Blog

 
 

Pakistani Supreme Court Leads the Way

Dawood Ahmed is a lawyer from London. He is a graduate of Oxford University and is currently a doctoral candidate in law at the University of Chicago

Pakistani hijras, or transgendered men, at a function near the army garrison city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan Photo: Declan Walsh

Amidst the commonplace pattern of negative news cycles related to Pakistan, a rather landmark human rights development there passed by largely unnoticed. On April 25, the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered the government to recognize a third gender on government issued ID cards for transgenders (commonly known as hijras in South Asia) instead of the rather inappropriate and demeaning ‘male’ or ‘female.’ To put into context how ground-breaking the change is, consider this: very few countries in the world recognize a third gender in similar circumstances.

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Radio

 
 

Talking with the Taliban

The Taliban announced this week that ten years after 9/11, it is finally willing to talk with the United States. There’s only one catch: in return, the Obama Administration has to release at least five senior Taliban officials held at Guantánamo. President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner joins us to talk about prospects for peace, and the future of Guantánamo.

Regions & Themes

 
 

Latin America

Islam in Brazil

Maria Moreira, Islam For Today

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. However, in Latin America, and specifically in Brazil, this is not the case. Why? Maria Moreira, a Brazilian convert who teaches at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, examined the history and current state of the Muslim community in Latin America’s largest country. She found two main reasons for the low conversion rate.

The first is the lack of trust and understanding by Brazil’s Arab-Muslim community. The new converts were treated more as “intruders” to the community. They “have to fight alone against the criticism of his/her family, friends, the Brazilian society and worst: fight against the criticism of their own fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. The feeling of isolation leads some to abandon Islam after a while.” The second reason is the shortage of good books and other resources about Islam in the Portuguese language. “The other Latin people are Spanish speakers and can depend on good works translated to Spanish. However, Brazilians are the only Portuguese speakers among Latinos and this fact increases their difficulties.” Continue reading