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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 21 Apr 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Transgender Islamic School Reopened In Java

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 Apr 2014

Two transgendered people recite the Holy Quran at the re-launch on Friday of the Transvestites Islamic Boarding JP/Bambang Muryanto


 Catholic Woman’s Khalwat Case Shows Anomalies in Shariah Court System

 Pakistani Wife Claims Husband Affixed Tracker in Her Body

 Female Saudi Pilot Flies High

 The Brave Women Fighting Bigotry in Libya

 Women Edge into Gulf Boardrooms as Economies, Societies Shift

 Hazrat Fatima Zahra (ra)'s Birth Anniversary Celebrated as Women's Day in Iran

 Chibok Abductions in Nigeria: More Girls 'Flee Kidnappers'

 202 women murdered in the name of honour in Sindh last year

 Saudi Woman Uses Mosque Megaphone to Call for Help

 Prison, Heavy Fines Possible For Sexual Harassers in Saudi Arabia

 Asia Bibi’s appeal put off again

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Transgender Islamic School Reopened In Java

21 April 2014

A Pesantren Waria (Islamic boarding school for transgenders) in Yogyakarta has once again opened its doors, and brought the subject of freedom of religion for all — regardless of sexual orientation — back into the public arena.

After the death of its founder Maryani last month, the school moved to a house belonging to Shinta Ratri, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual (LGBT) activist, in a heritage area in Jagalan, Kotagede.

“Everyone has the right to observe their religion in their own way,” said Faithful People Brotherhood Forum Yogyakarta Abdul Muhaimin advisory board member in his speech at the launch of Pesantren Waria Al Fatah in Kotagede, Yogyakarta, on Friday evening.

Muhaimin said humans were not allowed to undermine others, including transgender people, since everyone was made by God.

“According to the Koran, we are not allowed to classify people based on economic, social, political, gender or theological values,” said Muhaimin, who also leads Nurul Umahat Islamic boarding school for girls in Kotagede.

He said although transgenderism was not specifically mentioned in the Koran, it had been discussed in fiqh (Islamic legal philosophy).

“I hope the students here are strong as they must face stigma in society. We have to care for them [transgender people],” he added.

Muhaimin lauded the reopening of the Pesantren Waria, which was originally located in Notoyudan.

Waria is a portmanteau of the words for woman (wanita) and man (pria) and is often used to describe transgender women.

Maryani had received local and international media attention since 2008 when she transformed her home into a place for transgenders to study Islam.

She made headlines last year due to her failed pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, last year after her efforts to go to the holy land failed due to documentation problems. Maryani’s dream to make the pilgrimage eventually came true. She flew to Mecca on April 26 and returned May 5, and performed all the pillars of the umrah (minor haj), covered from head to toe as a woman.

Dozens of transgenders, NGO activists, students as well as domestic and foreign researchers attended the reopening of the school.

Wearing mukena (female prayer dress) and sarongs, the transgender women conducted evening prayer together side by side.

After praying, Muhaimin cut a nasi tumpeng (rice cone) in celebration of the opening of the school.

Shinta Ratri said her Joglo-Javanese traditional style house, which was built in the 1800s had belonged to her grandmother before it passed down to her mother.

Shinta said the school, which was supported by the Nahdlatul Ulema University of Jepara, Central Java, offered students various subjects, such as transgender and Islam, Koran reading and shalat praying lessons.

“There are currently 35 students at the school,” she added.

Besides learning Islamic studies, Shinta said the school planned to facilitate ways for its students to make money.

At the old location, the women had a beauty salon and also rented traditional wedding dresses.

“I hope the school can give students self confidence. Being transgender is not a sin. It is allowed in Islam as far as it’s genuine, not fake,” she added.

Meanwhile, Wulan Agustina, a student at the school, said she could now read the Koran and conduct shalat praying after enrolling at the school.

“I also took religious studies, which can strengthen our will to face the hardships of life,” Wulan said.



Catholic Woman’s Khalwat Case Shows Anomalies in Shariah Court System

April 21, 2014

An Indonesian Catholic woman is in a bind after being found guilty of committing 'khalwat' (close proximity) by the Penang Shariah court two years ago.

Despite not being a Muslim, Halimah, 42, was charged and convicted in the Shariah court, and now cannot get her case quashed due a lack of such provision in the state's Shariah law.

Lawyer and Penang Legal Aid consultant, Cecil Rajendra, said that Halimah can only appeal to the court against her sentence but not to have her case quashed.

Describing her situation as being "trapped in a system that is unjust", Rajendra said Halimah should not have been charged before a Shariah judge in the first place.

"Halimah had to go to the shariah court to sign an affidavit in reply to the prosecution's appeal.

"Why make her sign an affidavit when the court does not even have jurisdiction over her?” he told The Malaysian Insider.

"There is no case in the first place... I think the whole thing is a farce. She is trapped in a system that is unjust... it is without a shred of a doubt that she is a non-Muslim," he added.

Rajendra held a watching brief on the case for the Penang Bar Council's Legal Aid Centre due to public interest in the case.

He said checks with the Shariah courts revealed that there were no provisions that allow cases to be quashed.

The veteran lawyer argued that although the Shariah lawyer would have to follow procedure, it is "nonsensical to just go with it".

"There is no case against Halimah. The case should not have gone to court in the first place.

"Would you submit to the military court which has no jurisdiction over you?" Cecil asked.

It was Halimah's right to have the case quashed, he added.

Rajendra said he had considered taking the prosecution to court for malicious prosecution, but it would have to be done in civil court as there is no such procedure in the Shariah court.

He also said that Shariah lawyers were not pleased that he was meddling in the case but insisted that he wanted the Shariah court to adhere to Section 74 of the Penang Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2004, which states that the Shariah court has no jurisdiction over non-Muslims.

"I am not against the Shariah court but I am questioning the system.

"I am also in support of Section 74 of the enactment. Just apply the law," he said.

Rajendra also said that when Halimah needed to post bail, she had to get a Muslim to do it.

He said that the Catholic Lawyers Association has also taken an interest in Halimah's case.

Halimah, a mother of four from Bandung, was working as a reflexologist at an outlet on Jalan Siang Tek in George Town, when she was arrested by officers from the Penang Islamic Religious Department (Jaipp) on December 8, 2011, while massaging a customer.

She was questioned on the spot for about two hours before being taken to Jaipp's office in Seberang Prai where she was further interrogated and subsequently released on a RM3,000 bail.

On May 15, 2012, Halimah was charged with committing close proximity under Section 27(b) of the Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Penang) at the Penang Shariah Lower Court.

She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 days jail and RM3,000 fine.

On December 3 the same year, Halimah's case was judicially reviewed by the Shariah court with a stay on proceedings granted pending her appeal.

On September 9, 2013 year, the Shariah High Court upheld the lower court's decision, prompting Halimah’s lawyer to take the case to the Shariah Appeals Court.

Her lawyer, Wan Faridulhadi Mohd Yusoff, had submitted before the appeals court judge that under Section 74 of enactment, the Shariah court has no jurisdiction to prosecute her because she is a Christian.

The defence also supplied to the court various documents to support her claim, including a baptism certificate verifying that Halimah was baptised a Christian in Medan on June 19, 1982, her family charter which shows that her family members are also Christians, and a letter from the Consulate-General of Indonesia in Penang confirming that Halimah is a Catholic.

Wan Faridulhadi had told the court that there had been no evidence from the prosecution to show that Halimah had converted to Islam.

He said Halimah, who is illiterate, pleaded guilty to the charge under duress.

Last month, the Shariah Court of Appeals dismissed the prosecution's preliminary objection against Halimah's application of appeal against the conviction.

When contacted last week, Wan Faridulhadi said the prosecution had said Halimah's appeal against the conviction was not according to procedure, as she could only appeal against the verdict.

A date for the next hearing has yet to be fixed.

Wan Faridulhadi also said he has no problems with Cecil’s interest in the case.

"As far as I am concerned, anyone can intervene (in this case) as long as they have an interest in it. I don't mind."



Pakistani Wife claims husband affixed tracker in her body

April 21, 2014

Lahore- A lady, irked by husband claimed today that a tracker was affixed in her body so that he could spy on her movements.

The woman, covering her face with a white veil, made the claim at Lahore's Session Court where she filed an application against her husband. In her shocking assertions, the woman told media persons that her husband took her to a government hospital and got fixed a tracker with her body through surgery.

"He gets suspicious, always wants to keep an eye on me and wants to know where I go.  This compelled me to file a complaint against him," the woman claimed, evading many of the questions by reporters and giving no proof to prove her claims. Her claim is yet to be verified by medical experts.



Female Saudi pilot flies high

21 April 2014

A Saudi woman has become the first licensed female pilot in the Kingdom.

Thirty-five-year-old Hanadi Al-Hindi, who had battled kidney problems, acquired licensing from the Jeddah-based General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) to fly planes in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Hindi, who wears a headscarf, has begun flying small and wide-bodied luxury planes belonging to a fleet from the Kingdom Holding Company (KHC).

Khaled Al-Khaibary, a GACA spokesman, neither confirmed nor denied awarding the license to Al-Hindi, saying he would verify the information on Monday.

Al-Hindi, however, confirmed receipt of the license via telephone from the United States.

“Saudi women are capable of taking on any job previously held exclusively by men in Saudi Arabia,” she said.

Al-Hindi refused to divulge anymore information owing to contractual obligations and sensitivity surrounding the topic.

“I have, however, taken on a private initiative to counsel Saudi students in the US who are willing to pursue a career in aviation,” said Al-Hindi, who acquired a “Commercial Pilot’s License” (CPL) and an “Instrument Rating” (IR) from the Amman-based Mideast Aviation Academy in 2002. “Exciting opportunities await candidates in this field.”

Al-Hindi became the Kingdom’s first woman pilot after being hired by Kingdom Holding Company Chairman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. She became something of a celebrity after gaining her commercial pilot’s license way back in 2006.

Al-Hindi said that she was proud of herself and her family for supporting her in choosing this career.

Born and raised in Makkah, Al-Hindi faced opposition from her relatives after she decided to become a pilot.

Al-Hindi described her first solo flight in 2004 as the beginning of her dream career. “Two days after my solo flight, I discovered that my name was being mentioned all over the world and that I had become a celebrity,” she said in an earlier interview with Arab News.



The brave women fighting bigotry in Libya

21 April 2014

Once in a while, amid the destruction, kidnappings, murder and mayhem that is engulfing Libya, a brave voice emerges to give us hope that maybe there could be light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.

One such voice is Magdulien Abaida, who played an important part in promoting the image of the Libyan revolution among Europeans when it first started in February 2011, only to be rewarded by being kidnapped and beaten up by Islamist thugs.

Now another has come to our attention. She is Nafissa Assed, a Libyan blogger and student on a Fulbright scholarship. Brave, articulate and passionate about Libya, she has a full grasp of the disease that is gripping the country, a disease at the root of which lie the deranged serpents who are haunting the Arab world: the Islamists.

Below are extensive excerpts from her latest blog post – if you agree with her, please tell her by posting a comment at the end of her article.

I once disagreed with the Nobel physicist Steven Weinberg when he said: “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil – that takes religion”.

Today, Weinberg’s quote rings some sad truth into my ears. Well, at least part of it. It’s true that not all people who believe in a certain religion are affected by this tendency.  However, there are enough to make Weinberg’s quote resonate with me when it comes to Libya.

There is something inherently dangerous about many unhinged extremists in Libya who believe they know God’s mind, applying [a] coercive system that uses religion to create an “us versus them” mindset, so that “us” (the extremists/the murderers) are right and “them” (whoever disagree with their specific goals and agenda) is wrong, leaving no room for temperance or tolerance with anyone holding any opinion that opposes theirs.

Unfortunately, women are mainly the first victim [of] this enslaving politico-religious system.

Libyan women, who participated heavily to topple Gaddafi and put an end to his long years of oppression, cruelty and injustice, today are facing another type of cruelty, a political-Islamic movement (Islamism) to [deprive] them [of] the very basic rights that they… already enjoyed… throughout the previous oppressive years of Gaddafi.

Libya has brilliant women with unbeatable determination to succeed and [to] help in building Libya. However, all the greater opportunities that every Libyan woman might have are increasingly accompanied by hostility and backlash against their rights.

Today, the Libyan woman not only experience the fear of the rising crime and violence, the unlimited availability and misuse of weapons, or the conflict in power between the weak government and the illegitimate armed groups wandering the streets of Libya and killing whoever [doesn’t] please them, but they also have to deal with the endless harassment, threats, sexual assaults and now execution as well. And what’s worse is that they also have to deal with a series of ludicrous “fatwas” that impede their ability to lead an independent, private and personal life…

Change in Libya will not happen by itself. Libya needs women who dare with loud voices supported by well-planned actions. It needs progressively instructive awareness of duties and rights, responsibilities and rewards. It needs well-thought-out educational campaigns to initiate vigorous change.

The Libyan revolution that happened to end oppression in all its forms and achieve human dignity, social justice and economic development, today is taking a whole different and dangerous path, a path based on ideological manipulations… using religion to politicize people’s lives…

I do not want the Libya that many free Libyan women, including myself, fought so hard to achieve full rights to end up having a “politico-religious” system with the objective to eliminate anyone who doesn’t “hate” democracy, or prevent women from leading an independent, liberated and free-thinking way of life, or execute people with different faiths/beliefs (or none), or basically suppress anyone with different personal views when it comes to faith/religion…

“Islamism” (linking religion and politics together) is nothing more than a fascist ideology that represents detestation based on a hypocrite scheme to protect Islam, when the real purpose is to give the green light to mentally unbalanced extremists to behave outside the law and adopt violence to achieve their private and corrupt goals…

The grand mufti of Libya, Sadiq al-Ghiryani, had no right to publicly announce a fatwa stating that women teachers should cover their faces  when there are male students in the classroom. Or that women should not be allowed to travel abroad all alone, without a male relative. He has no right to [issue] any fatwa publicly about individuals’ relationship with God or use religion to guide a woman’s personal life… Sadiq al-Ghiryani does not have a direct connection with God to lead my life or force any of his religious thoughts one me based on his own way of understanding religion…

I don’t understand why women are Sheikh Al-Ghiryani’s main focus when it comes to fatwas. Are these Libya’s main’s issues now? Well, since he feels free giving fatwas about whatever he wants and use religion to intervene [in] people’s personal life, why doesn’t he come up with some useful fatwas about Libya’s really serious issues?

Where were Al-Ghiryani’s fatwas when every time “unknown” gunmen killed many innocent Libyans, bombed shrines and destroyed many of Libya’s historical mosques? Where were his fatwas when many Libyan women were raped and tortured? Why I’ve never heard any fatwa regarding the unbearable sexual harassment [and] rape of women in the streets of Libya? … And why I’ve never heard any fatwa regarding the predicament of [the] Tawergha [people] and all those displaced children, women and elders living in crumbling camps, facing the heavy rainfalls and floods that happened across Libya?

If we keep denying these facts and these major differences between politics and religion, every unhinged extremist in Libya will always find a way to distort the genuine and peaceful meaning of a religion by politicizing people’s way of life through vicious and illegitimate violence. They will keep causing havoc by bombing more shrines, more shops and cafes in Benghazi, Derna or elsewhere; attacking more women-friendly spots to frighten, bully and put pressure on women not to go out. What kind of faith or religion that promotes this size of violence? A faith that impacts extreme negativity as kidnapping, torturing, raping, killing or any other kind of oppression is simply not a faith…

Every oppressor creates his worst enemy and fear. And just like every filthy tyrant that exists in this falling world, their worst enemy and fear are the people they oppress.

For this reason, as a free Libyan, I will always rise against my oppressor and strike back until I get my full rights or die trying.

The Libyan people have a choice: to succumb to the mentally unbalanced fascists, misogynists, bigots and perverts of the Islamist trend – Salafis, Wahhabis, Muslim Brotherhood and others of their type – and live in ignorance, backwardness, terror and oppression, or to summon up the courage and fight for freedom, democracy, development, and a just and law-governed state.

It is only by following the examples of brave women such as Nafissa Assed and Magdulien Abaida that Libya will have any chance of a progressive and enlightened future.



Women edge into Gulf boardrooms as economies, societies shift

21 April 2014

Amina al-Rustamani, a member of a prominent UAE family, raised eyebrows among friends and relatives when she started her career in Dubai 13 years ago as an electrical engineer, becoming one of few females in the Middle East to enter the profession.

Success in a male-dominated environment helped give her the confidence to rise up the career ladder and break more barriers.

She is now chief executive of TECOM Investments, part of a conglomerate owned by the ruler of Dubai which manages a complex of nine business parks and spearheads the emirate's economic ambitions in information technology, science and education.

Almost unimaginable just a generation ago, Rustamani's rise to the highest level of business in a Gulf Arab country underlines a shift in the business environment that is allowing the gradual entry of women into boardrooms and other positions of economic power in the region.

"There's always this challenge to fit in and excel but once you prove that you are competent, you will earn society's respect," said Rustamani, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering from The George Washington University in Washington DC.

"Governments have a role to play, the private sector has a role to play and families have a role to play. But it all boils down to what you can do as an individual."

While female company directors are still a rarity in the Middle East, the region's growing wealth, rising education standards for women and government efforts to promote more equal opportunities should help make it easier for women to crack the "glass ceiling", or perceived discrimination against female executives, in future.

Women accounted for 9.8 percent of corporate board seats across the world in 2011, the latest data from US-based research firm GMI Ratings shows. But in the Gulf Cooperation Council - the group of six wealthy oil-exporting countries - they accounted for just 1.5 percent, according to the Dubai-based Institute for Corporate Governance.

The gap is narrowing though. The figure of 1.5 percent "compares to almost nil 10 years ago", said Shailesh Dash, chief executive of Dubai-based asset management firm Al Masah Capital.

In the United Arab Emirates, the business world is unusually cosmopolitan by Gulf standards because of freewheeling Dubai.

In December 2012, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE's prime minister and Dubai's ruler, issued a law obliging all government departments and related companies to have female representation on their boards, although it did not set a target date so adherence to the law is seen to be very gradual.

Fourteen percent of senior management roles in the UAE are held by women, a study released by consultants Grant Thornton last month showed. That was below a global average of 24 percent but above 9 percent forJapan, 10 percent for the Netherlands and 13 percent for Switzerland, the study found.

Conservative Saudi Arabia, by far the biggest Gulf economy, trails behind as custom is reinforced by strict Islamic law; women need the permission of a male guardian to travel abroad or open a bank account. In many companies and government departments, women and men are segregated.

But there are signs of change.

Last month Saudi Arabia's NCB Capital, a unit of the country's biggest bank, said it had appointed Sarah Al-Suhaimi as chief executive - the first woman to head an investment bank in the kingdom. Suhaimi was previously head of asset management at Jadwa Investment in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia's most high-profile businesswoman, Lubna Olayan, chief executive of Riyadh-based Olayan Financing Company, which was founded by her father, was named in Fortune magazine's 2013 list of the 50 most powerful women in business globally, a list dominated by American women.

She has called on the CEOs of companies in major Arab countries to hire and mentor women, saying that is what the region needs to develop.

Economic growth in the Gulf is one factor forcing change.

Al Masah Capital estimates that wealth personally owned by women in the Middle East as a whole hit roughly $690 billion in 2012, after growing by an average 8 percent annually in previous years, slightly faster than the increase for men.

"Women here may probably hold $930 billion in wealth by 2017," said Al Masah's chief executive Shailesh Dash.

"We are starting to see women investors taking on more responsibility, participating more in the decision-making and gaining greater knowledge and sophistication."

Some banks, such as Dubai Islamic Bank and Emirates Islamic Bank, have established women-only branches to help them compete in their countries' crowded retail banking markets. Their growth is creating jobs, including at senior level, which need to be filled by women.

The pool of potential women executives is still low. Globally, half of women participate in the labour force, but that number falls to about 20 percent in the Middle East, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Government policies, though, are encouraging more women to have careers as countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE have invested billions of dollars in improving their education systems.

In Saudi Arabia, the labour ministry and some members of the royal family are actively promoting the development of women in business, as a way to reduce social tensions caused by high unemployment among local citizens.

"What's happening in Saudi Arabia in particular and the GCC region in general is real social and economic development, where women play a bigger and more public role in business, finance, media and many other industries," said Princess Ameerah al-Taweel, chief executive of Saudi-based Time Entertainment Holding, a media and entertainment company.

Thousands of young Saudi women travel abroad each year to study in top U.S. and European universities atSaudi government expense. When they come home, they are less inclined than previous generations to accept lives outside the work force.

Economic growth is also prompting Gulf states to diversify beyond a heavy dependence on oil and develop large service sectors, creating more opportunities for women outside the traditionally male-dominated oil business.

Other female business leaders in the region include National Bank of Kuwait's chief executive officer Sheikha Al Bahar and Suad Al Humaidi, who heads Kuwaiti family conglomerate Al Humaidi Group of Companies.

Gulf countries are a long way from boardroom quotas for women as spearheaded by Norway, where at least 40 percent of a company's board must now be female.

The UAE's law requiring female representation on company boards may be only a signal of intent for now, but it does chime with a growing awareness in the business communities of the Gulf that women can play an important role as local companies seek to expand beyond their domestic borders.

"The presence of women in these boards will give the decisions and plans of these institutions more balance,"UAE's Sheikh Mohammed said on issuing the law. "Women work in these institutions and represent a big chunk of the client base so they must be part of the decision-making."

For Amina al-Rustamani, the change in attitude is long overdue.

"Females add breadth and balance to every company at all levels," she said. "They excel under pressure and can juggle multiple tasks. With enough education and the right opportunity, I believe women can become impressive leaders and role models."



Hazrat Fatima Zahra (ra)'s Birth Anniversary Celebrated as Women's Day in Iran

21 April 2014

TEHRAN (FNA)- Shiite Muslims throughout the world, including Iran, held ceremonies on Sunday to celebrate the birth anniversary of Hazrat Fatima-Zahra (SA) and Women's or Mother's Day.

Fatima was born in the fifth year of Mohammad's Prophethood (PBUH). Her father was the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and her mother was Khadija. (Khadija was the first woman to become Muslim, and she truly believed in God and His Prophet. She was loyal and rich, and spent all her wealth for the progress of Islam.)

The Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) loved his daughter, Fatima, very much and used to say about her, "Fatima is part of my body. Whoever troubles her troubles me, and whoever makes her happy makes me happy." At the beginning of her youth, Fatima married Imam Ali (AS).

She was the ideal lady of Islam and excelled all ladies in worship, manners and morals. For her husband, she was the best wife and for her children, she was the best mother.

She did the housework and took great pains and troubles upon herself to maintain and prepare the necessities of life.

She never made undeserving demands on her husband, Imam Ali (AS), nor caused him any hardship. Imam Ali (AS) used to say, "By God, I never did anything in all my life which made Fatima unhappy or angry, and Fatima, too, never did anything which made me unhappy or angry."

Fatima had two sons, Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hossein (AS), and two daughters, Zaynab and Umme Kulthum. The descendants of the Prophet are from the children of Holy Fatima. Our eleven Holy Imams are descendants of the lady Fatima (SA).

Fatima loved her children very much. She cultured them with Islamic morals, manners and etiquette and brought up her children to be the best. Fatima - peace be upon her soul - passed away on the 3rd of the month of Jamadi al-Thani, at the age of 18. Her body was entrusted to the earth in Medina, but the whereabouts of her grave are not known.



Chibok abductions in Nigeria: More girls 'flee kidnappers'

21 April 2014

Seven of the 85 Nigerian schoolgirls still missing after being abducted last week have escaped, the local state governor says.

Another girl had run home on the day of the attack, meaning 77 are still missing, said Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima.

About 130 girls were seized from their school hostel by gunmen last Monday.

Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected to be behind the kidnapping but has not issued any statement.

Some 1,500 people are believed to have been killed in attacks blamed on Boko Haram this year alone.

The group, whose name means "Western education is forbidden", is fighting to establish Islamic law in Nigeria. It often targets educational establishments.

Mr Shettima did not give details of how the girls had escaped, for security reasons.

The headmistress of the school in the town of Chibok on Saturday called on the kidnappers to "have mercy on the students".

It is thought that the militants took the girls to forested areas near the Cameroonian border.

Parents and vigilante group have gone there to help search for the teenage girls.

Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in north-east Nigeria have been under emergency rule since last May.



Saudi woman uses mosque megaphone to call for help

21 April 2014

Manama: A Saudi woman has been praised for her quick thinking when, in a highly unusual move, she used the loudspeakers of a mosque to request help for the muezzin who had been stabbed.

The woman and her husband were walking in the early hours of the day when they saw their Syrian neighbour chasing another man.

He informed them that he wanted to catch the man for stabbing the muezzin of the neighbourhood mosque.

The couple headed to the mosque where they found the muezzin lying on the carpet after he was stabbed nine times by his aggressor.

“While the husband was trying to help me, the woman switched on the microphone and the public address system and called for urgent help from neighbours,” the muezzin told local news site Sabq. “They rushed in and I was transported to the emergency department of a public hospital,” he said.

The stabber, who was arrested by the police after they surrounded his house, confessed that he was the brother of the muezzin’s wife and that he had stabbed him following a family dispute, Sabq reported on Sunday.

Commenters heaped praise on the Saudi couple and the Syrian expatriate for their role in rescuing the muezzin and apprehending the stabber, singling out the woman for her quick decision.

“May God reward them for their positive reactions and bravery,” Sufata, a commenter, said. “The woman was great in her quick thinking and courage to use the public address system to call for assistance. May God guide her to more good deeds,” she posted.

In her comments, Nafa said that the woman was “truly brave” to resort to the loud speakers and call for help.

“Some women are worth tons of gold,” she said. “May the muezzin recover soon and may the stabber get his just punishment.”

However, one commenter objected to the wife’s use of the microphone.

“The woman’s behaviour is rather odd. She acted as if she was an air-raid siren to alert people when she could have just used a mobile phone to call the police or a hospital,” the commenter said.

Mosque loudspeakers are used five times a day exclusively to call Muslims to prayers.



202 women murdered in the name of honour in Sindh last year

April 21, 2014

ISLAMABAD: In 2013, as many as 202 women were murdered in the name of Karo-kari (honour killing) in Sindh, Special Home Secretary Sindh informed the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Monday.

The secretary also stated that at least 28 honour killing cases have been reported in 2014 thus far.

He added that the incidence of honour killing in interior Sindh is continuously rising because of the jirga system that exists in all districts of the rural parts of the province.

“The weakness of the legal system and the encouragement of the jirga system in rural areas are both responsible for the rise in the murder of women in the name of honour,” the secretary informed.

He assured that to prevent violence against women, special cells were functioning in all districts of Sindh, encouraging civil society to join the cells and report such cases.

He said that to create awareness, special seminars about the issue are also organised from time to time for the general public.

The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights Chairperson Senator Afrasiab Khattak expressed serious concerns about the rising number of women killed in the name of honour.

He directed the provincial government to take effective steps to discourage the act.



Prison, Heavy Fines Possible For Sexual Harassers In Saudi Arabia

21 April 2014

RIYADH — The social affairs committee of the Shoura Council has finalized its draft paper for a project to fight sexual harassment and will present it to the council’s plenary session this week to decide if it is worthy of discussion or not, local daily Al-Madinah reported on Sunday.

It said the proposed system to fight harassment consists of five years in prison, a fine of SR500, 000 or both for anyone found guilty of the offense.

The committee said the system aims to protect the privacy, dignity and personal freedom of men and women that are safeguarded by Islam. The system made it an obligation for government and private establishments to make the necessary arrangements to fight harassment.

It said in addition to the court rule, disciplinary measures should be taken against the public or private employees who are accused of sexual harassment.

The committee asked human rights organizations to spread awareness about such behavior.

The council will discuss on Tuesday a project to fight begging.

The project will recommend punishing anyone who is caught begging with two years in prison, a fine of SR20,000 and confiscation of all their properties and giving them to charity.

Expatriate beggars will be banned from entering the Kingdom for five years.

According to a report by the Social Affairs Ministry, a total of 23,274 beggars were caught in 2012, including 2,638 Saudis.

Women constituted about 50 percent and children 38 percent of Saudi beggars.

About 60 percent of expatriate beggars were men while the rest were children and women.



Asia Bibi’s appeal put off again

April 21, 2014

LAHORE: An appeal by Asia Bibi, sentenced to death on charge of blasphemy, could not be heard last week although the case had been fixed before a Lahore High Court’s (LHC) special division bench.

Lawyers say it is rare for a case not to be heard after it has been fixed by a court; if a bench is unable to take up the case, it is forwarded to another.

Bibi’s appeal had earlier been fixed for hearing on February 24 and March 17. It could not be heard then as one of the judges on the bench was not available. The case was adjourned again without any progress on March 26. On April 14, the case was adjourned indefinitely as the bench was against not available.

“This is the fourth Easter without her. We were hoping for the case to be disposed of but it has been delayed,” her husband Ashique Masih told The Express Tribune.

BA (hons), BSc (hons)  eligible for LLB

An LHC division bench declared BA (honours) and BSc (honours) degree holders eligible for admission to LLB programmes.

A petitioner told the court he had obtained a four-year BSc degree from the University of the Punjab but he had been declared ineligible for admission to LLB. He said this amounted to discrimination and violated fundamental rights protected in the Constitution, he said.

Allama Iqbal Medical College

Last week, the LHC restrained the Allama Iqbal Medical College (AIMC) from collecting $10,000 each from its students. The students had challenged the AIMC fee in the LHC. Their counsel said the court had set the amount at $5,000. He said some other medical colleges were collecting up to $7,000 from their foreign students.

Ban on Baisakhi festival

The LHC dismissed a petition against a ban on Baisakhi Mela celebrations in Gujranwala.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan dismissed the petition after he was informed that the ban had been imposed due to security reasons.

Muhammad Ishaq, the petitioner, said the festival had been celebrated for 500 years.

The Gujranwala city police officer told the court on Tuesday there were reports about a potential terrorist attack on the celebrations. He said police were unable to provide security for the festival.

No bail for ‘windows’ thief’

The LHC dismissed a bail application by a man who had allegedly stolen windowpanes from a Metro Bus station.

Yousuf Masih told the court he had been wrongfully implicated in the case.

A Mozang police officer said Masih, a sweeper, had been caught stealing the aluminum windows. He said police had also recovered some other stolen material from him.