Social Action

Human rights, community development and the like

The Palestine Question

University Parks, Oxford

The renewed violence in the Holy Land is both disheartening and confusing. Here in the UK, the media regularly features the destruction in the Gaza Strip, whereas the American media and blogs I typically read online are much more tempered in their coverage. I have spoken to many friends who feel very strongly about the conflict one way or another, and as with any war I sense that moral clarity is virtually impossible to establish in this case. The Economist (itself a British paper), I think, got as close as anyone to addressing the heart of the matter:

Those who choose to reduce it to the “terrorism” of one side or the “colonialism” of the other are just stroking their own prejudices. At heart, this is a struggle of two peoples for the same patch of land. It is not the sort of dispute in which enemies push back and forth over a line until they grow tired.

In considering my own thoughts about the violence in Gaza and Israel, I dug up a statement made by Shoghi Effendi — then the head of the Baha’i Faith — back in 1947 to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine:

Full story...

2008 Weblog Awards: Vote for Informed Comment

{amazon id='0231110812'}

Hey, an update. Please vote for Informed Comment, which has been nominated for the 2008 Weblog Awards. If you voted 24 hours ago, you can now vote again. IC is losing! But not by much, so every vote counts.

I've been busy with other things, but should ask my readers to vote for Informed Comment for the 2008 Weblog Awards. Voting open through Friday. (There is heavy traffic, so please be patient).

Kindly send some votes to My Marrakech, too!

Full story...

URGENT: 1) Why the site was down and 2) Help us afford decent server space

You may have noticed that we have suffered with over 4 days of complete downtime. It was a really horrible experience for us to witness the site being non-operational during such a critical, busy time. But unfortunately these things happen, specifically when money is an issue and we can barely ever afford the best hosts/servers to keep our work up and running.

We are a non-profit, with no source of income. This makes it really difficult for us to maintain our growth and to remain ambitious about supporting others (we host many regional sites voluntarily for people who need them.)

These past few weeks we have spent a lot of time switching between several hosting companies in order to find the perfect fit, instead of creating much needed content. You will notice that we were doing our best writing updates, even while all our sites were down. All of these have been uploaded, thanks to the hard work of my colleague Kawthar. Coming back to our issue with hosting, we always had to settle for less because the best options were never affordable for us, even though we really need it. At this moment, the host we are using is hardly affordable as well, costing us almost $3,000 a year. 2 other hosting accounts which we use to host other people’s websites cost over $600 collectively, this includes domains and other such requirements. In any case, we have no other choice but to come up with this money somehow since our sites are growing with each day, and we need a powerful server to handle them all.

9 of our major sites were down much of this past week, and had suffered over 100 hours of downtime in just the past 3 months. This is unacceptable, many people rely on our projects for important news such as the status of Kareem in prison, Baha’i human rights, Kurdish rights, the rights of migrant workers, et al.

Full story...

The Woman the Mullahs Fear

Shirin Ebadi

Men hold all of the meaningful levers of political power in Iran, but it is a woman they fear. If not, why is the mullah-led government trying to shut down the operations of Shirin Ebadi?

Ms. Ebadi, a lawyer and her country’s leading human rights activist, is the first Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. On Monday, the authorities stormed her private office, seizing her computers and her clients’ documents. A week earlier, they closed her Center for Defenders of Human Rights, a coalition of human rights groups and other activists whose members had planned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

When she was awarded the peace prize in 2003, the Nobel committee called Ms. Ebadi “a courageous person” for standing up against Iran’s bullying government. In the years since, she has endured repeated death threats from radical groups and regular government intimidation. That courage has never faltered.

With presidential elections scheduled for June, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies apparently decided they could not risk letting Ms. Ebadi continue the work she has done with distinction (and without pay) for the past 15 years — exposing government violations of human rights and defending human rights and democracy activists.

Full story...

Despair and hope - Baha'i reflections on a visit to Auschwitz

13th November 2008 - a week ago today - was a long and physically gruelling day. All but 24 hours without sleep, charter flights with 200 Sixth Form students and a group of senior faith representatives to and from the Polish city of Kraków, and a day at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

But I’m not complaining. After all the conditions under which I travelled - by train, by plane, by coach - were comfortable and safe, unlike the unimaginably appalling travelling conditions suffered by the uncounted masses who were sent to Auschwitz to be murdered.

Full story...