Qatar: Conciliators, Regional Superpower, or Simply Another Wealthy Arab Nation?

sheikh tamim bin hamad al-thani amir of qatar e-u. high representative for foreign and security policy and Vice president of the european commission catherine ashton in doha, qatar

sheikh tamim bin hamad al-thani amir of qatar e-u. high representative for foreign and security policy and Vice president of the european commission catherine ashton in doha, qatar

DOHA, Qatar - An internationally renowned nation which was once known only for its pearl-fishing has become a major global player. Pumping out nearly 2.3 millions of barrels of natural gas a day which gets shipped around the globe as LNG, it is in the top 25 producers of oil and gas. (Source: Forbes) 

Unfortunately, it is also currently at the center of the FIFA scandal that is reverberating around the world, yet this is not the topic of discussion here.

In the 1940s the nascent country’s oil and gas industry was developed by Western nations as they continued to implement colonization strategies that included primary control of natural resources. This all changed in the 1990s when Qatar exercised greater control of the profits from its oil and gas industry thus transforming it into one of richest countries in the Emirates.

The government recognizes that shifting from a major global supplier of oil and gas will be a long and somewhat protracted process. But, the proactive open-market policies being instituted by the government is helping Qatar to become both a major financial hub in additional to a luxury tourist destination. At the start of 2015, Qatar’s economy was ranked a score of 70.8 according to the data tracked, which means that it is the 32nd most investor friendly economies in the world. With this type of recognition comes the ability to not only exert influence, but also encourages criticism as in the case of allegations of impropriety with the award to host the 2022 World Cup soccer games to Qatar.

Owing to economic diversification, investors from different parts of the world have taken a keen interest in doing business with the country as well as establishing corporate headquarters. The ramping up of foreign investments in infrastructure, finance and banking, products and services, etc. being delivered by these foreign corporations prognosticates some excellent job opportunities in Qatar, and is one of the main reasons that it was chosen as a host country for the games.

Qatar is often regarded as a study in contradictions and is known to be significantly more liberal than many of its neighbors. Apart from Saudi Arabia, the state of Qatar is the only Middle Eastern nation to adopt Wahhabism as its official state religion. The religious demographics in Qatar seem to support both the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and the militant Hamas movement, and the internecine conflict between the two is quite complex and sometimes terrifying. At the moment the ‘tug of war’ raging inside the Muslim world consists of two sides. The Salafi jihadis―or hardcore Wahhabis, who are financed and supported by Saudi Arabia versus the Muslim Brotherhood who are supported by Qatar on the other.

For years Qatar has been supporting and propagating the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda in different parts of the Middle East and North Africa through its Al Jazeera television network. Though this may seem partisan at first glance, history reveals a more nuanced story, one in which Qatar has maintained a very diplomatic approach towards an increasingly global religious dilemma. Qatar's ability to act as arbiter and play the role of conciliator was demonstrated in its role in achieving the 2008 ceasefire in Lebanon according to the online news site Asharq Al-Awsat.

Unfortunately, the world’s eyes are trained upon Syria and the tragedies that are occurring within its borders, and though Qataris are working behind the political scene to help support Syrians to establish a post-Bashar Hafez al-Assad governance, these efforts toward stabilization are not obviously visible. As with much that occurs in negotiations, what is seen in the public eye is rarely what occurs behind the scenes, and in this context Qatar always positions itself to ensure that its interests are preserved. One of the main motives and interest in facilitating peace in Syria is the hope that a more moderate form of Islam will prevail in a new Syria, and if successful, may help to garner a bigger seat at the table of powerful Arab nations.

The initiatives taken thus far reflect Qatar’s desire to continue in its role as conciliator in the global economic and religious amphitheater. Qatar hopes that by making greater strides with this goal through an open job market, flexibility in accepting the customs of foreigners within limits of decorum, and negotiating for an air of tolerance, balance, and acceptance will ultimately serve to change external perceptions. From the highest levels of government to the ordinary Qataris, there exists a desire to be counted amongst the most developed and advanced countries in the world, and thus the nation hopes to break the stigma of mistrust and judgment that plagues almost every Muslim nation today.

Middle East Correspondent:  @Vinita Tiwari

Changing Egypt: Sexual Harassment Criminalized

Allyson Cartwright, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 00:28 a.m. DST, 18 June 2014

Aliya Mehdi - علياء مهدي, Photo by Gigi Ibrahim

CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, has approved amendment to sexual harassment laws this month that would make sexual harassment a punishable offense with fines and prison sentences.

This action from Mansour also reflects newly-elected incoming President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s stance against sexual harassment. Sisi has recently been vocal about his condemnation of Egypt’s high sexual harassment rates.

According to CNN, the 2013 United Nations report, "Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women", showed that over ninety-nine percent of Egyptian women claim that they have been the victims of some kind of sexual harassment. And The Guardian says that since 2011, there have been over 250 mob sexual attacks at Cairo rallies, according to rights groups.

Mansour’s newly-passed law is a response to international pressure, especially from the US, to reform sexual harassment laws in Egypt. This new law will make sexual harassment a crime with the penalties ranging from fines of at least 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($420) to at least six months of jail time, according to Newsweek.

The law stratifies the severity of different forms of sexual violence, making the more severe have stricter punishments. The baseline definition of sexual harassment the law defines is "implying sexual or obscene gestures, including modern means of communication,” as reported by CNN. This level of harassment is punishable by at least six months in prison, barring any aggravated measure. More severely, CNN says, if the sexual harassment is made with "the intent of receiving sexual gratification from the victim," then the punishment could rise to one year in prison.

Egypt’s soon-to-be President Sisi, however, has come under fire in the past for his treatment of the country’s problems with sexual violence. It was under his leadership as military chief that he defended the Egyptian military’s use of “virginity tests” on female protesters who claim abuse, according to Newsweek.

Despite this, Sisi has recently made strides denouncing sexual harassment when he met publically with a victim, three days after his inauguration. The photocall involved Sisi bringing a bouquet of roses to the hospital bedside of a 19-year-old victim of a mob-related sexual assault, according to CBS News. The victim was at a rally celebrating the election of Sisi when she was stripped and attacked.

When Sisi met with the girl, video showed him standing at her bedside with hospital staff and military aides, as he apologized to the victim. CBS News says that in the video he tells her, "I have come to tell you that I am sorry. I am apologizing to every Egyptian woman." He goes on to say, "We as a nation will not allow this to happen again."

Furthermore, Sisi requested that YouTube remove the video of a sexual assault victim from the website on her behalf. The video shows the woman being stripped and dragged through Tahrir Square at a Sisi election rally, according to Newsweek.

The spokesperson for Sisi released a statement on the YouTube request saying, "The Egyptian embassy in Washington DC and a number of Egyptian authorities, at the direction of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, have requested the YouTube administration to remove the video of the sexual assault victim," it continued, "This came in response to her wish, which she expressed during the president's visit to her yesterday at the hospital to check on her condition."

The recent actions by Sisi are promising for the future of Egypt under his presidency. Mozn Hassan, the director of rights group Nazra for Feminist Studies said to The Guardian, "What Sisi did gives a clear message that the government recognizes that this is happening." However, Hassan skeptical of Sisi says, "But the problem is that saying sorry is not the state's responsibility. The state's responsibility is to bring accountability to the people who did it, and to implement a strategic, systematic plan to combat this and eradicate the issue."

Hopefully, with Manour’s criminalization of sexual harassment in addition to Sisi’s public condemnation of the crime, Egypt incidence of the crime will decrease and women’s rights improve. Egypt's National Council for Women seems to be optimistic as they say of the new laws, "(The decision) reflects the keenness of the state and the interest in the protection of women and preservation of their rights."

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

What the Election of Sisi Means for Egypt

Abdul Fattah el-Sisi

Abdul Fattah el-Sisi

CAIRO, Egypt—In a landslide victory, former military chief Abdul Fattah el-Sisi won the 2014 presidential election in Egypt on Thursday. However, his win is sparking concern for Egyptians who question what will become of the country by reinstating military rule.

El-Sisi resigned from his position as the Egyptian military chief earlier this year in order to receive a presidential bid. The state media says that the polls showed Sisi won with ninety-three percent of the vote. Ahram Online reported a victory message was posted on Sisi’s official campaign Facebook page read, "The nation has put itself, with its great people's will, on the beginning of the right track and has stepped firmly and trustingly ... towards the future they've chosen."

The overwhelming support for Sisi in the polls does not necessarily reflect the country’s sentiments, however. It was predicted that there would be a voter turnout of only forty-six percent. Presidential Elections Commission member Tarek Shebi assessed the final voter turnout at forty-eight percent, according to Ahram Online.

Such low numbers of voter turnout, coupled with the high support for Sisi create skepticism for the legitimacy of the election.  It was reported by CNN that officials even added an extra day to vote, Wednesday, to promote voting, but the attempt proved fruitless. This election did not top the 2012 elections with almost fifty-two percent voter turnout, which does not help Sisi prove his legitimacy.

In addition to the skeptical numbers, the election was plagued with accusations of misconduct. The only opposition, Hamdeen Sabahi claims that his campaign representatives were arrested and attacked, according to CNN. Also, they said that Sisi’s campaign representatives were illegally allowed inside polling places. Allegations of forgery were also made.

The criticism of voter fraud and small voter turnout could be explained by voting boycotts from Sisi detractors. It is reported by BBC News that the Islamist group called the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as some liberal and secular activist groups, boycotted voting in the elections. BBC News also reported a senior member of the Brotherhood, Tariq al-Zumar, called the elections a "theatrical play which did not convince anybody".

Those that celebrate Sisi’s victory hope that his presidency will reverse the radical conservatism that the country saw under the previous presidency of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi-supporters see it as defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood whom the ousted Morsi was a member of.

Sisi has had a relentless response to removing the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt. He is responsible for 16,000 detentions and 1,400 executions of Muslim Brotherhood members, according to BBC News. The group has since been declared a terrorist organization and banned from the country.

But, according to the numbers, there are supporters of Sisi. Al Jazeera says that most of his supporters are leftover Mubarak supporters, like former members of the regime and business people. Also, the Coptic Christians.

Despite the surrounding controversy, Hamdeen Sabahi, Sisi’s opposition, admits defeat. CNN reports Sabahi released the official statement conceding that said, "It is time to respect the people's choice and admit my loss."'

Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

A Political Façade | Egyptian Military Turns Against The People

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Michael Ransom, Senior CorrespondentLast Modified: 21:35 p.m. DST, 04 April 2014

Egyptian Protesters in Chicago, Photo Courtesy of MoMoNWICAIRO - In Egypt’s chaotic political climate, the most basic freedoms are granted one moment and abolished the next, not unlike the seasonal implementation and suspension of the nation’s Constitution.

The same Society of Muslim Brotherhood members that were freely elected into public office less than three years ago are now the subjects of mass incarceration and capital punishment under President Adly Mansour’s administration. And the vast demonstrations that yielded the nation’s first-ever public presidential election in 2012 are now being smothered by state security. Throughout the country, dissent is met with death.

Free speech, peaceful assembly and media protection are now privileges granted only at the convenience of Mansour and the military agenda that he serves. Diplomacy and debate have succumbed to totalitarian suppression. Following a short flirtation with democratic ideals, Egyptians are now subject to the classic tools of fear mongering.

Recent headlines out of Cairo mark the worst abuses to date. The Mansour ministry is responsible for over a thousand civilian deaths, hundreds of mass incarcerations without cause, the suppression and kidnapping of Al Jazeera reporters, unfair trials, and now new claims that some security agents routinely rape and beat jailed protestors. The international community is demanding transparency in the treatment of Egyptian prisoners.

News organizations within the transcontinental nation are reporting the use of rape and torture to intimidate dissenters. A student with suspected allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood has been in police custody in Nasr since February. Since his capture, he has been beaten, tortured and raped by security agents, according to Al Jazeera. Young men and women are both targets of sexual abuse during detainment. This intolerable police brutality is an instrument used to silence this outspoken demographic. Student populations have become so mobilized in the aftermath of former President Mohamed Morsi’s removal that the government has now issued a ban on protests at universities.

For the young man who was raped and attacked by authorities, allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood could carry a death sentence. Last month, 529 men were collectively charged with the killing of a one policeman. The group was found guilty in a proceeding that lasted only a few hours and offered no physical evidence against the individuals. Most were not afforded a defense team, but the lawyers present were unable to speak on their clients’ behalf. The judge sentenced the group to death. The unconscionable decision will likely be repeated when a group of over 600 alleged Brotherhood members stand trial in the coming weeks. Surely, the judicial action is nothing less than mass murder under the guise of democracy.

Objective observers are hard-pressed to find any evidence that the regional turmoil has spurred even baby-steps towards democracy. The reorganization is better described as a <em>do-si-do</em> maneuver, and while a few dancers retired and some others joined in, generally the Republic has returned to its original position on the international stage. Certainly, the political dance in Egypt has been lethal in the past three years.

Unlike Morsi, Mansour gained the presidential pedestal through the military intervention of Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, who was the Commander-in-Chief of Egypt until late last month. Longstanding poverty and ideological schisms could not be solved instantly, but many Egyptians celebrated the first free presidential election. Amidst fanatical disapproval of Morsi during his short stint in Cairo, el-Sisi issued a warning to the incumbent. The president had but two days to ease tensions and rally his countrymen and women together, or he would be driven out by any means necessary.

Advocates of Morsi and proponents of democracy would both agree that the new elect had already garnered the requisite support of his people just a year prior via the ballot boxes throughout Egypt’s 27 districts. Instead of implementing order in the streets according to his constitutional provisions, el-Sisi opted to suspend the constitution altogether. Since then, the mounting fears of unrest have been self-fulfilling, prompting violence between Egyptian neighbors and colleagues. The violence between clashing ideologies are secondary, however, to the totalitarian government’s crimes against humanity, which continue to concern watchdog groups such as Human Rights Watch.

In the final days of March, el-Sisi resigned from his Commander-in-Chief post and has declared his intention to run for the nation’s highest office in the upcoming 2014 election. El-Sisi’s efforts to separate his name from the current chaos will not go unnoticed. Should he be elected to the presidency in the future, certainly he would understand the fragile and temporary nature of the position. In the meantime, the international community will lobby to protect the Egyptian people and their democratic will.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Senior Correspondent: @MAndrewRansom

Egypt's Victors

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Ty Butler, Senior CorrespondentInternational Development and Conflict Last Modified: 23:59 p.m. DST, 22 August 2013

Egypt Special Troops ,Photo by Mahmoud  Gamal El-DinRAFAH, Egypt - At least 25 Egyptian police officers were killed on Monday near the Rafah crossing with Gaza in Egypt’s increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula region. The attack occurred as rocket propelled grenades stuck the security force’s transport while it was en route to a police barracks. Those officers not killed in the initial assault were forced onto the ground by gunmen and summarily executed.

The deaths mark one of the single largest attacks on Egyptian security officials in the Sinai since former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a military coup in early July. This attack however, was not one likely engaged in by pro-Morsi supporters.

While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the slaughter, it is not characteristic of current violence by Muslim Brotherhood supporters or by angry anti-coup protestors. Instead, it mirrors the tactics taken from the playbook of a third major factional arm of Egypt’s current political sphere which is fighting against both the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military.

This third major factional grouping, characterized by a mix of international and regional violent jihadi cells and organizations have thus far been the primary victors surrounding the crisis in Egypt. Islamist political organizations in Muslim majority countries tend to act as something of a barrier against violent radicalism. Some analysts of course may disagree and even suggest the exact opposite; that Islamist political parties aid in rooting conservative discourse into political and social spheres and thus nurture an atmosphere that is more conducive to jihadi recruitment.

Evidence from Iraq however, supports the idea that political Islamists who work within Brotherhood style groups do not tend to transfer into jihadi organizations. That being tentatively established, the military crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt becomes rather troublesome, not only for the sake of preserving democracy within Egypt, but in the fight against international and regional terrorism as well.

As political chaos grows, the position of international jihadis within Egypt strengthens. These militant organizations traditionally view the Muslim Brotherhood in very negative terms. Al Qaeda and related groups disagree vehemently with The Muslim Brotherhood’s dedication to gaining power through largely peaceful means, and often outright curse their willingness to participate within formal political processes. This tension can be seen throughout the jihadi community in numerous writings and statements.

Current leader of Al-Qaeda Central Ayman al-Zawahiri was by no means timid in his fairly harsh critique of the Muslim Brotherhood within his “book” Bitter Harvest. Zawahiri accused the Brotherhood of aligning with the West in the greater jihadi struggle, siding with apostate domestic regimes by participating in elections, and even of protecting Israel from Al-Qaeda.

This condemnation is often mirrored by the leadership of other Al-Qaeda affiliates and international jihadi groups; chief among which perhaps is the Islamic State in Iraq (formerly Al-Qaeda in Iraq) which openly blames the Muslim Brotherhood as the primary reason for its failures within Iraq.

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Published: 22 August 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

In Egypt, the current coup has the potential to leave Islamist youths wondering what exactly the Brotherhood’s pragmatism and dedication to formal political processes has gotten it. Military repression of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood opens a door to violent jihadis who are readily exploiting the situation to their advantage. The discord affords jihadis time to establish stronger roots in the region as primary attention is shifted elsewhere, while simultaneously allowing Al Qaeda and affiliated groups to say “we told you so.”

Jihadi propaganda machines have been running overtime rejoicing at the opportunity to discredit what they view as a flawed path at best, and as traitorous collaboration with Western Crusaders and their allies at worst. The days immediately following the coup saw the creation of at least two new public jihadi organizations within Egypt; Ansar al-Sharia Egypt (it is unclear if it has any connections with the existing Egyptian group that already carries the name), and the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam in Egypt.

Even absent jihadi propaganda, the violent reaction that some anti-coup protestors have demonstrated is highly concerning. Scores of Christian churches have been attacked since the coup in some of the worse displays of sectarian violence that Egypt has recently known. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood may officially stand against sectarian conflict, but that has not stopped disenfranchised individuals (whether or not they claim to support the Brotherhood) from expressing their anger in such ways; a sign perhaps of increasing polarization in the face of current political happenings. Tuesday’s arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual guide Mohamed Badie is unlikely to do much to help the situation, nor are talks of forcibly dissolving the Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood is not the ideal political partner in Egypt for the United States and other western countries. There is little denying that the organization is a conservative Islamist party, and one that is often quite vocal in its opposition to US foreign policy. Uncomfortable international dealings aside though, there is little to justify the coup in Egypt.

Simply put, the military ousted a democratically elected leader, dissolved a democratically elected parliament, and suspended a democratically approved constitution. President Morsi’s attempted power grab through the self-granting of extraordinary powers was deeply concerning. It is also true that there was popular disapproval of the political and economic climate under Brotherhood rule; however, such realities does little to diminish the imagery of yet more military strong arming within Egypt in direct violation of democratic mechanisms for the conveyance of disagreement (IE: voting).

The continued weakening of the Egyptian state apparatus through outright authoritarian crackdowns and the targeted marginalization of historically ideologically non-violent political Islamists can only play into the hands of those who advocate increased violence, both domestically and internationally. International jihadism has found itself an unwitting ally in the Egyptian military, and the repercussions will impact the security of all.

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Follow Ty Butler on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @TywButler

Death Toll Rises in Egypt

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Jessica Tanner, Staff WriterLast Modified: 11:42 p.m. DST, 9 July 2013

Egyptian Protester, Photo by J_P_DCAIRO, Egypt - A violent clash erupted in Cairo, Egypt on Monday that led to the deaths of more than 50 people. Top Egyptian security officials claim that they were defending the Republican Guard headquarters against attackers. According to Health Ministry official, Khaled al-Khatib announced the number of fatalities at 51 with 435 others left severely wounded.

Several witnesses report seeing the military and police fire as protesters took a break from holding a vigil at the Republican Guard headquarters to perform their dawn prayers. Interior Ministry spokesman, Hani Abdel-Latif tells a different story. Around 4am an “armed group” used bombs, rocks, and bullets to attack the area and the people safeguarding the headquarters building.

The officers told reporters that it is the job of the security forces to protect protesters. According to the officers, what occurred was an assault and their main focus at that time was to protect the institution.

According to The Freedom and Justice Party’s deputy chairman, Esam al Aryan, revealed on their Facebook site that four children were killed during the clash. Monday’s violent clash also deepened an existing crisis since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi. Many of Morsi’s supporters have been in daily battles with security forces since his public ouster.

A spokesperson, Nadar Baker said to reporters, “We will not remain silent on the Republican Guard Massacre.” Before Monday’s violent outbreak there had also been 30 deaths and 1,400 had suffered injuries following the coup. Egypt’s military declared over the weekend it was stepping up security efforts for the demonstrations. The statement read, “We also warn against any provocations or clashes with the peaceful demonstrators. Anyone who violates these instructions will be dealt with firmly in accordance with the law.”

Follow Jessica Tanner on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @JessTanner1991

 

Muslim Brotherhood & Vatican Condemn UN Efforts to Eliminate Violence Against Women

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Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 02:37 a.m. DST, 19 March 2013

Muslim women in burqas navigate a set of stairs at the Al-Ghouri complex in Islamic CairoEGYPT -- The battle between cultural and universal human rights has resurfaced at the United Nations. The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held their 57th conference from March 4 - 15th to approve the declaration that would work toward the elimination of violence against women and children.

The declaration passed on March 15, despite the objections from the Muslim Brotherhood, conservative Muslim countries, and the Vatican. The text of the declaration has not yet been published.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood criticized the document, claiming it was “deceitful” and clashed with Islamic principles about family, community, and Islamic societies. Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya, Nigeria, Sudan, Honduras, and the Vatican, though having expressed reservations about the declaration, did not block the adoption of the declaration.

CSW was established in 1946 for the advancement of women and gender equality. The declaration is non-binding, however, Aljazeera reports that diplomats and rights activists say that the declaration carries “enough global weight to pressure countries to improve the lives of women and girls.”

Prior to the passing of the declaration, a participant in the negotiations said that Egypt will seek out an opt-out clause, which would allow countries to implement the declaration according to their own traditions. However, Egypt’s motion failed, several countries saying that this clause would undermine the entire document.

According to the Muslim Brotherhood, the declaration is destructive to the institutions of family and community, and that the declaration calls for the return for the early Jahiliyyah. Jahiliyyah is the Islamic concept of “the state of ignorance of the guidance from God,” referring to the time period prior to the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad.

The Brotherhood also decried the declaration’s defense of homosexual rights, declaration of equality in inheritance, the use of contraception and abortion under the name of sexual and reproductive rights, and to cancel the obligatory authorization of the husband in travel, work, going out, or use of contraceptive.

The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the largest political forces in Egypt, and the group won Egypt’s presidency and controls the parliament. Its credo is, “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.”

The Brotherhood calls upon rulers of Islamic countries, their Foreign ministers, and their representatives in the UN to reject the declaration. Further, according to the translation of the Arabic statement by Jee Paules, the Muslim Brotherhood “call[s] for women’s organizations to adhere to their religion and the morals of their communities and the elements of our social life and not to be seduced by the deceptive, misleading and destructive calls for urbanization.”

The Associated Press said that even Libya’s top cleric raised similar concerns, saying that the document violates Islamic teachings.

However, according to Aljazeera, Egypt’s delegation said “it would not stand in the way of the declaration for the sake of women’s empowerment.”

The duality between universal and cultural human rights has been long debated. Cultural relativism asserts that human values are far from universal, and vary according to cultural perspectives. Groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood argue that human rights are culturally relative and should be subject to State discretion rather than international legal imperative. If the UN were to take the cultural relativism as their stance, States could then use this as a way to declare that their cultural norms were above international law.

Universal human rights suggest that regardless of culture, that there is a baseline of rights assumed for every human being. However, what is considered “universal rights” are constantly changing. Ultimately, the continuation of the fight for finding a medium between universal and cultural rights over time will allow for the opening of avenues for human rights in the international arena.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki