Claudia Theophilus, Mayalsia Kini, May 15,2006
Starting today, some of the world’s foremost scholars will converge in Kuala Lumpur for a five-day discourse on human rights in Islam from May 15 – 19 at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton.
They are from world-renowned tertiary institutions and think-tanks based in Japan, Iran, Nigeria, Australia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, USA, Oman, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.
The host of academic scholars, policy-makers, legal eagles, government officials and civil society representatives will be discussing key issues which affect the principles and practices of human rights as understood and applied in the Islamic world.
Among the distinguished speakers are India’s former chief justice PN Bhagwati, Prof Abdullah Saeed, Dr Khalid Masud, Prof Aicha Belarbi, Prof Dr Salah Abd El Badie Shalaby, Prof Dr Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Prof Khaled Abou El Fadl, Dr Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi and Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO) secretary general Ambassador Dr Wafik Kamil.
Their Malaysian counterparts include Justice Siti Norma Yaakob, Prof Muhammad Hashim Kamali, Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas, Sulaiman Abdullah, Prof Dr Jomo K Sundram, Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Prof Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid, Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmood, Associate Prof Dr Patricia A Martinez and Dr Abdul Aziz Bari.
The topics include the rights of Muslim minorities in secular states, war on terrorism, equality of women, plurality and multiculturalism, fundamental liberties, religion and state responsibility, rights of women and children, and human rights as enshrined in Islam.
The Meeting of International Experts on Human Rights in Islam (MIEHRI) is organised by the Attorney-General’s Chambers in collaboration with AALCO and Saudi Arabia, and co-sponsored by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.
The theme ‘Human Rights in Islam’ was initiated by Saudia Arabia during the 41st annual session of AALCO 2002 in Nigeria and Malaysia responded with a proposal for a forum.
According to the event’s flyer prepared by the AG’s Chambers, the issue of balancing human rights principles and practices with rights and responsibilities are a major ongoing debate.
“These issues are not settled but neither should they be beyond resolution with the appropriate insight and political commitment.”
The meeting is expected to address the most hotly-debated issue in Islamic countries in Asia and Africa – the adoption and application of the basic principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“In part, this is captured in the great diversity of responses to human rights by states with Muslim majorities as well as in states with Muslim minorities.
“And in part it is highlighted by the tensions between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, leading to both domestic and transnational conflict.”
Noting the shift in stance post-Sept 11, the organisers said the war on terror had led to a “dangerous hardening of preconceived stereotypes and an increase in racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance”.
“… in which human rights are threatened worldwide while Islam itself is openly targeted for attack.”
The fourth day will see Deputy Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan on the panel discussing ‘Islam and War on Terrorism’ which will be chaired by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail.
The MIEHRI aims to re-examine the evolution of human rights principles, their integration into national laws and to develop practical measures for conflict resolution, promote greater tolerance and inculcate mutual respect.