Letter to Leaders of Muslim-Majority Countries: Stand Against Persecution of Women’s Rights Defenders
Today, more than 100 women’s rights and human rights organizations and activists working in Muslim contexts, including Musawah and Equality Now, wrote to leaders of Muslim-majority countries urging them to stand against the persecution of women rights defenders.
“It is high time Muslim leaders speak out about equality and justice being Islamic values, support women’s rights groups in their countries, and take action to end laws, policies and practices made in the name of Islam that continue to discriminate against women until today,” said Zainah Anwar, Executive Director of Musawah. “If Muslim countries had been true to the teachings of Islam that granted women rights considered revolutionary 1,400 years ago, the Muslim world today would be at the forefront of the women’s movement, instead of at the bottom of all gender equality surveys.”
“It is disheartening to see how low down the rank Muslim countries come in the UN’s global Gender Inequality Index. The arrests, imprisonment and alleged torture of women’s rights activists in Iran and Saudi Arabia should be condemned by all Muslim States,” said Yasmeen Hassan, Global Director of Equality Now. “We cannot achieve peace, prosperity, and progress without committing to equality for women and girls, and taking active steps to make this a reality.”
The letter also called for the immediate and unconditional release of the women’s rights activists imprisoned in Iran and Saudi Arabia, including the prominent Saudi activists on trial and appearing in court today in Saudi Arabia: Loujain al-Hathloul, Hatoon al-Fassi, Aziza Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan, and others.
“We urge you, as leaders of Muslim countries, to recognize the message of equality that is inherent in Islam and that is guaranteed in many of our constitutions, and acknowledge the role of gender equality in bringing about peace and security. We need your political will and leadership to make equality a reality for Muslim women and all women who live in Muslim contexts so that they can contribute fully and freely to the development of their societies,” wrote the activists, scholars and rights organizations in the letter. “We urge you to stand in unity against the persecution of women who raise their voices for equality and join us in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the women’s rights activists named above by Iran and Saudi Arabia.”
The signatories were led by Musawah and Equality Now, which were joined by women’s rights organizations and activists from countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and more.