It’s always a bit ironic when political figures from ex-colonial powers voice concerns about and adovcate for human rights in other countries. They can only do this and not appear to be hypocrites because not nearly enough people has been educated with regards to the history of colonialism, primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries. The British, French, Spanish, etc, did not show the slightest bit of concern about human rights when they colonized (more like invaded) most of the world. They have ended the lives of millions and exploited the resources of foreign lands all around the globe.
Nevertheless, should the brutal, barbaric pasts of these countries prohibit their people from discussing human rights issues? I don’t think so. Things have changed for the better. Not as much as one might think, but they have.
The idea of human rights itself, as put into writing and international law, was a Western idea. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights was founded by the UN after World War II, with its primary focus on human rights. These were ideas and political structures developed by the West to fix problems created by the West, and they have worked, to some extent.
In addition to the irony of the West criticizing countries such as Iran about human rights, the notion of cultural relativism also comes into play. Most in the West, Ms. Bruni-Sarkozy included, believe that death by stoning is wrong, even for adultery. But religious / ethnic groups in the Middle East have been doing this for over a thousand years, and they see nothing wrong with it. Who are we to say that they’re wrong?
The answer has to do with the primitive notion of humanity as a whole, and our awareness of such a humanity. It is the idea that we who live in the modern world value the human life above all else, and that this humanism should lead us to put in our utmost efforts to preserve every one of them, not finding reasons to end them.
The case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani comes from a long line of human rights cases that have sprung from the Middle East and has aroused international attention. Last year, despite international outcry, Afghanistan, under the corrupt leadership of Harmid Karzai, enacted the notorious law that formalizes discrimination against Shia Afghan women.
The law gives a husband the right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if she refuses to obey his sexual demands. It grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers. It requires women to get permission from their husbands to work. It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying “blood money” to a girl who was injured when he raped her
Such cases show how little progress has been made in the developing countries, and how the West has been incompetent in trying to change the values that these countries hold.
Who knows? Maybe Carla Bruni could make a difference in this case, even progress the human rights cause in the process. And the Ayatollah should listen to some Rolling Stones and shut up.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost