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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 20 Jul 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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11 Women Executed By Taliban This Year: Official

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 Jul 2012 

 Women in Afghan National Security Forces Take Centre Stage

 It’s both or nothing for hapless conjoined twins kin

 Clinton’s Chief Of Staff’s Mother’s Islamist Agenda

 TV channel gives veiled women a face

 Afghanistan, Pakistan Urged To Ensure Justice for Women's Killing

 Taliban Groups Threaten, Women Worry the Dark Period May Return

 The Cost of Women’s Rights in Northwest Pakistan

 American Sister Finds Islam: I No Longer Have to Confess My Sins except to God

 Women of South Sudan Struggle to Meet Basic Needs during Pregnancy

 For Syrian Girls Learning the Quran, Knowledge Is Power

 Women of Faith Bond over Meal

 Peace through Business Program Helps Afghan, Rwandan Women Build Business Skills

 Saudi Progress Brings Women Athletes to 2012 Summer Olympic For First Time

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: It’s both or nothing for hapless conjoined twins kin





11 Women Executed By Taliban This Year: Official

16 July, 2012

HARIKAR: As many as 11 women have been executed by the Taliban in the Shinwari district of northern Parwan province since the start of the year, provincial Women Affairs director Shah Jan Yazdan Parast said.

As scores of women marched against violence in the provincial capital Charikar on Saturday, Yazdan Parast pointed out that the amateur video of a woman being shot to death in Parwan about a fortnight ago was not an isolated incident with at least 11 others similarly executed this year, ToloNews reported.

"Since the start of this year, we've recorded more than 70 cases of violence against women, including eleven women being executed by gunmen in the Hiro valley of Shinwari district," Yazdan Parast said.

Women residents of Parwan marched with banners to protest violence against women, highlighted by the recent public shooting of the 22-year-old known as Najiba, accused of adultery by a Taliban drumhead court in the Shinwari district. She was executed immediately following the verdict.

The execution received global attention and widespread condemnation after the amateur video was released to the media, but the women said more needed to be done.

Protesters called for Afghan security force to launch more operations in the areas controlled by the Taliban in order to enforce government laws and protect the people, particularly the women, in those areas.



Women In Afghan National Security Forces Take Centre Stage


BALKH PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The International Security Assistance Force Regional Command-North partnered with the Afghan Department of Women’s Affairs held a women’s shura in Balkh province, July 11.

The shura focused on recruitment and retention of women in the Afghan National Security Forces, a challenge which both the Afghan Ministry of Interior and ISAF leaders are working on together.

Several influential female leaders from northern Afghanistan, including provincial and district DoWA representatives from Baghlan, Balkh, Jowzjan, Kunduz, Samagan and Sar-e-Pul provinces, attended the event. Female members of the Afghan Uniformed Police, Afghan Border Patrol and Afghan National Army were also in attendance, drawing praise from several participants for their bravery and resilience.

“Women are so brave, so patient and so kind,” said Nadeera Ghia, the DoWA representative for Kunduz province. “They can help solve the country’s problems sooner, and in calmer ways. If you give women the chance, they can be great leaders in society. They just need time and opportunity.”

The shura made clear there are many obstacles to overcome. Many women still find working outside the home a challenge. Afghan women manage the childcare and household responsibilities of the family, and often have difficulty traveling alone. Also, since many get married before finishing school, women have high illiteracy rates.

The group discussed these and other problems, proposing practical solutions. Police and army compounds in many provinces, for instance, are ill equipped to handle the cultural sensitivities of a mixed working environment. The provincial representatives proposed separate changing rooms in the workplace, as well as the provision of childcare, to make it easier for women with children to work. Some women have been working in the ANSF for years without being promoted or recognized for their accomplishments. The participants suggested a committee to investigate this trend and improve the promotion and meritorious award rates among women.

Several notable signs of progress were highlighted at the shura. To date, coalition forces have facilitated the training and education of 1,400 female police officers and 359 female soldiers throughout Afghanistan. Swedish Capt. Andreas Bransnnstrom, RC-North director of the Female Police Officer Program in Balkh province, reported his program has successfully sent out females to assist their male counterparts in searching and questioning female suspects during operational missions.

“We have come a long way in a short period of time,” said Bransnnstrom. “We will continue to work to integrate them fully into police business.”

Overall, the RC-North women’s shura provided a forum for Afghan women to discuss and provide input to help shape the future of women in the Afghan National Security Forces in RC-North.

The number of Afghan female leaders attending the quarterly shuras, and their level of participation during the meetings has grown each time the shura has been held.



It’s both or nothing for hapless conjoined twins kin

By Giridhar Jha

 Jul 20 2012

THE family of Patna’s hapless conjoined twins, Saba and Farah Shakeel, does not want to lose either of them by allowing them to undergo surgery unless the doctors give absolute guarantee of their safety.

Tamanna, the elder brother of the 16- year- old sisters who are joined at their head, said on Tuesday that the lives of both the sisters were too precious to be lost in a risky operation.

“ We cannot permit surgery to separate them unless the doctors are 110 per cent sure of their survival,” he said. “ Otherwise we would like them to live in this condition as long as they are destined to.” Tamanna said his family would take his sisters to Delhi for their medical tests but the possibility of their surgery would depend on the doctors’ assurance. “ As of now, we want monetary help on a regular basis for their medicines and dietary supplements,” he added.

Saba and Farah have not been keeping good health for more than a year now. Unable to see their suffering, their mother Rabia Khatoon had last year pleaded for permission to put them to death.

On Monday, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to constitute a medical board to provide aid to the twins, the daughters of a dhaba owner Shakeel Ahmad, to mitigate their sufferings.

The apex court said the team should include American specialist surgeon Dr Benjamin Carson and other experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences ( AIIMS).

The court had given the directives on a public interest litigation filed by Aarushi Dhasmana, a second year law student from Pune, who had sought either medical aid from the government for the conjoined twins or the permission to the parents to adopt mercy killing to put an end to their sufferings.

The Supreme Court directive has come as a ray of hope for the poor family of the conjoined twins who are leading a miserable life in a one- room house in Samanpura locality of Patna. “ We are happy that the Supreme Court has taken note of our plight,” Saba said.

Tamanna, who is on the lookout for a job after he quit studies in class XII, said his family has been unable to bear the expenditure of the costly medicines and the nutritional diet that the twins should get.

“ We want nothing other than some financial assistance for my sisters so that they can lead healthy lives even in this condition,” he said. “ Medicines and good diet are all they need.”

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Clinton’s Chief Of Staff’s Mother’s Islamist Agenda

B Nonie Darwish Bio

Jul 20th, 2012

Huma Abedin, Secretary Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, could be the nicest woman with the greatest character, but that is not the issue nor should it be a reason to prevent any inquiry into her family background and connection to the Muslim Brotherhood. Instead of attacking Representative Bachmann for raising important questions regarding Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the US government, the response from the media and Senator McCain should have been a statement to the effect that Abedin has already been vetted and has a sound security clearance. But instead, the response was: “How dare you, Michele Bachmann!”

Now let us examine Huma’s mother’s history and activities. Dr. Saleha Mahmood Abedin has been identified in Saudi Arabia as one of the founding members of the Muslim Sisterhood, a Muslim Brotherhood women’s group. This is the same group that half of Egypt was too scared to vote for and that was criminalized for many decades in Egypt for its subversiveness and terror activities.  Dr. Abedin is no ordinary Muslim woman, but an activist who supports Sharia law. She is also a long-time chairperson of the “International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child” (IICWC). Now let us examine what that group is doing in Egypt today and why many Egyptians are afraid of its activities and are strongly denouncing it.

The last elections in Egypt have proved that half of Egypt is afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood and does not want to live under Sharia, but that is not the same concern of Abedin’s organization (IICWC), which is advocating Sharia law.  The IICW contributed greatly to fear of its agenda after a recent publication in Arabic on its website. The following topics were discussed, among others, suggesting the annulment of Egyptian moderate laws, which would be replaced by Sharia laws. Below are some of the positions that appeared in the IICWC publication:

The IICWC position that the current laws criminalizing female genital mutilation be revoked.

The IICWC’s position demanding that the laws forbidding child marriage below the age of eighteen be revoked. No new minimum marriage age was given; the group stated that the marriage standard depends on the financial and mental ability and not dependent on a specific age.

The IICWC’s positions, as reported, demanding that the laws forbidding marital rape be revoked and that polygamy is a right for men.

The IICWC’s position that a health check-up before marriage be revoked since it is against religion and should not be part of the marriage contract.

The IICWC’s position that criminal responsibility triggering at age 18 be reduced to age 15.

The IICWC’s position revokes the right of a woman to register her newborn by herself for a birth certificate because Sharia states that a child’s lineage is given strictly to the father and his paternal line. The child belongs to the father even if it was the product of adultery.

The IICWC’s position revokes the criminalization of physical and mental abuse of parents against children, so long as the punishment does not cause a permanent deformity or the beating is too extreme.

Above are the values that Huma Abedin’s mother believes in and that her organization is trying to impose on the Egyptian public after the revolution. Huma did not keep a distance from her mother’s activities when she introduced Secretary Clinton to her activist mother. During Clinton’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the US Secretary of State visited and spoke at the Islamic college of Dar El-Hekma together with Huma, where Dr. Saleha Abedin was a vice-dean and one of its founders.

All of the above scare the reformists in Egypt and does not look good for our Secretary of State. As a consequence of such appearances, to say the least, several Egyptian reformists have recently accused Secretary Clinton of taking the side of the Muslim Brotherhood in the recent elections. Even the appalling mob protest against Clinton in Alexandria Egypt was done mainly by those who accused her of being on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood.

When it comes to politics, appearances do count and Huma and Clinton’s defenders need to understand that. Rep. Bachmann and her colleagues should be applauded for pushing the alarm button, not just regarding Abedin, but regarding many others in our government, to alert us all to a possible security threat from the Muslim Brotherhood and the “civilization jihad” they aspire for in America.



TV channel gives veiled women a face

 Jul 19 2012

Cairo : Abeer Shahin graduated from the prestigious American University in Cairo but struggled to find a job because of employers' aversion to her full Islamic face veil, or niqab.

But now she has found a job she hopes will change how Egyptian society views niqab wearers once and for all: she is going to work as a TV anchor for a new channel being managed and run exclusively by women who wear the full veil.

It's unfair to deal with veiled women as a standard religious housewife. No, she can be a doctor, a professor and an engineer, said Shahin, wearing a loose black robe and a black head scarf that reveals only her eyes.

I was told that it (TV anchorwoman wearing niqab) won't work because of the body language. Well, the tone of my voice can convey my emotions and reactions.

In an age of new freedoms in the post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt, niqab-wearing women long oppressed socially and politically are hoping for a new place in society.

Though Egypt is a deeply conservative and predominantly Muslim society, niqab wearers have cited discrimination in the job market, education and elsewhere.

There have been instances where some were even prevented from sitting their university exams.

Full report at:



Afghanistan, Pakistan Urged To Ensure Justice for Women's Killing

20 July, 2012

UNITED NATIONS: An independent United Nations human rights expert has spoken out against the recent killing of women in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and called on the two countries' Governments to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"The failure of States to guarantee women's right to a life free from violence allows for a continuum of violence which can end in their death," said Rashida Manjoo, the expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council with investigating and reporting on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

She referred to the recent killing of Fareeda Afridi, a human rights defender in Pakistan, and of Hanifa Safi, a provincial head of the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Afghanistan, as well as the public execution of Najiba, a woman accused of adultery in Afghanistan.

"Whether labelled murder, homicide, femicide, feminicide, or 'honour' killings, these manifestations of violence are culturally and socially embedded, and continue to be accepted, tolerated or justified with impunity as the norm," the expert said.

Full report at:



Taliban Groups Threaten, Women Worry the Dark Period May Return

By Bethany Matta


KABUL – Fawzia Koofi remembers sitting in a taxi more than 10 years ago when the country held its first assembly, known as a loya jirga, following the U.S.-led invasion that ousted the Taliban from power.

Koofi and the taxi driver listened to the radio as it was announced that Hamid Karzai was chosen as the country's interim leader, and then something was said that astonished them both: A woman was going to run for president.

"The taxi driver basically stopped the car and listened to this woman talking on the radio, and he said, 'This woman is running for presidency,' " Koofi said.”People were so excited about all the good things that were happening. They thought they would never go back to the dark period."

The dark period that Koofi, now a member of the Afghan parliament and chair of Women and Human Rights Commission, refers to is the five-year reign of the Taliban, the clerical movement that imposed a harsh brand of Islamic law on the nation. Many women now worry the dark period may return.

Full report at:



The Cost of Women’s Rights in Northwest Pakistan

July 19, 2012

Earlier this month, 25-year-old Farida Afridi, who ran an organization that provides information for women about their rights, was gunned down in the street, near the city of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. No one has been arrested for this killing. In all likelihood no one will be.

On July 4, Afridi was leaving her home to go to her office in Peshawar. What happened next shocked the local community, says Zar Ali Khan, who heads a consortium of activist groups in Peshawar.

“When she was coming from her home early in the morning at 6 a.m., she was intercepted by two motorcyclists,” Ali Khan says.

Three years ago, Afridi created SAWERA, or the Society for Appraisal and Woman Empowerment in Rural Areas. She gave lectures and provided information on women’s rights. But in the process, she caught the attention of some in northwest Pakistan who didn’t like her message. . .



American Sister Finds Islam: I No Longer Have to Confess My Sins except to God

18 July 2012

I begin by saying that as a teenager my life was a life of independence. You know as in America people they grow up and at 18 it’s OK for them to leave home.

I always had some kind of a religion, but it wasn’t something that I had 100% followed, until I started to see other Muslims and had some exposure to Muslims. But I didn’t really understand what was the religion.

I always believed in God, always had faith, but it wasn’t the right faith. It wasn’t something that completed how I felt.

So with my search for truth, which was what it was, I actually attended many lessons about Islam and read many books and had many friends from all over the world. And one day when I was just at a wedding actually for one of my husband’s relatives, the Imam asked me if I wanted to convert to Islam. Actually I knew in my heart before that that I accepted Islam, but I didn’t actually profess it verbally, so that day I actually became a Muslim. It was July 23rd 1983.

I believe in Islam because of the things that confused me in the past, the confusion has gone. Number one about confession as I said. I no longer have to confess my sins to anyone except to Allah.

Full report at:



Women of South Sudan struggle to meet basic needs during pregnancy

July 17, 2012

SOUTH SUDAN, AFRICA: In a steaming hot room in South Sudan’s main hospital, women puffing and wailing from labor pains squeeze up next to each other in a maternity ward with just 8 beds. But more than 90 percent of births in South Sudan happen without the help of a skilled birth attendant, and more than 2,000 women die for every 100,000 live births.  This makes South Sudan one of the most dangerous places in the world to have a baby.

A year after independence, South Sudan is still battling a lack of healthcare staff personnel as well as resources as it tries to end its distinction of having the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.

The United Nations’ Population Fund (UNFPA) is one of the main agencies trying to combat maternal mortality.  But in a country ravaged by more than five decades of civil war until independence from Sudan last year, aid agencies, like the nation, are struggling with the basics.

With no room left in the maternity unit, 22-year-old Nancy Francisco lies in a nearby ward getting ready to deliver her third baby. She says that she has decided to come to a hospital because at home, there could be complications such as bleeding. She says she doesn’t know anyone that has died at home, but she has heard about that happening.

Full report at:



For Syrian Girls Learning the Quran, Knowledge Is Power


July 19, 2012

Most of us who have grown up in secular, Western society, says filmmaker Laura Nix, "Have really only seen two narratives about Muslim women." There are the women who are being oppressed by Islam, the honour killings for instance, or the women who are rejecting their religion.

But a half dozen years ago, her friend and fellow filmmaker Julia Meltzer was living in Damascus, Syria's ancient capital city, on a Fulbright fellowship, and had a friend who was studying the Koran at a local mosque. Her teacher was a wife and mother of three named Houda al-Habash, who was teaching young girls the Koran during the summer months in a mosque. Meltzer says Nix, "was struck by what a special place it was."

Full report at:



Women of faith bond over meal

By Safiya Ravat

 July 19, 2012

For the third time, the Islamic call to prayer will echo off the magnificent stained-glass windows depicting the Last Supper at the Christ Church Cathedral - alerting adherents to the arrival of sunset and the end of the day's fast.

Today marks the start of Ramadan, the month of fasting, when for 30 days Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and sexual activities from sunrise until sunset.

More than three dozen Muslim women, adorned in pink, will share their lives and experiences with women of other faiths over "Iftar" - the meal for breaking the fast - at the Third Annual Pink Iftar at 7 p.m. Aug. 9 at the cathedral in downtown Houston.

The event is a unique women-only interfaith program that works to teach non-Muslims about the faith, said Kafah Bachari Manna, co-founder of the Pink Iftar.

The Iranian-American writer and attorney said she and other American Muslims became frustrated about the negative perception of people of their faith since Sept. 11, 2001.

"We can continue to be frustrated privately," she said, "but unless we stand up and say something, we really are just contributing to the misconception through our silence. We need the chance to speak on our own terms about who we are … and create our own narrative about our lives."

Full report at:



Peace Through Business program helps Afghan, Rwandan women build business skills


July 20, 2012

Fifteen women from Afghanistan and Rwanda visited the United States this week as part of the Peace Through Business program’s mentorship initiative.

Freshta Hazeq isn’t used to other business owners sharing knowledge with her. More often, her competitors threaten to kill her.

Hazeq, who runs the only female-owned printing company in Afghanistan, wants to change the attitude that women in her country must stick to domestic pursuits.

With that in mind, she has spent this week at Impressions Printing in Oklahoma City, learning business skills she can take home.

She is one of 60 women participating in this year’s Peace Through Business program, an Oklahoma City-based initiative created to give women in war-torn countries the skills to increase their economic opportunities.

Hazeq said her mentors at Impressions were surprisingly open with her about how to solve printing, sales and marketing issues. They gave her the chance to attend executive meetings and interact with their clients.

Full report at:



Saudi progress brings women athletes to 2012 Summer Olympic Games for first time

July 19, 2012

SAUDI ARABIA: For decades now, most Muslim-majority countries have allowed women to play and compete in sports, and have had female athletes compete in the Olympics. Today Saudi Arabia is following suit.

Saudi Arabia announced on 12 July, just two weeks before the start of the Olympics, that it will send two women to compete in judo and track and field, making Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and Sarah Attar the first Saudi women to compete in the Olympic games.

The announcement came after months of pressure on Saudi Arabia and negotiations between it and the International Olympics Committee. Because of the lack of Saudi women competitors, the entire Saudi national team was threatened with being barred from participating in the games. For Saudi Arabia, a country that has banned its women and girls from playing sports, finding women with Olympic level training was a long stretch. Only a few days before this announcement, the Saudi National Olympic Committee had told the press that it could not find a single woman qualified to compete.

Full report at: