Monday, January 30, 2012

Revolutionary Rights and the Arab Christian ‘Plight’

Carlos Latuff, WikimediaCommons
by Alex Schank
Violent acts against Christians in the Middle East have spurred a series of calls both regionally and internationally for the protection of a vulnerable religious minority in a Muslim-dominated part of the world. Salafist attacks on churches in Egypt, the bloody Maspero clashes between the army and Coptic demonstrators, and an apparently increasingly sectarian popular uprising in Syria have raised alarm bells in international and regional Christian networks and foreign policy circuits about the plight of Middle Eastern Christians.

The notion that Christians are threatened by a changing, revolutionary Middle East is not necessarily unfounded. The blood spilled in Cairo in recent months and the armed conflict in Syria raise real concerns about the safety of all citizens, particularly ethnic and religious minorities, and all those demonstrating for their rights. Indeed, the specters of sectarian civil war and Christian persecution from the recent historical experiences of Lebanon and Iraq, respectively, seem to loom over the region.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

President Obama and The Rights of the Child

ARC 530623, WikiCommons
by S. Amanda Shelton

In the wake of the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill which human rights groups criticized for its broad curtailment of basic civil rights, many were left with questions about the contrast between President Obama’s human rights stance as President and his stance as a candidate and Senator. While national security, torture, and indefinite detention have been at the center of this debate, his administration’s policies on child soldiers are also fertile ground for this discussion.

On September 19, 2007, then-Senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama co-sponsored  the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007. The act aimed to prevent taxpayer subsidization of the use of child soldiers by withholding U.S. military assistance to states with child soldiers in their militaries or in government-supported armed forces. The use of child soldiers is a practice that draws an estimated 250,000 children into direct armed conflict and indirect conflict support – including sexual exploitation – across the globe.