Al Baqee stands before the UN Rights Council to denounce religious rights violaitons in Saudi Arabia
For Immediate Release – 11 October, 2018 – Geneva, Switzerland – GENEVA – At 10:30 am this morning at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland, advocates from dozens of international and Saudi-based NGOs presented concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations to member states of the United Nations. Civil society organizations briefed states’ permanent missions […]
For Immediate Release – 11 October, 2018 – Geneva, Switzerland –
GENEVA – At 10:30 am this morning at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland, advocates from dozens of international and Saudi-based NGOs presented concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations to member states of the United Nations. Civil society organizations briefed states’ permanent missions in advance of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Saudi Arabia (which occurs only once every six years), and will next take place in early November 2018.
Al Baqee Organization delivered their written report and documentary evidence to country representatives, advocating for them to call on the Saudi government to halt destruction of Islamic heritage sites, and end persecution of Muslims wishing to visit holy sites. The concerns were also summarized in the Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Summary of Stakeholders Submissions on Saudi Arabia, and will be considered by UN member states in crafting their recommendations.
In its National Report to the UN Human Rights Council, the government of Saudi Arabia highlighted its role in “Serving and Caring for the Two Holy Mosques,” claiming that “the Kingdom spares no effort to enable Muslims from around the world to perform the pilgrimage rights without discrimination, regardless of political or ideological considerations.” Evidence compiled and presented by Al Baqee directly refutes those claims, specifically:
- The demolition of 90% of Islamic Heritage sites in Saudi Arabia, particularly those with significance to Shia and other Muslims whose beliefs do not conform to the government mandated Wahabi school of Islamic thought. Of particular concern is the desecration and threatened demolition of the Jannat ul Baqee cemetery in Medina, where many of the Prophet Muhammad’s family members are buried.
- The systematic abuse of non-Wahabi Muslims visiting these sites, including physical abuse and detention by Saudi Authorities, and posting of insulting propaganda and encouraging violence against Shia and other Muslim pilgrims who do not ascribe to the state-sponsored version of Islam mandated by the Kingdom. Al Baqee has documented dozens of accounts of pilgrims having been verbally abused and threatened, as well as beaten and detained, while attempting to perform religious rites. In addition, Al Baqee has raised concerns that women are entirely prohibited from accessing these holy sites.
Human Rights attorney Tina Foster, counsel for Al Baqee, released the following statement:
“Recent events have demonstrated that the Saudi government’s religious intolerance and disregard for international human rights has impact far beyond its own borders. As the self-proclaimed custodians of the Holy Mosques, the Kingdom’s illegal actions prevent the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims from fulfilling their most sacred religious practices. “