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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 11 Jul 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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9 Year Old Quebec Girl Banned From Soccer Game for Wearing Hijab

New Age Islam News Bureau

11 Jul 2012 

 9 Year Old Quebec Girl Banned From Soccer Game for Wearing Hijab

 Concerns over Mosque Leader's Polygamy Post

 Afghan women protest over woman’s public execution

 Torture fear in Afghan schoolgirl ‘poisoning’ cases

 What's Really Holding Arab Women Back?

 Lack of Political Will, Funding Killing Pakistani Women

 Saudi Labour Ministry to Beef up Inspection of Women-Only Shops

 Majda first Saudi woman to specialize in oil-contaminated soil treatment

 Hurdles to Muslim women's rights

 World Muslim women assembly planned

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Afghan women protest over woman’s public execution




9 Year Old Quebec Girl Banned From Soccer Game for Wearing Hijab

By Andy Radia

July 11, 2012,

Once again, Quebec has solidified its reputation as one of Canada's most culturally intolerant provinces.

La Belle Provence went through their "reasonable accommodation" debate a few years ago and enacted legislation which essentially restricted Muslim women from wearing a Niqab when working in the public sector or doing business with government officials.

Last year, the province's National Assembly unanimously voted to bar the Sikh kirpan from the legislative buildings. (The kirpan is accommodated across Canada, including in the House of Commons and the Supreme Court of Canada.)

Now the victim of the province's collective hard-line stance against cultural 'freedoms'  is a 9 year old girl who just wanted to play soccer.

Just days after soccer's international governing body -- FIFA -- allowed Muslim female players to wear headscarves during matches, a young Quebec girl was sent off the pitch in Gatineau for wearing a hijab.

According to PostMedia News , nine year old Rayane Benatti was told to take off her headscarf "for safety reasons, before her team played  the final match of a soccer tournament on Sunday. Benatti refused and, as a result, was forced to stand on the sidelines.

"It made me feel very sad," she said Monday. "I love soccer."

Last week, FIFA's International Football Association Board (IFAB) voted to lift its hijab ban, conceding that “there is no medical literature concerning injuries as a result of wearing a headscarf."

The Quebec Soccer Federation, however, says they'll wait until IFAB specifies what types of Hijabs are allowed on the field.

"We still have to iron out exactly what kind of Hijabs can be worn to create the safest environment possible for our players, so it will take a few months to come into effect," QSF spokesperson Michel Dugas told The Gazette on Monday.

"Right now, we're looking at October at the earliest."

Athletic commissions in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia have had rules in place that specifically allow their athletes to wear Hijabs since 2005, but not in Quebec.

In 2007, an 11-year-old Ottawa girl was ejected from a soccer game in Laval, Que., after she refused to remove her hijab.

That year, a taekwondo team of Muslim girls withdrew from a tournament in Longueuil, Que., after they were told they couldn't compete in their Hijabs.

And in 2011, 15 year old Sarah Benkirane was told she could no longer referee for Quebec's Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association because she wore a headscarf.

As for Benatti , she says she's going to continue to wear her hijab.

"I decided to wear the headscarf out of love for Allah," she said.

"Some people decide not to do it because they don't have enough courage. I had the courage to do it."

All she wanted to do was play soccer.



Concerns over Mosque Leader's Polygamy Post

July 11, 2012

Aja Styles

A vulnerable Melbourne Muslim woman who was desperately seeking advice about her marriage has been told polygamy is better than divorce, it has been claimed.

The controversial Facebook post by a Preston mosque leader, which has since been pulled, has sparked controversy and calls for the woman to come forward. But there are fears she will not be found.

If your husband is telling you that he wants to take another wife and you are not doing the right thing by him, then know that he is thinking straight and using a weapon that doesn't have severe consequences.

Joumah El Matrah, executive director for Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights, said she and a number of other people wanted to provide the woman with alternative advice because "Muslim marriage is a partnership, it is not a woman serving a man".

‘‘We are deeply concerned by the advice provided by Preston Mosque; it reflects a poor understanding of marital discord in Muslim families,’’ Ms El Matrah said.


"Being only one woman specifically doesn't make it any better."

Ms El Matrah says she is deeply concerned that such advice was being given since polygamy was not legal in Australia and did not reflect the growing push against it in Islamic countries.

"Research indicates that polygamy contributes to violence in the family home and is detrimental to children, especially the boys. It creates heartache and distress for all those involved, even the men," she said.

She said her organisation was too under-resourced to conduct any research into the existence of polygamy in Australia since a lot of shame was attached to the practice and it was almost impossible to get anyone to talk about it.

"Everybody knows someone who has been in a polygamy situation but I have never met someone who has been in that kind of set-up," she said. "People won't speak to you or those people don't exist."

She said the federal government was not contributing in any way to helping root out or eradicate polygamy, except to point out that it was an illegal practice.

She said that it did not stop conservative mosques secretly pushing these views in Australia, only in this case it has been exposed.

The official website of the Preston Mosque posted the statement on its page but has since taken it down due to the backlash from Islamic groups, including from the Islamic Council of Victoria.

The statement read: "It is very important for a wife to fulfil the rights of her husband. Why? Because Allah commanded her to, after marriage Jannah is through her husband, and also the husband is your partner. A partner is someone you share with not someone who does things for you.

"If a man is saying to his wife I will marry another woman, this is far better than saying you are divorced every time he is upset.

"Now where is the problem? If a man divorces his wife three times he has destroyed his family. They can no longer return to each other. Islam only allows two divorces and returns.

"So if your husband is telling you that he wants to take another wife and you are not doing the right thing by him, then know that he is thinking straight and using a weapon that doesn't have severe consequences."

A spokesman for Preston Mosque declined to comment on the matter.



Afghan women protest over woman’s public execution

July 11, 2012,

KABUL: Dozens of Afghan women’s rights activists took to the streets Wednesday to protest against the recent public execution of a young woman for alleged adultery, which was captured in a horrific video.

The 22-year-old victim was shot dead as dozens of men cheered in a village about 100 kilometres north of the capital Kabul.

The execution was blamed by the authorities on Taliban militants and caused global outrage, with world leaders denouncing the fundamentalists, who are waging an insurgency against the Western-backed government.

“We want justice,” the protesters, almost all women, shouted as they marched from the women’s affairs ministry towards the UN headquarters in Kabul.

“The execution of the woman by the Taliban was a crime… the government must do everything to bring the culprits to justice,” parliamentarian Shinkai Karokhail, who joined the march, told AFP.

“This is the duty of the government to deliver justice.”

President Hamid Karzai condemned the killing as un-Islamic and unforgivable, while security forces have launched a manhunt for those responsible.

The commander of Nato’s 130,000 troops in Afghanistan, General John Allen, offered to help local security forces track and capture the men involved in what he called “an atrocity of unspeakable cruelty”.

Public executions of alleged adulterers were common when the Taliban were in power from 1996 until 2001, when they were ousted by a US-led invasion for harbouring Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks.



Torture fear in Afghan schoolgirl ‘poisoning’ cases

July 10, 2012

In this photograph taken on May 11, 2009, Afghan schoolgirls lie in bed after admission to hospital with symptoms of poisoning in Charikar, some 50 kms north of Kabul. – AFP

KABUL: A UN agency has expressed concern that torture may have been used to extract confessions over the alleged serial poisoning of Afghan schoolgirls, which experts say is more likely to be mass hysteria.

Sweeping arrests were made last month after the government came under pressure to act as hundreds of schoolgirls fell ill and fainted in schools in the northern province of Takhar on an almost daily basis.

The national intelligence agency, the NDS, announced at a news conference on June 6 that 15 suspects – including two schoolgirls – had confessed to being involved in poisoning the pupils.

The authorities blame Taliban insurgents notorious for their opposition to schooling for girls, saying they have poisoned water supplies or somehow gassed the pupils – winning headlines around the world.

But the human rights unit of the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has raised concerns that the confessions might be suspect.

“The UN is unaware of any forensic evidence to support the allegations that poison has been used in the affected schools,” James Rodehaver, head of UNAMA’s human rights unit, told AFP this week.

“UNAMA has made public its concerns about the use of torture in selected NDS facilities throughout the country, including Takhar, as a means to force persons suspected of insurgency activities to confess,” he said.

“It is also very concerning that NDS publicised the confessions of the suspects in the Takhar case, including of the two schoolgirls. This violates fair trial rights, including the presumption of innocence, of the accused.”

If it is shown that the confessions were forced, it is the duty of the courts to throw the confessions out as evidence, Rodehaver said.

The government denied that the suspects had been tortured.

“This is absolutely wrong, no one was tortured,” said interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

“These people were arrested with evidence and we have their confessions. In the Sari Pul case (last month) it was spray involved, and in Takhar it was mostly pills. We have that evidence.”

The World Health Organisation says there is no forensic evidence of poisoning in the cases, which were first noticed in large numbers in 2008.

Mass hysteria, properly known as mass psychogenic illness, is “the most probable cause” of the mysterious ailments, it says.

The symptoms include sudden nausea, dizziness and mass fainting episodes in which the girls are rushed to hospital, only to recover soon afterwards.

The WHO says that out of 1,634 cases in 22 schools over the past four years, no deaths have been reported.

It adds that the outbreaks appear to follow a seasonal pattern, starting in April/May, close to the school examination period, but notes that “the diagnosis of mass hysteria is still contentious”.

With no physical cause established, Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist and author, told AFP in May that the poisoning scares had “all the earmarks of mass psychogenic illness, also known as mass hysteria”.

Bartholomew said he had collected more than 600 cases of mass hysteria in schools dating back to 1566 in Europe, “and the Afghan episode certainly fits the pattern”.

“The tell-tale signs of psychogenic illness in these Afghan outbreaks include the preponderance of schoolgirls; the conspicuous absence of a toxic agent; transient, benign symptoms; rapid onset and recovery; plausible rumours; the presence of a strange odour; and anxiety generated from a wartime backdrop.”

He noted there was a history of similar cases in combat zones, listing examples from the Palestinian territories in 1983 to Soviet Georgia in 1989 and Kosovo in 1990.

The Afghan incidents came “within a larger social panic involving the fear of Taliban insurgents”, he added.

Afghanistan has been at war for the past 30 years, and according to the director of the government’s mental health department, Bashir Ahmad Sarwari, half the population suffers from mental stress caused by the conflict.

The mass hysteria phenomenon is not well understood, however, and many in Afghanistan resist the idea of a psychological cause.

The Taliban have denied responsibility for any poisoning attacks on girls’ schools, but their history makes them an easy target for officials searching for someone to blame.

Before they were toppled in a US-led invasion after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, they were notorious for their brutal suppression of women.

But now, more than three million girls attend school, according to government figures.

The United States leads a Nato force of some 130,000 troops in Afghanistan, but they are due to withdraw by the end of 2014, raising fears among Afghans that recent gains in women’s rights may be eroded.



What's Really Holding Arab Women Back?

July 10, 2012:

Mohamed Morsi's election as Egypt's president has prompted widespread fears that women will lose whatever ground they had gained. What's in store for the future?

By Nina Easton, senior editor-at-large

FORTUNE -- The name-brand polling company Gallup wants to upend Western perceptions of women's status in the Arab world with research concluding that conservative Islam is not what's preventing their economic gains. The problem, concludes Gallup's new poll, is a cultural by-product of men's high unemployment rates, low education levels, and general dissatisfaction with their lives.

That is a provocative argument, and could lend further credence to a broader case that the U.S. should bolster Egypt's fledgling democracy and struggling economy by treating the country less as a military- or foreign-aid ward and more as a trading partner. An open and thriving economy would mean more tolerance for women at work. But Gallup's conclusions face a wall of scepticism -- with good reason.

Why should American citizens and U.S. businesses care either way? Because a growing body of global research shows that opening economic opportunities for women not only contributes to more peaceful and stable societies, it also adds significantly to a country's economic growth. It's is hard to imagine a thriving Arab Middle East in the future without women -- who comprised a third of Egypt's Jan. 25, 2011 protesters -- more fully in the picture. One study predicted that average household incomes could climb as much as 25% if women shared in the region's economic production.

Full report at:



Lack of Political Will, Funding Killing Pakistani Women

By Sehrish Wasif

July 11, 2012

ISLAMABAD: World Population Day is being observed by the international community since 1989 in order to focus on the urgency of population issues in the context of an overall development plan.

The theme for 2012 is Universal Access to Heath Reproductive Services.

Pakistan does not fare too well in this department. In fact, it has one of the poorest maternal and health indices in the world, along with Ethiopia and Uganda.

A summit being organised by the United Kingdom government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to mark World Population Day will focus on bridging the gap between demand and supply for reproductive healthcare.

Furthermore, the summit is aimed to seek more investment in family planning to reduce maternal deaths and improve women’s health. On the occasion, a global movement will be launched to give an added 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries access to family planning information, services and supplies by 2020.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Country Representative Rutgers WPF, Qadeer Baig, said the summit would be a great opportunity to advance family planning. However, he added that the moment should be seized to talk about broader issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), in order to effectively improve the quality of life of people, especially in Pakistan.

Full report at:



Saudi Labour Ministry to Beef up Inspection of Women-Only Shops

11 July 2012

The Ministry of Labour will launch intensive inspections to achieve total feminization of lingerie shops across the Kingdom on Saturday, an official of the ministry said.

The ministry decided to beef up the inspections because the campaigns to hire Saudi women workers did not meet the target, the official, who did not want his name published, said.

“The ministry has instructed all its 37 provincial branches and other offices to make sure that three women should be working in a shift in shops where lingerie, cosmetics and other women’s accessories are sold,” he said.

“The inspectors, which also have women members, will punish any violator of the feminization order,” he said. However, he pointed out that the obstacles that stood in the way of employing women in shops included women’s lack of training, transportation issues and poor salary, Al-Madina daily reported on Tuesday.

Men were banned from working in lingerie shops following a royal decree issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. Women in general welcomed the ban, because it ended the embarrassment suffered by women at such shops besides generating thousands of job opportunities to Saudi women.

The special regulations for women-only shops stipulate that the inside of shops is not visible from outside, and that men are not allowed to enter them. If the shop is meant for families, the view from outside should not be blocked.

Men and women workers should not work in a shop except in those that have separate divisions. In these shops, there should be at least three women working the same shifts, the Labor Ministry’s regulations specified.

Full report at:



Majda first Saudi woman to specialize in oil-contaminated soil treatment


11 July 2012

Majda Abu Rass is the first Saudi woman to specialize in oil-contaminated soil treatment. She has a doctorate degree in Biotechnology of Environmental Contaminants and worked as associate professor at King Abdul Aziz University's Biotechnology department. She is a board member and deputy executive director of the Saudi Environmental Society, director of the Euro-Arab women program for environment development of the Switzerland-based Euro-Arab Environment Organization and an honorary member of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women in New York. She received the membership of the latter due to the rarity of her specialty, which was also the reason NASA selected her as a member of a research team. Arab News interviews Abu Rass to find out more about her work and achievements.

Why did you choose this field?

At the university I was admitted in microbiology, and, as biotechnology has become a global industry, I wanted to apply both sciences in the field of environment. Since I started teaching in college, my interests and activities have been always related to the environment. I love modern sciences, especially the ones dealing with the environment.

NASA selected you as a regional researcher. Can you tell us more about it?

First, I would like to dedicate this accomplishment to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. Thanks to him, a realistic vision for women advancement was achieved in his rule. He had stressed that women in Islam’s history were effective at home and at work. His decisions implied the concept that women’s role cannot be sidelined. He saw the importance of including women in the Shoura Council as members and announced that they deserve to nominate themselves for the membership of municipal councils. I am very happy with the selection that I dedicate to my home country.

Full report at:



Hurdles to Muslim women's rights


July 11, 2012

AN injured horse last month disqualified equestrian Dalma Malhas from representing Saudi Arabia at the London Olympics. She would have been the first female athlete from the kingdom.

Brunei and Qatar have entered several women for the first time, and although most Muslim countries send female athletes to various events, few boast outstanding women contestants. Why are they lagging so far behind the rest of the world and does the Arab Spring herald any change?



World Muslim women assembly planned

July 10, IRNA –

be set up with an aim of promoting Islamic thoughts in the

world, said the presidential advisor for women's affairs.

July 10 2012

Talking to IRNA on the sidelines of the First Seminar themed ‘Women and Islamic Awakening’, Maryam Mojtahedzadeh

who is also head of Presidential Office’s Center for Women’s Affairs and Family added that the decision was made following

the request of all the participants of the event.

The assembly will bring together representatives from all Muslim countries to discuss the role of women in various fields.

Mojtahezadeh also visited an exhibition featuring Iranian women’s achievements in the fields of handicrafts and culture.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the two-day international gathering on women and Islamic awakening

Tuesday morning.

Full report at: