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“Crime against humanity, crime against culture”

In October, TEDxExeter alumna Karima Bennoune was appointed as a UN Special Rapporteur on culture. Sadly, her first statement in this capacity was about the Paris attacks: “Crime against humanity, crime against culture”. You can read it on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights website in English and French.

It is as necessary as ever to hear the message she gave in her talk at TEDxExeter 2014, “When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism”, which is now featured on TED.com. In September 2014, she also wrote A Ten-Point Plan for Defeating ISIS and Muslim Fundamentalism, which covers the following in more detail:

  1. The international community must stand together.
  2. Our strategy must be cross-regional.
  3. Support must be given to people of Muslim heritage who oppose extremism.
  4. There must be an immediate humanitarian response to the desperate needs of those affected by ISIS brutality.
  5. We must not just battle terrorism, but fight the underlying fundamentalism.
  6. We have to dry up the funding sources of ISIS.
  7. Unequivocally defend women’s rights.
  8. The response to ISIS must respect international law.
  9. This is not a partisan issue.
  10. We must fight discrimination against Muslims everywhere.

Thankfully, Karima’s is not the only sane voice amidst the empty rhetoric and hate-mongering. Deeyah Khan is a documentary film-maker and activist. Shortly after the Paris attacks, she wrote in the Guardian about how “Together, we can conquer Isis’s savage world view”, and in the Evening Standard about British extremists’ path to radicalisation and their warped world of hyper-masculinity. Deeyah’s film “Jihad” explores the root causes and appeal of radical extremism to young Muslims in The West. “Banaz – A Love Story” tells the story of Banaz Mahmod: her murder by her own family in an ‘honour killing’, and how the police finally brought them to justice.