New Age Islam News Bureau
20 March 2015
Pigeons fly at the Shahi Doshamshira mosque where an Afghan woman was beaten to death and her body set alight by a mob, in Kabul on March 20, 2015 ─AFP
• Muslim Convert, Jamila Henry, 21, ‘Tried To Reach IS In Syria
• Women Turn Thar Drought into a Lesson on Sustainability
• Cardiff's Muslim Women Make a Stand on Extremism
• US Woman Accused of Supplying Terrorists Appears In Court
• Muslim Miss World, BBC Three, Review: 'Baffling'
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Afghan Woman Beaten To Death for Allegedly Burning Quran
KABUL, 20 March, 2015: An Afghan woman was beaten to death and her body was set on fire by a mob in Kabul on Thursday for allegedly burning a copy of the Quran, police officials said.
“A woman burned a copy of the Quran in the Shahi Doshamshira neighbourhood,” the head of Kabul's criminal police General Farid Afzali told AFP.
The woman's body was then thrown into the Kabul River, Afzali added.
The police were trying to disperse the angry crowd of “thousands of people “who had gathered in the densely populated neighbourhood, he said.
Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi also confirmed the incident, saying a probe into the “very unfortunate” event was underway.
Photos of the attack were circulating on social media late Thursday.
In November 2014, Pakistani police arrested dozens of people after a mob beat a Christian couple to death and burned their bodies for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran.
Local media had reported the couple was accused of burning a copy of the Holy Quran and throwing it in a rubbish bin in Punjab on Tuesday. Police said their bodies were set on fire in a brick kiln.
“We have arrested 44 people, it was a local issue incited by the mullah of a local mosque,” Jawad Qamar, a regional police chief said. “No particular sectarian group or religious outfit was behind the attack.”
The incident took place in the town of Kot Radha Kishan, some 60 kilometres of Lahore.
In 2012, the revelation that copies of the Quran had been burnt at the US-run Bagram prison sparked five days of violent anti-US riots and attacks across the country, which killed 30 people.
Muslim Convert, Jamila Henry, 21, ‘Tried To Reach IS In Syria
19 March 2015
A young British woman held by security officials in Turkey while allegedly trying to join Islamic State militants in Syria was expected to be flown back to Britain today.
Muslim convert Jamila Henry, 21, was travelling on her twin sister’s passport when she was stopped by officers in Ankara. Ms Henry handed over Jalila’s documents to officers when she was arrested, apparently heading for the Syrian border.
The passport switch caused confusion among Turkish intelligence services who released Jalila’s name to local media after apprehending Ms Henry at a bus stop on Monday. She was facing possible arrest in the UK today on suspicion of preparing acts of terrorism.
At her flat in Balham, Jalila Henry today said only that she had been left with “loads to sort out” as her teetotal sister was awaiting deportation. Friends said the twins who went to Sellincourt primary in Wandsworth, had gone in “totally different directions” since leaving school.
Jalila is pictured on her Facebook account drinking, smoking and wearing figure-hugging dresses. She includes rapper Eminem, pop star Ellie Goulding and reality TV show The Only Way Is Essex among her Likes. Jamila, meanwhile, wears a traditional headscarf and is said to spend her spare time studying the Koran after converting to Islam in her teens.
A former classmate said: “They were very nice, friendly, hard-working girls. I can’t imagine either one of them ever wanting to join Islamic State.”
One relative said that the family had little contact with Jamila. She added: “Jalila is definitely not religious and drinks and smokes. Frankly, she’s a bit of a party girl.”
At her £500,000 home in Streatham, the twins’ mother Patricia Henry, 50, said she was “getting together with relatives” to discuss the situation. She works as a council housing officer and the twins’ painter and decorator father, Kirk Ramsammy, has recently been treated in hospital.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We are aware of a female who has been detained in Turkey and are liaising with the Turkish authorities.”
Women Turn Thar Drought into a Lesson on Sustainability
ZOFEEN T. EBRAHIM
March 20th, 2015
KARACHI: When a group of women in the remote village of Sadhuraks in Pakistan’s Thar Desert, some 800 km from Karachi were asked if they would want to be born a woman in their next life, the answer from each was a resounding ‘no’.
They have every reason to be unhappy with their gender, mostly because of the unequal division of labour between men and women in this vast and arid region that forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan.
“A woman’s work is never done,” one woman says.
“She works in the fields as well as the home, fetches water, eats less,” adds another.
Others say women are compelled to perform manual labour even while pregnant, and some lament they cannot take care of themselves, with so many others to look after.
While this mantra rings true for millions of impoverished women around the world, it takes on a whole new meaning in Tharparkar, one of 23 districts that comprise Pakistan’s Sindh Province, which has been ranked by the World Food Programme (WFP) as the most food insecure region of the country.
But a scheme to include women in adaptation and mitigation efforts is gaining ground in this drought-struck region, where the simple act of moving from one day to the next has become a life-and-death struggle for many.
Over 500 infant deaths were reported last year, the third consecutive drought year for the region. Malnutrition and hunger are rampant, while thousands of families cannot find water.
In its 2013 report, the State of Food Security, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) listed Tharparkar as the region with the country’s highest caloric deficit, a by-product of what it labels a “chronic” food crisis, prompted by climate change.
Of the 1.5 million people spread out over 2,300 villages in an area spanning 22,000 square km, the women are bearing the brunt of this slow and recurring disaster.
Tanveer Arif who heads the NGO Society for Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE) tells IPS that women not only have to look after the children, they are also forced to fill a labour gap caused by an exodus of men migrating to urban areas in search of jobs.
With their husbands gone, women must also tend to the livestock, fetch water from distant sources when their household wells run dry, care for the elderly, and keep up the tradition of subsistence farming – a near impossible task in a drought-prone region that is primed to become hotter and drier by 2030, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
The promise of harder times ahead has been a wakeup call for local communities and policymakers alike that building resilience is the only defense against a rising death toll.
Women here are painfully aware that they need to learn how to store surplus food, identify drought-resilient crops and wean themselves off agriculture as a sole means of survival, thinking that has been borne out in recent studies on the region.
Conservation brings empowerment
The answer presented itself in the form of a small, thorny tree called the mukul myrrh, which produces a gum resin that is widely used for a range of cosmetic and medicinal purposes, known here as guggal.
Until recently, the plant was close to extinction, and sparked conservation efforts to keep the species alive in the face of ruthless extraction – 40 kg of the gum resin fetches anything from 196 to 392 dollars.
Today, those very efforts are doubling up as adaptation and resiliency strategies among the women of Tharparkar.
It began in 2013, when SCOPE launched a project with support from the Scottish government to involve women in conservation. Today, some 2,000 women across Tharparkar are growing guggal gum trees; it has brought nutrition, a better income and food security to all their families.
“For the first time in so many years, we did not migrate […] in search of a livelihood,” 35-year-old Resham Wirdho, a mother of seven, tells IPS over the phone from Sadhuraks.
She says her family gets 100 rupees (about 0.98 dollars) from the NGO for every plant she raises successfully. With 500 plants on her one-acre plot of land, she makes about 49 dollars each month. Combining this with her husband’s earnings of about 68 dollars a month as a farmhand, they no longer have to worry where the next meal will come from.
They used some of their excess income to plant crops in their backyard. “This year for the first time, instead of feeding my children dried vegetables, I fed them fresh ones,” she says enthusiastically.
For the past year, they have not had to buy groceries on credit from the village store. They are also able to send the eldest of their seven kids to college.
Wirdho says it is a gift that keeps on giving. In the next three years, each of the trees they planted will fetch at least five dollars, amounting to net earnings of 2,450 dollars – a princely sum for families in this area who typically earn between 78 and 98 dollars monthly.
And finally, the balance of power between Wirdho and her husband is shifting. “He is more respectful and not only helps me water and take care of the plants, but with the housework as well – something he never did before,” she confesses.
Lessons from Pakistan for South Asia
The success of a single scheme in a Pakistani desert holds seeds of knowledge for the entire region, where experts have long been pushing for a gendered approach to sustainable development.
With 2015 poised to be a watershed year – including several scheduled international conferences on climate change, many believe the time is ripe to reduce women’s vulnerability by including them in planning and policies.
Such a move is badly needed in South Asia, home to 1.6 billion people, where women comprise the majority of the roughly 660 million people living on less than 1.25 dollars a day. They also account for 50 percent of the agricultural labour force, thus are susceptible to changes in climate and ecosystems.
The region is highly prone to natural disasters, and with the population projected to hit 2.2 billion by 2050 experts fear the outcome of even minor natural disasters on the most vulnerable sectors of society, such as the women.
A recent report by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit (EIU), ‘The South Asia Women’s Resilience Index’, concluded, “South Asian countries largely fail to consider the rights of women to be included in their disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience-building efforts.”
Using Japan – with a per capita relief budget 200 times that of India, Pakistan or Bangladesh – as a benchmark, the index measured women’s vulnerability to natural calamities, economic shifts and conflict.
A bold indictment of women’s voices going unheard, the report put Pakistan last on the index, lower than Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
On all four categories considered by the EIU in measuring women’s resiliency – economic, infrastructural, institutional and social – Pakistan scored near the bottom. On indicators such as relief budgets and women’s access to employment and finance, it lagged behind all its neighbours.
According to David Line, managing editor of The Economist Intelligence Unit, “South Asian countries need to realise the tremendous capacity for leadership women have in planning for and responding to disasters. They are at the ‘front line’ and have intimate knowledge of their communities. Wider recognition of this could greatly reduce disaster risk and improve the resilience of these communities.”
Cardiff's Muslim women make a stand on extremism
20 March 2015
Muslim women are holding a conference in Cardiff to make a stand against Islamic extremism and radicalism.
It is one of a series of events around the UK to champion the importance of Muslim women's voices in society.
It is being organised by Inspire, a counter-extremism and human rights group.
"Women are the backbone of our communities and the first line of defence against radicalisers," said director Sara Khan.
The #MakingAStand conference aims to give women practical tips on "making a stand - as individuals and as groups - in building stable and peaceful communities by challenging hateful, bigoted and extreme views".
US woman accused of supplying terrorists appears in court
March 20 2015
A woman who federal investigators say helped five other Bosnian immigrants funnel money and military supplies to terror groups in Iraq and Syria made her first court appearance Thursday in Missouri after being arrested in Germany.
Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Illinois, was given a copy of the indictment against her during a five-minute hearing in St. Louis. She was assigned legal counsel and ordered to remain in custody, pending an arraignment and detention hearing Monday.
Ramic and five co-defendants were indicted last month on charges of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, as well as with actually supplying support to terrorists. One co-defendant lives in Illinois, three in Missouri and one has resided in New York.
Ramic's court-appointed attorney, J. Christian Goeke, told The Associated Press after Ramic's court appearance that he had not yet had a chance to review the indictment and could not comment.
One of the defendants, 40-year-old Ramiz Hodzic of St. Louis County, is accused of using Facebook, PayPal, Western Union and the U.S. Postal Service to coordinate shipments of money and supplies through an overseas intermediary. The indictment accuses Hodzic — charged along with his wife, Sedina — of making 10 wire transfers totaling $8,850, and arranging two shipments of military supplies valued at $2,451. Sedina Hodzic is accused of aiding one of those transfers and shipping six boxes of military supplies.
The indictment alleges the Hodzics, who have pleaded not guilty, were helped by Abdullah Ramo Pazara, another Bosnian immigrant who left St. Louis in May 2013 to fight in Syria and whom authorities say died there.
The Hodzics have been living in the U.S. as refugees for nearly two decades, according to the indictment. (***)
Muslim Miss World, BBC Three, Review: 'Baffling'
By Tom Rowley
19 Mar 2015
Video blogger (vlogger) Dina Torkia has amassed 150,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel. I am not one of them. Which might explain why I found Muslim Miss World (BBC Three) baffling.
The supposed subject of the documentary, an Indonesian beauty pageant called World Muslimah, was interesting enough. How would contestants from across the world differ about what it means to be a good Muslim? And how would the ceremony adopt the glitzy, irreverent world of the beauty pageant for a religion that places such an emphasis on female modesty?
Sadly, the true subject soon became clear: Dina Torkia. Presumably in the hope of converting some of her legions of followers into regular viewers, BBC Three allowed the 25-year-old to base the entire programme around not only her attempt to win the contest but her wider life story. Even her clothing line was given a plug.
She also spent much of the film moaning: she didn’t wish to share a bedroom, for example, and, most of all, she missed her husband, Sid, who featured prominently.
But as Torkia became more homesick and disillusioned, her questions became more probing. The pageant sought after both inner and outer beauty in their winner, with the candidates undergoing a fortnight of tests – and thankfully no swimwear modelling. But she reasonably questioned the ethics of a pageant that treated the vulnerable as a prop when they enlisted the residents of an old people’s home to test the contestants’ kindness and passed the judgement of the winner onto 100 local orphans.
No doubt, many of Torkia’s fans would have enjoyed the film. But perhaps it should have stayed on YouTube.