[fund] promotion and application of religious laws

The Bangladesh government should take urgent measures to make sure that religious fatwas and traditional dispute resolution methods do not result in extrajudicial punishments, Human Rights Watch said today.  The government is yet to act on repeated orders of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court, beginning in July 2010, to stop illegal punishments such as whipping, lashing, or public humiliations, said the petitioners who challenged the practice.

In 2002, Mukhtaran Mai, a Pakistani seamstress from a small village in the Punjab province was gang-raped by men from a neighbouring clan. Several men from the dominant Mastoi tribe in Meeranwalla had volunteered to rape Ms Mai as a way to settle a score after her 12-year-old brother Abdul Shakoor was seen walking with a Mastoi girl. The decision had been taken by a village court to preserve tribal honour. The jirga, or council of village elders, summoned Ms Mai to apologise for her brother's sexual misdeed. When she apologised, they gang-raped her anyway. In April 2011, the Pakistan Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the Lahore high court and ordered the release of the five acquitted men. In February, 2009, WLUML issued a call for action: Pakistan: Interference in the case of Mukhtar Mai demanding that the Pakistani authorities ensured the trial of those accused of attacking Ms. Mai went ahead without interference. Unfortunately, there continued to be political influence in her case and regular serious threats to her life and the lives of family members in an attempt to pressure her to drop the charges against the perpetrators. Sanaz Raji explains the genesis of a petition to be sent to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, below. Please consider signing it.

On 29 May, proceedings brought by the prosecutor of the Press and Publications Court against Professor Omar el Gerai, a journalist and activist, and Abdallah Sheikh, the editor ofAjras Alhurria, began in Al Shemali Court in Khartoum North. The two journalists are being tried for an article published 6 March by Professor el Gerai in Ajras Alhurria entitled “Rape…under Sharia law”, (available here in Arabic). The article detailed the brutal treatment of the youth activist and Girifna member Safiya Ishag, who was raped multiple times and subjected to torture in National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) custody following her participation in the 30 January demonstrations in Khartoum. In his piece, Mr. el Gerai called for a formal investigation.

Les autorités saoudiennes ont décidé lundi de libérer sous caution Manal al-Charif, la jeune Saoudienne détenue depuis une dizaine de jours pour avoir bravé l’interdiction de conduire une voiture. «Nous avons été informés aujourd’hui de la décision de libérer Manal sous caution. Des démarches de procédure sont en cours pour sa libération», a déclaré à l’AFP Me Adnane al-Saleh. Il a émis l’espoir que l’affaire soit «classée». La jeune femme avait appelé le roi Abdallah à la libérer, avait indiqué dimanche à l’AFP Me Saleh après avoir rencontré sa cliente en prison.

Faced with an avalanche of indignation at home and abroad, Saudi authorities on Monday freed a woman jailed nine days ago for her role in promoting the right to drive for Saudi women. Manal Al Sharif, a 32-year-old computer security specialist employed by the oil giant ARAMCO, was detained May 22 after she defied the kingdom's ban on female drivers and posted a video of her action on YouTube, as part of a national campaign. The divorced mother of a 5-year-old son was charged with “inciting women to drive” and “rallying public opinion.” It is not clear if those charges have been formally dropped. Her lawyer, Adnan Al Saleh, declined to discuss the conditions of her release. 

الرياض: في أول تصرح لأحد أعضاء الحكومة السعودية حول موضوع الساعة في المملكة، قال وزير الإعلام السعودي عبدالعزيز الخوجة عبر موقع تويتر الإجتماعي إن قيادة المرأة السيارة"حق مشروع" ولا يوجد ما يحرّمه. وأكد خوجه، الذي حمل ناشطون سعوديون بعضاً من المسؤولية على الهجوم الذي تعرضت له منال الشريف  من الإعلام السعودي، "أن القيادة مشروعة إن التزمت المرأة بالآداب والأخلاق الاسلامية". وكانت الشريف هددت بأنها ستقاضي كل من يتقول عنها أو ينشر صورة من دون إذنها.

Manal Al Sherif, according to first reports of her sentence, was supposed to be released today. The local media has taken an official stance on Manal’s case. While columnists in these very same schizophrenic newspapers have taken the opposite position by supporting Manal and advocating lifting the ban on women driving. In one estimate, there were over 60 columns supporting Manal on Tuesday and Wednesday. Meanwhile theofficial stance is that Manal has confessed and repented. The story goes that Manal has broken down sobbingly and said that she was mislead and misinformed by a group of Saudi women, some of whom are in the USA to go ahead with the campaign and driving video. 

يبدو بأن الجماعة (قلطواعلى القانون بعد أن كانوا يحرمون بيع كتبه أو قراءتها ، و هو كما قلتُ في تدوينة سابقة أمرٌ جيد و تطور سيفيد الجميع ، و يجمعنا على المحجة القانونية حيث المرجع النص القانوني لا أراء الرجال .

Une jeune Saoudienne arrêtée pour avoir bravé l’interdiction de conduire dans le royaume a été inculpée pour avoir "incité les femmes" à prendre le volant, a indiqué lundi son avocat. Manal al-Charif, 32 ans, une consultante en sécurité informatique, avait été arrêtée samedi à Khobar, dans l’est du royaume, après avoir posté sur Youtube une vidéo la montrant en train de conduire.

The international solidarity network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) calls for the immediate release of Manal Al-Sharif. Saudi authorities have arrested an activist who launched a campaign to challenge a ban on women driving in the conservative kingdom. The media spokesman of the Directorate General of Prisons in Saudi Arabia, Colonel Dr Ayoub Ben, has confirmed that Manal Al-Sharif has been charged with breach of public order and security, and with ‘deliberately inciting the media and other Saudi women’ to drive cars. She will be detained for a further five days pending investigation. There are reports that Al-Sharif has signed a pledge in prison not to drive again in Saudi Arabia. UPDATE: Al-Sharif’s prison sentence has been extended for a further ten days, starting from Thursday 26 May. Women’s rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaider was called in for questioning by her employers, Saudi Aramco, regarding her support for Manal, and forced to sign a pledge not to support the 17 June campaign. Al-Huwaider added the disclaimer that she will continue demanding the right of women to drive through different channels until it is codified into law.

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