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Pakistani Sister in Disputed Marriage Gunned Down In Court by Her Lawyer Brother

New Age Islam News Bureau

6 Aug 2012 

 Veena Malik back as host on special Ramzan show

 Tunisia's Draft Blasphemy Laws Brand Women 'Complementary' To Men

 Acid Attacks on Women Rise in Macho-Cultured Colombia

 Acid Attacks, Poison: What Afghan Girls Risk By Going to School

 Fiza Mohammad, estranged wife of ex-Haryana deputy CM, found dead

 Saudi female athlete's father to act against insults

 Spotlight On Hijab and Bikini at the London Olympics

 Olympics: Lone runner hopes to inspire UAE women athletes

 Women Can Choose To Wear The Burqa – But Can They Choose Not To?

 Pakistan: Minor girl kidnapped

 Bihar Twins Won’t Take AIIMS ‘Risk’, Parents

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Pakistani Sister in Disputed Marriage Gunned Down In Court by Her Lawyer Brother





Pakistani Sister in Disputed Marriage Gunned Down In Court by Her Lawyer Brother

Jon Boone

5 August 2012

The latest 'honour killing' in Hyderabad has shocked people because the family is middle class and it happened in open court

So-called honour killings by families who believe their daughters have disgraced them are increasingly common in Pakistan. But the gunning down last week of a woman by her brother, a lawyer, in front of dozens of witnesses in a packed courtroom in the bustling city of Hyderabad marks an alarming new low.

The family of 22 year-old Raheela Sehto had already made their fury at her marriage to Zulfiqar Sehto – a love match struck without their permission – abundantly clear. They reacted by filing a claim with local police that their daughter had been kidnapped by her 30-year-old husband, a life-long neighbour who had wooed Raheela over the years, although largely through clandestine mobile phone conversations.

Her uncle had tried to throttle her with a scarf at an earlier appearance at the high court in Hyderabad in July. The couple had petitioned the court for its protection and to try and have the kidnapping charges thrown out.

But Sehto, a university graduate working for the local electricity company, said they felt they had no reason to fear for their lives in court, even when in the earlier part of the morning he was sitting almost directly in front of his wife's eventual killer, Javed Iqbal Shaikh, her brother.

Shortly after the two judges had returned to their seats after a break, Shaikh, dressed in the black suit and tie of his profession, produced a gun he had smuggled into court, lunged at Raheela and shot her point-blank in the left side of the head.

"Before she fell to the ground, my wife was looking straight at me," said Sehto. The gunman, Shaikh, then tried to shoot Sehto, but was overpowered by police.

Although furious families have succeeded in killing their daughters in police custody before, it is the first time such an incident has occurred in open court.

The killer managed to evade security checks, including two sets of metal detectors and body searches, because he was one of the country's obstreperous lawyers – an entitled group that has been known to assault policemen violently.

"The lawyers, they don't like to be searched," said Amjad Shaikh, a police superintendent in Hyderabad, the main city in Pakistan's southern province of Sindh. "Security is a little bit of a problem there."

Apparently unrepentant, Shaikh gave interviews to journalists later, while in custody, saying he had "lost my mind".

"I did that in rage because she had dishonoured the family," he said to a Pakistani newspaper. Four other family members who accompanied him in court have also been charged over the killing.

"Everyone is very shocked by this because it happened in an educated family," said the police officer. "Normally, honour killings happen in the rural areas where people are not educated."

In the countryside such crimes can even be given the imprimatur of local "jirgas", informal and illegal justice systems run by communities that enforce tribal lore.

The superintendent added that the involvement of the Shaikhs was also unusual, saying they are known for being "peaceful".

The Shaikhs of Sindh, originally migrants from neighbouring Punjab, tend to enjoy high levels of education, are traditionally involved in trade and are little connected with tribal custom.

According to the latest survey of violence against women by the Aurat Foundation, a rights group, there were 2,341 honour killings in 2011 in Pakistan – a 27% jump on the year before. The report also said there were more than 8,000 abductions and 3,461 rapes and gang rapes.

But the figures were just "the tip of the iceberg", it warned, saying researchers relied on those cases that were reported in the media only.

Amar Sindhu, a professor of philosophy at Sindh University and a women's rights activist, said the phenomenon was less to do with "cultural and social practices" and more to do with "the complete absence of the rule of law".

"Even in the 19th-century, the colonial authorities were able to reduce these crimes by enforcing laws when social, cultural and religious practices were just as male dominated and anti-woman as they are today," she said.

Sehto struggled to speak as he described the loss of his young wife, whom he had known for almost his entire life, growing up in the small town of Behlani.

"She was my neighbour and we went to each other's home since we were children," he said. "We began to fall in love more than 18 months ago, but they kept refusing my family's request to marry her."

Raheela agreed to elope with Sehto only after her father attempted to marry her off to a Shaikh from Punjab whom she did not know, he said.

His family has now left Behlani, and he said he will never return.

"All I want is justice, I want the court to convict Javed and his accomplices with the death penalty," he said.



Veena Malik back as host on special Ramzan show

Aug 6, 2012

MUMBAI: Pakistani model-actress Veena Malik is back as the host of the special show prepared for the holy month of Ramzan.

The channel had previously decided to cancel the show featuring the Malik following a public outcry.

The 28-year-old, who rose to prominence in India after participating in reality TV show Bigg Boss will host Hero TV's 'Astaghfar'.

"I am very happy that my show 'Astaghfar' is going to be on air I thank Allah for giving me such opportunity to host this show. It is the love of the people there that has brought me back on the show," Malik said in a statement.

The show is already getting high TRP's and the audience has started appreciating the show.



Tunisia's draft blasphemy laws brand women 'complementary' to men

Alice Fordham

Aug 6, 2012

TUNIS // Tunisian politicians have provoked outrage by debating draft laws that would impose prison sentences for vaguely defined acts of blasphemy and approving wording in the country's new constitution that says women are "complementary" to men.

The clash between the Islamist-dominated interim government and those who fear that rights and freedoms are being eroded is the latest struggle in the battle to redefine Tunisia's political and cultural landscape after the 23-year rule of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was deposed last year.

"Bad day at the Commission of Rights and Freedoms," read a note posted last week on the Facebook page of Selma Mabrouk, a member of the centrist Ettakatol party and the parliamentary committee tasked with drafting a new constitution. The ruling, she said, "seems to break completely with the idea of equality of the sexes".

The panel approved an article to the new constitution under the principle that a woman is a "complement with the man in the family and an associate to the man in the development of the country", according to Ms Mabrouk's August 1 Facebook post.

The wording was passed by a 12-8 vote, with 9 of those in favour coming from Ennahda, the moderate Islamist political party. Its passage does not mean that the formulation has become law. The article must must be approved by another parliamentary committee and the entire new constitution put to a public referendum.

Though not the final word, the ruling drew widespread criticism.

Writing on the Nawaat website, which describes itself as an independent, collective blog, Wafa Ben Hassine, a Tunisian-American activist, said: "By defining women as 'complementary', we rob from the potential of Tunisian women - both within society and within themselves."

Ennahda prompted further concerns last week when it introduced a draft law that would criminalise offenses against "sacred values".

Human Rights Watch said the proposed anti-blasphemy legislation threatens freedom of expression, citing proposed prison terms and fines for insulting "the sanctity of religion".

The watchdog raised concern that "broadly defined" offences would restrict freedom of speech.

"If passed, this draft law would introduce a new form of censorship in a country that suffered from so much censorship under the ousted president," said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director, in a statement issue on Friday.

The bill will be debated by the National Constituent Assembly, in what is likely to be a tense discussion.

In June, there were nationwide riots after some Muslims alerted religious leaders and their Facebook friends to the presence of artworks in a gallery in the upscale La Marsa suburb of Tunis that in their view seemed to question religion's role in society. The artwork included images of veiled women hanging from punching bags in a boxing ring.

The ensuing row saw government ministers condemning religious leaders for inciting violence but also calling for regulation to control the content of artwork. This infuriated artists, some of whom had received death threats for their role in the exhibition.

"I think the society is divided on the issue of the role of religion of Tunisia almost equally," said Radwan Masmoudi of Tunis's Centre for the study of Islam and Democracy. "About half of Tunisians consider Islam as a complete way of life, but there is another half of the Tunisian people who are more secular, who say religion is a personal matter that should not interfere with politics."

"This," he added, "is the historic compromise which must be made as we are writing a new constitution ... it's a very very difficult question and it's not surprising that it has come to the fore."



Acid attacks on women rise in macho-cultured Colombia

Juan Forero

Aug 6, 2012

BOGOTA, Colombia - Every glance at a mirror transports Consuelo Cordoba to the moment when her boyfriend doused her with a skin-searing acid that obliterated her face, leaving her with gruesome wounds that will never heal.

The chemical burned off her ear, melted her eye, ate through her lower face and ruined her teeth. She now wears a skin-tight elastic mask, breathes through a strawlike tube that protrudes from her nose and walks the streets looking "like a monster," as she put it.

"I would like to go to sleep today and not wake up tomorrow," she said. "The truth is, life is too hard, and I am alone."

A cheap and quick way of destroying a woman's life, acid attacks in India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have received widespread attention in recent years, with a documentary about victims in Pakistan winning an Oscar this year. While the gruesome assaults have been rare in the West, a rising number of attacks in Colombia has alarmed prosecutors and public health officials and terrified women. Dozens of such attacks, in which assailants soak their victims with sulfuric or nitric acids, are believed to take place here each year.

The precise reason for the spike here - and not in, say, neighboring Peru - is not known. But women's rights advocates in Colombia talk about an epidemic of violence against women, from spouse- battering cases so extreme they make the nightly news to reports of illegal armed groups using rape as a weapon in a murky rural conflict.

"Sometimes in the West we make fast judgments and say, 'Look how terrible they treat women in the East,' and we don't look first at ourselves," said Monica Roa, the Bogota-based international programs director of Women's Link Worldwide, a rights group. "The violence here may be different, but it emanates from the same place. This is a culture where machismo reigns, where men do what they want to do."

If a woman is attacked over a dowry in India or because she ventured outside without a veil in Pakistan, in Colombia a woman might be attacked because of sheer rage over her independence or even by a disturbed man she doesn't know.

That's what happened in 2004 to Maria Cuervo when a complete stranger shouted, "This is so you don't think you're so pretty" and drenched her face with acid.

Mostly, though, a jilted boyfriend or a husband intoxicated with jealousy is behind the attack.

"He had hit me because of jealousy, so I ended it," Erica Vanessa Vargas, a slight, soft-spoken woman of 20, said of the day she ended her relationship with a boyfriend four years ago. "He then said, 'If you're not mine, then no one will have you.' "

Her former boyfriend paid a small boy $1.75 to throw acid at her - changing the course of a young life. "I stopped going to school, I can't work, I can't depend on my own self," said Vargas, wearing a scarf to shield her scarred neck and chin.

The statistics on acid attacks are hazy in Colombia, as in other countries where they take place.

Bogota city councilwoman Olga Rubio, a victims' advocate, said about 100 of the assaults have taken place so far this year across Colombia. It is a pace that would easily surpass last year's total of 150.

The state's forensic science institute registers more than eight cases a month, though most involve male victims, many of whom were assaulted by muggers using acid as a weapon.



Acid Attacks, Poison: What Afghan Girls Risk By Going to School

By Allie Torgan, CNN

August 2, 2012

Deh'Subz, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Terrorists will stop at nothing to keep Afghan girls from receiving an education.

"People are crazy," said Razia Jan, founder of a girls' school outside Kabul. "The day we opened the school, (on) the other side of town, they threw hand grenades in a girls' school, and 100 girls were killed.

"Every day, you hear that somebody's thrown acid at a girl's face ... or they poison their water."

There were at least 185 documented attacks on schools and hospitals in Afghanistan last year, according to the United Nations. The majority were attributed to armed groups opposed to girls' education.

"It is heartbreaking to see the way these terrorists treat ... women," said Jan, 68. "In their eyes, a women is an object that they can control. They are scared that when these girls get an education, they will become aware of their rights as women and as a human being."

Despite the threat of violence, Jan continues to open the doors of her Zabuli Education Center, a two-story, 14-room building where 354 area girls are receiving a free education.

"Most of the (local) men and women are illiterate," Jan said. "Most of our students are the first generation of girls to get educated."

Seven small villages make up Deh'Subz, where the school is located. Though Deh'Subz is not Taliban-controlled, Jan has still found it difficult to change the deep-rooted stigma against women's education.

On the evening before the school opened in 2008, four men paid her a visit.

"They said, 'This is your last chance ... to change this school into a boys' school, because the backbone of Afghanistan is our boys,' " Jan recalled. "I just turned around and I told them, 'Excuse me. The women are the eyesight of Afghanistan, and unfortunately you all are blind. And I really want to give you some sight.' "

Jan has not seen the men since.

"You can't be afraid of people," she said. "You have to be able to say 'no.' Maybe because I'm old, the men are kind of scared of me, and they don't argue with me."

The Zabuli Education Center teaches kindergarten through eighth grade. Without her school, Jan says, many of the students would not be able to receive an education.

"When we opened the school in 2008 and I had these students coming to register, 90% of them could not write their name. And they were 12- and 14-year-old girls," Jan said. "Now, they all can read and write."

Jan's school teaches math, science, religion and three languages: English, Farsi and Pashto. It recently added a computer lab with Internet access.

"They can touch the world just sitting in this house," Jan said. "The knowledge is something that nobody can steal from them."

To shield the students from attacks, Jan has built a new stone wall to surround the school. She also employs staff and guards who serve as human guinea pigs of sorts.

"The principal and the guard, they test the water every day," Jan said. "They will drink from the well. If it's OK, they'll wait. ... Then they'll fill (the) coolers and bring it to the classroom."

Jan says she is so scared of poisoning that school staff members accompany children to the bathroom and make sure the children don't drink water from the faucet. Additionally, the day guard arrives early each morning to check for any gas or poison that might be leaked inside the classrooms. The guard opens doors and windows and checks the air quality before any children are allowed to enter.

"People are so much against girls getting educated," Jan said. "So we have to do these precautions."

Born in Afghanistan in the 1940s, Jan traveled to the United States in 1970 to attend college. Much of her family was killed or fled Afghanistan during the Russian invasion. She stayed in the U.S., raised a son and opened a small tailoring business. She became an American citizen in 1990.

Jan was always involved in various philanthropic efforts and community organizations in Duxbury, Massachusetts. She worked for many years to forge connections between Afghans and Americans.

Then the events of September 11 shook her to the core.

"I was really affected personally by what happened to the innocent in the U.S.," she said. "It's something that you cannot imagine for a human being to do to other human beings."

Almost overnight, Jan turned her small store into a workshop and launched an exhaustive campaign to help victims, first responders, U.S. soldiers and Afghan children. Jan and community volunteers sent 400 homemade blankets to rescue workers at ground zero and assembled and shipped nearly 200 care packages for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. When she heard that U.S. soldiers needed shoes to distribute to Afghan children, Jan and her volunteers sent them more than 30,000 boxes of shoes.

Still, in the back of her mind was a bigger dream. On a visit to her homeland in 2002, she noticed that women and girls were struggling from years of Taliban control.

"I saw that the girls had been the most oppressed," she said. "The Taliban regime was very brutal, brutal in the way that the woman had no place in their book. The woman had no right. No say in anything."

Jan said that while her life in America was fulfilling and rich, her dream was "to do something for Afghanistan and to educate the girls."

So in 2004, she began searching for land on which to build a school. In 2005, she began fundraising through her Massachusetts-based nonprofit, Razia's Ray of Hope. Then, on a visit to Afghanistan, Jan was able to negotiate with the Ministry of Education to secure the land where the Zabuli Education Center now stands.

"After five years now, (the men) are shoulder to shoulder with me, which is such a great thing," Jan said. "It's unbelievable how much they are proud of the girls."

The school is entirely free. Jan says it costs $300 to teach each girl for an entire year. Those fees are covered by donations to her nonprofit.

Although she isn't there every day of the week, Jan spends as much time at the school as possible. She meets with her students' fathers and grandfathers two or three times a year to address any issues and make sure she still has their buy-in. She also deals with community elders and locals to ensure that the school has local support.

Jan, who takes no money for her work with the school, believes the education her students receive will benefit not only future generations of Afghan women but the country as a whole.

"My school is very small. It's nothing big. But for this to start here, I think it's like a fire. And I think it will grow," she said.

"I hope that one day these girls ... will come back and teach, because I'm not going to be there all my life. I want to make this school something that will last 100 years from now."

Want to get involved? Check out the Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation website at and see how to help.



Fiza Mohammad, estranged wife of ex-Haryana deputy CM found dead

Manveer Saini

Aug 6, 2012

CHANDIGARH : Mystery shrouds the death of Fiza Mohammad aka Anuradha Bali, an ex-wife of former Haryana deputy chief minister Chandermohan, who was found dead at her Sector 48 residence here on Monday morning.

Chandermohan had changed his name to Chand Mohammad to marry Fiza, a former assistant advocate general of Haryana.

Fiza Mohammad's highly decomposed body was found in a ground floor bedroom with maggots crawling over it, said the police.

Police said preliminary inquiry showed that she may have died four to five days back.

"At this stage nothing can be stated on whether it is a case of suicide," the police said.

The police opened the house after neighbours reported foul smell coming from there.

Anuradha Bali, who was in her early 40s, was a former law officer of Haryana government and had shot into prominence when she eloped with Chandermohan, the then deputy chief minister of Haryana in the month of December 2008.

Full report at:



Saudi Female Athlete's Father to Act against Insults

Aug 6, 2012

The father of the first ever Saudi female to compete at the Olympic Games has vowed to sue those who insulted his daughter for challenging strict traditions that prevented women from participating.

The father of Wojdan Shaherkani, who stole the limelight at the London Olympics despite lasting only 82 seconds on the mat before being defeated, told Al-Sharq daily that he wrote to the interior minister with copies of insults made on the Twitter microblogging website.

"I have sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Interior Prince Ahmed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz with copies of all attacks made on Twitter," said Ali Seraj Shaherkani.

A lawyer has been hired to sue those who attacked his daughter, he said.

The judo international referee said he had no problem with those who criticised the performance of his teenage daughter, who despite being swiftly beaten by Puerto Rico's Melissa Mojica left the stadium to a standing ovation.

Full report at:



Spotlight On Hijab and Bikini at the London Olympics

 AUGUST 06, 2012

Faridah Hameed

THE hijab and bikini may seem like unlikely bedfellows when it comes to women’s wear, but at the London Olympics, they are sharing the spotlight on religion and sex and its role in sports.

From the hijab-wearing female athletes of Saudi Arabia to the bikini-wearing athletes from sunny California, how little or how much skin women show at the Olympics is big news?

What women wear has taken a hiatus from the fashion capitals of the world, and taken a seat at the Olympic stadium.

There is no argument London 2012 is historic for women athletes.

For the first time in the history of the Games, women are competing in all the same events as men.

For the first time, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei have included women athletes in their contingents.

Full report at:



Olympics: Lone runner hopes to inspire UAE women athletes

Paul Radley

Aug 5, 2012

LONDON // Bethlem Desaleyn, the Ethiopian-born runner who will become the UAE's first female track Olympian today, says she wants to inspire Emirati women to take up running.

The 20 year old from Addis Ababa represents the UAE, but still lives and trains in Ethiopia. As such, she is not short on role models of her own in her chosen field.

She lists Derartu Tulu's gold medal run in the 10,000 metres at the Sydney Games in 2000 - less than a year after she had given birth - as her earliest Olympic memory.

Ethiopia won the 39th medal - and 19th gold - of its Olympic history when Tiki Gelana crossed first in the women's marathon around the streets of London yesterday. Every one of them has come in running events of 3,000m or longer.

Inspiring a dynasty like that would be a big task for a runner whose main aim is to make it out of her first round. But Desaleyn is hoping she can at least spark an interest in the sport among UAE nationals by her appearance at the Games.

Full report at:



Women Can Choose To Wear The Burqa – But Can They Choose Not To?

06 Aug 2012

 By Anne Marie Waters

"Exactly what choice does an 11-year-old girl have when her designated school uniform is a magician's black cloth that conceals her from the world and never brings her back?"

This was the question posed by Allison Pearson in her article 'We Too Should Ban the Burqa' in the Telegraph last year. She was referring to an East Midlands school in which, from the age of 11, young girls are obliged to cover themselves entirely – including their face – with the Islamic niqab.

Never mind the practical nightmare this must present (how does anyone know who anyone is?), it puts paid to the idea that this garment is forever and always worn by "choice". It is utterly ludicrous to suggest that these young girls would all have chosen to wear this thing of their own volition. Why then isn't there a mass of 11 year olds insisting on covering their faces? Why just these girls? Why do girls in non-Islamist schools never choose to do this? It strikes me as odd that this doesn't happen if we are talking about genuine choice (just as it strikes me as odd that there isn't a single country in the world - that is not dominated by Islamism - where women spontaneously choose to cover themselves from head to toe).

Full report at:



Pakistan: Minor girl kidnapped

Aug 6, 2012

Islamabad: In a shocking incident, a four-year-old girl was reportedly kidnapped on Sunday from near her house situated next to Shahzad Town Police Station. The unidentified kidnappers took away the girl from the Islamabad area of Shahzad Town at around 10 am.

The family members of four-year-old Amahil claimed that two men kidnapped her when she was going to call her brother who was visiting the neighbours at the time. People from the area told Daily Times that two men riding a motorbike came in Street No 11 and whisked away the girl. They also added that kidnappers were young boys who were wearing yellow and grey dresses.

It is pertinent to mention that some days ago unidentified men had kidnapped a small child from the same area. They kidnappers tortured the boy and later threw him near his home. The disturbed family feared Amahil might have been kidnapped for ransom. The locals have in the meantime claimed that cases of kidnapping and robberies by unidentified men and women have increased in the area.\08\06\story_6-8-2012_pg11_6



Bihar Twins Won’t Take AIIMS ‘Risk’, Parents

By Giridhar Jha

THE PARENTS of Patna’s conjoined twins Saba and Farah have refused to take their daughters to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences ( AIIMS) in Delhi, fearing that the surgery to separate them may risk their lives.

The Supreme Court had on Monday directed the Bihar government to bring the 16- year- old twins to AIIMS for treatment in an air ambulance within 10 days.

However, the parents — Shakeel Ahmad and Rabia Khatoon — have told a health department team that they would not like to send their daughters to AIIMS. “We want that the doctors should treat them in Patna itself and provide right medicines to alleviate their sufferings,” Rabia said at their Samanpura home on Saturday.

A team of officials from the Patna civil surgeon office visited the twins’ home on Friday evening to get the consent of their parents for taking them to AIIMS, in keeping with the directive of the apex court. On the reluctance of their parents on sending Saba and Farah to AIIMS, the twins’ elder brother Tamanna said they did not want surgery to be conducted on them.

Full report at: Mail Today