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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 5 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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16-Year-Old Girl Set On Fire as 'Punishment' By Abbottabad Jirga, Pakistan

New Age Islam News Bureau

5 May 2016

Members of a tribal council accused of ordering the burning death of a 16 year old girl are shown to the media after they were arrested by police in Donga Gali, outside Abbottabad, Pakistan May 5, 2016. © Online News / Reuters


 'Essential To See Each Other': Danish School Bans Muslim Students From Wearing Niqab

 Women Should Not Travel More Than 48 Miles without a Male Escort – UK Muslim Group

 Female Yazidi and Kurdish Fighters Take Up Arms against Islamic State Militants

 California Police Being Sued After Forcing a Muslim Woman to Remove Headscarf

 ‘There Aren’t Many Women Animators in Pakistan’ Says Burka Avenger's Komal Butt

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





16-year-old girl set on fire as 'punishment' by Abbottabad jirga

Thu May 05 2016

ABBOTTABAD: The chilling murder of a 16-year-old girl strangled and set on fire in Galyat's Makol village has been linked to the orders given by a local jirga last week, police said Thursday.

Abbottabad police said a 15-member jirga called by the Makol village councillor Pervez ordered for the deceased, Amber, to be killed and set on fire as punishment for helping her friend escape the village to marry of her free will. Thirteen members have been arrested and due to appear before an anti-terrorism court, including the victim's mother, said police.

When the jirga ended after a six-hour meeting on April 28, the girl was taken from her home to an abandoned house where she was drugged, killed, and placed in the backseat of a parked van. The van was then doused with petrol and set on fire.

The charred body of the teenage girl was found in a torched Suzuki van in Donga Gali on Friday. Police recovered the drugs from the abandoned house near the site, as well as the can of petrol used to start the fire.

The body was tied to the seat of the vehicle, which was parked at a bus stop in the village. Another vehicle parked near the gutted van was also damaged. Police moved the body to Ayub Medical Complex for an autopsy.

The girl was later identified as the daughter of Riasat, a labourer who works in Balochistan’s Gadani area.

A police official told Dawn that the fire on the bus had occurred at 3am.

According to District Police Officer (DPO) Khurram Rasheed, a couple eloped and left Makol April 23 for Abbottabad with the girl’s help and a driver named Naseer. A jirga was called at Naseer’s home when the couple could not be found.

DPO Rasheed said the case will be tried by an Anti-Terrorism Court and "exemplary punishment" will be recommended by the police.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MPA Shaukat Yousafzai told DawnNews "strict action" will taken against the jirga which ordered the brutal ruling. "This is not a part of KP's culture," he said.

"This is the first time an incident of this type has taken place."

He hailed the role of the local police for solving a case "that shook the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa" and lauded them for taking the investigation forward in a professional manner.

A jirga is a local community council composed of local elders and notables and a traditional dispute resolution forum.



'Essential to see each other': Danish school bans Muslim students from wearing niqab

5 May, 2016 13:50

An adult education center in a Copenhagen suburb has told six Muslim students that they can no longer attend classes unless they remove the niqab.

The controversial move is an effort to promote “free and unhindered communication” which would be compromised by the face veils, VUC Lyngby school wrote on its Facebook page.

“Teaching takes place by means of communication, and as a teacher you can better understand your impact if you can see that what you’re saying is being received by the student. And this cannot be done if they’re wearing a niqab,” deputy headteacher Inge Voller told Metroxpress.

According to the school, the rules were changed last autumn to no longer allow students to cover their faces during classes. However, it came into the spotlight this week, after the school posted it on its Facebook page.

The school has stressed that “everyone is welcome” at the institution. It said that while no one has been thrown out of class for wearing a niqab, the policy will apply to all future students.

The six women who were told they would not be able to attend future classes while wearing the niqab were offered the chance to follow the curriculum via e-learning.

VUC Lyngby said that the move was not religiously motivated.

“This isn’t a question of religion or ethnicity but on learning, as we are an educational institution. It’s about how to create the best learning and we believe you can do that best when you can communicate openly with one another,” school official Inge Voller said.

Although the announcement on the school's Facebook page received some criticism, opinion polls conducted by Metroxpress and Ekstra Bladet show that an overwhelming majority of the newspapers' readers support the decision.

Denmark's ruling Venstre party has also expressed its support, along with the Conservatives and Danish People's Party (DF).

“It is essential in our society that we can see each other and interpret each other when we talk together,” DF spokesman Martin Henriksen told Ritzau news agency.

DF has long been a strong advocate for a nationwide ban on the niqab.

“We want a total ban except for within one’s private home. One can do whatever they want there,” Henriksen said.

France and Belgium are so far the only two countries to place a nationwide ban on the niqab. The burqa and nijab have been banned in parts of Switzerland and Italy. They were also banned in parts of Spain, but that decision was later dropped.



Women Should Not Travel More Than 48 Miles Without A Male Escort – UK Muslim group

May 04 2016

Women should not be allowed to go on long journeys without a male chaperone a British Muslim group has advised followers.

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, condemned the advice from Blackburn Muslim Association as “disgraceful” and said such views had “no place” in modern Britain.

Instructions from the association’s “Department of Theology” insist that it is “not permissible” for a woman to go more than 48 miles – deemed to be the equivalent of three days walk - without her husband or a close male relative.

It also stipulates that men must grow beards and advises women to cover their faces.

The rulings are contained in a question and answer section of the group’s site which offers offer “solutions and answers” to social, religious and financial matters from Sharia teaching, accompanied by the catchphrase: “Allah knows best.”

The group is listed as an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and claims on its website to have received funding from its local council in the past.

But leading Muslim scholars, including a prominent adviser to the MCB, rejected the guidance as “offensive in this day and age” while the National Secular Society condemned it as “almost medieval”.

The row comes amid increasingly acrimonious debate about religious identity and race in the run-up to today’s local and mayoral elections.

Ms Greening’s intervention came following a question from David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth, during development questions in the Commons.

“Frankly the view that they expressed is disgraceful and unacceptable. It has no place in Britain and is contrary to our British values”

Justine Greening

He asked if efforts to improve sexual equality “would be made easier if organisations like the Blackburn Muslim Association were not putting out information to people that women should not be allowed to travel more than 48 miles without a chaperone?”

She replied that she had seen the website, adding: “Frankly the view that they expressed on it is disgraceful and unacceptable.

“It has no place in Britain and is contrary to our British values and I think the Blackburn Muslim Association should very clearly and publicly withdraw those comments.”

Neither the Blackburn Muslim Association not the Muslim Council of Britain commented officially last night.

“I believe this is offensive in this day and age that such a restriction should be placed on any woman against her wishes”

Dr Sheik Howjat Ramzy

But Dr Sheik Howjat Ramzy, an Oxford-based scholar and former head of the MCB’s education committee said: “I believe this is offensive in this day and age that such a restriction should be placed on any woman against her wishes.

“This practice was a very old tradition which had been followed by some when there was no security for women and when women were at risk of being abducted when travelling alone. - this was a tradition at the very beginning of Islam.

“I would think no Muslim man has the right to impose these restrictions of movement. Women should be free to go where they please.

“I believe they should withdraw this statement and not degrade women. Islam gives great freedom to women – travel is part of that freedom.”

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “Women are entitled to their own autonomy and freedom of movement; any attempt to limit this must be condemned roundly by all sectors of society.

“We hope that this almost medieval attitude to women is an isolated case, but if the problem unfortunately gains ground, it may become necessary to consider what sanctions are appropriate against those restricting others’ freedoms.”

Lord Green, the founder of the think-tank Migration Watch UK, said: “There is no place in our society for restrictions of this kind on the freedom of women.

“Muslim leaders would do well to encourage their followers to integrate with our society rather than cut themselves off.”

Blackburn has the third highest percentage of Muslims, after Tower Hamlets and Newham in east London.



Female Yazidi and Kurdish fighters take up arms against Islamic State militants

Thu, May 5, 2016

In August 2014, the Islamic State (Isis) captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, killing between 2,000-5,000 Yazidi men, while thousands of Yazidi women were sold and hundreds of Yazidi children were killed while attempting to flee. According to a member of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, the IS (Daesh) campaign against Sinjar was to push the Kurds out of the Yazidi areas and to bring in those who were obedient to the militants. What followed were the US airstrikes on Isis units and convoys in northern Iraq, leading to a war of several countries against the Islamic State militants.

Yet in a conservative society where women are often expected to stay at home, there are a handful who say gender does not keep them from fearing or entering battle. What that means for these women, to put on military uniform and carry a gun is revenge – for the women raped, beaten and executed by the jihadist militants.

The 30-women unit is made up of Yazidis and Kurds from Iraq and Syria who have taken up arms against the militants, and have played an important role in pushing back Isis in northern Iraq.

Yazidi female fighter Asema Dahir is 21 years old. At a checkpoint near a front line north of Mosul, Iraq, she told Reuters how the Sinjar jihadi invasion saw the capture of many people who she knew. "They took eight of my neighbours and I saw they were killing the children," she said. "They killed my uncle and took my cousin's wife, who had only just married eight days earlier," she continued.

The bride, like thousands of other Yazidi women, is still being held by the militants.

"If a man can carry a weapon, a woman can do the same," Haseba Nauzad the unit's 24-year-old commander, told Reuters. "The men are inspired to fight harder when they see women standing in the same battlefield as them."

When the Islamic State announced its so-called caliphate over certain areas that included traditional Kurdish lands, Nauzad was living with her husband in Turkey. "I saw them raping my Kurdish sisters and I couldn't accept this injustice," she said. Nauzad's husband wanted to flee to Europe, but she insisted that she was going to go home and fight. Nauzad has not heard from him since he reached Germany.

The women in the unit are convinced Islamic State militants are scared of women fighters "because they think if they are killed by a woman, they will not go to heaven," Nauzad said.

"This story encourages more women to join the fight."



California police being sued after forcing a Muslim woman to remove headscarf

04 May, 2016

Kirsty Powell, an African-American Muslim woman, is suing the Long Beach California police. An officer reportedly forcibly removed her religious headscarf during an arrest in May last year. The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Friday.

The lawsuit states that the experience has caused Powell "to suffer extreme shame, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress."


According to the complaint issued against Long Beach city and its police department, Powell and her husband were on their way home but were pulled over by two police officers.

Powell was taken into custody on two warrants. One of which was connected to her sister falsely using her identity. The other one was linked to a 2002 shoplifting incident at a grocery store.

At the police station, Powell requested for a female officer but her request was denied. She was forced to remain exposed overnight in view of other male officers and dozens of inmates, which is strictly prohibited in her religion.

Powell was told by the male officer that she was "not allowed to wear her hijab" and that policemen were "allowed to touch women."

"The manner in which Mrs. Powell was treated by LBPD officers was simply a show of authority over a woman of color who was unable to protect herself, and is another example of the type of discrimination faced by women who wear a hijab," said Yalda Satar, as quoted by the Al Arabiya. Satar is the attorney for the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who filed the suit on behalf of Powell.

"The actions taken by the Long Beach police officers were unwarranted and a serious violation of Mrs. Powell's bodily integrity," Satar continues.

Discrimination and disrespect toward the Muslim community have been unfortunately widespread. Just last Monday, a group of seven women were kicked out of Urth Caffé in Laguna Beach for being Muslims. A lawsuit has been filed against the café.



‘There aren’t many women animators in Pakistan’ says Burka Avenger's Komal Butt

Thu May 05 2016

The fourth Thursday of every April is commemorated as ‘Girls in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)’ day around the world. The day is observed in an effort to raise awareness about and encourage more women to work in ICT-related fields. To get a sense of how women working in this realm are faring, Dawn spoke to Komal Butt, a 3D animator, who has worked on Burka Avenger – one of Pakistan’s most popular animated series.'

Q: Are there a lot of women in the field?

A: There are very few women in the industry so far. For example, I was the only woman on the Burka Avenger animation team. But hopefully, with more courses being taught at women’s universities now, things will change.

I don’t think culture is the reason why there aren’t many women in technical fields. In such jobs, one often has to work harder for longer hours. I sometimes have to work past midnight to get a single scene right, and I don’t think most women want to put in that kind of work.

Q: How big is the animation industry in Pakistan?

A: Until a few years ago, no one knew a lot about animation in Pakistan. But over the past five or six years, it has become an important field and several universities such as Numl and the Fatima Jinnah Women University have started offering courses. There are also online courses, but just like any other subject, most people don’t think they will produce good animators.

But I think people who take up online animation courses are people who are really interested in learning about it and will end up being better animators than those who just ended up here.

When it comes to animation, it really does not matter where you learned the basics, because every individual ends up developing his own technique.

Online schools such as have produced excellent animators, who have gone on to work at Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks.

There are also more opportunities for animators now, with video game companies, as well as animations for advertisements. There are even a few movies in the making.

Even thogh the scope for animation has increased, there still aren’t a lot of production houses; just two or three in Islamabad, maybe three to four big ones in Karachi and even fewer in Lahore.

But more importantly, there are not that many good animators, so I think production houses have a harder time finding competent people than animators have in finding jobs.

Q: What does it take to be a good animator?

A: To be a good animator, you have to be a good observer. You have to steal everyday concepts and ideas to incorporate into your characters.

Other than knowing how to animate, you also have to be a good actor because you are the one who has to make your characters act. You are the one who decides how a hand gesture will pan out, how wide a character’s eyes will have to be when they get surprised. It is important to know how to act.

A good animator can often be found acting in front of the mirror and after we are relatively sure of how we want the character to react, we will act out the scene ourselves in front of friends and then to our co-workers.

Depending on the character you are animating, you have to put in a lot of research as well. You have to put yourself in the character’s shoes and find out everything about it so you know how they will react in different situations

For example, when working on Burka Avenger, we had to think what a 23-year-old teacher in Pakistan is usually like. She could not be too modern and she could not be too typical either.




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