Beverly Hills is engulfed with protests and calls for boycotts at the Beverly Hills Hotel against the government of Brunei for its “extreme and inhumane” Sharia laws. Hollywood protestors including Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres have raised a voice of moral conscious, by standing against nations that support Sharia laws, which, for example, “call for violent punishment, including amputation and death by stoning, against those engaging in same-sex activity and extramarital sexual relations and those committing adultery.”
Against that backdrop, today in Central Park, the New York City Road Runners “10th annual UAE Healthy Kidney 10K” was sponsored by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embassy, in honor of the late President Sheikh Zayed. Thousands of runners donned the flag of UAE on their running gear – unaware that the UAE has the same laws as Brunei.
Last year in UAE, a woman was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery– as adultery and homosexuality are illegal. In the UAE, wife-beating is legal as long as no physical marks are left. One wonders if the countless lycra clad runners knew that in UAE criminal courts, a woman’s testimony is worth half of that of a man before a court. Surely there is no weekend co-ed jogging in UAE parks.
A Harvard petition that called upon the Institution to rescind a donation from Sheikh Zayed stated that, “As ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Zayed is responsible for his nations shameful human rights record, which includes, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, corporal punishment of dissidents and dictatorial governance. Zayed has ruled as the UAEs unelected president since 1971. In addition, his regime has been cited for the use of child slave labor in the camel racing industry, abuse of domestic servants, and racial discrimination against foreign workers.”
It’s also worth noting that Sheikh Zayed was outspoken – and financially supportive – of Arab countries who attacked Israel in 1973 vowing to destroy the Jewish State.
Are these viewpoints shared by the nearly 8,000 New Yorkers who trained, sweat and gave their every effort?
New Yorkers who support the Beverly Hills protestors have the opportunity to speak out much closer to home – and challenge the New York City Road Runners to reject future sponsorship from the UAE. Let today’s ninth-annual UAE run of the New York City road runners be the final one.
New York must join the West Coast in standing against hate.
Ronn Torossian is an Upper West Side resident and a Public Relations executive. He is also a jogger who has never run wearing a flag of the UAE.