Archive for the ‘Indigenous Peoples/pueblos indígenas/povos indígenas’ Category

Muslims paying Aborigines to convert to Islam, Rise Up candidate claims

Monday, January 1st, 2018

A growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are identifying with Islam. In the 2001 national census fewer than 600 Indigenous men and women nominated Islam as their religion.

August 30 2013

A federal election candidate in western Queensland has accused Muslims of paying Aborigines to convert to Islam.

Speaking to ABC Western Queensland, Rise Up Australia candidate Pam Hecht said the biggest issue facing people in the electorate of Kennedy, which Bob Katter holds by 18.3 per cent, was the conversion of Indigenous people to Islam.

”I don’t know whether people are aware, but many of the Aboriginal people in northern Australia are being targeted by Muslims and in some cases are being paid to convert to Islam,” she said, describing herself and the electorate as ”farmers . . . just ordinary everyday people”, who ”want to be free to go about our business”.

”Our concern with that is, the Muslim belief, that converting the first peoples of the land to Islam means that the land belongs to Allah, and Islam should be the only religion.

”There is an Aboriginal lady who works with the people up in northern Australia and she has spoken directly with the leader of our party, Daniel Nalliah [and told him about the practice].”

Of the 340,393 Australians who identified as Muslims in the 2006 Census, just 1011 were Indigenous.

Chiapas: Indigenous Peoples converting to Islam

Friday, November 10th, 2017

In Chiapas, 400 Mexicans are building a new identity by merging their indigenous practices with Islam.

In a corn field in the Mexican state of Chiapas, Salma Palamo Diaz wears a traditional tzotzil skirt. Muslims in Mexico blend their indigenous ways of life with the customs required by Islam.

By Nina Strochlic
Photograph by Giulia Iacolutti

In photographer Giulia Iacolutti’s native Italy, the conversation about Islam revolved around fear and terrorism, but when she arrived in Mexico, she found none of that.

In 2014, a professor introduced Iacolutti to the imam of one of the mosques popping up around Mexico City to host a growing Muslim community. For a year, she embedded herself in their homes, rituals and feasts for a project called Jannah, an Arabic word that represents paradise in Islam.

A group of Sufi Muslims from Spain began building this mosque in the city of San Cristobal de las Casas to house the growing community in Chiapas.

Islam came to Mexico in spurts over the past decades, with immigrants from Lebanan and Syria, and even a group of Spanish Sufi Muslims who came to convert members of the Zapatista revolutionaries in the ‘90s. It caught on quickly. The country now has around 5,270 Muslims—triple what it had 15 years ago, Iacolutti says. An Arabic teacher helps them read the Quran and a scholarship offers a chance to study at a medina in Yemen.

In Mexico, which is largely Catholic, Iacolutti found that having a belief system is more important than following a particular religion. She spoke to Catholic mothers who didn’t want their daughters to convert to Islam, but were pleased when the change inspired a more pious way of life. “In Mexico it’s better to convert to Islam than in Europe,” she says. “They don’t think of terrorists.”

“They want to build identity,” Iacolutti says of the new Mexican Muslims. “What is pleasing about Islam is that it brings practical actions in daily life: You have to pray five times each day. You can’t eat pork and you can’t drink alcohol.” (Read more about progressive Muslim women)

Converts are fueling the growth in Mexico City, while high birthrates and large families spur it on in rural regions.

After a year of living with the community, Iacolutti asked for an introduction to the imams who tended to a rural community of Muslims in the southern state of Chiapas. By merging their indigenous practices with Islam, these 400 converts lived much differently than their Mexico City counterparts.

For one, they tend to blend in easily, since many indigenous women wrap their heads in scarves. “I want to speak my language, I want to put on the indigenous dress, but I also want to believe in allah,” they told Iacolutti.

Eid al-Adha, the “Sacrifice Feast,” is the second of the two Muslim holidays celebrated worldwide every year. Tradition dictates they must sacrifice an animal, usually a goat or a cow, in the direction of Mecca.Right:

Long ago, ancient Mayans sacrified humans and extracted their hearts as an offering to the gods.
Photograph by Giulia Iacolutti

But the remoteness makes it difficult to maintain important tenets of their religion. Chiapas is a poor state, and meat that has been butchered in accordance to Islam, called halal, is rare. During one holiday feast, Iacolutti watched as the community sacrificed two cows and immediately brought meat to their Christian neighbors. “One ideal of Islam is you have to help a person that is poorer than you,” she says. “It’s not important if you believe in another god—you are my neighbor and you can eat the same food.”

Iacolutti is an atheist, but she was never once asked to convert. In such a devout country, her subjects seemed unbothered by a nonbeliever in their midst. Once, in a conversation with a Muslim woman in Mexico City she felt a longing for the other’s faith. “I think you have a very rich life because you believe,” Iacolutti told her. “I don’t believe. I see you and think you have a better life.”

The woman scolded her. “You take pictures,” she replied. “Your god is photography and beauty and information. You believe in this. I believe in allah.”

Indonesian tribe converts to Islam

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Nomadic ‘Jungle people’ become Muslim so they can receive government financial support after their homes were destroyed

Around 200 members of the Orang Rimba tribe in the Batang Hari district of Jambi have converted to Islam. One convert from the tribe, Yusuf Muhammad, said: ‘Thank God, the government now pays attention to us’. But indigenous rights group said they have no choice but to convert as rainforest hunting lands are developed

Pictured: Members of the tribe dressed in loincloths. Not all of the members of the tribe have taken to the new faith, with some clinging on and searching desperately for food in the land once dominated by Sumatran rainforest.

Hundreds of members of a nomadic Indonesian tribe have converted to Islam as their rainforest hunting grounds are devastated by palm oil plantations and coal mines.

The new Muslims changed their religion to capture the attention of the government, which they say ignores their needs.

The Orang Rimba – ‘jungle people – are also hoping to be handed ID cards by officials, which will then entitle them to benefits such as healthcare and education.

Some tribesfolk, however, have remained faithful to old ways and continue to desperately hunt for prey in an area that was once lush Sumatran rainforest.

 

‘Thank God, the government now pays attention to us; before our conversion they didn’t care,’ says Yusuf Muhammad, a convert.

Pictured left: A young girl from the tribe who has not converted to Islam. Right: Another girl of a similar age wearing a hijab after becoming a Muslim. An elder in the tribe said the government might now begin listening to their problems after their conversion

Yusuf’s group converted to Islam, the predominant faith in Indonesia, and gave up their nomadic ways in January in a bid to improve livelihoods that have been devastated by the expansion of palm oil plantations and coal mines into their forest homelands.

 

Authorities insist the move is positive but critics say it amounts to a last throw of the dice for indigenous groups driven to desperation by the government’s failure to properly defend their rights against rapid commercial expansion.

Indonesia is home to an estimated 70 million tribespeople, more than a quarter of the total 255-million population, from the heavily tattooed Dayaks of Borneo island to the Mentawai who are famed for sharpening their teeth as they believe it makes them more beautiful.

But as a nomadic group, the Orang Rimba are a rarity.

The 200 who recently converted in the Batang Hari district of Jambi province – a handful of the approximately 3,500 Orang Rimba – decided to turn to the Muslim faith after being approached by an Islamic NGO, and the social welfare ministry has helped with the process.

Community leader Yusuf conceded the reason they were converting was because food was increasingly hard to find and they were constantly locked in disputes with companies on whose lands they hunt, rather than due to any deeply held beliefs.

The tribesman also said that he and his family – he has 10 children – wanted to get national identity cards, which would allow them access to public services including education and healthcare. Converting to Islam and settling in one location means they can get the cards.

But the decision has meant big changes.

The converts now live in basic wooden huts on stilts and no longer move to a new location every few weeks. They are fully-clothed in items donated by the government and NGOs, having abandoned the simple loincloths and sarongs they wore in the past.

‘It’s nicer living in a village like this, our lives are better,’ said Yusuf, whose old Orang Rimba name was Nguyup.

They have not completely abandoned their animistic traditions however – the tribe believes spirits inhabit the trees and their wavy-bladed daggers – and view Islam as a religion that overlays their own ancient beliefs.

Not all of the Orang Rimba are keen to convert however.

Just a couple of hours drive away, a group of about 300 Orang Rimba live under blue, plastic tarpaulins propped up on sticks and subsist by hunting the few animals they can find amid the palm oil trees.

They move on average three times a month in the hunt for new prey, and every time a member of the group passes away, as required under tribal customs.

Their existence is tough, and they appear skinny and malnourished – but remain steadfastly against conversion.

‘According to our tradition, conversion is not allowed,’ leader of the group Mail, who goes by one name, told AFP.

It is also in part due to superstitious beliefs. ‘We’re afraid if we break our oath, we will be captured by tigers,’ Mail added.

Conversion of tribespeople to Islam is not uncommon in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, and the government insisted the change would be positive for the Orang Rimba.

Hasbullah Al Banjary, director of indigenous communities at the social affairs ministry, said it was now easier for authorities to provide for the tribespeople as they were not moving around. He said their traditions would not be eroded.

‘It´s a creative culture which has local wisdom we need to preserve,’ he said.

But indigenous rights defenders insist some tribespeople feel they have no option but to convert.

‘I view this as a result of the state failing to protect them,’ Rukka Sombolinggi, secretary general of leading Indonesia indigenous rights group AMAN, told AFP.

‘They turn to clerics or the church in some areas, because they offer protection.’

In recent decades, Indonesia has lost huge areas of rainforest – the habitat for many indigenous groups – to make way for plantations for palm oil, pulpwood and rubber, as well as coal mines.

Critics say local governments have prioritised making bumper profits by issuing permits for companies to set up operations rather than protecting tribes, who typically have no formal title to areas where they live.

Yusuf said he feels a sense of ‘tranquility’ after converting – but admitted it had not been a quick fix and his group were yet to receive the coveted identity documents.

‘It’s now up to the government – if they care about us they will work on our ID cards,’ he said

Original Article at Afp, click : HERE

The Word “Science” Has Disappeared From The EPA’s Mission Statement

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under a communications blackout, has its long-time archenemy as its new chief, is having its funding dramatically cut, is having all its major climate change mitigation provisions and water protection rules rolled back, and may be entirely abolished by the end of 2018. Times are bad, to summarize.

The newly minted powers-that-be are also having a fiddle with the EPA’s website, something which is being tracked by the non-profit group, the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI). Although plenty of references to climate change have been slipping away as of late, the most recent change is particularly egregious.

The EPA’s Office of Science and Technology (OST) once had a mission statement that began thusly: “OST is responsible for developing sound, science-based standards, criteria, health advisories, test methods and guidelines…” It talks about using “scientific and technological foundations” to achieve things like clean water and pristine aquatic environments.

Now, the mission statement notes that it works on “economically and technologically achievable performance standards to address water pollution.” The word “science” has been completely removed from the site – despite the fact that, lest we forget, this if the Office of Science and Technology.

This is ludicrous, that much is obvious. Worryingly, this goes in line with what Scott Pruitt and his anti-environmental cronies were saying at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland. One lawyer who handled the transition between the Obama EPA team and the Trump one even said that the EPA should not conduct science at all.

This situation is so bizarre that there aren’t enough superlatives or analogies to adequately convey its malevolence effectively. Taking the “science” out of the Office of Science and Technology is like taking the “space” out of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It’s like removing the spaghetti from bolognese, the coffee out of an espresso, or the alcohol out of a bar.

It’s like taking cats off the Internet – what is the point of it without them?

You can’t base environmental protection on anything that’s not scientific. Are they going to use the entrails of a chicken to guide them? Will they search their feelings and use the Force? Flip a coin? Consult a Magic 8-Ball?

Science, it seems, is just massively inconvenient for those that like to do whatever they want with no care for the consequences of it. With few exceptions, the GOP of 2017 is the party to beat when it comes to science denial.

EPA’s Environmental Justice Head Resigned After 24 Years. He Wants to Explain Why.

Friday, March 10th, 2017

“To move backward didn’t make any sense.”

By REBECCA LEBER for Mother Jones

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office on Environmental Justice submitted his resignation on Tuesday. First reported by InsideClimate News, the resignation of Mustafa Ali comes as the Trump administration considers layoffs and budget cuts at the EPA that, if enacted, would eliminate the environmental justice budget and cut funding to grants for pollution cleanup.

Ali, a founder of the program in 1992 who has worked there since, told Mother Jones he resigned because he was concerned the administration’s proposals to roll back its environmental justice work would disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. “That is something that I could not be a part of,” Ali says.

“Each new administration has an opportunity to share what their priorities and values are,” he says, adding that he has “not heard of anything that was being proposed that was beneficial to the communities we serve. To me, that was a signal that communities with environmental justice concern may not get the attention they deserve.”

The office, created during the George H.W. Bush administration, defines its mission as reducing the disproportionate impacts environmental problems have on minority, low-income, and indigenous people by integrating these concerns into all the EPA’s decision-making. Since its founding, the office has distributed $24 million in grants to 1,400 communities.

In his resignation letter, Ali attempted to make the case for the Office of Environmental Justice by appealing to Pruitt’s interest in economic growth. He described what happened in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which received a $20,000 grant from the EPA to address the community’s abandoned dump sites that were leaching toxic chemicals. The mostly low-income, African American residents of the region experienced high rates of cancer and respiratory disease. Local black leaders leveraged that grant into $270 million from investors and the government to revitalize the city, “creating jobs and improving their environments through collaborative partnerships,” Ali wrote. “When I hear we are considering making cuts to grant programs like the EJ small grants or Collaborative Problem Solving programs, which have assisted over 1400 communities, I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most.”

Ali spoke to Mother Jones from Flint, Michigan, where he was attending a two-day environmental justice summit in the city that famously confronted an environmental crisis when the community’s drinking water was found to be contaminated with lead. He says he will continue the work he has focused on for 25 years as the new senior vice president of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national nonprofit that organizes and recruits activists to promote social justice, including on climate change. “I want to make sure I am investing my time and talents in a place that is going to be supportive of that work,” he says.

Ali hopes his resignation will bring attention to the effects on low-income and marginalized communities of the new administration’s program cuts and loosened regulations.

During his confirmation hearings, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt told Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) that he is “familiar with the concept of environmental justice” and acknowledged that the “administrator plays an important role regarding environmental justice.”

“Under his leadership, he has the ability to move to the next level if he chooses to,” Ali says. Environmental justice leaders “have dedicated decades to trying to gain traction and make progress. We’ve done some of that, and to move backward didn’t make any sense to me.”

Islam and Indigenous peoples of Panama

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Islam and Indigenous peoples of Panama

Kurds’ language in official settings sees new life in Syria

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Kurdish officials have reclaimed their tongue, reintroducing Kurmanji dialect of their language into the school curriculum Kurdish-majority regions in Syria.
Middle East Online

International works of literature translated into Kurdish

QAMISHLI – Abdo Shehu sits in an office in Kurdish-majority Qamishli in northeast Syria, surrounded by copies of the first Western novel available in the city in his own language.

The novel is “Snow” by French writer Maxence Fermine, the first fruits of a new project to translate international works of literature into a language that was effectively banned in Syria until recently.

The 29-year-old is working as part of the “Hunar” project, named for the Kurdish word for pomegranate, launched two months ago to translate literature into the Kurdish language in Kurdish-majority parts of Syria.

For years, Syria’s Kurds were banned from using their language in official settings and prevented from learning it in schools or publishing magazines or books in the tongue.

The restrictions were parts of a larger programme of constraints placed on Kurds, who make up around 10 percent of Syria’s pre-war population, including depriving them of Syrian nationality.

“I spent three months in a prison in Damascus in 2009, and was threatened with expulsion from university, because I was found with books in Kurdish,” said Shehu.

“Our language and our culture were banned by the authoritarian Baath party, which wanted to get rid of the Kurds and their culture,” he added.

But Syria’s central government no longer has much sway over the Kurdish-majority regions of the country, in the north and northeast.

– ‘Very few authors’ –

It withdrew its security forces from Kurdish-majority regions in 2012, a year after the uprising broke out against President Bashar al-Assad.

And since then, the Kurds have walked a careful line between the government and rebels, while focusing on building a semi-autonomous region.

Kurdish officials have reclaimed their tongue, reintroducing the Kurmanji dialect of their language into the school curriculum and restoring Kurdish names to villages and towns.

The project has already translated three more works, including “The Epic of Gilgamesh”, a poem from ancient Mesopotamia and among the earliest known literary writings in the world, from Arabic, and a study of the Kurdish people, from English.

Those books will soon go into publication, and work will continue with new volumes, which are chosen by a committee that weighs various criteria, including whether the works are relevant to Kurdish life.

It is a non-profit initiative, and funded by private donors, with translators working on a volunteer basis.

The translated version of “Snow” has already gone on sale, for just over one US dollar a piece, enough to cover the costs of printing, according to Shehu.

After translation, each work is reviewed by a committee for approval, which tried, without success, to reach Fermine to obtain copyright permissions before publication began.

After decades of marginalisation, today very few Kurdish authors write in their mother tongue, encouraging avid readers like Shehu to translate works from other languages.

“There are only very few authors who write literature in Kurdish,” writer Hussein Zido, 45, said.

“Kurds never obtained their cultural, social or political rights throughout their long history in the Middle East,” he said.

The “Hunar” project aims to save the Kurdish language from extinction by translating books from the rest of the world into Kurdish, Shehu said.

“We’re doing our best not only to translate literature, but also philosophy and thought… so that Kurds can read world literature in their mother tongue.”

To swell the body of homegrown books, Malfa Ali, one of the founders of the project, is also compiling traditional Kurdish folktales and songs to put them into print.

The 37-year-old said he spends long exhausting hours collecting these tales directly from the storytellers themselves.

They have never been formally recorded because publishing Kurdish-language books was forbidden.

“We’ll start gathering all the stories told in the area and then we’ll move on to the songs,” he said.

The project also hopes one day to produce a complete dictionary of the Kurdish language, including words and phrases from the tongue’s spoken form.

– Protecting Kurdish –

Kurdish areas have seen a cultural revival since 2012, with new cultural associations and magazines taking life.

Syrian authorities forced the Kurdish magazine “Sormi” to close down in its original Arabic-language form in 2008, but since the uprising it has reopened, this time publishing in Kurdish.

The latest issue of the bi-monthly, which relaunched in 2015 offering readers articles by Kurdish authors, is themed “Identity and Language”.

“The Kurdish language is the first thing we have to protect. It never had its chance before, despite representing the identity of a whole people,” said Abbas Musa, a member of the magazine’s editorial team.

“We’re striving to offer something different and varied to those interested in culture,” he said of the magazine, which is published in Qamishli and distributed in two other cities.

The 31-year-old said he hoped highbrow articles in Kurdish would show his mother tongue is “not weak”.

Fellow “Sormi” editor Bahar Murad, 39, also translates children’s stories from English to Kurdish.

In his office at the culture magazine, he points to a recent translation of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

He wants to see children reading in their mother tongue, he said.

“They’ve asked me to translate Little Red Riding Hood.”

TRUMP PLANEJA CORTES NOS APORTES PARA A ONU E SUAS ORGANIZAÇÕES

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Ainda é conversa de corredor, mas parece que Trump vai mesmo cortar o dinheiro que os EUA mandam para a ONU e suas organizações. É possível que saia uma ordem executiva com uma lista de critérios para o corte dos fundos para organizações internacionais. Um destes critérios é o reconhecimento da Autoridade Palestina como membro pleno. Uma das organizações que reconhece a Palestina é a UNFCCC, a Convenção do Clima. Hoje, a pingada anual dos EUA de US$ 4 milhões para a UNFCCC representa 20% do seu orçamento. Esta é uma das possíveis medidas para que Trump consiga uma de suas metas: cortar 40% das verbas que os EUA pingam nas várias organizações internacionais

http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/01/25/trump-planning-review-of-un-treaties-funding-report/

Kurdish-Syrian people must be included in peace talks

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

The Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and its political arm the PYD will not be invited to planned peace talks in Kazakhstan, a PYD official said on Tuesday, an outcome that would leave a key player in the conflict off the negotiating table.
Syria’s government and rebel forces started a ceasefire on Dec. 31 as a first step toward face-to face negotiations backed by Turkey and Russia, but the date and its participants remain unclear.
The truce is also under growing strain as rebels have vowed to respond to government violations and President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday the army would retake an important rebel-held area near Damascus.
“We are not invited. That’s for sure,” Khaled Eissa, a PYD member told Reuters in France. “It seems there were some vetoes. Neither the PYD or our military formation will be present,” he said.
Assad’s ally Russia had previously sought the PYD’s presence at other negotiations in Switzerland.
But Turkey, which opposes Assad, regards both the YPG and PYD as extensions of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) separatists in its own territory and has said two groups should not be represented in Astana.
The Syrian Kurds aim to cement the autonomy of areas of northern Syria where Kurdish groups have already carved out self-governing regions since the start of the war in 2011, though Kurdish leaders say an independent state is not the goal.
“What we have been told is that there will only be a limited number of armed groups and not political groups,” Eissa said, adding that for a comprehensive peace deal in Syria the Kurds would at one point have to be invited to the negotiating table.
The main Syrian political opposition umbrella group that includes about half a dozen armed groups, the Riyadh-backed High Negotiations Committee, is meeting in the Saudi capital later this week to discuss the Astana talks, although it is also unclear whether Moscow intends to invite them, diplomats and opposition officials said.
Ankara intervened in Syria last year in support of rebel groups fighting under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner sought to drive Islamic State from positions it had used to shell Turkish towns, and also to stop YPG expansion.
The YPG and its allies backed by a U.S.-led coalition is fighting against IS militants around the group’s Syrian bastion Raqqa, while Turkish-backed rebels are fighting the jihadist group further northwest near areas under Kurdish control.
(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Kurds / Indigenous Peoples

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Where do they come from?

The Kurds are one of the indigenous people of the Mesopotamian plains and the highlands in what are now south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern Syria, northern Iraq, north-western Iran and south-western Armenia.

Today, they form a distinctive community, united through race, culture and language, even though they have no standard dialect. They also adhere to a number of different religions and creeds, although the majority are Sunni Muslims.