On May 28, 1961, British lawyer Peter Benenson penned a passionate article in the London Observer, drawing attention to the plight of two Portuguese students who had delivered a toast calling for democratic reform in their country and were promptly carted off to prison for defying dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. Benenson wrote in that article: “Open your newspaper any day of the week, and you will find a report from somewhere in the world of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government…. The newspaper reader feels a sickening sense of impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust all over the world could be united into common action, something effective could be done.” That summer, Benenson went on to co-found Amnesty International.
Today, across the Muslim world, the annual “prisoners of conscience” day — from a phrase in Benenson’s article — finds scores of political dissidents languishing in jail, their only crimes being peaceful expressions of opposition to the undemocratic regimes under which they live.
Their situation is particularly dire in >>>