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Malaysia’s 2nd UPR: 3 secrets revealed and some hopeful signs

Posted: 09 Dec 2013 11:45 AM PST

On the eve of the 65th anniversary of the United Nations which was created in 1948 as part of a global effort to avoid war, promote the enjoyment of human rights globally and establish peace, we heard from many moderate voices and felt some optimism about a way forward for Malaysia.

At the meeting, we needed to be told the obvious. An ambassador from a foreign mission to Malaysia told us: our meeting demonstrated the value of the United Nations Periodic Review (UPR).

Concern about the UPR [report card] caused Proham, an NGO formed by former Malaysian Human Rights Commissioners, and GMM, to organize the discussion we were at. Concern about the UPR made Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) to suggest, host and moderate the meeting. Concern about the UPR caused 5 distinguished persons to give prepared talks at the meeting, which was attended by representatives of numerous Malaysian NGO's.

Datuk Saifuddin revealed Malaysia's best kept secret: A Malaysian woman is one of the first 18 Human Rights Commissioners in the Independent, Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) formed in June 2011!

Associate Professor Dr Raihanah Abdullah, a specialist in Islamic Law, is the Director of the UM Centre for Civilizational Dialogue.

Dr Lin, Prof. Faruqi and Prof Raihanah
Professor Raihanah: Human Rights and the OIC. Professor Dr Raihanah pointed out the OIC's keen awareness of the negative view "the West" has of Islam with respect to Human Rights. She spoke of the importance the OIC places on Human Rights, the current focus being: human rights failures in Israel, Syria, Mali and Myanmar; women and children; Islamophobia.

Professor Shad Faruqi: Human Rights and ignorance of Islam. Professor Faruqi of UITM, probably Malaysia's best known constitutional expert, said that he himself was 35 years old when he became aware of what he considers the greatest human rights speech ever made. He revealed the second secret: the speech was made by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Professor Faruqi was referring to the Prophet's farewell speech made about 1435 years ago in Arafat. He pointed out the deep concerns expressed there and laid out as principles of conduct: equality of all mankind, regardless of race or colour; the right of every foetus, and mother; a profound disavowal of monopoly in business; the right of refuge and asylum – and a host of other principles.

Professor Faruqi added that while Islam places a high value on human rights, Islam places a similarly high value on human obligations. He cautioned us not to forget that any discussion of human rights within an Islamic framework must also include discussion of sin and sacrilege. He proposed that education in Islamic aspects of human rights is important for moving forward.

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