Name calling and banning women
Human rights are on the front page. The US telling Russia and China their UN Syria veto is ‘despicable’; China telling the US they have no right to talk about anything in the Arab world after Iraq.
At the same time, the UN Human Rights Committee starts its meeting in Geneva with the Sri Lankan government trying to make the case that they have successfully investigated and dealt with war crimes accusations.
We are in the final stages of producing a follow up documentary to Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields (Channel 4), which will air in a couple of weeks’ time and will be ‘premiered’ in a showing to the UN Human Rights Committee next week.
Meanwhile, a furore has blown up over the weekend over Saudi participation in the London Olympic Games. Over the past two years the authorities in the kingdom have rendered it ever harder for Saudi woman athletes to gain access to proper sporting facilities. This has now been crowned by a decision by the Saudi government to ban women athletes from taking part in the games. There is talk that a Saudi woman show jumper may be permitted to participate, but the athletes are blocked.
The Twittersphere has suffered the usual smattering of Islamophobia, with tweets blaming Islam itself for the ban. In fact most Islamic nations are fielding women’s teams. The Saudi decision flows from its own homegrown Wahhabi interpretation of the faith. The Gulf State of Qatar (host of Al Jazeera) and Brunei are the only other Olympic participants yet to declare whether they are allowing women to participate.
Women in Saudi are becoming increasingly forceful in pursuing their rights. The campaign on women athletes comes on the heels of last year’s so-far-unsuccessful attempt to overturn the Saudi ban on women driving cars.
The Olympic Charter is adamant about equal rights for all races and sexes in the games. The open question now is whether the IOC will allow any nation to participate in the Games, in the event that they ban anyone from taking part on the basis of ‘sex, race, or religion’.
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