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Islam, Women and Feminism (28 Mar 2020 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Olympic Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad On Paving the Way for Muslim Women In Sports






Ibtihaj Muhammad made sports history by becoming the first Muslim-American woman to compete and win a medal for Team USA while wearing a hijab

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•Olympic Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad On Paving the Way for Muslim Women In Sports

•What The Burqa And The Bindi (And The Hijab) Stand For In Our Books, And In Our Current Lives

•Fears Of Domestic Violence Rise As Millions Confined Over Virus

•Despite Hurdles, Women Aim To Participate In Labour Force

•What the Fashion Industry's Embrace of Modest Clothing Means to Me As a Muslim Woman

•How Shaheen Bagh Protestors Got Tacit Support From the Judiciary

•10 Muslim-Owned Fashion and Beauty Brands You Need to Know

•Shaheen Bagh Protests: 'Muslim Women Don't Need Saviours, They Were Saviours of the Idea of India'

•Don't Underestimate The Power Of The Muslim Woman

•Women’s Activism In Pakistan: Limits On Freedom Of Choice, Speech, And Visibility In The Public Sphere


Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/olympic-fencer-ibtihaj-muhammad-on-paving-the-way-for-muslim-women-in-sports/d/121428

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Olympic Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad On Paving the Way for Muslim Women In Sports

28 March 2020

By Pauline De Leon

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Ibtihaj Muhammad made sports history by becoming the first Muslim-American woman to compete and win a medal for Team USA while wearing a hijab. While this monumental achievement has earned the athlete international recognition, prior to the Games, Muhammad had already started making her name known in the sports arena, as well as the fashion industry.

Born and raised in Maplewood, New Jersey, Muhammad is the third child out of five siblings who are all of African-American descent. After graduating with a dual degree in International Relations and African Studies from Duke University, Muhammad launched her own company with her sisters in 2014 called Louella — a fashion label that offers modern, functional and stylish modest pieces.

Before competing in the Olympics, Muhammad had been a member of the United States National Fencing Team since 2010 where she earned her five-time Senior World medalist title. From then on, everything went uphill for the athelete as she was named one of TIME‘s most influential people in the world in 2016. She has also become the face of Nike‘s first-ever Pro Hijab. Most recently, she has published her own picture book, The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family, that landed a spot in The New York Times‘ 2019 best seller list.

In honor of Muslim Women’s Day, we spoke to the entrepreneur, activist and sportswoman about her journey to the Olympics and how she overcame her performance anxiety. Read our conversation below.

Firstly, I start my day off with a prayer. I then have a hearty breakfast followed by a good warm-up while blasting lit music. Afterward, I take a moment alone to clear my head and make my intention to kill it.

“Though I have had moments in my career where I’ve been on the receiving end of discrimination, I have never allowed those moments to define me.”

Qualifying for the Olympic team was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. The amount of dedication and willingness to sacrifice everything is incomparable. There are a lot of mental and physical hurdles along the way that I had to overcome, but qualifying was one of the proudest moments of my life.

In 2016, you made history by becoming one of the first Muslim-American women to wear a hijab while competing for the U.S. at the Olympics. Throughout your life and your career as an athlete, have you ever experienced any unfortunate situation of discrimination?

Though I have had moments in my career where I’ve been on the receiving end of discrimination, I have never allowed those moments to define me. As an African-American woman who wears a hijab, I am a part of marginalized communities whose efforts, ability and hard work are often questioned. Managing these experiences means learning to be your own cheerleader and understanding that you may not get the recognition you deserve. However, in time, you will learn that you don’t need it to become something great.

I started my clothing company Louella five years ago with my sisters. There was a lack of modest and fashionable options in the industry, so we decided to fill that void in the U.S. market. We value conscious clothing, so all of our pieces are made in Los Angeles and New York, and we only work with female manufacturers. We’re committed to celebrating and redefining modest fashion in the most authentic and conscious way.

I’m a minimalist at heart, so I tend to love clean lines, outfits that are effortless and oversized, as well as anything that is a reflection of my mood. I think the best part about fashion is that it’s unpredictable. I get to wear things that express my own beauty and style without having to owe anyone an explanation. My favorite fashion inspirations at the moment are Aurora James and Olivia Palermo.

Being so far away from home, my time at Duke allowed me independence and the opportunity to grow. Even while I was at Duke, I never considered becoming a professional athlete, but I believe Duke helped me grow in a way that prepared me for whatever came next in my life.

In your memoir, Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream, you open up about your struggles with anxiety. Can you recall a time in your life that triggered it and what made you decide to seek help?

After winning the World Championship with my team in 2014, I started to feel pressured to execute perfection at every competition. Though some of the pressure came from my coaches and teammates, I also started to put pressure on myself. The anxiety I was feeling started to manifest itself physically where I began to suffer from performance anxiety. At the World Cups, I would be extremely fatigue where my limbs would feel like led and I would experience shortness of breath. As an extremely competitive person, going out in the early rounds of a few World Cups was all the motivation I needed to seek help. Eventually, my sports psychologist helped me understand the concept of performance anxiety, its contributing factors and how to help myself climb out of that dark space.

Becoming the first Muslim-American woman to win an Olympic medal has allowed Muslim women to see themselves in the space of sport. We are new to the conversation and no longer allow cultural hangups or society’s limited expectations to define us.

https://hypebae.com/2020/3/ibtihaj-muhammad-olympic-fencer-muslim-women-athlete-sports-louella-interview

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What the burqa and the bindi (and the hijab) stand for in our books, and in our current lives

7 hours ago

Trisha Gupta

There’s a scene in Prayaag Akbar’s 2017 novel Leila that never made it to the Netflix adaptation. In a not-too-distant dystopian future of water shortage, Riz and Shalini throw a grand poolside party for Leila’s third birthday. The children get their fill of inflatable slides, the parents of champagne. It’s a posh, Westernised crowd, where the women are comfortable leaving a shirt slightly unbuttoned, or showing some leg through the slit in a long dress. So Shalini’s sister-in-law Gazala stands out by being “sheathed in a flowing single-pleat abaya... with a dusty-pink silk hijab that brings out her alabaster complexion.”

“Cheeks glowing with rouge,” Akbar’s description continues. “This is probably as much sun as she ever gets.” The bitchiness is explainable as Shalini’s, not the author’s. But given Akbar’s otherwise nuanced characterisations, Gazala seems an easy stand-in for tradition-bound Muslim femininity. She is somehow both decorative and covered up, and never gets to speak. Her burqa does the talking.

Earlier, Shalini’s reluctance to live in the Muslim sector with her husband’s family is also routed through the veil. “Look, no disrespect to Gazala...,” she tells her brother-in-law Naz. “But I don’t want my daughter in a burqa.” In response, Naz shames Shalini – for offering him a beer, for not knowing that her maid has taken her child out. And Gazala, his hijab-wearing wife, gets held up as the contrast to the liberated, cosmopolitan Shalini: “She might not know as much about the world as you. But she knows our culture.”

The fact that Gazala’s burqa stands in for her is disappointing, but not surprising. No matter where one looks, it seems that the burqa comes to us always already loaded with meaning – and rarely a positive one. In Indian popular culture, it has long been trotted out either as a comic disguise worn by the Hindi film hero, from Shammi Kapoor to Rishi Kapoor to Aamir Khan in Delhi Belly, or as a symbol of women’s oppression. Sometimes, as in the dubious Islamicate subplot of the recent Ayushmann Khurrana starrer Dream Girl, it is both.

Feminists don’t necessarily do better: even a thoughtful film like Alankrita Srivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha can only see the burqa as the agent of the teenaged Rehana’s oppression. Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy is a welcome exception, giving us in Alia Bhatt’s lovely Safeena a headscarf-wearing Muslim girl who is neither a prude nor a pushover. Bhatt is also burqa-clad in Meghna Gulzar’s superb Raazi, where her fetching coloured hijab does fascinating triple duty as good Muslim, good daughter-in-law – and spy.

In Alice Albinia’s 2011 novel Leela’s Book, too, the burqa has the quality of subterfuge. First, an upper class Hindu woman purchases it secretly, hiding it from her liberal Muslim husband. Then her young Muslim maid Aisha takes it from its hiding place, wearing it to walk through her own neighbourhood unrecognised. It is an “Arab-style burqa”, heavy and black “with some gauzy thin material over the eyes”, writes Albinia, such as “some women in the basti [Nizamuddin] now wore”.

It allows Aisha to rescue the man she loves from unjust police custody, but Albinia the author cannot resist describing her character’s experience of wearing it as a limiting one. The burqa is too big for Aisha; the tree canopy seems denser and darker through it; her lover does not recognise her in it: “he peered at her, disturbed by the distance this... fabric put between them: it was as if they were seeing each other through a crowd of people”. The liberal non-burqa-wearer, it seems, can only attribute to the burqa-wearer a sense of alienation from herself and the world

One way to normalise the burqa’s existence is not to dwell on it. In Altaf Tyrewala’s whipsmart novel No God In Sight (2005), we meet multiple Muslim female characters without being told if they veil. And when someone does, that doesn’t become the important thing about them. Jeyna-Bi’s burqa attracts attention because it is fluorescent orange, not simply because she’s got one. In the accepting cultural mix of Tyrewala’s Mumbai, a burqa can be a topic of banter, it can get sadly soiled when poor Jeyna-Bi throws up her portion of a wedding feast. It can be, in effect, just another piece of clothing.

But the space for such a perspective is steadily narrowing. Since mid-December 2019, as unprecedented numbers of Indian Muslim women have emerged into public space to protest against the discriminatory religious basis of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the burqa has become even more heavily charged with meaning. Not all the women protesting in Shaheen Bagh (or the many female-led sit-ins it inspired nationwide) wore a veil or headscarf. But the fact that so many did seems to have caused great bafflement and unease.

Because the burqa has become, for anyone who does not wear one, a sign of unfreedom. And if you aren’t free, how can you possibly be out on the streets, resisting an oppressive state? How can you be the living embodiment of oppressed Muslim womanhood that the Hindu right claims to be saving from Muslim men, and simultaneously be leading a political protest?

And so, according to the Sangh’s Whatsapp factory, the lakhs of women who sat out in the wind and weather for three months, while braving police lathis, abusive goons and horrific communal violence, were not doing it to claim their threatened rights as Indian citizens, but for Rs 500 a day and free biryani. What is chilling is that so many other Indians want to believe that canard.

We saw another glimpse of that suspicion and ill-will on March 23, when the mainstream media reported the police destruction of the gloriously democratic art-filled protest sites at Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere as some sort of desperate public health measure – as though the women had not already vacated the sites.

This tarring of burqa-clad women as not being legitimate citizens with legitimate concerns dovetailed perfectly with the Prime Minister’s statement in December that those protesting against the CAA-NRC “can be recognised by their clothes”. That shamelessly partisan taunting of a community fighting its own legal marginalisation has sparked a new kind of battle, with people turning their marked bodies into sites of symbolic display.

Refusing to be shamed for wearing burqas, caps or other identifiable markers of their community, many Muslim protesters have instead responded by embracing them. But histories of religious populism elsewhere suggest that such a move can be a double bind. In Meena Kandasamy’s recent novel Exquisite Cadavers, a Tunisian film-school student in London finds his white British teachers pushing him to tell his country’s history through the hijab.

A French-influenced secular diktat banned headscarves in Tunisia in 1981 – so when the dictatorship was unseated, wearing the hijab became a form of community identity. The Islamic right exploited people’s desire to reclaim their religion, and a country where a hijab-wearing “Arabian Barbie” had once caused a liberal outcry, Kandasamy writes, became one that provided the largest number of foreign fighters to the dreaded Daesh.

Closer home, as the recent violence in North East Delhi makes clear, such defiant wearing of religious identity on the body reaches its tragic, terrifying limits when social fissures widen into the abyss of communal violence. Symbols have power: they can mark us or unmark us, divide or unite. In Leela’s Book, the same Hindu woman once buys a packet of gold-embossed bindis for the maid Aisha, only to have her Muslim husband tell her, “They don’t wear bindis”.

Among the fascinating ways in which women have chosen to express cross-community solidarities these last few months is the interlacing of burqas and bindis. The young poet Nabiya Khan’s words that rang out across many anti-CAA-NRC posters: “Aayega Inqilab, Pehen Ke Burqa Bindi Aur Hijab”.

Optimists of various stripes are bringing bindis and burqas together. But those whose minds are filled with poison can only see conquest, not mingling. To such commentators, like the virulently anti-Muslim “Katyayani” on hindupost.in, a poster saying “Women Will Destroy Hindu Rashtra” with a fierce female face wearing both a bindi and a headscarf, with sunglasses on her head and her tongue out, looks like a “demonised” Kali “surrendering” to the Islamic veil.

Another anti-CAA-NRC poster, of three women wearing both bindis and burqas, underscored by Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s now-viral poetic challenge to all dictatorships “Hum Dekhenge” (“We shall see”), seems to the same writer a call to “to ‘free’ bindi-sporting Hindu women by converting them into burqa-clad ones”.

Communal polarisation now involves a repeated insistence that the way people look is who they are – and yet when what is on display doesn’t fit the entrenched majoritarian narrative, then suddenly it is dismissed. “Bharatiya women of non-sanatani faith are also sometimes seen sporting the bindi, but that is just how a demography raised in mixed-culture behaves,” declares Katyayani when faced with the sociological fact of non-Hindu bindi-wearers.

No God In Sight contains a biting scene in which a young (upper middle class Hindu) wife must report her missing (Muslim) husband to the police. She wears her most saffron-like nylon sari, and borrows a mangalsutra and a bindi from her maid Gangu-bai, hoping that the Mumbai police will treat her complaint more seriously if she looks like a practising Hindu. They tell her to go to Pakistan.

https://scroll.in/article/957394/what-the-burqa-and-the-bindi-and-the-hijab-stand-for-in-our-books-and-in-our-current-lives

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Fears Of Domestic Violence Rise As Millions Confined Over Virus

March 28, 2020

With families across Europe confined to their homes to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, fears are rising of a surge in domestic violence. From Berlin to Paris, Madrid, Rome and Bratislava, associations that help victims of domestic violence have sounded the alarm after Europe overtook China to become the epicentre of the pandemic.

But the stress caused by social isolation is exacerbating tensions and increasing "the risk of domestic and sexual violence against women and children", the association warns. And the risks are not limited to homes where violence was already a problem before. On top of the stress caused by confinement, fears around job security and financial difficulties are also increasing the likelihood of conflicts.

She said she is hearing stories of "parents who are cracking, who can't carry on" in families that have not previously had any problems. In China, which is slowly emerging from several weeks of total lockdown, the women's rights organisation Weiping has reported a threefold increase in reports of violence against women. In Spain, which has the second-worst outbreak in Europe after Italy, a 35-year-old mother of two was murdered by her partner last week. Elsewhere, help centres have noted a drop in calls for help -- which is not necessarily seen as a good sign either.

For children, young people and women who are victims of domestic violence -- mental or physical -- the current situation means "being constantly available" for abuse by the perpetrator, the German federation stresses. Decisions to shut down schools, sports clubs and youth centres are important to curb the spread of the virus and prevent hospitals from being overrun, acknowledges Rainer Rettinger, who heads a German child protection association. But "who is seeing and hearing abused children today?" he asks.

As governments pour billions into their economies and health services, they should "not lose sight of the importance of equality and fundamental human rights," Beatrice Fresko-Rolfo, the general rapporteur on violence against women for the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, pointed out recently. Domestic violence associations are facing a double-edged sword: With many social workers having to work from home, they are unable to reach victims; and when people need to be brought to safety, there are often not enough places in the refuges.

In Germany, families minister Franziska Giffey has called on municipalities to organise alternative reception facilities if necessary, while neighbouring Austria provides guaranteed places in women's refuges or the removal of violent family members from quarantined households. In the countries with the strictest lockdowns, such as Italy, victims are exempt from some of the rules -- such as the requirement to carry a document justifying why they are leaving their home -- if they need to visit a refuge centre.

"The current situation is unprecedented," says Adriana Havasova, a psychologist from Bratislava. She hopes the confinement will be limited to two or three weeks.

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/fears-of-domestic-violence-rise-as-millions-confined-over-virus.html

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Despite hurdles, women aim to participate in labour force

March 28, 2020

By Shahram Haq

LAHORE: The inclusion of educated women into Pakistan’s labour force can prove to be a major catalyst for improving the overall economic productivity in the country.

Pakistan can equally harness the potential of its gender divide because half of the 110 million population in the country’s largest province – Punjab – is female and one-third of them fall in the 15-29 years’ age bracket.

Timely investment in females at a younger age can turn them into an asset for the country, which can realise additional human capital benefits by helping these women become economically active.

This was the crux of a policy paper prepared by the Lahore School of Economics (LSE) titled “Undergraduate Female Students in Lahore: Perceived Constraints to Female Labour Force Participation”.

The paper examines both external and internal factors impeding young and educated women in Punjab from participating in the labour force.

Taking a sample of 1,600 final-year undergraduate students from women-only colleges of Lahore, the paper said a large number of them successfully made it to the colleges with a total of 166,808 women currently enrolled in government degree and postgraduate colleges in Punjab.

However, the labour force participation rate of females in Punjab remains low with only 31% of them entering the market.

The overall female labour force participation rate in Pakistan is even lower at 15%, which is less than a third of the male labour force rate and much lower than the ratios in comparable countries such as Bangladesh and Turkey.

The research found that many women aimed to actively participate in the labour market in the future as 82% of those included in the sample expressed a desire to work after graduation. However, at the same time, they also saw considerable barriers in the job market.

For instance, 55% of women reported lack of support and approval from spouses and 65% perceived gender discrimination in promotions at work to be significant constraints hindering their success as professionals.

In the sample, one-third of the women who were acquiring higher education had at least one parent who was devoid of formal education.

The paper, however, appreciated that the uneducated parents realised the value of education and were ensuring that their children, even girls, acquired higher education.

According to the paper, effects of gender dividend can be substantial provided that the government engages timely and makes well-targeted interventions aimed at promoting participation of young and educated women in the workforce. This approach could also yield significant positive spillovers for human capital development and could emerge as a crucial driver of medium and long-term economic growth, the paper noted.

It concluded that a large proportion of the current undergraduate students in Lahore expressed the desire to work following the completion of their degree programmes.

At the same time, the research stressed that it was important to have policies geared towards enabling these women to realise their desire.

Government initiatives such as increasing workplace safety for women as well as awareness campaigns targeted towards raising family support for working women can help overcome the hindrances. This can be done through innovative means such as leveraging social media and digital technology.

Existing initiatives to provide amenities, particularly making it mandatory for public offices to provide daycare facility, are important steps and can be used by women to convince their families to let them work. However, it is crucial that these daycare facilities are extended to the private sector as well. The paper highlighted that only 6% of women were working mothers. A detailed focus on group discussions with students revealed that most respondents (31%) identified their mothers as their role model.

However, with only 6% of the mothers participating in the labour force themselves, they could not guide young graduates on how to navigate through the labour market.

As a result, such students lack exposure to women from similar backgrounds who have successfully overcome hindrances to securing and sustaining jobs.

“Since most of the women in the sample look up to their mothers as role models who may or may not be working, exposure to other women who can act as role models may be an effective tool to alter career aspirations and promote labour force participation,” it said.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2185756/2-despite-hurdles-women-aim-participate-labour-force/

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What the Fashion Industry's Embrace of Modest Clothing Means to Me As a Muslim Woman

BY MAHA SYEDA

March 27, 2020

The recent inclusion and rise in popularity of modest fashion shouldn’t have taken as long as it did — and yet, it means a lot to me. When I was growing up, I didn’t have the same options every other girl had when it came to clothing. In fact, I always felt left out. No one in the North American mainstream market was catering to Muslim girls who were looking for modest options.

When I went shopping in high school, it always felt like more of a chore than an exciting after-school activity I looked forward to. I’d go in with a game plan, find something I considered to be modest, and if that piece just so happened to be trendy, I was in luck. However, there were barely any clothes that fit that bill. It seemed like every shirt with long sleeves was dated and dull. If I finally found what seemed to be the perfect item, I'd pick it up and turn it around, only to find that it was backless. It was things like that that would narrow my choices.

This was frustrating, but it also pushed me to be creative with how I put together my outfits and it made me think outside the box, which helped me develop an individual sense of style. I would pile on the layers, even in the hottest weather. I'd customize an item to add an extra lining. I did it all. At the end of the day though, it just made me feel like nothing in mainstream fashion would ever be geared toward me. That whole world I really wanted to be a part of just wasn’t for girls like me.

Eventually, I gave up on the hope of seeing brands cater to Muslim women. But in 2016, it felt like something akin to a modest-fashion movement had begun. I started seeing Muslim women in fashion campaigns and magazines at the same time that modest-fashion influencers started becoming popular on Instagram. It felt like this signaled a change. At the same time, many brands were starting to become more diverse and aware of the importance of representation. And they were starting to see that having just one long-sleeve tee in a collection wasn’t going to cut it.

I started seeing changes in major brands, like Nike creating the PRO Hijab. It felt surreal to have a company recognize that there was an untapped market of Muslim women who were looking to buy clothes designed specifically for them. I began seeing more brands recognize the potential in modest fashion and join in. Soon enough, retailers like ASOS, DKNY, H&M, and Uniqlo were launching collections to appeal to that same customer base, with some of them featuring Muslim women in their ad campaigns. And I finally started feeling like there could be a place for me in the fashion industry if we keep moving on that path.

Economic gain is a big part of why brands finally recognized the modest fashion audience. According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2019-2020, Muslim spending on apparel and footwear in 2018 was an estimated $283 billion. It’s a whopping number and one that continues to grow, giving companies an even bigger incentive to cater to the modest-fashion audience they had ignored for so long. One of the best things to come out of it is that brands began educating themselves about different cultural and religious dressing worldwide and saw that there’s a big niche to fill.

As time went on, I began to notice the layering I'd been doing for years was becoming popular, and modest fashion influencers were taking over. To see the style become a trend internationally and to have it popping up on my Instagram feed has been fascinating. I realized that I was part of a bigger group of people who wanted brands to understand them. At the same time, it was bittersweet, to have such a delayed but still welcome response.

It’s important for us to be represented and for the needs of Muslim women to be addressed, especially as the fashion industry has become more diverse even though it wasn’t, and in some cases still isn't, always accepting. It’s important to note that modest fashion isn’t limited to Muslims. It’s also popular with the Mormon community and anyone who wants that option. It isn’t just a fad or something that’ll be a throwback trend a couple of decades from now. It’s a lifestyle for many and always will be. People should be able to dress any way they’re comfortable without being questioned. This new acceptance of my style has given me the confidence to try new looks and to be more fashion-forward because I know that there’s a bigger world of modest fashion out there for me to explore.

As modest fashion continues to grow and expand its place, I hope inclusivity in fashion becomes the norm. Because this isn’t just a trend, it’s a way of dressing, a lifestyle, and a movement that makes Muslim women feel we’re being represented properly and that we belong.

https://www.allure.com/story/modest-fashion-stylish-muslim-womens-clothing

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How Shaheen Bagh Protestors Got Tacit Support From the Judiciary

WAJAHAT HABIBULLAH

19H 19M AGO

With the absolute majority that it had secured in the Lok Sabha in the general elections of that year and with support drummed up in the Rajya Sabha, government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on 11th December, 2019 which read together with a controversial clutch of laws, sought to redefine Indian citizenship in the context of religious denomination.

Under this law the definition of illegal immigrant in the principal Act of 1955 stands amended for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, “who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014” and who have lived in India without documentation. They will be granted fast-track Indian citizenship in six years. 12 years of residence had thus far been the standard eligibility requirement for naturalisation.

During Vajpayee’s BJP-led NDA-1 government, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

When a National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) were created, they drew attention to the 2003 Rules. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs is said to have warned that the entire Census process might be jeopardised by public dissatisfaction if the NPR were clubbed with Census to lead to the NRC. But was that in fact the very purpose of the 2003 Rules?

Public agitation as feared inevitably broke out across the country. India’s migrant labour, its small and marginal farmers tribal and forest dwellers and the poor amongst the Dalits were all affected. But the fountainhead inspiring the demonstrations was the sit-in by a group of old Muslim matriarchs, referred to in the public as ‘Dadis’ (grandmothers in Hindi) supported by a large number of younger women, most of them supposedly repressed because they were burqa clad, and the more assertive of their young menfolk.

To the embarrassment of its opponents, which sought to dismiss the demonstration as a regressive Muslim backlash, this movement was firmly grounded in the Constitution and its symbols were decidedly nationalist including India’s tricolour.

As I was to point out to the apex court on personal verification carried out under the orders of that court the protesting crowds in Shaheen Bagh comprised all religious denominations.

On the other hand, state governments of every political hue of which chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan led Left Democratic Front government of Kerala was first, began to declare that they would not cooperate in the NPR enterprise. Even the governments led by parties that had voted in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act in Parliament, notably the Aam Aadmi party elected to the Delhi government even as the Shaheen Bagh agitation played out in 2019-20 and the Bihar coalition—that includes the BJP—opposed the exercise.

Politically committed advocate Nand Kishore Garg moved a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the Supreme Court against the Union of India seeking eviction of the demonstrators, who had blocked a road of Shaheen Bagh, in Okhla close to the UP border. The Delhi police and the UP police, both under the control of BJP governments, sought to stoke public resentment against the peaceful agitators by barricading numerous roads—I personally inspected at least five—on all sides with no connection to the protest. These arterial Greater Noida Expressway accessing Delhi and Faridabad from Gautam Budhh Nagar in UP thereby disrupting public movement.

Nevertheless the apex court qualified this by also holding that such demonstration could not be allowed to impede the exercise of their democratic rights by other citizens. To bring reconciliation in exercise of their rights amongst the citizenry the court took to mediation.

I had lent my name to a petition for intervention in the PIL pleading that the police be restrained from using excessive force against the public in compliance of any orders of the court. This was done keeping in view the use of brute force by the Delhi police, or encouraged by it, in intimidating other cases of peaceful agitation against the legislation in the capital as at Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Upon hearing the counsel on 17 February, and appointing advocates Sanjay R Hegde, who was “present in Court” and Sadhana Ramachandran, an expert at mediation, interlocutors “to make the persons at site see reason” the court decreed,

“ Application for intervention has been filed by Ms Tasneem Ahmadi, learned counsel seeking to intervene in the matter on behalf of certain people who have commonality of thought process with the persons who are protesting at the site. We have put to her that law has been enacted by the Parliament and the law is facing constitutional challenge before this Court but that by itself will not take away the right to protest of the persons who feel aggrieved (underlined by me) by the legislation. However, the question is where and how the protest can carry on without public ways being blocked……there may be persons of different points of view who may tomorrow, seek to emulate this protest, such scenario only leads to chaotic situation. This must cease on public ways everywhere.”

Then picking my name from amongst the intervenors the court advised, “Learned counsel submits that she will talk to the intervenor Wajahat Habibullah so that she can take up this issue with the persons at the site.”

As directed by the court—and after consultation with the ‘mediators’—I visited Shaheen Bagh on 19 February. I then submitted an affidavit before the apex court in which I brought to the notice of the court the disruption of traffic by the police. I also conveyed the plea of the agitators declaring their objectives in taking recourse to a peaceful agitation with their reasons for opposing the CAA, NPR and NRC. I described the complete peace and harmony prevailing on site, bonding persons of all faiths in their united opposition to the legislation.

Making no intervention regarding its ruling on traffic, the court in its order of 24 February, permitted the agitation to continue until the next date of hearing, fixed for a month later. By then CONVID-19 had engulfed all else.

Shaheen Bagh represented a social revolution in its hijab-covered leadership with their 24-hour relay vigils, upholding the tricolour, the Preamble to the Constitution their anchor, seeking no insurrection but demanding justice. And the judiciary had tacitly lent its support by emphasising the Indians’ right to peaceful demonstration. Shaheen Bagh is a display of the triumph of India’s democracy.

https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/shaheen-bagh-covid-coronavirus-wajahat-habibullah

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10 Muslim-Owned Fashion and Beauty Brands You Need to Know

BY MANAL MOAZZAM

March 27, 2020

Whether they're flying under the radar or taking the mainstream by storm, Muslim-owned fashion and beauty brands are redefining what it means for modern Muslim women to express themselves creatively, passionately, and authentically.

As matters of representation continue to gain the traction they have long needed, Muslim-helmed cosmetics and apparel companies are growing and thriving, ensuring that we move away from a tokenized representation of Muslim women to a more authentic one that reflects our desire for all things glamorous. It's also worth noting that inclusion is the name of this game, and these fashion and beauty brands boast a wide selection of modern and chic styles that allow everyone to unleash their inner cool girl — those who aren't Muslim will also find plenty to love here, too.

In celebration of annual Muslim Women's Day, check out these 10 amazing Muslim-owned fashion and beauty brands, which bring new meaning to the act of expressing yourself through beauty and fashion.

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Helmed by none other than former blogger Huda Kattan, Huda Beauty has made its mark on the beauty industry with its now-iconic range of false lashes and demi-matte liquid lipsticks. Kattan's dedication to innovation has brought us some of the most unique products on offer in the industry. One of the latest? Huda Beauty recently released pastel editions of the Obsession eye shadow palettes. There’s nothing this powerhouse can’t do.

Runaway hit skin-care brand Farsali, founded by Sal Ali and inspired by his wife Farah Dhukai, was created with the mission of blending skin care and makeup. The brand's commitment to providing products that are good for your skin and fit seamlessly into any makeup routine has thrilled makeup enthusiasts around the globe. Adding to its wildly popular family of facial oils (like the ubiquitous Rose Gold Elixir and Skintune Blur serum), Farsali recently introduced a Rose Gold Elixir 24K Moisturizing Gel Cream to the lineup.

Fashion and accessories brand Louella offers a massive selection of dresses, jumpsuits, and tops that are both modest and super fashionable. The brand is the brainchild of Olympic bronze medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim-American woman to compete in a hijab for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics. Whether you typically dress modestly or not, there is something for everyone. I dare you to browse through their sets and not find something you'll want to snap up for yourself.

Lisa Vogl, the woman behind Verona Collection, started the brand to address a gap in the market. The award-winning international fashion photographer found that stylish modest wear was extremely scarce and expensive. And so, in 2011, Verona Collection was born, and within two years, the brand expanded rapidly from a small idea to a successful business. Amongst its many bragging rights, Verona Collection is the first modest-wear line to be stocked in Macy's, and it’s easy to see why. The chic color palettes, simple silhouettes, and elegant embellishments are an absolute dream.

From the incomparable modest-fashion maven Nzinga Knight comes Nzinga Knight New York, which offers high-end modest clothing. A celebrated designer since the very beginning, Knight's elegant designs embrace modernity and radiate style. Having always struggled to reconcile her love for fashion and the principles of modesty as a young Muslim woman, Knight brings the best of both worlds together in her graceful, striking designs. Her talent got her a place as the first Muslim-American hijabi on the Emmy Award–winning reality competition Project Runway, where she caught the eye of top-notch designers such as Marc Jacobs.

Turkish company Modanisa is a comprehensive encyclopedia of every style imaginable. And the best part? They ship to the United States. Established in Istanbul in 2011 by Kerim Ture, Modanisa has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with, reaching about 16 million visitors from all over the world via its app and desktop platforms. Modanisa also maintains an extensive selection of stylish plus-size clothing. Yay for inclusivity.

Noon by Noor, a high-end Bahrain-based boutique, combines understated luxury with refined femininity. With striking prints and intricate embellishments, this womenswear label was founded in 2008 by designers Shaikha Noor Al Khalifa and Shaikha Haya Al Khalifa. By 2012, the dynamic duo made a splash at New York Fashion Week, where they debuted their spring 2013 collection. The pair's designs have been worn by stars like Jennifer Lopez, Solange Knowles, and Blake Lively, so you can rest assured their pieces will keep you red-carpet-ready, even if they are a little hard on the wallet.

Here’s one for anyone obessesed with accessories. Arizona-based brand Nominal X, founded by Akram Abdallah, offers a series of minimalist accessories centered around the aesthetic of Arabic typography. Clients can buy readymade accessories boasting uplifting Arabic phrases or their initials in Arabic lettering. If you prefer something a little more unique, you can get a customized rendering of your name in Arabic.

Founded by Marya Ayloush when she was a sophomore in high school, Los Angeles–based boutique Austere Attire is a digital one-stop shop for modest fashion. We're talking dresses, scarves, and of course plenty of statement accessories.

786 Cosmetics offers vegan, breathable, and water-permeable nail polishes, as well as soy removers and nail-care treatments. The company's soy-based nail polish remover formulated without alcohol, gained popularity just as quickly as their nail polishes, each named after a city in the world. Our favorite shade so far has to be Jaipur.

https://www.allure.com/gallery/muslim-owned-fashion-beauty-brands

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Shaheen Bagh Protests: 'Muslim Women Don't Need Saviours, They Were Saviours of the Idea of India'

March 28, 2020

Zoya Hasan is Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She has worked extensively on the socio-economic status of Muslim women, her books on the subject include- Unequal Citizens: A Study of Muslim Women in India, (co-authored) and Educating Muslim Girls: Comparison of Five Indian Cities(co-authored). She speaks to Eram Agha on the significance of the Shaheen Bagh sit-in which lasted over 100 days in the national capital.

1) There are stereotypes attached to Muslim women (oppressed and wrapped in hijab) that have been difficult to dislodge. Do you think Shaheen Bagh protests have changed the way the world will look at Indian Muslim women? If yes, then how?

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) provoked massive protests across the country, by far the biggest public protests since Independence. India hasn’t seen such a sustained civil society mobilisation dominated by young women. Nor have we seen this scale of women’s mobilisation around non-gender issues and in complete defiance of state and police violence across the country. It’s striking that women were out on the streets for a cause that was not women-specific, not about sexual harassment or domestic violence. The active participation of Muslim women in the anti-CAA protests was the defining feature of this movement. It shattered many stereotypes about Muslim women. It put paid to the pervasive belief that the average Indian Muslim woman is an uneducated and burqa-clad figure who has no voice and is suffering under patriarchal oppression. Muslim women were in the vanguard of the anti-CAA protests.They were the life and soul of resistance against CAA. Their support has sustained protests in multiple locations in dozens of cities and metropolises. No one would have expected such significant and sustained participation of Muslim women who led from the front.

2) What is going to be the significance of the protests by Indian Muslim women at Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere across India? The protest sites multiplied over the period of time, how do you see the movement built from one place to another on the resolve of Muslim women?

These protests are momentous because of the huge participation of Muslim women. The protests demonstrate a new vocabulary and grammar of politics as a form of civil disobedience. Protest vocabulary was being devised spontaneously without the presence of big leaders and political parties. Yet, they were not non-political protests. The remarkable thing is that Muslim women were fashioning and responding to challenges as they went along through their struggles.

3) Shah Bano was the lone Muslim woman fighting for her rights but was let down by the government and AIMPLB. She was denied what was guaranteed to her by Qur'an. Today there are many Muslim women under the umbrella identity of “Women of Shaheen Bagh”. The contexts of the two are different but what does it say about the visibility of Indian Muslim women on the streets fighting for their rights, from Bano to Shaheen?

The anti-CAA protests are quite different from Shah Bano and triple talaq campaigns. For years Muslim women’s groups have been trapped by personal law debate to the exclusion of more pressing issues. The focus on personal laws issues obscured the social reality which is more complex than what personal laws indicate. What is remarkable about the high visibility of Muslim voices in the protests and rallies of the last few months is that they have eschewed community-specific positions. For the first time, Muslim women were not on the streets for the preservation of Muslim personal law. For the first time, they are not being led by clerics. In fact, in some cases, they have come out in defiance of clerical advice as in Deoband. They rejected the advice of the Vice-Chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband who had advised them to give up their protest for the time being during a meeting with the district administration. Clerics and community leaders were kept out. That’s no small achievement. This enabled a discussion of wider issues which has contributed to a broadening of the notion of rights.

4) Before this, there was a struggle to ban triple talaq. The movement was started by a group of Muslim women. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 became law on 31 July 2019, replacing the earlier ordinance. But since it criminalises triple talaq there was a section of women agitating against it. How do you see the divisions among the women?

There are no divisions among women on the CAA issue. Far from divisions, there was a great unity of purpose. This protest was against the new citizenship laws which openly discriminates against one community and undermines the secular foundations of our Constitution. What is most fascinating about the anti-CAA struggle is the way in which symbols and slogans of secularism and constitutionalism have been reclaimed and reasserted by ordinary women. It is clear that these ideas have more traction among large sections of our people than we might have imagined. Muslim women’s resistance was forceful in bringing renewed attention to the Constitution simultaneously marked by an absence of religious and sectarian symbols.

5) How important is this visibility of Indian Muslim women for development policies, gender parity at home, and work?

Muslim women have made few tangible gains from more than seven decades of development. They are conspicuous by their absence in the world of politics, professions, bureaucracy, universities and public and private sectors. They rarely figure in the debates on empowerment, poverty, education or health, nor has their vulnerability aroused much concern. They are heavily over-represented among the poor, they lack mobility and employment. Yet, they have remained invisible in public policy and political processes. However, the high visibility of Muslim women in the recent movement should have a positive impact on their status and should contribute to greater concern being given to their education, livelihood and security concerns and also greater gender parity at home.

6) Do you see Shaheen Bagh as a movement restricted to a particular class? Or it brought Muslim women from across the class spectrum together? Please elaborate on your observation.

Shaheen Bagh and various protests across the country have drawn women from all ages, classes and social backgrounds. It is this multiplicity which gave strength to this remarkable resistance. What brings women from different backgrounds together is the experience and apprehension of discrimination.

7) As Muslim women have found their voice, even if with broken sentences, where do you see the role of liberal activists speaking for them in the past?

This protest has shown that Muslim women can speak for themselves and for others as well. If there’s one thing that interviews and comments on the street have revealed, it is that ordinary women are speaking with a profound sense of social responsibility, clarity and resoluteness. They have dared to speak despite the threat of facing vilification, physical attack or boycotts for disagreeing with the dominant narrative. Importantly, this time women weren’t responding to the call of male leaders. It was clear that they do not need saviours. Instead, they were the saviours of the idea of India, of the Constitution and of equal citizenship. Posters, creative songs, poetry, slogans, art and graffiti drive home the point unequivocally- we will not allow any dilution of secularism and equal rights enshrined in the Constitution.

8) After attaining this stature of national recognition, what are going to be the real battles for Muslim women of Shaheen Bagh in times to come - private and public?

Shaheen Bagh has opened a new world to women, one where they are seen and heard and taken seriously. It has given Muslim women a voice and agency that was previously lacking. For many women, these protests are therefore life-changing and empowering particularly for those from weaker sections. It would change the lives of the women of Shaheen Bagh and of Muslim women more generally, and hopefully, there is no going back to the four walls of the home.

9) How do you look at the unfolding of communal politics in India and the Indian Muslim women's struggle for rights and identity?

The protests ended in unexpected circumstances caused by the national lockdown and the fear of the coronavirus. No matter how the protests ended, it indicated clearly that Muslim women have come of age. Regardless of the outcomes, this movement was successful in mainstreaming a political critique of discrimination and in buttressing secularism. This was possibly one of the most important movements for equal citizenship in Independent India - a broad-based movement whose core was largely women. None of us had foreseen this and how these events would unfold after the passage of this law. The brilliance of this protest is that it took everyone by surprise.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/shaheen-bagh-protests-muslim-women-dont-need-saviours-they-were-saviours-of-the-idea-of-india-2554461.html

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Don't Underestimate The Power Of The Muslim Woman

Mar 27, 2020

Muslim Women’s Day is a day to bring awareness to the unique identities in the Muslim women community. It is also a day to highlight the incredible strides Muslim women are making around the world. One in 10 global citizens is a Muslim woman and they are making a huge impact on the global economy as both professionals and consumers.

According to the World Economic Forum, Muslim women’s combined earnings would make them the world’s 16th richest country with total earnings at just under $1 trillion. Award-winning economist Saadia Zahidi references the impact of Muslim women in her book Fifty Million Rising: “To understand the magnitude of this figure, consider this: only fifteen economies in the world cross the trillion-dollar mark. And as more and more women make it into the workforce, their earning and spending power is set to grow further.”

Sofia Haq is the Founder and President of Muslim Women Professionals, Ambassador at USOW, and Lead Experiential Learning Educator at Pathways Travels. She is a graduate of UCLA and the Riordan MBA Fellows and Forte Foundation MBALauncher Programs. SOFIA HAQ

In the last 20 years alone, over 50 million Muslim women entered the workforce in Muslim-majority countries bringing the total number of working women in these areas to over 150 million. One of the biggest reasons behind this is the emphasis on education in Muslim-majority countries. In some countries like Saudi Arabia, half of all university-age women participate in higher education. Those with the highest education level in these countries—15 to 29-year-old women—also make up the largest group of women to enter the workforce. That means that young women have an incredible amount of purchasing power, and are making their economic impact.

One of the largest areas of impact is in the fashion industry. The Muslim spend on apparel and footwear is expected to be around $402 billion by 2024 according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy. It's no wonder that large global companies are taking notice and investing in Muslim-owned companies. For example, a minority stake in online modest fashion retailer Modanisa sold to Goldman Sachs and Wamda Capital for $15 million to fund expansion while fashion brand Haute Hijab secured financing to expand its digital lifestyle brand.

Muslim women are fueling so much growth in the fashion industry that both luxury and fast fashion brands—like Dolce & Gabbana, H&M, and Zara—are catering specifically to their needs. It has become imperative to speak to Muslim women. But with the influx of modest fashion and more Muslim women influencers being used to promote products, it poses the question: Do these companies truly promote diversity, or are they simply trying to tap into the Muslim market for financial gain?

“We're at a time right now where brands are more willing to showcase diversity, but unfortunately see it as a checkbox,” says Amber Kazalbash, Senior Strategist at R/GA. “This is a double-edged sword for Muslim women, because while representation of us is growing, we can easily get typecast or narratives around us can be built that may not reflect who we truly are at the core.”

Fashion also impacts the Muslim community more than one would initially think. Some of the same companies that are placing Muslim women in their marketing campaigns are also employing Muslims to work in factories with poor working conditions and little pay. A recent report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute sheds light on Uyghur Muslims being forced to work in factories. This has sparked outrage amongst Muslim communities globally and many have started to boycott companies as a result and encourage others to do the same.

“We have to use our purchasing power and exercise our civil liberty to vote to make a statement,” says Yusra Farzan, a Public Relations Consultant based in Southern California. “Boycott brands that knowingly persecute Muslims and vote against politicians who are funded by these brands. It's easy to sit in the comfort of our living room and support brands because 'everyone does so' and sometimes doing the right thing is the hard thing. This is why Muslims need to stand in solidarity with each other.”

With more Muslim women entering the workforce, many are witnessing firsthand the lack of diversity in these companies and the islamophobia that remains prevalent. So many Muslim women are choosing to support smaller businesses started by Muslim women to help boost economic growth within the community rather than larger businesses who may promote islamophobia or lack diversity. Larger companies are taking notice and are trying their hardest to implement more diversity by working with companies started by Muslim women and implement initiatives to support underrepresented communities in their companies. One example is Macy’s and its work with Verona Collection and its emphasis on holding events during Ramadan that cater to the Muslim market. Macy’s understands that it is not enough to implement products, but rather gain the trust of Muslim women by showcasing their diversity and willingness to understand the unique experiences of Muslim women.

“Corporations can no longer undermine the Muslim market which seeks ethical brands, modest cuts, and inclusive marketing,” says Marya Ayloush, Founder and CEO of Austere Attire, an ecommerce hijab brand. “Muslim women have pioneered an online culture of social media influence which increases the overall awareness and consumption of more brands.”

As the Muslim women workforce continues to grow, Muslim women will become more strategic on how they spend their money. Islamophobia and a lack of diversity will be huge factors in who they choose to purchase from. As the next generation mobilizes while staying informed on how transparent companies are, it will no longer be enough to post a photo of a Muslim woman on a marketing campaign or hire a Muslim influencer to gain loyalty.

“We offer a unique perspective that is well informed, highly educated and experienced, passionate about minority advocacy, and culturally diverse,” says Kazalbash.

Muslim women are educated now more than ever before. Brands must realize that Muslim women will take notice of how these companies are directly impacting their communities and how they are catering to their identities in the workplace. Muslim women must also realize the impact they have on the global economy as professionals and consumers. Where they choose to work and put their money clearly holds tremendous value.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/civicnation/2020/03/27/dont-underestimate-the-power-of-the-muslim-woman/#657ae6567906

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Don't Underestimate The Power Of The Muslim Woman

Mar 27, 2020

Muslim Women’s Day is a day to bring awareness to the unique identities in the Muslim women community. It is also a day to highlight the incredible strides Muslim women are making around the world. One in 10 global citizens is a Muslim woman and they are making a huge impact on the global economy as both professionals and consumers.

According to the World Economic Forum, Muslim women’s combined earnings would make them the world’s 16th richest country with total earnings at just under $1 trillion. Award-winning economist Saadia Zahidi references the impact of Muslim women in her book Fifty Million Rising: “To understand the magnitude of this figure, consider this: only fifteen economies in the world cross the trillion-dollar mark. And as more and more women make it into the workforce, their earning and spending power is set to grow further.”

Sofia Haq is the Founder and President of Muslim Women Professionals, Ambassador at USOW, and Lead Experiential Learning Educator at Pathways Travels. She is a graduate of UCLA and the Riordan MBA Fellows and Forte Foundation MBALauncher Programs. SOFIA HAQ

In the last 20 years alone, over 50 million Muslim women entered the workforce in Muslim-majority countries bringing the total number of working women in these areas to over 150 million. One of the biggest reasons behind this is the emphasis on education in Muslim-majority countries. In some countries like Saudi Arabia, half of all university-age women participate in higher education. Those with the highest education level in these countries—15 to 29-year-old women—also make up the largest group of women to enter the workforce. That means that young women have an incredible amount of purchasing power, and are making their economic impact.

One of the largest areas of impact is in the fashion industry. The Muslim spend on apparel and footwear is expected to be around $402 billion by 2024 according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy. It's no wonder that large global companies are taking notice and investing in Muslim-owned companies. For example, a minority stake in online modest fashion retailer Modanisa sold to Goldman Sachs and Wamda Capital for $15 million to fund expansion while fashion brand Haute Hijab secured financing to expand its digital lifestyle brand.

Muslim women are fueling so much growth in the fashion industry that both luxury and fast fashion brands—like Dolce & Gabbana, H&M, and Zara—are catering specifically to their needs. It has become imperative to speak to Muslim women. But with the influx of modest fashion and more Muslim women influencers being used to promote products, it poses the question: Do these companies truly promote diversity, or are they simply trying to tap into the Muslim market for financial gain?

“We're at a time right now where brands are more willing to showcase diversity, but unfortunately see it as a checkbox,” says Amber Kazalbash, Senior Strategist at R/GA. “This is a double-edged sword for Muslim women, because while representation of us is growing, we can easily get typecast or narratives around us can be built that may not reflect who we truly are at the core.”

Fashion also impacts the Muslim community more than one would initially think. Some of the same companies that are placing Muslim women in their marketing campaigns are also employing Muslims to work in factories with poor working conditions and little pay. A recent report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute sheds light on Uyghur Muslims being forced to work in factories. This has sparked outrage amongst Muslim communities globally and many have started to boycott companies as a result and encourage others to do the same.

“We have to use our purchasing power and exercise our civil liberty to vote to make a statement,” says Yusra Farzan, a Public Relations Consultant based in Southern California. “Boycott brands that knowingly persecute Muslims and vote against politicians who are funded by these brands. It's easy to sit in the comfort of our living room and support brands because 'everyone does so' and sometimes doing the right thing is the hard thing. This is why Muslims need to stand in solidarity with each other.”

With more Muslim women entering the workforce, many are witnessing firsthand the lack of diversity in these companies and the islamophobia that remains prevalent. So many Muslim women are choosing to support smaller businesses started by Muslim women to help boost economic growth within the community rather than larger businesses who may promote islamophobia or lack diversity. Larger companies are taking notice and are trying their hardest to implement more diversity by working with companies started by Muslim women and implement initiatives to support underrepresented communities in their companies. One example is Macy’s and its work with Verona Collection and its emphasis on holding events during Ramadan that cater to the Muslim market. Macy’s understands that it is not enough to implement products, but rather gain the trust of Muslim women by showcasing their diversity and willingness to understand the unique experiences of Muslim women.

“Corporations can no longer undermine the Muslim market which seeks ethical brands, modest cuts, and inclusive marketing,” says Marya Ayloush, Founder and CEO of Austere Attire, an ecommerce hijab brand. “Muslim women have pioneered an online culture of social media influence which increases the overall awareness and consumption of more brands.”

As the Muslim women workforce continues to grow, Muslim women will become more strategic on how they spend their money. Islamophobia and a lack of diversity will be huge factors in who they choose to purchase from. As the next generation mobilizes while staying informed on how transparent companies are, it will no longer be enough to post a photo of a Muslim woman on a marketing campaign or hire a Muslim influencer to gain loyalty.

“We offer a unique perspective that is well informed, highly educated and experienced, passionate about minority advocacy, and culturally diverse,” says Kazalbash.

Muslim women are educated now more than ever before. Brands must realize that Muslim women will take notice of how these companies are directly impacting their communities and how they are catering to their identities in the workplace. Muslim women must also realize the impact they have on the global economy as professionals and consumers. Where they choose to work and put their money clearly holds tremendous value.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/civicnation/2020/03/27/dont-underestimate-the-power-of-the-muslim-woman/#127b85d27906

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Women’s activism in Pakistan: Limits on freedom of choice, speech, and visibility in the public sphere

MAR 27, 2020

by Zainab Alam

International Women’s Day on March 8 marked Pakistan’s third annual multi-city Aurat March or “women’s march.” As the Aurat March grows in popularity each year, it has also faced increasing criticism from religious parties like the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (“Party of Islamic Scholars,” JUI-F), and well as ordinary citizens disapproving of the March participants’ demand: gender equality-based social change. In a stark display of the limits on free speech in the country, the march’s slogan “mera jism, meri marzi,” sparked national debate. A translation of the US pro-choice women’s liberation mantra “my body, my choice,” the slogan was a voice of transnational solidarity with women’s movements throughout the world, especially the heavily social media documented 2017 Women’s March in the United States–the biggest single-day protest march in US history. This slogan, appearing on a placard in the 2019 Aurat March, also is intended to spark the necessary discussion on the place of women in Pakistani society. In the Pakistani context, however, critics see both the march and slogans like “my body, my choice” as vulgar imports of a liberal, foreign culture. This perceived liberalism, for conservative defenders of nationalism-infused morality, is seen as funded by appendages of the West and as a challenge to the fabric of Pakistan’s culture and society—which is largely rooted in Islam and conservative South Asian values.

This said, the slogan was met with resounding backlash for other reasons. The appropriation of a reproductive rights slogan to signal support for women’s bodily autonomy was deemed to be a profane sentiment by many critics. Orthodox clerics like Faiz Muhammad of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (“Party of Islamic Scholars,” JUI-F ) argued that Mera jism, or “my body,” violates the belief that one’s body belongs to God alone, while meri marzi or “my choice,” suggests that one should institute freedom of choice in matters of their own bodies, potentially over social and religious norms. In Islam, devout Muslims are expected to act only in submission to God, following sacrosanct rules about corporeal actions in both public and private. Hence, orthodox followers find it sacrilegious and a threat to society when women—socially expected to be relegated to the private sphere—publicly claim the right to do as they please with their own bodies.

This perceived obscenity was one of the reasons a handful of conservatives brought petitions before the High Court in the major cities of Lahore and Islamabad, seeking to prohibit the 2020 Aurat March from taking place there. The petitions were rejected by the courts days before the march, but a counterprotest formed in the capital city of Islamabad called Haya March or “Modesty March,” where certain protestors threw sticks and stones at Aurat March participants. Despite these attacks, the Aurat March was well attended in the cities of Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi, and its participants far outnumbered those at the counter-movement.

However, Aurat Marchers are not the only ones in the fight for gender justice, women’s rights, and a place in the public sphere. For the third year in a row, March organizers recognized Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch, who passed away in 2016 at the hands of her brother in a so-called “honor-killing.” Qandeel, a part-time model and actress, found fame in 2013 after her Pakistan Idol audition was mocked and she responded to the judges’ jabs about her performance on her Facebook account. Her unabashed and witty personality led her to be named one of the ten most Googled people in Pakistan, with hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers. Qandeel went viral in the spring of 2016, when she offered to perform a strip tease for Pakistani cricket player Shahid Afridi, on the condition that the Pakistani team beat the Indian team in the 2016 T20 World Cup. So outrageous was this proposed act of bodily autonomy by a Pakistani woman that Qandeel was invited onto talk shows, including one on news channe

Just like the slogan “mera jism, meri marzi,” Qandeel was criticized for acting in a manner contrary to conservative Pakistani culture. Not only does sensually revealing one’s body to the public go against Islamic principles surrounding modesty, but immodest women threaten the very nationalism that rests on such gendered internal hegemony. Pakistani nationalism, then, is a language through which gender hierarchies are justified, and in turn, one privileging masculine prowess and political expression. In June 2016, Qavi was captured in one of Qandeel’s video-selfies, in what appeared to be the closed quarters of a hotel with no one else in sight. Qandeel recorded herself sitting next to Qavi and even wore his hat in a manner suggesting an intimacy that questioned Qavi’s religious authority, despite his claims that the interactions with Qandeel were innocent. By being physically present with Qandeel alone, Qavi went against the very religious principles surrounding gender segregation he preaches. Qandeel’s socially unacceptable behavior threatened to damage Qavi’s reputation and, a few weeks later, led to her death at the hands of her own brother. Qandeel’s do-it-yourself activism not only pushed the boundaries on the extent to which the average Pakistani woman may participate in the public sphere, but it also redesigned the public sphere—melding the private sphere with the public sphere through social media.

Yet, as witnessed with the backlash from the recent Aurat March, the struggle for women’s visibility in the public sphere is far from over. In October 2019, TikTok star Hareem Shah, a privileged young woman from the conservative city of Peshawar, went viral for recording a video of herself in the Foreign Office of Pakistan. The video showed her sitting in a space reserved for political leaders—prompting questions about how she had access to such an official space. Moreover, coming from a young woman who had typically posted herself singing and engaging in everyday activities like going to the gym, her presence in this formal political setting elicited public discomfort about an ordinary woman’s bodily autonomy and presence in the Pakistani public sphere.

This discomfort surrounding Hareem’s Foreign Office video is an extension of the restrictive norms on women’s visibility in the Pakistani public sphere. Hence, while protestors carry “mera jism, meri marzi” placards alluding to bodily autonomy, the crux of this contentious debate does not just hang on freedom of choice. It demands a broader conversation about societal acceptance of women’s visibility in the public sphere and role in politics more broadly. Until Pakistani women are seen as full citizens of the state, and not just national subjects, such seemingly apolitical visual expression will continue to provoke much needed rights-based deliberation.

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/womens-activism-in-pakistan-limits-on-freedom-of-choice-speech-and-visibility-in-the-public-sphere/

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