What Religious Freedom? – The Al Baqee Organization calls out Saudi Arabia over egregious human rights violations against minorities

SHAFAQNA – If Saudi Arabia has often called upon its status of Custodian of the two Holy Mosques to garner support and assert its authority over the Islamic World, the kingdom’s propensity to wield swords and all manners of abuses to pilgrims during the Hajj prompted rights activists to take action.

A reactionary theocracy sold to Salafism – an extreme and devolute interpretation of Islam rooted around the concept of Takfir, Saudi Arabia has justified its persecution of religious minorities on the basis of its own absolutism.

Under the rule of Saudi Arabia’s Salafi clergy, those standing in contradiction to Salafism rigid belief system, are but apostates worthy of the death penalty.

On March 16, the Al Baqee Organization will officially register a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at  the United Nations, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, to denounce Saudi Arabia’s violence, and demand that protection be granted to pilgrims – whichever their religious inclination might be.

“Religious freedom is a basic human right that should suffer no limitation. While Mecca happens to be under the territorial  jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we believe that the holy nature of Mecca and the Hajj pilgrimage, should not be ceded to a clergy whose understanding of the Scriptures is rooted in violence, sectarianism, and fanaticism,” says the Al Baqee Organization.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.

As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists.

The Al Baqee Organization (Al Baqee), established in the year 2009 in the State of Illinois, USA, is a non-governmental organization committed to raising awareness of atrocities and attacks on Muslims and Islamic heritage sites. The organization strives to preserve existing heritage sites and restore destroyed ones, by coordinating with cultural, religious, educational and historical societies around the world.

Speaking on its efforts to call on the international community to address Saudi Arabia’s sectarian ‘culture’, the Al Baqee Organization notes: “This submission highlights the destruction of Islamic heritage and sacred sites by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the systematic abuse of Muslim pilgrims wishing to visit those sites.”

And: “Al Baqee calls on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to reform its current domestic law and policy in order to comply with its international legal obligations to preserve religious and cultural heritage sites and to respect the rights of religious minorities who wish to visit and perform religious service at those sites.”

For decades pilgrims have been physically assaulted, verbally harassed – men, women, and children have been brutalised, tortured and intimidated on account their school of thoughts differ from that of the Saudi regime.

Silence coming this March 16, 2018 will be broken and Saudi Arabia will be called upon to answer to its crimes in keeping with international law.

#FreeTheHajj

By Catherine Shakdam for the Al Baqee Organisation

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