Links embedded in this diary can be found at my blog: http://mpetrelis.blogspot.com/...
[This letter was emailed to Mr. Potts today. It was also sent to the AIDS, gay and mainstream media.]
U.S. State Department
Human Rights Bureau
Dear Mr. Potts:
Allow me to express my deep gratitude to you and your dedicated colleagues for including a tremendous amount of documentation and references to antigay abuses in the 2005 human rights report, which should go far in helping combat violations of the human rights of gays around the globe and improve the lives of gay people.
However, I write today to request the country report on Syria be amended to include the following information, which is from the Middle East Media Research Institute, based in Washington, DC:
Syrian Deputy Minister of Religious Endowments, Muhammad Abd Al-Sattar Al-Sayyid: AIDS Patients Should Be Stoned before Spreading Their Disease.
> The following are excerpts from an interview with the Syrian deputy minister of religious endowments, Muhammad Abd Al-Sattar Al-Sayyid, which aired on Syrian TV on August 30, 2005.
> Al-Sayyid: All the diseases that have to do with sexual organs, mainly AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, and so on... When these diseases appeared, they killed millions. More people were killed by these diseases than by wars. The only reason for this is the straying from the divine way regarding fornication, and when I say fornication - "Do not even approach abomination" - this means fornication, homosexuality, and all the sexual deviation it entails.
> Host: Everything that has to do with abominations.
> Al-Sayyid: "Do not even approach abomination, surely it is a foul thing and an evil way." When Islam set the punishment (for fornication)... Let's see now... What do they do now with people with AIDS? They put the AIDS patient in isolation. This patient... If you go to the dentist, you are afraid of the toothbrush.
> This is why there's a hidden desire in one's heart... If only we had stoned everyone who had committed this abomination - wouldn't it have been better than letting these diseases infect others, spreading to millions around the world?
> Host: Most certainly.
> Al-Sayyid: Most certainly. The entire world, from the US to the most distant country, acknowledges that if they had stoned the fornicators, and prevented abomination, things would have been much better.
Mr. Potts, as you can see, this government official endorsed death by stoning for people with AIDS, a troubling public development that further stigmatizes AIDS patients in Syria and may lead to harassment and attacks, possibly even death, of people with AIDS.
However, Syria's section in the 2005 report fails to note this stoning endorsement and I believe it's imperative that the State Department immediately amend the report to include a reference to the cleric's call on TV jeopardizing the safety and human rights of Syrians living with HIV. (Source: State Dept 2005 report on Syria).
I am requesting that you follow existing State Department guidelines and regulations regarding amending the annual human rights report when new documentation comes to light.
Thanks again for producing an invaluable report illustrating many violations of human rights, with a laudable amount of information related to gay people and I look forward to your reply about my concerns over Syria and its citizens with HIV or AIDS.
San Francisco, CA