Residents of Ketugram, while rejoicing in the
girls’ achievements, are not surprised that Hindu students have excelled in an
exam on Islam
Names Woman as Head of US Air Force
Judiciary Backpedals On Banning Cycling For Women
Female Muslim Mayor in the U.S. Calls This N.J. Town Home
Driving Skills for Life Saudi Arabia Hosts Men and Women at the Same Time
Female Emirati Specialist in Aviation Medicine: Dr. Nadia Bastaki
Women Journalists Train in Chennai to Bring Change
women still fear ISIS months after their defeat
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Hindu Girls Ace Madrasa Exam in Bengal's Burdwan
Hindu girls studying in a madarsa in a Muslim-dominated area of East Burdwan
have scored over 90 per cent in the West Bengal High Madrasah Secondary Exam
(Madhyamik standard), bolstering the Mamata Banerjee government’s efforts to
help such institutions shine the light of education in backward areas.
results were declared last week in the midst of one of the most communally
charged campaigns during which BJP chief Amit Shah had questioned the Bengal
government’s allocation on madarsa education.
Saha, Sathi Modak and Arpita Saha — who secured 730 (91.25 per cent), 730 and
739 (92.38 per cent) out of 800, respectively — study in Agordanga High
Madrasah at Ketugram, which has a high concentration of Muslims.
from securing cumulative scores that are among the highest in the district, the
three students have done exceedingly well in Islam Parichay or the fundamentals
of Islamic history, a subject unique to the madarsa board. Piupiya, Sathi and
Arpita have scored 95, 92 and 93, respectively, in the subject.
of Ketugram, while rejoicing in the girls’ achievements, are not surprised that
Hindu students have excelled in an exam on Islam.
study in schools that are not madarsas, so why should I have an issue with my
daughter studying Islam Parichay?” said Rameswar, Piupiya’s father and a ration
said: “The teachers here were very helpful and cooperative.”
who topped her school with 739 marks, said that studying Islam had helped her
broaden her horizons rather than being an academic burden.
a Hindu, I am already quite accustomed to rites and rituals, but studying about
another religion in detail helped me see the parallels,” the aspiring nursing
situated on the banks of the Ajay river on the Birbhum border, has a 46.77 per
cent Muslim population. The far-flung village has a recorded literacy rate of
68 per cent. The literacy rate in Bengal is 76.26 per cent, according to the
said the distance of the nearest higher secondary school — 6km away — deterred
them from enrolling their daughters there.
would be worried if my daughter had to make that long a commute,” added
Rajeswar, father of Arpita and a private tutor.
60 per cent of Agordanga High Madrasah’s 900 students are Hindu.
a rally in Alipurduar in March, BJP president Shah had indicated that the
Trinamul government was engaging in vote-bank politics over its education
didi has a budget of Rs 4,000 crore for madarsas. We do not have a problem with
that. But the entire budget for higher education is lower than Rs 4,000 crore,”
he had claimed.
official in the Bengal minority affairs and madarsa education department said
the state government spent Rs 250 crore on madarsa education annually.
department has a budget of around Rs 3,000 crore for the 2019-20 fiscal. So,
there is no question of spending Rs 4,000 crore on madarsas,” the official
pointed out that the fact that Hindu girls in backward areas were studying in
madarsas proved that the state government’s spending was helping the spread of
trend of non-Muslim students studying in madarsas is increasing in Bengal —
which is a good indicator of communal harmony in the state. Except for Islam
Parichay, the syllabus is the same as the Madhyamik board,” said Abu Taher
Kamruddin, president of the
Bengal High Madrasah Board.
nearly 12 per cent of those who took the West Bengal High Madrasah Secondary
Exam this year were Hindus — a 4 per cent increase over last year.
Ketugram, 62 students appeared for the madarsa board exam this year. Of them,
45 were girls.
and Sathi say they want to become civil servants. Arpita plans to pursue her
dream of becoming a nurse.
Donald Trump announced on Tuesday he had nominated Barbara Barrett, a former
ambassador and Arizona businesswoman, to lead the US Air Force.
68, served as the US ambassador to Finland from 2008 to 2009 under the George
W. Bush administration. She also chaired an aeronautics research and
development center, The Aerospace Corporation, until 2017.
will be an outstanding Secretary!” Trump tweeted.
former lawyer and test pilot, Barrett is also a board member at the Rand
Corporation, a think tank that provides research and analysis to the US armed
and her husband Craig, the former CEO of American technology giant Intel, are
major Republican donors. Barrett ran for governor of Arizona on the GOP ticket
in 1994, the first woman to do so, but she failed to secure her party’s
she is confirmed, Barrett will succeed another woman, Heather Wilson, in the
position of secretary of the air force.
name had come up as a potential replacement for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis,
who resigned in December because of differences over Trump’s policies on Syria
and other issues.
stepped down in March, the highest level Pentagon departure since that of
Mattis, once it became apparent that interim Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan
would stay in that post.
Islamic Republic judiciary spokesman says that the order issued by the city of
Isfahan' prosecutor to ban cycling for women has been misunderstood.
on Tuesday, Gholam Hossein Esmaeili reiterated that women’s cycling is not
banned, provided the religious rules are respected.
on May 14, the prosecutor in Iran's third largest city had announced that women
had been banned from cycling in public, saying it was "haram," or
prohibited under Islam.
Esfahani had gone further by warning that police would confiscate the bikes of
those who resisted, adding that repeat offenders would be subject to
"Islamic punishment," without elaborating.
on the law and fatwas issued by senior Shi'ite clergies, Esfahani had argued,
"Women are banned from riding bicycles in public places."
Esfahani had not referred to any exceptions, judiciary spokesman insisted that
Isfahan's prosecutor had not meant to completely ban women from cycling.
in Iran had long assumed that they could ride bicycles in public if they
respected Iran's strict dress code, which requires women to cover their hair
and fully body in public.
2016, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared to crush the notion with a
fatwa explicitly banning women from cycling in public, but it was not strictly
the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the clerical establishment has enforced Islamic
laws denying women equal rights in divorce and inheritance, prohibiting women
from traveling abroad without the permission of a male relative, and attending
men's sports events.
Iran has a women national cycling team that competes in public places.
recently as April, Iranian cyclist Ms. Somayeh Yazdani became the first Iranian
woman to win the bronze medal in the Asian Cycling Championships in Tashkent,
Jaffer has always felt drawn to public service, but she didn’t think that would
ever lead to a term as mayor of her hometown, Montgomery Township.
is now the first female South Asian mayor of a New Jersey municipality and the
first female Muslim mayor in the state. She is also believed to be the first
female Muslim mayor, female Pakistani-American mayor and first female South
Asian-American mayor first in the nation, according to Religionnews.com.
36, grew up in Chicago and was raised by her parents — her mother an immigrated
from Pakistan and her father from Yemen. Jaffer and her husband moved to New
Jersey after they both got jobs working at Princeton University, where she
studies South Asian social media as a post-doctorate fellow and teaches courses
about Islam in South Asia and South Asian American film and literature.
couple settled in Montgomery Township in 2012 — a Somerset County town of about
23,000 residents, 33% of whom are Asian.
began attending Township Committee meetings regularly and she quickly realized
that she wasn’t seeing herself in the elected officials that were supposed to
be a proxy for her voice on local issues.
wasn’t seeing my values represented in politics very much, and that’s when I
started to think about running for office,” Jaffer said of the then exclusively
Republican governing body.
began to take her interest in politics more seriously after attending the
inaugural Emerge New Jersey conference, run by a nonpartisan organization that
seeks to help get women elected to office. Jaffer credits the conference with
teaching her the ins and outs of running for political office and helping her
make many valuable connections.
launched a write-in campaign in 2016, and despite being unsuccessful that year,
she tried again the following year on the Democratic ticket and won. In 2019,
she was appointed to the position as mayor by her fellow committee members.
so happy to be an example of how our system is very democratic and if you run
you can win,” Jaffer said.
the short amount of time she has been involved in Montgomery politics the
committee has gone from having its first Democrat elected to the committee in
eight years to being controlled by the Democratic party, with three Democratic
committee members and two Republican members.
credits this change to a swath of grassroots momentum that occurred during the
2017 election. That year, voter turn out increased by 20% from the previous
year’s election, and had doubled since the last midterm election, Jaffer said.
Marvin (Schuldiner) and I won decisively in November, thereby taking the
majority of the township committee and appointing Sadaf as mayor for this year,
she has done a good job representing what the Democratic majority on the
committee wanted to accomplish,” said Deputy Mayor Catherine Gural.
Jaffer was first campaigning in 2017 she noticed that a lot of the people in
the township were unmotivated or didn’t know about the local election process.
the campaign, she was also the subject of a negative mailer that called her
ideas “dangerous” and “extreme.”
said their strategy backfired. Many of her supporters defended her and she was
able to focus on how people were happy to see someone from a new,
under-represented group in office.
used this challenge as an opportunity to dig into one of her favorite elements
of civic engagement, education.
really just wanted to get people engaged and feeling empowered,” Jaffer said.
biggest hope is that township residents have felt that their votes have
mattered and have seen the importance of participating in the electoral
process. Jaffer now regularly hears from residents on new initiatives taking
place in town.
started the Montgomery Mosaic project, a monthly group discussion where
residents can come together to talk about different topics.
the past, the group has discussed Islamaphobia and racism, but the group has
also had more lighthearted events like intercultural holiday parties.
is working on creating more business development within town and trying to
increase the transparency in government, holding open office hours so residents
can stop by with their questions and concerns and working to create clearer
communication from town hall.
of the reason why I wanted to get involved in politics is because people are
very cynical about politics and it doesn’t have to be that way,” Jaffer said.
“Absolutely normal people can be involved in politics. Politicians are just
supposed to be your neighbors and you should hold them to that level.”
what you want about Saudi Arabia. No, really. Please. Go ahead. There’s a ton
you can dive into about its cruel, barbarous regime. But you have to admit that
the KSA government has, to some teensy-weensy extent made, an effort to move
the country in a more progressive direction with its Vision 2030 plan. Part of
that plan involves the gradual allowance of women’s rights, including granting
them to right to drive in June of last year.
has been there for a large part of the way, helping grant the dreams of women
who wished to own Mustangs, offering to pay women’s licensing fees, and
offering training and instruction through its Ford Driving Skills for Life
program. Fittingly, the recent Ford Driving Skills for Life session at the King
Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal marked a new first in
the country. The event saw, for the first time ever, men and women
participating in courses on the same campus at the same time.
before you go getting all excited about the idea of men and women being able to
learn alongside one another harmoniously, it should be said that they merely
shared proximity. Newly licensed male drivers took part in the Driving Skills
for Life course proper while women took part in an adjacent DSFL for Her
course. But, hey: baby steps! Next stop, not mass-executing 37 civilians, most
of whom belong to a religious sect that is heavily discriminated against by the
regime in power, after extracting confessions primarily via torture!
courses focused largely on the dangers of distracted and impaired driving, as a
report from the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization says that
more than 160,000 crashes in Saudi Arabia result from distraction by mobile
reach Vision 2030’s target of a year-over-year decrease in road fatalities,
road users need to have instilled in them the best safe-driving practices,”
said Simonetta Verdi, Director, Government and Community Relations, Ford Middle
East and Africa. “Ford Driving Skills for Life helps provide just that.”
Skills for Life for Her provided training for more than 200 Saudi women in
Dhabi: Dr. Nadia Bastaki, the first Emirati woman to be registered as a
specialist in aviation medicine, has achieved her lifelong ambition and has
become involved in the UAE space programme, conducting medical tests for UAE
partnership with the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre, I have participated in
conducting medical tests for the team chosen to work in the UAE Astronaut
Programme, where more than 100 candidates were screened for the programme until
the finalists were selected," Dr. Bastaki told the Emirates News Agency, WAM.
in aviation medicine from the King’s College London, Dr. Bastaki has over 20
years of experience in aviation. She is currently working at Etihad Airways,
with the country's first specialised centre in aeromedical medicine, which is
accredited by the UAE Civil Aviation Authority.
said that she had been motivated by the quote of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad
Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, that
"Becoming number one is not impossible – the word impossible doesn't exist
in our dictionary." This gave her confidence, she said, to "search
for the competence through which I can achieve the first place and then serve
added, "The efforts of H.H. Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the
General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and
Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, to
empower Emirati women have contributed significantly to building generations
capable of giving in all fields."
Bastaki also said her parents had helped her to think of entering a unique
field in which she could realise her family's aspirations and hopes. "I
chose to study medicine," she said, noting that the death of her mother, a
trainee doctor, led her to take up the challenge to become a doctor to help
concluded by saying, "Emirati women have the will and the potential that
will enable them to carry the banner of creativity and excellence in all
Prominent Afghan TV presenter Mena Mangal was gunned down in Kabul on May 11.
Her assassination, which sent shock waves among the international media, is
believed to be due to her dogged commitment towards journalism.
the incident took place, 24 women journalists from Afghanistan's first
all-women channel, ZAN TV, were halfway through an English training course at
Chennai's National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research
(NITTTR), as part of a joint initiative by their ministry of information and
culture and India's ministry of external affairs. On Tuesday, they met at NITTTR
to talk about blazing a trail in a country where a fairly young timeline of
democracy (since Taliban's ousting in 2001), is clearing the mist of hardline
Saghary, 33, is the pioneer of this movement, and among the first generation of
women journalists to have faced the camera in this new era of democracy. She
entered journalism 12 years ago, but is still battling stigma associated with
than 80% of my colleagues haven't been able to marry, because they are
considered morally corrupt," she says. At work, Saghary has had to fight
for pay parity and denial of top managerial positions despite her seniority,
some of the other issues women journalists have to brace for. Nearly 3,000
women journalists have emerged in the war-torn nation, having to brave violent
attacks, bombings and debilitating shaming to tell stories they want to.
"It is we who should be talking about our need for equal pay and gender
rights," says Tuba Sangar, a sports producer and cricketer.
Kabul, foray of international faculty, institutions and relatively progressive
media houses are at the heart of this change. For Pashtun girls from provinces
such as Kandahar and Laghaman, Taliban strongholds, the challenges are much
Omid, an investigative reporter from Ghor province, left home at 18 to fend for
herself. "They would have forcibly married me off had I stayed back,"
she says. Now 24, she researches on issues faced by girl students. But many
young girls at the forefront of this change are hopeful. The country's culture
ministry with support from the US and Finland is helping to train and provide
safety for young women journalists.
Afghanistan meant wars and Taliban. Today, the power of media has introduced
cricketer Rashid Khan to India, opened up places like Bamyan to tourists and
taken our rich handicrafts to the world," says a 22-year-old journalist.
March, when the Syrian Defense Forces confirmed that ISIS lost its last
stronghold in the eastern Syrian city of Baghouz, it seemed to confirm
President Donald Trump’s declaration of victory over ISIS months prior, when
the US also decided to withdraw troops from Syria.
US has been a key partner to the Syrian Democratic Forces, helping to
significantly diminish ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria since 2014.
some analysts say the downfall of the ISIS caliphate doesn’t necessarily mean
the end of ISIS, and US troop withdrawal has spurred anxiety over security
among Yazidi minorities in the region. Security officials warn that ISIS
remains a threat both regionally and worldwide even without a territorial
of early May, 1,000 US troops remain in Syria, less than half its numbers last
year. The Pentagon plans to “assess” the situation every six months until its
reduction to 400 troops (as Trump approved in February), which may not happen
until 2020. The recent news that Trump administration has reviewed plans to
send up to 120,000 troops to Iran further intensifies instability in the
As US declares victory over ISIS, withdrawal from Syria proves perilous
its most powerful days, ISIS targeted Yazidis as “infidels," one of
several ethnic minority groups in Iraq and Syria. In 2014, ISIS attacked Mount
Sinjar, the ancestral home of Yazidis in Northern Iraq, forcibly separating
families, executing and kidnapping an estimated 9,900 people.
forced Yazidi children into military training camps or sex slavery, and they
were disproportionately affected by the genocide. Since 2014, the majority of
Yazidis have fled to displacement camps throughout Iraq and Syria as well as
abroad, unable to return to Sinjar due to poor living conditions and ongoing
Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for
her work to end sexual violence as a weapon of war, explained that a US foreign
policy misstep could undo the strategic balance that has taken years to
establish in the region:
which we had hoped would either leave Sinjar territory or integrate into Iraq's
national army would strengthen and continue to fracture our already traumatized
and fractured society,” she said.
withdrawal also raised the specter of Turkish aggression and security analysts
predicted that a power vacuum could allow ISIS militants, many of whom have
reintegrated back into civilian society, to seize on a moment of geopolitical
uncertainty. “This would be a catastrophe for the world,” Murad added.
the Trump administration threatened to target Turkey’s economy in response to
initial threats to Kurdish forces. Today, troops remain near the Syrian
southern border with Turkey to monitor the fragile security situation.
seen this happen before'
Pari Ibrahim was a just a child, she and her family fled Kurdistan for the
Netherlands after Saddam Hussein's regime persecuted the Yazidis in 1991.
Following the 2014 attacks on Sinjar, Ibrahim founded the Free Yezidi
Foundation, a nonprofit focused on rehabilitating Yazidi genocide survivors.
foreign policy plan has drawn comparisons to an Obama-era decision to withdraw
American troops from Iraq, which critics claimed allowed for the origins of the
ISIS to emerge and grow.
are we so concerned? Because we've seen this happen before,” Ibrahim said. She
rebuked President Trump’s assertion that ISIS had been defeated in the region,
stating that the number of ISIS fighters is likely higher than official
estimates when taking into consideration those in hiding.
experts estimate more than 15,000 ISIS loyalists are still active throughout
the region. In late April, notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
reappeared in an 18-minute video after a period of absence from the media,
claiming that the recent church attacks in Sri Lanka were revenge for the
have to understand that in general, the whole Yazidi community does not have
trust in anyone anymore — especially the survivors of the torture, the rapes,
the abuse,” Ibrahim said.
Free Yezidi Foundation women’s center is one of the key providers of
psychiatric and rehabilitation care for women living in the Xanke Camp in
northern Kurdistan. Women aged 20-35 currently participating in FYF’s programs
shared how the US withdrawal of troops in the region has impacted them. Their
names have been kept anonymous because of safety concerns.
though Daesh [ISIS] is defeated as a territory, there are many Daesh [ISIS]
fighters and supporters [still in the region],” said one woman.
said, “As a Yazidi, I do not see very clearly a good future, and without
external forces doing protection, it is difficult.”
don't think Yazidis think in terms about hope for the future, but just survival
and doing the best we can to keep going,” said another woman at the camp.
worries that political tumult coupled with the dearth of rehabilitation
services could thwart Yazidi survivors’ progress. “Just the idea of a US
withdrawal is for them traumatizing again because they know what kinds of
things can happen if there's no protection or security. They read this, they
see this, and it has a huge effect on their rehabilitation.”
broader story of violence'
women, in particular, were the focus of intense foreign media and policy
attention after the Sinjar attack. This global attention brought the plight of
the Yazidis to the world stage, but the media’s obsession with lurid details of
rapes and kidnappings left some Yazidi women feeling exposed and without
control over their own narratives.
Minwalla, a Baghdad-based human rights lawyer who has worked directly with Yazidi
women, illuminates the challenges Yazidi women have faced since 2014. Minwalla
researched how Yazidi women navigate complex relationships with foreign
organizations as well as direct threats from regional authorities and military
her interviews with Yazidi women about their experiences with journalists
covering ISIS violence, she describes a phenomenon called “patriarchal
bargaining.” Originally coined by gender and development scholar Deniz
Kandiyoti, patriarchal bargaining refers to strategic choices individuals make
when they find themselves at the intersection of multiple power hierarchies,
weighing the costs and benefits of engaging with each.
Yazidi women, navigating the competing interests of foreign journalists, aid
workers, local authorities, and terror groups like ISIS complicates their daily
a broader story of violence,” Minwalla said in a phone interview. “The focus
has mostly been on the rape. But there have been so many other atrocities that
have been less reported. It's hard to get people to cover the day-to-day
struggles that people face: the lack of access to aid, getting medical care.
But when [Yazidi women] talk about that and then they don't get covered, then I
think they are frustrated.”
Ibrahim agrees. “The Yazidi community has been in the media, has been in the
spotlight, but let's be honest: A lot of government officials like to take
photos with our survivors, but how much actually has been done?”
late April, the United Nations attempted to pass a resolution to end sexual
violence in conflict, during which Nadia Murad testified, but was watered down
before it was passed to appease US pushback over reproductive rights language.
both Pari Ibrahim and Nadia Murad, the pursuit of justice for the Yazidi
community remains the utmost priority. This means convicting ISIS perpetrators
for the crimes they committed.
detained ISIS militants for specific charges of rape or murder would allow
Yazidis to testify and participate in the process of legal accountability. This
goal, Ibrahim points out, needs to be a multinational one, with Western
governments prosecuting their own citizens who perpetrated crimes for ISIS.
consideration bears weight as European nations continue to strip ISIS
conspirators of their citizenships, leaving little hope for formal
national Shamima Begum, for example, who married an ISIS fighter and moved to
Syria when she was 15 years old, had her citizenship revoked on security
grounds in late February this year. Her family is appealing the decision and
her case raises critical questions on what to do with ISIS members now
languishing in Syrian camps and prisons.
realize justice for the Yazidi community, an eventual return to Sinjar is paramount.
According to Yazidi activists, international partners like the US must
demonstrate a meaningful commitment to the Yazidi community’s ongoing struggle
for security — along with Iraqi and Syrian partners — on the ground.
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African
Muslim News, Arab
World News, South
Asia News, Indian
Muslim News, World
Muslim News, Women
in Islam, Islamic
In Arab, Islamophobia
in America, Muslim
Women in West, Islam
Women and Feminism