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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 8 May 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Abduction of Girls an Act Not Even Al Qaeda Can Condone

 New Age Islam News Bureau

8 May 2014

Express News screen grab of Rabia Faridi to speak at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly next month


 Pakistan ‘Most Perilous Place’ For Mums in South Asia

 Bangladesh Climbs 6 Spots on List of Best Place for Mothers

 Jordanian Christian Kills Daughter for Converting To Islam

 Women Rights: Female Student from Faisalabad to Speak At UN

 Boko Haram Should Learn Islam: Malala Yousafzai over Girls’ Abduction

 UK Islamophobes Victimize Muslim Women

 Obama's US-Based Aunt Given Islamic Burial In Kenya

 Iranian Women Snap 'Stealthy' Photos Free Of Hijab

 Headscarved Muslim Woman to Run For Greece in EP Polls

 Didi Welcomes Migrants, Why Not Me, Asks Taslima

 32% of Working Women Lose Jobs Due To Lack of Transport, Says Study

 Fingerprint: A Good Beginning to Ending Women’s Sufferings

 1.4m Disabled Pakistani Children Have No Access To Schools

 Indonesia: Nearly 100 Child Sexual Abuse Cases This Year

 Lebanese Women Run For Their Rights In Beirut Marathon

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Abduction of Girls an Act Not Even Al Qaeda Can Condone


MAY 8, 2014

ABUJA, Nigeria — As word spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook that Nigerian militants were preparing to auction off more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls in the name of Islam, a very different Internet network started quietly buzzing too.

“Such news is spread to taint the image of the Mujahedeen,” wrote one dubious poster on a web forum used by Islamic militants whose administrator uses a picture of Osama bin Laden. “I have brothers from Africa who are in this group,” attested another, insisting that they were like “the Quran walking the earth.”

Boko Haram, the cult like Nigerian group that carried out the kidnappings, was rejected long ago by mainstream Muslim scholars and Islamist parties around the world for its seemingly senseless cruelty and capricious violence against civilians. But this week its stunning abduction appeared too much even for fellow militants normally eager to condone terrorist acts against the West and its allies.

“There is news that they attacked a girls’ school!” another astonished poster wrote on the same jihadi forum, suggesting delicately that Boko Haram may perhaps be killing too many noncombatants instead of armed enemies. He prayed that God would “hold them steady to the path” of Islam.

The dismay of fellow jihadists at the innocent targets of Boko Haram’s violence is a reflection of the increasingly far-flung and ideologically disparate networks of Islamist militancy, which now include the remnants of Bin Laden’s puritanical camps, Algerian cigarette smugglers and a brutal Somalian offshoot.

“The violence most of the African rebel groups practice makes Al Qaeda look like a bunch of schoolgirls,” said Bronwyn Bruton, an Africa scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “And Al Qaeda at this point is a brand — and pretty much only a brand — so you have to ask yourself how they are going to deal with the people who are doing things so hideous even the leaders of Al Qaeda are unwilling to condone them.”

Boko Haram is in many ways an awkward ally for any of them. Its violence is broader and more casual than Al Qaeda or other jihadist groups. Indeed, its reputation for the mass murder of innocent civilians is strikingly inconsistent with a current push by Al Qaeda’s leaders to avoid such deaths for fear of alienating potential supporters. That was the subject of the dispute that led to Al Qaeda’s recent break with its former affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

What’s more, Boko Haram’s recruits and targets have always been purely local, not international. And the group is centered on a messianic leader who claims to speak with God and demands that its adherents surrender all their possessions to the group, resembling a cult, like Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, more than it does an orthodox Islamist movement.

But Boko Haram and Al Qaeda’s affiliates have both overlooked those differences to cultivate an alliance of convenience, papering over disagreements in tactics and values while emphasizing shared principles. They have reaped the propaganda value of association with each other’s deadly exploits, and in limited instances perhaps even trained or collaborated together.

Their partnership demonstrates a centripetal force pulling together even disparate insurgencies against common foes. And, scholars say, Boko Haram now also represents a growing challenge to Al Qaeda as it seeks to cultivate more such affiliates among loosely Muslim or Islamist insurgencies across Africa, almost all of them far more brutally violent than even the acolytes of Bin Laden can accept.

First formed in the early 2000s, Boko Haram grew out of an ultraconservative Islamic movement of well-educated students. The group grew overtly political only later, under the leadership of its charismatic founder, Mohamed Yusuf.

Its nickname in the African language of Hausa, Boko Haram, is usually roughly translated to mean that “deceptive” or “Western” education is “forbidden.” But scholars say that the phrase had a kind of double meaning that was at once religious and social in the context of northern Nigeria.

Western education was available only to a very small elite who typically traveled to British universities and then returned to rule from the capital over the impoverished North, and ending the tyranny of that elite was the main objective of Mr. Yusuf’s movement.

Mr. Yusuf and Boko Haram tapped into growing anger among northern Nigerians at their poverty and lack of opportunity as well as the humiliating abuses of the government’s security forces, said Paul Lubeck, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who studies the group. At first, even as Boko Haram turned to violent opposition to the government, the group avoided civilian casualties.

“They generated a lot of support because they didn’t kill many innocent people,” Professor Lubeck said.

That changed in July, 2009, after about 70 Boko Haram fighters armed with guns and hand grenades attacked a mosque and police station in the town of Bauchi. About 55 people were killed in the battle, according to an American diplomatic cable about the episodes that was later released by WikiLeaks.

The next day, Nigerian security forces retaliated with a brutal crackdown that killed more than 700 people, including many innocent bystanders. Security officers paraded Mr. Yusuf before television cameras and then summarily executed him in front of a crowd outside a police station — an episode that the group’s adherents often recall with horror as the decisive moment in their turn to wider violence.

Three weeks later, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — originally an Algerian Islamist insurgency that found advantages in publicly linking itself to Al Qaeda’s infamy — issued a public statement reaching out to Boko Haram in a public expression of brotherly sympathy.

Boko Haram’s remaining members scattered to other African countries, where many scholars argue they would have received a welcome from Al Qaeda affiliates. The Algerian government has said that some of Boko Haram’s fugitive members received training in Algerian camps from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Boko Haram itself eventually circulated video footage that purported to show some of its members training in Somalia with fighters from the Al Qaeda affiliate there, the Shabab.

Professor Lubeck said other fragments of evidence have surfaced as well, such as cellphones belonging to Boko Haram fighters that were seized in a raid by the government of Niger.

But whether with help from Al Qaeda or other sponsors, Boko Haram soon returned to Nigeria far more sophisticated and better equipped. In late 2010, under the new leadership of Abubaker Shekau, formerly the group’s second in command, Boko Haram begun staging more lethal attacks.

Instead of throwing hand grenades or gas-bombs, Boko Haram’s fighters began to conduct a campaign of assassinations by gunfire from motorcycles. (The government ultimately banned motorcycles form the areas where they were active.) They also drove pickup trucks mounted with artillery. The vehicles, Nigerian officials say, were traded out of Libya after the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

And Boko Haram became increasingly indiscriminate. Mr. Shekau, the leader who claimed to be in communication with God, said that the sole purpose of its violence was to demonstrate the incapacity of the Nigerian state. “Shekau initiated this brutal killing of innocent people,” Mr. Lubeck said.

Ms. Bruton of the Atlantic Council said: “The guy is unhinged.”

Mr. Shekau has also continued to express his admiration for Al Qaeda and its ideology. But it remained “an overwhelmingly locally focused group, recruiting locally,” Mr. Lubeck said, adding: “To say that it was part of the international Islamist conspiracy distorts things. There is no systematic or strategic connection.”

On Wednesday, as Western governments prepared to send help to find the kidnapped girls, there were no reports of any new expressions of support for Boko Haram from Al Qaeda.

Adam Nossiter reported from Abuja, and David D. Kirkpatrick from Cairo. Mayy El Sheikh contributed reporting from Cairo.



Pakistan ‘Most Perilous Place’ For Mums in South Asia

08 May, 2014

ISLAMABAD - Though Pakistan has halved maternal mortality, the state is the toughest place in South Asia to be a mother, says a Mothers' Index that documents conditions for mothers around the world.

Save the Children's annual State of World's Mothers Report 2014, now in its fifteenth edition, compares 178 countries around the globe, showing which are succeeding - and which are failing - in saving and improving the lives of mothers and their children.

Overall, Finland was ranked the best place to be a mother for the second straight year and Somalia came in last. Finland, Norway and Sweden top the ranking this year.

The top 10 countries, majority of them European countries, in general attain very high scores for mothers' and children's health, educational, economic and political status.  While the 10 bottom-ranked countries-all but one of them from West and Central Africa- are a reverse image of the top 10 countries.  The United States ranks 31st.  Dr Qudsia Uzma, Director Health & Nutrition at Save the Children sharing key findings said, globally Pakistan ranks 147th out of total 178 countries while 20th out of 45 fragile states affected by conflicts and natural disasters.

Sri Lanka is the best place to be a mother in South Asia. While Pakistan performs the worst in the region as all neighbouring countries score high leaving Pakistan at the bottom-Sri Lanka ranks 89th, Nepal 116th, Bangladesh 130th , India 137th and Afghanistan 146th.

This year's State of the World's Mothers report focuses on mothers in humanitarian crises in order to better understand and respond to their needs. Mothers in humanitarian crises are often faced with many obstacles to keep their children healthy - such as physical and economic access to essential services - while their own vulnerability to poverty, malnutrition, sexual violence, unplanned pregnancy and unassisted childbirth greatly increases.

'More than half (59 percent) of maternal and deaths worldwide occur in fragile states, many of them affected by conflict and recurring natural disasters. And Pakistan and Nigeria had the largest numbers of people affected by conflict-28 million and 19 million respectively'.

Worldwide, women and children are up to 14 times more likely to die in a disaster. Disasters affect states where poverty is an existing problem. The issues that result are further compounded by the lack of access and delivery to the health needs of the people, and failing to cater to these basic human needs becomes a cause and consequence of such disasters. Mortality risk is the highest; during labour, childbirth and the first week after delivery, says the report.

In Pakistan, maternal mortality has been cut by almost half, child mortality decreased by a quarter, expected years of schooling increased by 3.3 years and gross national income per capita rose 270 percent over the past 15 years. Pakistan has seen improvements on child and maternal well-being over the past 15 years, but conflicts and natural disasters have marginalised these improvements, said David Skinner, Country Director for Save the Children in Pakistan.

'We should be concerned that we have fallen behind our neighbours because we are not making improvements for mothers and children quickly enough. Many children are still dying from preventable causes, mothers are giving birth alone at home and children are not staying in school' the country Director said.

The report states that around 80 percent of countries are unlikely to achieve Millennium Development Goals of 4 and 5, related to reducing maternal and child mortality rates, are affected by conflict or natural disasters or both and Pakistan is one of them.

To protect mothers and children in the aftermath of disasters in Pakistan, the report calls upon the federal and provincial governments, and civil society to ensure that every mother and newborn living in crisis has access to high quality health care, including family planning services, and breastfeeding counselling.

It recommends building the resilience of health systems to minimise damaging effects of crises on health and develop national and local preparedness plans tailored to respond to the specific needs of mothers, children and babies in emergencies.



Bangladesh Climbs 6 Spots On List Of Best Place For Mothers

08 May, 2014

Bangladesh has secured 130th position, higher than India and Pakistan, in a list ranking the countries that are the best places for a mother and her children to be living in.

The ranking, prepared by the children’s rights organisation Save the Children, also identified Finland as the best and Somalia as the worst place to be a mother.

According to the State of the Worlds Mother’s Index report-2014, published yesterday, Bangladesh climbed six spots higher than its previous ranking and was placed at 130th out 178 countries; securing better positions than India (137th) and Pakistan (147th).

However, Bangladesh still falls behind other Saarc members including Sri Lanka (89th), Maldives (90th), Nepal (116th), and Bhutan (128th).

“Bangladesh has been consistently rising on the State of the World’s Mothers index, with dramatic cuts in maternal and child mortality. This is a result of strong political will and willingness to invest in healthcare for children,” said Michael Foley, director of health and nutrition for Save the Children in Bangladesh.

“However, at 130th position, Bangladesh still has a long way to go in ending preventable child and maternal deaths. One out of every 24 children dies before their fifth birthday, 60% of those within the first 28 days of life, many from conditions which would have been easily treatable if they had access to a skilled health worker. Another concern is that percentage of government funding for healthcare from the total budget has been decreasing over time, instead of increasing,” he added.



Jordanian Christian Kills Daughter for Converting To Islam

World Bulletin / News Desk

08 May, 2014

Scores of Jordanians on Thursday tried to break into a church in the northern Ajloun province in protest against the reported killing of a local girl by her Christian father on the background of her recent conversion to Islam, a Jordanian security source said.

"Some residents of Al-Wahadinah village besieged and tried to storm into the church, a short time after some youth attempted to burn it down before security forces intervened," the security source told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.

He added that the woman was killed by her father on Wednesday a short time after she converted to Islam when she attended a lecture by prominent Saudi preacher Mohamed al-Arefe at the Jordanian University in the capital Amman.

"He hit her with a stone on the head," the security source said of the woman. "She died immediately," he added.

The protesters, who gathered outside an administrative province building before they headed to the church on Thursday, called for burying the slain woman in a cemetery designated for Muslims.

Jordanian authorities have not commented on the accident yet.

Christians make up 2.2 percent of Jordan's eight million population, according to a 2014 census.



Women Rights: Female Student from Faisalabad to Speak At UN

08 May, 2014

FAISALABAD: Rabia Faridi, an MSc student at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, will be speaking at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly next month, Express News reported on Wednesday.

She will be giving a speech on the rights of women.

Faridi will be the second Pakistani woman to address the UN after student activist Malala Yousafzai.

“I have to represent Pakistan. It is a huge responsibility,” remarked Faridi.

She added that she could not believe that she was given the opportunity to speak at the UN platform.

The vice chancellor of her university stated that he was proud of his students who were capable of moving forward competitively.

Earlier, Faridi had delivered a speech on the same issue in Islamabad where former British Prime Gordon Brown, who is also the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, was the chief guest.



Boko Haram Should Learn Islam: Malala Yousafzai over Girls’ Abduction

Press Trust of India | London | May 8, 2014

Pakistani teenage rights’ activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, has advised Nigeria’s Boko Haram to “go and learn Islam”, saying the dreaded extremist outfit is “misusing the name of the religion” by kidnapping over 200 schoolgirls.

“I think they haven’t studied Islam yet, they haven’t studied Quran yet, and they should go and they should learn Islam,” the 16-year-old told the CNN.

“I think that they should think of these girls as their own sisters. How can one imprison his own sisters and treat them in such a bad way?” she said, referring to Boko Haram’s threats to sell the girls into slavery.

“They are actually misusing the name of Islam because they have forgotten that the word Islam means ‘peace,’” Malala said.

She added: “When I heard about the girls in Nigeria being abducted I felt very sad and I thought that my sisters are in prison and I thought that I should speak up for them.”

In another interview to the BBC, Malala called upon the world not to “stay silent” over the abduction.

“The international community has to do more to help the girls kidnapped over three weeks ago by Islamist Boko Haram militants in Nigeria. When such things happen we cannot keep quiet,” she said.

“If we remain silent then this will spread, this will happen more and more and more,” said the girls’ education campaigner, who was the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

The abduction that occurred on April 15 has sparked international outrage and mounting demands for Nigeria to spare no effort to find and free the girls before they can be sold into slavery or otherwise harmed.

Nigeria police have said more than 300 girls were abducted from their secondary school in the country’s remote northeast. Of them, 276 remain in captivity while 53 managed to escape.

Malala was shot at by the Taliban in her native Swat in northwest Pakistan in 2012 after she spoke publicly about girls’ rights to education.



U K Islamophobes Victimize Muslim Women

08 May, 2014

CAIRO – As Islamophobia attacks soar in UK, Muslim women have mostly become the prime victims of hate crimes targeting them due to their veil and Islamic dress, a recent report has warned.

“It is something I have got used to since 9/11. From being called Osama Bin Laden to Paki-terrorist I have heard it all,” Zab Mustefa, a British Muslim journalist, who specializes in women's rights and culture, told The Telegraph.

Mustefa is one of hundreds of Muslim women who have been facing awful abuse everyday in Britain for their Islamic affiliation.

Since the 9/11 attacks, UK Muslims have complained of discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.

A recent research showed that between 40 and 60% of mosques and other Islamic centers (around 700) had been targeted since 9/11.

Last year, a Muslim helpline, Tell MAMA, has found that women are taking the full brunt of anti-Muslim discrimination and racial hatred in Britain. It said that 58% of victims in 630 racial incidents recorded in the past year were women.

The report revealed that the majority of physical assaults on the streets targeted women wearing Islamic clothing.

Far-right groups like the EDL and the British National Party (BNP) have also played the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims.

“Racist rhetoric from the likes of the EDL and Ukip is definitely making things worse,” Mustefa stated.

“I am definitely feeling more hatred towards Muslims as a result. I went to the police but they failed to investigate, let alone take any action.

“This was the point that an EDL supporter was threatening to come and ‘teach’ me a lesson simply because I am a Muslim woman. I have been called many things such as hummus eating, camel shagging, Paki Muslim slut. No joke.”

Coming under repeated attacks in London, some of the terrified Muslim women abandoned their hijab.

“I feel unsafe, my husband told me not to go into London, both of us were worried that I may be attacked or have my hijab pulled etc,” one lady that preferred to remain anonymous complained.

“He was also really angry with me when I didn't tell the police, as he said they ought to know that Muslim women are being harassed.

“I was just shocked because it wasn't the expected type that you see on EDL marches. It was ‘educated’ people.”

Online Racism

Along with verbal abuse, UK Muslims believe that racists have turned to social media to attack Muslims, using it as a safe haven that veils their identities.

“I should stress that it's not even solely white British people who make these comments - it's also fellow ethnic minorities, though from my experience the really angry rhetoric has come from white British people,” said Annabel, a UK Muslim woman.

“Islamophobia is rampant - I must deal with multiple comments every week. It now exists as a social norm that provides a clear context for verbal or physical attacks on Muslims because racists create safe spaces for themselves to validate their own racism - which I see on a near daily basis.”

Annabel added, “A guy I know wrote as his Facebook status that he changed Tube carriage when a bearded man was reading a book written in Arabic script and speaking under his voice”.

A report by Tell Mama in 2013 found that, excluding online abuse and threats, 58% of all verified incidents between April 2012 and April 2013 were against women and that in 80% of those cases the woman was wearing a hijab, niqab or other clothing associated with Islam.

Amid increasing complaints from racial attacks, some Muslim women say that Britons use the Islamophobia as way of “constructive criticism”.

“It seems to me this flavor of violence is almost accepted as a 'cruel to be kind' compliment to integration to the British way of life, like bullying fat people to help them get healthier,” suggested Henna, a British Muslim woman.

Yet, Henna has her own sad story of racial abuse.

“In my experience it has been constant since 9/11 - at school I had my white friends rounding on me asking me why, by being a Muslim I supported OBL [Osama bin Laden],” Henna remembered.

“In Trafalgar Square, I had a guy walk in front of me to obstruct my path and then follow me down the street asking why ‘my people’ wanted to destroy the West and telling me I needed to go home. No one in the crowded square felt compelled to intervene.

“It’s the constant and wearing rhetoric that is most difficult. Always having to be on the back foot - apologetic - because otherwise you're on Team Evil.

“And that's now prevalent in even progressive circles, certainly with people I know as friends.”

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2 million.

Hundreds of anti-Muslim hate offences have been carried out across UK in 2013, with Britain's Metropolitan police recording an increase of 49% than 2012.



Obama's US-Based Aunt Given Islamic Burial In Kenya

World Bulletin / News Desk

08 May, 2014

The recently deceased aunt of U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday was given an Islamic burial in her home country of Kenya shortly after her body was flown back from the U.S.

"We have buried the late Zeitun Onyango in accordance with the regulations of Islam," Sheikh Musa Ismail, a Muslim cleric who led the funeral prayers, told Anadolu Agency at the Sunni Muslim cemetery in the port city of Kisumu.

Her body was washed and wrapped in accordance with Islamic tradition.

Onyango was buried in the lakeside city hours after her body arrived from the U.S. earlier Tuesday.

"We had to find the body a resting place as soon as possible, as it has been weeks since she died," Sheikh Ismail said.

"It is the right of the Muslim dead to be buried as soon as possible, without delay."

Onyango died at a Boston rehabilitation center recently.

Despite being the aunt of the U.S. president, Onyango had to fight a legal battle to save her from being deported for being in the U.S. illegally.

She was mentioned in Obama's autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," which recounts Obama's quest to know his Kenyan roots.

President Obama is the son of a Kenyan father, Hussein Obama, and an American white woman, Ann Dunham.

Tight Security

There was tight security at the cemetery for fear that Ebel Mboya Okoko, a Christian man claiming he was Onyango's husband, might try to disrupt the burial.

Okoko went to court last week demanding custody of Onyango and the right to bury her.

Feisal, Onyango's firstborn son and Obama's cousin, said it was absurd for Okoko to make the claim – that he was her husband – after her death.

"All we want to do now is lay our mother in peace and Alhamdulillah [thank God] we're grateful that we have done that," he told AA.

Obama's grandmother, Sarah, viewed the body before it was taken to the cemetery, but was not present at the grave in accordance with Islamic rites.

An uncle to President Obama, meanwhile, downplayed media reports that the Obama family was divided over Onyango's death and burial.

"The Obama family remains united," Said Obama said outside the cemetery. "There is no rift in our family. It was all a very big lie."



Iranian Women Snap 'Stealthy' Photos Free Of Hijab

08 May, 2014

An unveiled young woman stands in front of a sign that reads: "Sisters, observe your hijab." Another with red hair and dark glasses stands next to the ruins of Persepolis, while two others, also sans Hijab, dance happily on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

They are among dozens of Iranian women inside the country who have posted their hijab-less photos on a newly launched Facebook page to share their "stealthy" moments of freedom from the veil.

The administrators of the page, titled "Iranian Women's Freedoms Stealthy," say they do not belong to any political group and that the initiative reflects the concerns of Iranian women who face legal and social restrictions.

They say all of the photos and captions posted have been sent by women from all over Iran. Launched on May 3, the page has garnered more than 27,000 likes.

"This is my photo at Tehran's Yas sports centre," explains the woman standing next to the Hijab sign, one of many signs and posters in Iran promoting the Islamic dress code in public places as a means of protecting women and their values. "Have [the authorities] ever considered why women stand in front of signs about the Hijab, and instead of observing it, take off their scarves?"

The caption for the photograph of the woman standing near the Persepolis reads: "Freedoms that last only for a few seconds."

The hijab became compulsory following the 1979 revolution and the creation of the Islamic republic. For more than three decades, women in Iran have been wearing the veil: some voluntarily, many under threat of harassment by police, as well as fines and arrests.

Women who have posted their photos without the veil on a public page could be arrested for breaking the law. But they don't seem to care. They appear happy about their brief moments of freedom and defiance.

A young woman posing while holding her pink scarf over a mountain in the conservative city of Isfahan writes that "the look" of some men in the city is worse than the moral police that enforce the Hijab.

"To those who say I should leave the country if I don't want to wear the Hijab, I say the Hijab wasn't my choice," she writes. "I want to have freedom in my country."

Another woman who posted her picture without the veil while standing atop a mountain in the north-western city of Tabriz writes about the pleasure of feeling the wind in her hair.

"We keep hoping that this freedom will not be stealthy," she writes.



Headscarved Muslim Woman to Run For Greece in EP Polls

World Bulletin / News Desk

08 May, 2014

A Muslim, headscarved Greek woman is running for a seat for her country at the European Parliament, with an eye on preventing any discrimination against Muslims and to ensure equality for Greek Muslims.

Anna Stamou is significant in that she is the first headscarved nominee in the European Parliament (EP) elections on May 25 and will be the first such MP if elected.

Stamou, wife to an Egyptian husband, describes herself as an active woman, not only in dealing with regional issues but also making efforts for the "big picture."

"I have been nominated from the Eco Green Party Greece - the ecological political party that is a member of the European Green party - as it perfectly reflects my opinions," Stamou tells Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

The basic principles of the Ecologists Greens, as determined by their constitutions are: sustainability, social justice, non-violence, direct and participatory democracy, respect for diversity, decentralization and subsidiary, protect and restore natural ecosystems, the quality of life, personal and social responsibility and equity and anti-austerity.

Stamou says she was born an Orthodox Christian but "found the answers to her questions" in Islam after delving for years into all religions. A graduate of business management and once a yoga trainer, Stamou states that she is leading a Muslim life since she embraced Islam at aged 30.

She now opts for politics after her "activist" years along with being a teacher.

"What drew me to politics is my objective of guaranteeing a life for Muslims in Greece with equal rights to those of other Greek citizens through all means," she says.

She is responsible for the public relations at the Muslim Association of Greece and is wife of the head of the Muslim Association also.

Stamou also speaks on her ideal to ensure that Greek Muslims become citizens who are able to both fulfil their responsibilities towards their country and claim their rights in equal measure.

"My message to the Greek Muslims is to actively participate in the EP voting process and enjoy their rights to elect and be elected without the fear of their voice falling on deaf ears."

She pointed out the fact that she is the first headscarved nominee for an EP seat, who argues against any discrimination of people by their appearance.

Stamou asserted that some may take the headscarf as a "threat" but every citizen should do something for their country.

"I will exert all my efforts for ensuring that Muslims do not consider themselves as a minority in Greece. If I get elected for the EP, I will fight for equal right for Muslims and the prevention of discrimination against Muslims," she said.

Another goal of Stamou is to work for the construction of a mosque in Athens - the sole European capital without a mosque. Efforts to this end have been delayed for years for an "unknown reason" she claims.

Greek candidates will stand for 21 seats in the European Parliament during the European Election on 25 May, coinciding with the local elections in the country. The number of seats allocated to Greece declined from 22 to 21, as a result of the 2013 reapportionment of seats in the EP.

In the 2009 elections, the Ecologist Greens of Greece won only one seat at the EP after receiving 3.49 percent of the votes.



Didi Welcomes Migrants, Why Not Me, Asks Taslima

08 May, 2014

Exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen has asked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee why she was against her return to Kolkata when she (Nasreen) is a legal migrant from Bangladesh. This was after Mamata’s announcement that she would shelter Bangladeshi migrants.

Nasreen tweeted late Monday night, “Mamata B is for Bangladeshi migrants who enter India illegally. I’m from Bangladesh too, but Mamata is against me, bcoz I entered India legally?”

The controversy was triggered by Narendra Modi’s statements in campaign rallies that all Bangladeshi “infiltrators” would be deported after May 16.

Reacting to this, Mamata had said she would give shelter to all and not allow a single person to be deported. “I will never allow this to happen,” said Mamata. She charged Modi with using religion to woo voters and seeking to divide them. She also said the Assam violence was a fallout of such utterances against Muslim migrants. She said her administration has been asked to give shelter to anyone coming from violence-hit Kokrajhar in Assam.

Nasreen had been forced to leave Kolkata — which she had adopted as a second home after being driven out of Bangladesh — when Muslim groups in Kolkata protested against her writings and demanded that she leave the state. Violence broke out in parts of Kolkata in 2007 during the Left Front regime and she was “smuggled out” before being given temporary shelter in Rajasthan and then in Delhi. Eventually, her attempts to come back to Kolkata have been thwarted as the “fatwa” from Muslim groups remained in effect.

The controversial Bangladeshi author also reacted to several other decisions taken against her by the present regime, which include banning telecast by a Bengali channel of a serial based on a story she has written in response to demands by Muslim groups.



32% of Working Women Lose Jobs Due To Lack of Transport in Saudi Arabia, Says Study

08 May, 2014

RIYADH — A recent study published by King Khalid Charitable Organization revealed that 32.6 percent of Saudi women lose their jobs due to a lack of transportation, Al-Hayat daily reported.

The study prepared by Efad Researches and Consultation Center also revealed that 8 percent of women are unemployed because their families are preventing them from working.

The study stressed on the low educational levels of poor women, as 42.2 percent of the study's sample were illiterate. About 75 percent of the women did not have a provider because almost half of them were divorced or widows the rest lived with their unemployed husbands, it said.

The study was conducted on a sample of 3,865 women in 13 administrative areas in the Kingdom and covered women between 20-50 years old.

This shows that illiteracy is still a problem among Saudi women, as 25.4 percent do not continue their education after completion of elementary school, the study said, adding that the low educational level is the main reason for the low awareness of women on their health, social and other rights.

The study also shows that 32.1 percent of the sample said they have continued their education only due to their family circumstances, while 22.1 percent believed education is not important to women.

Only 10.5 percent of the surveyed women are employed, and this is considered a low percentage, especially that the sample focused on women in the 20 -50 age group.

According to the study, the reason for the low employment of women is the lack of opportunities in the job market and available jobs are limited to certain fields only.

The study concluded that most of the poor women in Saudi society are between 20-50 years old, which is the employable age, and is a great waste of human resources.

In addition, the study also revealed the low pension provided by the social security, the shortage of schools, hospitals and health centers, the low level of services and the inability of the women to have a decent and honorable social life.



Fingerprint: A Good Beginning to Ending Women’s Sufferings

08 May, 2014

ACCORDING to a recent report carried by Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Justice Minister Mohammed Al-Issa has recently launched the fingerprinting system for women. The ceremony took place in the General Court in Riyadh. The system will recognize women before court judges and notaries public.

The minister said the system will end the impersonating of women and will relieve them from the embarrassment of unveiling their faces for identification.

The system is supposed to pull the curtains down on the interminable issue of acquaintances whom women should bring to the courts to confirm their identities before the judges.

This was a time-consuming process, which would delay the consideration of women's cases before the courts. It was also a source for some women to impersonate other women to win certain cases.

A woman told me last week about her predicament in a court in Madinah. She said she, her two daughters and a number of male acquaintances had to go to court for three consecutive days to obtain a document proving that she was still alive, not employed anywhere and had not been married again. This procedure was necessary for the woman to cash her late husband's pension.

It is very weird to ask a person to present a document proving that he or she is still alive. Maybe this is one of our many specialties.

Why will any court deprive a widow from cashing her dead husband's pension if she is employed? The pension with her salary may be barely enough to sustain her and her children. Why do judges in our country involve themselves in such cases, which can be settled down by notaries public?

It is not just enough to launch a system. More important than this is the thorough follow-up to make sure that the system is working and has not been eaten up by bureaucracy.

Here I support lawyer and legal consultant Jassim Al-Attieh, who called for issuing a circular to all judges asking them to accept the fingerprinting system as a reliable recognition of women. I would like to add that any judge or a notary public who does not respect the system should be punished.

I hope that the fingerprinting system will put an end to the prevention of women from filing civil lawsuits without the consent of their male guardians who have caused many injustices to them.

Many women cannot sue their male guardians who prevent them from getting married or their husbands who physically or verbally abuse them because they are under their total domination. How can women regain their rights if they remain under the complete hegemony of their guardians or husbands?

In fact, the identification of women before courts is just a small portion of many injustices against them. The women dissipate their time and dignity in courts fighting to win cases of adl (guardians preventing women under their custody from getting married), Khula (getting divorce after paying financial compensation to husband), child custody, alimony, tribal incompatibility and others.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Suwaigh recently wrote about a case of a Saudi woman in her 20's who filed a case of khula against her husband who infected her with a number of sexually transmitted diseases. He said the judge gave her the Khula she demanded but asked her to return the dowry to her ex-husband. The judge did not compensate the woman for the pains she was suffering nor did he punish the husband for his crime.

These are but few examples of the sufferings of Saudi women. I hope that the fingerprinting system will be the start of justice for them.



1.4m Disabled Pakistani Children Have No Access to Schools

08 May, 2014

ISLAMABAD: An estimated 1.4 million persons with disabilities in Pakistan were the children of school going age, most of whom do not have access to either inclusive or special schools due to limited capacity in existing facilities,  Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, Director UNESCO Islamabad told Education For All (EFA) National Forum here on Wednesday.

The EFA Forum was organised by UNESCO in collaboration with UNICEF with an aim of stimulating a debate on Article 25-A of the Constitution and education sector financing in Pakistan. 

Speaking in her welcome remarks, Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, Director UNESCO Islamabad emphasized the realization of education for all particularly for persons with disabilities in Pakistan.

She said that Pakistan ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 5th July 2011 and Pakistan was among those 145 countries which ratified this Convention and thus its implementation was responsibility of the state and development organizations including disabled peoples organizations.

UNESCO believes that by adopting the following seven (7) strategies the Government of Pakistan will be able to make an accelerated progress towards ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities as Create appropriate legislative frameworks and set out ambitious national plans for inclusion. Provide the capacity, resources and leadership to implement ambitious national plans on inclusion. Improve EMIS to build accountability for results-oriented actions.

Refurbish existing schools and classrooms to allow barrier free access to students and teachers. Integrate content and pedagogy related to education of disabled persons in teacher training programs. Launch advocacy campaigns to challenge negative perceptions and attitudes which reinforce and sustain discrimination against persons with disabilities. Create an enabling policy environment for inclusive education, through cross-sectoral interventions.

Speaking on the occasion, UNICEF Education Specialist, John Ekaju said that EFA was a critical priority and government commitment for increasing the education budget allocation would further improve the education for all including the disable children.

“UNICEF acknowledged the role of civil society organizations for advancing the agenda of education for all and UNICEF is fully committed to promote equity in education for all especially the most vulnerable children to advance the education agenda in Pakistan”, he added.

Muhammad Ahsan Raja, Secretary Education of Ministry of Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education commended UNESCO and UNICEF for jointly hosting the event on EFA with focus on disability. He said that the children with disabilities were important part of the society and it was the national obligation for all of us to take care of them by mainstreaming them through inclusive education.

He said that working together with the United Nations and other donor’s agencies, the educational status of the children with disabilities can be improved. He said the teachers were playing an important role for building a knowledge society.




Indonesia: Nearly 100 Child Sexual Abuse Cases This Year

May 08 2014

The National Police have recorded 98 child sexual abuse cases in 18 provinces so far this year, with Riau Islands topping the list with 64 cases, police spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto said.

“We have not compiled all the data from the 31 regional police offices in the country. But so far, on our current list, the Riau Police recorded the highest number of child sex abuse cases, with 64, followed by the South Kalimantan and the Yogyakarta Police with 13 cases and 7 cases respectively,” Agus recently told a press conference in Jakarta.

He said the case involving alleged child rapist Andri Sobari alias Emon, 24, in Sukabumi, West Java, was counted as a single case although it involved 110 children.

In recent months, child sexual abuse cases have made headlines, following the revelation of the Emon case and the alleged rape of a 6-year-old boy committed by janitors at the Jakarta International School (JIS).

Agus said that National Police Gen. Sutarman was giving special attention to the issue by ordering all regional police chiefs to step up child protection measures.

“The National Police chief has instructed them to improve the role of Babinkamtibmas [a police officer assigned to a village as an advisor on security and public order] to closely monitor the community so that we can prevent cases like the one in Sukabumi from recurring,” he said.

Last year, the police investigated 1,635 child sexual abuse cases.

Meanwhile, the head of the police’s Women and Children Protection unit, Adj. Sr. Comr. Dwi Kornansiwaty, said the real number of such cases was much higher than recorded.

“We only see the tip of iceberg. Most of the cases are initially based on our findings, and not from victim reports,” she said.

Dwi said some child molestation cases involved foreign nationals, who came to the country after receiving nude photos of Indonesian children.

“There is some kind of an online network, where pedophiles share their own collection of child pornographic pictures. In one case, a foreign national uploaded the photos of nude children he met in a city. This prompted other pedophiles to come and prey on children in that city,” she said.

Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, East Java, West Java and Riau Islands are the provinces most vulnerable to sexual predators, Dwi said.

She went on to say that a handful of convicted child molesters from foreign countries had entered or reentered Indonesia after finishing prison terms. To deter them from re-offending, she said, the police closely monitored these child molesters.

“Upon their arrival in Indonesia, we track their place of residence and order the local police office to put them on a watch list,” she said over the weekend, while declining to reveal the exact number of convicted sex offenders residing in Indonesia.



Lebanese Women Run For Their Rights in Beirut Marathon

08 May, 2014

BEIRUT – Crowds lined the streets of Beirut as a women’s marathon snaked its way through the city this week.

Women from all walks of life – the handicapped, the young and the elderly – participated in the event aimed at empowering women through sports and geared towards reminding women that health is vital.

A number of men also joined in the campaign which ran under the slogan “Run forward, there is no going back.”

“We are doing this, to increase awareness that there is no difference between a man and a woman. This marathon is to highlight this issue,” said one of the organizers to Al Arabiya News Channel.

One man who attended the event told Al Arabiya News Channel that “we are with women, if women are happy then we are happy to. We want to satisfy them.”

Some women saw the marathon as a reminder that they should take care of their health.

One participant told Al Arabiya News Channel: “All women should practice sport, for their health, heart, better blood circulation and to stay young.”

This is the second year the women’s marathon has taken place in the city and it is part of a wider movement in which Lebanese women find increasingly creative ways to promote their rights.

In early 2013, dozens of Lebanese women danced in front of the home of the country’s parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, to send a clear message of urgency to pass a law that looked to protect women from domestic violence.

The women were successful in pressuring the government to pass the law. However, Human Rights Watch said the domestic violence law Lebanon’s parliament passed on April 1 should advance women’s rights and safety, but falls short in key areas. It said the new law establishes important protectionist measures and related policing and court reforms, but leaves women at risk of marital rape and other abuse.