Category Archives: 2018-03

IHRC February report

February was another eventful month for the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).  Most of our time was consumed with addressing international issues that have garnered little in the way of media attention or have fallen off the mainstream radar.

February 14 marked the seventh anniversary of the Bahrain uprisings, part of the ill fated Arab Spring revolts that convulsed the region in 2010-11. Despite an international commission of inquiry and promises of reform the government of Bahrain has slid back on human rights. We used the anniversary to write to the UN Secretary General reminding him of the duty of the international community to apply pressure on the government of Bahrain to honour its commitments and uphold domestic and international human rights law.

The situation surrounding the illegally detained leader of the Nigeria’s Islamic Movement , Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, continued to exercise human rights activists in and outside the country. With Sheikh Zakzaky’s already parlous health deteriorating, IHRC highlighted the many marches taking place to demand his release.  Shaykh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah have been held by state security services since December 2015 following their arrest during a savage military assault against the movement. In the course of one of these peaceful protests, another leading member of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Qaseem Umar, was shot dead by Nigerian security forces leading IHRC to issue a condemnation.

In response to a heightened era of American exceptionalism under an overtly chauvinistic President and administration, IHRC convened a conference on 10 February, to unmask the more systemic problems that undergird US exceptionalism. This conference focussed on the Americanisation of human rights, and the praxis of human rights, arguing that they have become a tool of US-led foreign policy rather than a transformative discourse that seeks to liberate individuals, groups and indeed large sections of society who are oppressed by unjust systems.

At home, the conviction of Darren Osborne for the murder of a Muslim and the attempted murder of others last summer, was an opportunity for IHRC to highlight the growing relationship between hard-line Zionists and the far right. In the course of his trial it emerged that although Osborne had been brainwashed and radicalised into hating Muslims by far right social media spewed out by the likes of Tommy Robinson and Jayda Fransen, the origins of that hate speech can be found in the febrile atmosphere created at the time by the demonisation of Muslims by pro-Israel activists.

During the trial the court heard how the annual Palestinian al-Quds Day March was the killer’s original target but after he found surrounding roads closed he started searching for mosques in London.

The choice of the al-Quds protest was not coincidental. For weeks leading up to the march which has taken place peacefully every year for 30 years without a single arrest being made, the Zionist press and Zionist activists had engaged in a campaign to vilify the protest.

Also this month we were proud to host an author evening with Muhammad Mojlum Khan. His latest work, Great Muslims of the West, is a unique study. Through the lives of more than 50 great Western Muslims, this book reveals a remarkably rich and diverse cultural history spanning more than 1400 years. Challenging Eurocentric or essentialist views on Western history, culture and civilisation, this book argues that Islam – like Christianity – has always been a Western religion and culture. Indeed, the lives and contributions of the extraordinary and influential Western Muslims covered in this book shows that Islam is truly a global faith and culture, transcending race, colour, language and geographical boundaries.

IHRC is continuing its work with Decoloniality International Network (DIN),  hosting the one-day training course ‘Decolonising The Mind’ delivered by Sandew Hira. The course explores the concepts and tools from the theoretical framework, Decolonising The Mind. Two narratives of liberation have dominated knowledge, culture and activism for the past 150 years: Liberalism and Marxism. They are rooted in the European Enlightenment. Decolonial thinking is a collection of contributions to a third narrative of liberation with different labels (postcolonialism, orientalism, subaltern studies, Islamic liberation theology). DTM aims to develop a coherent theoretical framework as an alternative to Liberalism and Marxism.

Upcoming events:

3 March 2018: Author Evening: ‘Whites, Jews, and Us: Toward a Politics of Revolutionary Love’ with Houria Bouteldja –

29 March 2018: Author Evening: ‘Europe’s Fault Lines Racism and the Rise of the Right’ with Liz Fekete –

Watch IHRC events live online at IHRC.TV and on Facebook Live

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our mailing list on Islamophobia to receive curated newsletters with a variety of content

Ethno-Racial Data Collection: Yes, but with whom? How? And what for?

We believe that collection of ethno-racial data, which has been claimed for years by individuals and collectives who have been combating Institutional Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, besides being recommended by various international organizations, could be an unprecedented step in the combat against racism and inequality among ethno-racial groups in Portuguese society.

Until very recently, different Portuguese governments had shrouded themselves in the convenient, however fallacious argument of unconstitutionality. The resistance, as the growing collective articulation and mobilization, has created the possibility of ending the year of 2017 with the public commitment of the Portuguese government to move forward in this direction. However, as some options are made publicly known, our concern about the operationalization of this decision increases. Knowing that this process must respect the principles of ethno-racial representativeness and participation from the outset, we reject the idea that it begins in a crooked way, at the serious risk of no longer straightening up. We reiterate that not doing so is not only a glaring political incoherence, but also weakens the transformative potential of this data collection.

In this regard, it is important to underline the unilateral decision of the government to advance the proposal for Census 2021, consulting the National Statistics Institute (INE), without prior consultation with the racialized communities. It should also be pointed out that the Census Working Group 2021 – Ethnic and Racial Issues, under the coordination of the Office of the High Commissioner for Migration (ACM) and the Secretariat of State for Citizenship and Equality, established its first meeting for the 5th of February. Exactly that day marks three years since the brutal aggressions, with racist motivations, practiced by police agents of the Alfragide Squad, against residents of Cova da Moura, knowing that until today there is no verdict on the case. For our communities, the importance of this date does not allow it to be rewritten as a moment of dialogue and concertation.

The composition of this working group did not include Afro-descendant or Roma. This way of doing politics is symptomatic of an understanding of democracy that places racialized communities in the position of “beneficiaries” rather than agents of change. Certainly, we attribute to the State the responsibility and the duty to carry out the collection of data and to formulate public policies, but we do not give up the right to be involved and represented in this process in equal circumstances in the decision making.

If this involvement were to take place other strategic issues, so far absent from the agenda of the working group, would be on the table: How to broadly involve racialized individuals and the general population so that this collection is for them recognized and appropriate? How to guarantee the good use of this information by the media? How is the data from Census 2021 linked to other sectoral surveys, like in the field of justice and education? How do you articulate this process with the proposal to launch the International Decade of Afro-Descendants made last October by the Secretary of State for Citizenship and Equality, knowing that so far nothing was to be seen in practical terms? But above all, what structural policies to combat racism and ethno-racial inequalities are expected to be implemented in a coordinated way with the collection of this data? It is unreasonable to wait for the results of data collection to finally start thinking about a policy agenda; rather, it is this agenda that should drive the data collection process.

But the point where this process is most problematic is exactly the inscription in the umbrella of migration policy. On the one hand, ethno-racial inequalities touch upon several areas of political action – education, justice, housing, etc. – cross-referencing to the forum of citizenship and equality, beyond the restricted competence of migration policy. On the other hand, it is only those who have been very distant from the debate that is taking place in Portugal that have not yet internalized the fundamental character of the unequivocal distinction between migration policies and policies to combat racism and ethno-racial inequalities. Last September, Deputy Minister Eduardo Cabrita said: “Afro-descendants and Roma have been in Portugal for centuries … They are as Portuguese as I am.”

We cannot continue to be relegated outside the body of the nation. This is also the message of the Campaign for Another Law of Nationality, where we have been fighting for all those born in Portugal to have the right to Portuguese nationality. We are not appendices of Portuguese society, so, likewise, policies aimed at guaranteeing our full access to citizenship and equality cannot be. Data collection can be a tool at the service of ethno-racial equality, but only if it is a result of the active participation of those who have no voice or statistical footprint.

Collective and individual signatories:

Afrolis – Associação Cultural

Associação Cavaleiros de São Brás

Consciência Negra

Fundo de Apoio Social de Cabo-Verdianos em Portugal (FASCP)

KUTUCA – Associação Juvenil do Bairro das Faceiras


Núcleo de Estudantes Africanos – Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas (NEA-ISCSP)

Plataforma Gueto

SOS Racismo

Teatro Griot

We Love Carapinha

Alciony Silva

Alessandra Brito

Alexandra Santos

Ana Fernandes

Ana Rita Alves

Anabela Rodrigues

Apolo de Carvalho

Ariana Furtado

António Tonga

Beatriz Carvalho

Carla Fernandes

Carla Lima

Carla Moura

Carlos Dias

Carlos Graça

Cristina Roldão

Daniel Martinho

David Lima

Diógenes Parzianello

Eduardo Jaló

Ianick Insaly

Iolanda Évora

Joacine Katar Moreira

Joana Mouta

José de Pina

José Semedo

José Semedo Fernandes

Lúcia Lopes

Maíra Zenun

Mamadou Ba

Maria da Graça

Marlene Nobre

Marta Araújo

Matamba Joaquim

Mojana Vargas

Myriam Taylor

Nádia Lima

Nuno Dias

Otávio Raposo

Paulo Taylor

Raquel Lima

Silvia Maeso

Sofia Peysonneau Nunes

Susana Djiba

Telma Gonçalves

Vítor Sanches