Burning the Koran, Globalization and its impact on Human Rights

Rimsha Masih – a Pakistani Christian girl believed to be 11 to 14 years old was arrested early August and accused of having committed blasphemy by burning pages of the Koran, an offense punishable by death under Pakistan’s laws. Not long after her arrest it was published that the girl was known to have a mental disability.

Masih’s arrest in August on blasphemy charges prompted international concern. The case has highlighted tensions between Pakistan’s Muslim and Christian communities, and since Masih’s arrest, Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws have come under heavy criticism. Protests against the treatment of Masih took place around the world in matter of hours after her arrest. In an unprecedented move, Masih was granted bail on Friday, days after police detained a Muslim cleric on suspicion of planting evidence to frame her.

Globalization and the extraordinary speed of information has made possible that we hear about human rights violations around the world, and that we feel connection to people and events that were previously unknown to us. Perhaps the fact that Masih’s case was heavily publicized played a role in the Judge’s determination to release her on bail. Perhaps the fact that the eyes of the world are fixed on the Pakistani Judge and its government will benefit her case.

If so, is globalization generally beneficial to the enjoyment of human rights?

Before answering in the affirmative consider the argument sometimes made that globalization is turning the world into a global market dominated and steered by the most powerful economic and political agents to maintain power and advantage at the expense of the most disenfranchised.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Burning the Koran, Globalization and its impact on Human Rights

  • September 10, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Is globalization generally beneficial to the enjoyment of human rights?

    First I´d like to say that globalization certainly did play a role in Masih´s case. I believe it also played a role in Iran recenly releasing a Christian pastor who had been on death row. Governments, politicians, and corporations are sensitive to negative press at home and abroad. Most everyone hates negative publicity because it puts pressure on them and makes things more difficult. This is one of the benefits of globalization – in tandem with modern technology – a spotlight can highlight an injustice almost anywhere in the world, and this can influence change for the better. This is one way that globalization can be beneficial to the enjoyment of of human rights.

    I would say that globalization overall is both good and bad. One way that globalization can be bad is that it has the ability to destabilze regions. One example of this can be seen in Mexico. In the early 1990´s President Clinton signed into law NAFTA. This step towards globalization eased trade between the USA, Mexico, and Canada. There has been benefits to this, but there has also been some ugly fallout. Southern parts of Mexico were traditionally farming villages that produced a lot of the produce for Mexico. However when it became cost effective for American companies to export food goods into Mexico, it became diffiuclt for many of the farmers to make a living through farming. Many of these farmers had to leave their homes and families to search for work. Millions of them have entered into the USA illegally out of desperation. Thus a traditional stronghold of agricultural industry in Mexico was destabilized.

    Another result of NAFTA was the rise of the automobile industry in Mexico. When auto manufacturers saw that it was cost effective to build plants in Mexico they did just that. They could pay Mexicans much less than they would have to pay Americans. This has left many in the American auto industry destitute, unemployed, and directionless (one city in particular, Detroit, has been almost completely destroyed by this shift in the industry). Many of the Mexican employees are exploited by these companies, i.e. payed low wages and given few, if any, benefits.

    Globalization brings benefits and problems. It is good in many ways, and bad in many others. Perhaps the good aspect of globalization – it´s internations scope in spotlighting injustice – can highlight the problems of globalization and help to improve things.

    • September 11, 2012 at 7:10 am

      There are certainly the detrimental effects of globalization that you mention in your post. That is precisely the argument of those who state that globalization is beneficial to those powerful economic agents concerned only with the bottom line. However, as in relates to your NAFTA example, it is very important to keep in mind that in any policy decision, there are always competing interests, in this case, the interests of the consumers who will have access to cheaper produce, versus the interests of the workers in the United States, who have lost their jobs to Mexican workers who earn lower wages. At the same time, it is also the globalization of information that would allow us to find out if the foreign companies are subjecting the Mexican workers to inhuman working conditions. Perhaps the way to think about the effects of globalization is not to focus on the specific interests that have been affected but in the overall result to society.

  • September 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    This issue is debatable today, as the media is constantly criticized for fabricating facts, while globalization can be praised for providing people worldwide with knowledge and insight. It is true that through globalization awareness is created, voices have been heard, and many situations have been resolved. The international influence of greater human rights has been witnessed, as many countries have sympathized and protested in spirit with another country’s tragic situations. People from all over the world have been contributing more to charities, making donations to the poor in Africa or those who suffered from the Haiti earthquake for example. Greater awareness is taking place, and together, people from all over the world are making a difference. In Masih’s case, globalization was beneficial as others spoke in her favor, defending her case out of logic and pure sympathy. They helped by having greater understanding to the reality of her situation than the extremist party in Pakistan did. By globalizing her case, her life was saved. However, in other situations, the effect of globalization can be harmful. For example, during Bahrain’s civil unrest, most of the media portrayed the actions in which the government took as a violation of human rights, showing only one side of the story – videos and pictures of the crackdown in the defense of the protestors. However, the reality of the situation in Bahrain was different, it is outdated by years of historical events taking place that led to this situation, but only people residing in the country have witnessed it. The way in which external parties portrayed the government resulted in many losses to Bahrain – loosing investors, companies, and by some countries boycotting any form of international trade taking place in Bahrain The US government had publicly criticized Bahrain for violating human rights, showing great disappointment. The exposure Bahrain received by the media had harmed the country’s reputation, deteriorating its economy.
    However, on a general basis, I think globalization is necessary and has contributed positively to different countries. It has generated exposure and insight to the various events taking places in different parts of the world, and has educated people. If it weren’t for the news, people (especially those from developed countries) would be living ignorantly, in a nutshell.

    • September 11, 2012 at 7:33 am


      You bring up a very interesting point, the distorsion of information in the news media. It is often assumed that what we read/hear in the newsmedia is based on true facts. As information has become “globalized,” we often hear about conflicts in countries that we do not know, and it is very easy to assume that what we hear is true. What we need to always keep in mind is that information can be manipulated, and often is. It is essential to read news reports from at least two sources, and to make sure we think critically about what we are being told. It is a positive, I think, that globalization has allowed information to flow freely beyond borders and in a very quick fashion, but in order to get the full benefit of having the world of information at our fingertips, we need to take responsibility for testing the information we are fed.

      • September 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

        Globalization impacts the economy, culture, politics, and society of our countries and is a phenomenon of unprecedented importance. In my view, it is a dynamic process and did not have a sole creator, emerged as a logical consequence of the interaction between countries and the catalyst has been the technological revolution of recent years and the power of social networks. Globalization as large scale process, is IMPERFECT . In consecuence, It has a very positive impact on some issues related to the exchange, solidarity, human rights (as the case Masih), but at the same time, can have a very negative impact in all areas, a clear example is the economies of the developing countries, globalization makes them compete in a disadvantage position, which in turn results in human rights violations, which results in loss of identity, culture, sovereignty. How ever, Globalization is INEVITABLE and can not be reversed, and its IMPROVABLE and I believe that the nations should look at its PROS and the CONS and they have the responsibility to implemente mechanisms to promote the benefits and try to eliminate as much as possible the negative efectts that may arise as a result of global practices.


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