But with the precedent of repression established, and the independence of the courts and other institutions of law decimated, there was nothing to stand in the way of Erdoğans widening crackdown. A firm and timely response from Western leaders might have been expected, but other interests, whether curtailing the flow of refugees to europe or fighting the self-described Islamic State, or isis, often stood in the way. Egypt under the sisi government underwent a similar evolution. Unhappy with the brief rule of the muslim Brotherhood under President Mohamed Morsy, many Egyptians welcomed the military coup that Sisi led in 2013. But he has proceeded to rule far more repressively than even the long dictatorship of President Hosni mubarak that was overthrown during the Arab Spring. For example, sisi oversaw the killing of at least 817 Muslim Brotherhood protesters in a single day in August 2013—one of the largest massacres of protesters in modern times.
Respect for Superiors
But the proper response to these repressive practices is to reject them—they are the reason many immigrants have fled—and to ensure that all members of society respect the rights of all others. The answer is not to reject the rights of one segment of the population—in the current climate, typically muslims—in the name of protecting the rights of others. Such selectivity in the application of rights undermines the universality of rights that is their essence. Rising Authoritarianism in Turkey and Egypt. Erdoğans increasingly dictatorial rule in Turkey illustrates the dangers of a leader trampling on rights in the name of the majority. For several years, he has shown diminishing tolerance for those who would challenge his plans, whether to build over a park in central Istanbul or to amend the constitution to permit an executive presidency. In the past year, Erdoğan and his Justice and development Party used a coup attempt and its orthesiste hundreds of victims as an opening to crack down not only on the plotters he alleged had been associated with the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen but also. A declared state of emergency became an opportunity to turn on other perceived critics as well, closing down much of the independent media and civil society groups. In addition, in the name of pursuing the kurdistan Workers Party, or pkk, the government jailed the leaders and parliamentarians of the main pro-kurdish party in Parliament and removed its local mayors. There was broad cross-party support for Erdoğans government in the wake of the coup, given the collective sigh of relief that many in Turkey felt after the attempt failed.
Detention should not be arbitrary, and deportation procedures must afford due process. With those caveats, governments can bar and send home economic migrants. Yet contrary to the appeals of the populists, immigrant communities living lawfully in a country should have their rights fully respected. No one should face discrimination in housing, education, or employment. Everyone, regardless of legal status, is entitled to protection by the police and fairness within the justice system. Governments should invest to help immigrants to integrate and fully participate in society. Public officials in particular have a duty to reject the hatred and intolerance of populists and affirm their faith in independent and impartial courts tasked with upholding rights. Those are the best ways to ensure that, literature even as nations become more diverse, they maintain the democratic traditions that historically have proved the best route to prosperity. Particularly in Europe, some politicians justify hostility toward immigrants—especially muslims—by suggesting that these communities want to replicate the suppression of women or gays and lesbians in certain of their home countries.
Yet those who hoped to stop migration by voting for Brexit—perhaps the most prominent illustration of this trend—risk making Britain worse off economically. Throughout the european continent, officials and politicians harken back to distant, even fanciful, times of perceived national ethnic purity, despite established immigrant communities in most countries that are there to stay and whose integration as productive members of society is undermined by this hostility from. There is tragic irony in the anti-refugee policies of some leaders, such as Hungarys yardage Orbán: Europe welcomed Hungarian refugees from soviet repression but today orbáns government does everything it can to make life miserable for the latest people fleeing war and persecution. No government is obliged to admit everyone who comes knocking at its nations doors. But international law limits what can be done to control migration. People seeking asylum must be given a fair hearing and, if their claims are found valid, a refuge. No one should be returned to war, persecution, or torture. With narrow exceptions, immigrants who have spent many years in a country or developed family ties should be given a route to legal status.
Trump also showed no willingness to limit overbroad measures such as mass surveillance, an enormous invasion of privacy that has proven no more effective than judicially supervised, targeted surveillance. Trump even toyed with reintroducing torture such as waterboarding, apparently oblivious to the bonanza for terrorist recruiters provided by President george. Bushs enhanced interrogation techniques. His belated post-election discovery of tortures ineffectiveness after a conversation with the general he later nominated to head the defense department offers little solace because he simultaneously declared a willingness nonetheless to order torture if thats what the American people want. He, presumably, would be the privileged interpreter of that desire, while ignoring the laws and treaties that prohibit inflicting such brutality and pain regardless of the circumstances. The populist wave in Europe. In Europe, a similar populism sought to blame economic stagnation on migration, both to and within the european Union.
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And governments that respect human rights are more easily replaced when people become unhappy with their rule. But if the appeal of the strongman and the voices of intolerance prevail, the world risks entering a dark era. We should never underestimate the tendency of demagogues who sacrifice the rights of others in our name today to jettison our rights tomorrow when their real priority—retaining use power—is in jeopardy. Trumps Dangerous Rhetoric, donald Trumps successful campaign for the us presidency was a vivid illustration of this politics of intolerance. Sometimes overtly, sometimes through code and indirection, he spoke to many Americans discontent with economic stagnation and an increasingly multicultural society in a way that breached basic principles of dignity and equality. He stereotyped migrants, vilified refugees, attacked a judge for his Mexican ancestry, mocked a journalist with disabilities, dismissed multiple allegations of sexual assault, and pledged to roll back womens ability to control their own fertility.
To make matters worse, there was also a practical emptiness to much of his rhetoric. For example, a large part of his campaign was built around attacking trade deals and the global economy, but he also scapegoated undocumented migrants as responsible for stealing American jobs. Yet the mass deportation of migrants that he threatened, including of many with established ties in the United States and a record of contributing productively to the economy, will do nothing to bring back long-lost manufacturing jobs. Us job growth continues to rise, but to the extent there is economic stagnation for some, it can hardly be blamed on undocumented migrants whose net numbers have not changed significantly in recent years and who are often willing to perform jobs that most. Candidate Trumps plan for confronting terrorism by muslims was equally futile—even counterproductive—as he demonized the very muslim communities whose cooperation is important for identifying tomorrows plots. He portrayed refugees as security risks even though they are subjected to far more thorough vetting than the vastly larger number of people entering the us for business, education, or tourism.
A similar trend can be found outside the west. Indeed, the rise of Western populists seems to have emboldened several leaders to intensify their flouting of human rights. The Kremlin, for example, has eagerly defended President Vladimir Putins authoritarian rule as no worse than the wests increasingly troubled human rights record. China's xi jinping, like putin, has pursued the toughest crackdown on critical voices in two decades. President Recep tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey took advantage of a coup attempt to crush opposition voices. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt intensified the crackdown begun after his own coup.
President Rodrigo duterte of the Philippines has openly called for summary executions of suspected drug dealers and users—and even of human rights activists who defend them. Prime minister Narendra modi of India tried to shut down critical civic groups as he closed his eyes to intimidation and hate crimes by hindu nationalist groups against religious and ethnic minorities. Meanwhile, confident that there is little to fear in the wests occasional protests, syrian President Bashir al-Assad, backed by russia, iran, and Lebanons hezbollah, has shredded the international laws of war, ruthlessly attacking civilians in opposition-held parts of the country including eastern Aleppo. Several African leaders, feeling vulnerable to domestic or international prosecution themselves, have harshly criticized the International Criminal court and, in three cases, announced their intention to withdraw from. To counter these trends, a broad reaffirmation of human rights is urgently needed. The rise of the populists should certainly lead to some soul-searching among mainstream politicians, but not to an abandonment of first principles, by officials or the public. Governments committed to respecting human rights serve their people better by being more likely to avoid the corruption, self-aggrandizing, and arbitrariness that so often accompany autocratic rule. Governments founded on human rights are better placed to hear their citizens and recognize and address their problems.
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Some leaders seem to have buried their heads in the proposal sand, hoping the winds of populism will blow over. Others, if not seeking to profit from populist passions, seem to wish that emulation of the populists might temper their ascendancy. British Prime minister Theresa may denounced activist left wing human rights lawyers who dare to challenge British forces for torture in Iraq. French President François Hollande borrowed from the national Front playbook to try to make depriving French-born dual citizens of their nationality a central part of his counterterrorism policy, an initiative he later abandoned and said he regretted. The dutch government supports restrictions on face veils for Muslim women. Many european leaders now back the call of Hungarys Prime minister viktor Orbán to close europes borders, leaving refugees in the lurch. Such mimicry paper of the populists only reinforces and legitimizes the politicians attacking human rights values.
But rights by their nature do not admit an à la carte approach. You may not like your neighbors, but if you sacrifice their rights today, you jeopardize your own tomorrow, because ultimately rights are grounded on the reciprocal duty to treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. To violate the rights of some is to erode the edifice of rights that inevitably will be needed by members of the presumed majority in whose name current violations occur. We forget at our peril the demagogues of yesteryear—the fascists, communists, and their ilk who claimed privileged insight into the majoritys interest but ended up crushing the individual. When populists treat rights as an obstacle to their vision of the majority will, it is only a matter of time before they turn on those who disagree with their agenda. The risk only heightens when populists attack the independence of the judiciary for upholding the rule of law—that is, for enforcing the limits on governmental conduct that rights impose. Such claims of unfettered majoritarianism, and the attacks on the checks and balances that constrain governmental power, are perhaps the greatest danger today to the future of democracy in the west. Spreading Threat and Tepid Response, rather than confronting this populist surge, too many western political leaders seem to have lost confidence in human rights values, offering only tepid support. Few leaders have been willing to offer a vigorous defense, with the notable letter exception, at times, of German Chancellor Angela merkel, canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau, and us president Barack Obama.
as protecting them from the state but as undermining governmental efforts to defend them. In the United States and Europe, the perceived threat at the top of the list is migration, where concerns about cultural identity, economic opportunity, and terrorism intersect. Encouraged by populists, an expanding segment of the public sees rights as protecting only these other people, not themselves, and thus as dispensable. If the majority wants to limit the rights of refugees, migrants, or minorities, the populists suggest, it should be free to. That international treaties and institutions stand in the way only intensifies this antipathy toward rights in a world where nativism is often prized over globalism. It is perhaps human nature that it is harder to identify with people who differ from oneself, and easier to accept violation of their rights. People take solace in the hazardous assumption that the selective enforcement of rights is possible—that the rights of others can be compromised while their own remain secure.
There is an increasing sense that governments and the word elite ignore public concerns. In this cauldron of discontent, certain politicians are flourishing and even gaining power by portraying rights as protecting only the terrorist suspect or the asylum seeker at the expense of the safety, economic welfare, and cultural preferences of the presumed majority. They scapegoat refugees, immigrant communities, and minorities. Truth is a frequent casualty. Nativism, xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia are on the rise. This dangerous trend threatens to reverse the accomplishments of the modern human rights movement. In its early years, that movement was preoccupied with the atrocities of World War ii and the repression associated with the cold War. Having seen the evil that governments can do, states adopted a series of human rights treaties to limit and deter future abuse.
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Human rights exist to protect people from government abuse and neglect. Rights limit what a state can do and impose obligations for how a state must act. Yet today a new generation of populists is turning this protection on its head. Claiming to speak for the people, they treat rights as an impediment to their conception of the majority will, a needless obstacle to defending the nation from perceived threats and evils. Instead of accepting rights as protecting everyone, they privilege the declared interests of the majority, encouraging people to adopt the dangerous belief that they will never themselves need to assert rights against an overreaching government claiming to act in their name. The appeal of the populists has grown with mounting public year discontent over the status quo. In the west, many people feel left behind by technological change, the global economy, and growing inequality. Horrific incidents of terrorism generate apprehension and fear. Some are uneasy with societies that have become more ethnically, religiously and racially diverse.