Egyptian authorities should bring to justice those responsible for the sectarian violence that left five Christians and one Muslim dead on April 5, 2013, in the town of Khosus, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should also investigate police failure to intervene effectively to prevent an escalation of violence outside the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo on April 7, after a funeral service for the Christians killed at Khosus.
An Egyptian minor offenses court on January 10, 2015, sentenced a student accused of writing Facebook posts that insulted Islam to three years in prison. The sentence, one of several handed down on blasphemy charges in recent years, came amid a coordinated government crackdown on perceived atheists.
One year ago, as the Human Rights Council was debating the report of the Independent Expert on Sudan, Sudanese security forces were violently cracking down on popular protests that swept the country after the president announced the lifting of oil subsidies.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) is killing, kidnapping, and threatening religious and ethnic minorities in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Since capturing Mosul on June 10, 2014, the armed Sunni extremist group has seized at least 200 Turkmen, Shabaks, and Yazidis, killed at least 11 of them, and ordered all Christians to convert to Islam, pay “tribute” money, or leave Mosul by July 19.
Saudi Arabia’s government should clarify whether it is infecting and monitoring mobile phones with surveillance malware. Saudi officials should also say whether and how they intend to protect the rights of those targeted to privacy and free expression.
The Iranian authorities should quash the death sentences of 33 Sunni Muslim men, including possibly a juvenile offender, convicted of “enmity against God” (moharebeh), and impose an immediate moratorium on all executions, 18 human rights organizations and one prominent human rights lawyer said today. The call comes amid serious concerns about the fairness of the legal proceedings that led to the men’s convictions and the high number of executions reported in Iran during the last year, including the June 1, 2014 hanging of a political dissident, Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani, on the same charge.
Egyptian authorities should stop prosecuting writers and repeal laws violating freedom of expression, including those banning “contempt of religion.” Egypt’s 2014 constitution guarantees freedom of belief.