New Age Islam
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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 10 March 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Afghanistan: Women’s rights trampled despite new law

"We want to see your face," Yolande James tells Muslim women

Women's Rights Movement Slowly Taking Shape in Kabul

Iranian women rally against polygamy

Malaysian Hindu woman wins custody battle with Muslim husband

Tunisia's 'feminist' Muslim scholar commemorated in London

'Islamic laws not blame for abuse of women’s rights’

Women empowerment on Muslim body’s agenda

Grand Mufti urges Muslim women to enter politics

Kuwait women’s forum fights for equality

women's Rights Movement Slowly Taking Shape in Kabul

For Afghan Women, Some Hard-Won Successes And An Ongoing Struggle

HAIDARI: A new chance for women

Pennsylvania Woman Tied to Plot on Cartoonist

Influential Muslim Women through the ages

Haniyeh to appoint female minister

Women immigrant outreach groups steer clear of burqa debate

Muslim woman in Canada expelled over face veil files complaint

Six girls killed in Rawalpindi hostel fire

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/afghanistan--women’s-rights-trampled-despite-new-law/d/2566

 

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AFGHANISTAN: Women’s rights trampled despite new law

8 March 2010

As the world marks International Women’s Day, ambivalence, impunity, weak law enforcement and corruption continue to undermine women’s rights in Afghanistan, despite a July 2009 law banning violence against women, rights activists say.

A recent case of the public beating of a woman for alleged elopement - also shown on private TV stations in Kabul - highlights the issue.

In January domestic violence forced two young women to flee their homes in Oshaan village, Dolaina District, Ghor Province, southwestern Afghanistan. A week later they were arrested in neighbouring Herat Province and sent back to Oshaan, according to the governor of Ghor, Mohammad Iqbal Munib.

“One woman was beaten in public for the elopement and the second was reportedly confined in a sack with a cat,” Munib told IRIN.

According to the governor, the illegal capture of the women was orchestrated by Fazul Ahad who leads an illegal armed militia group in Dolaina District. Locals say Ahad, a powerful figure who backed President Hamid Karzai in the August 2009 elections, has been running Oshaan as his personal fiefdom.

“When the roads reopen to Dolaina [closed by snow] we will send a team to investigate,” said the governor, adding that he was concerned that arresting Ahad could cause instability. “We have asked the authorities in Kabul for support and guidance.”

IRIN was unable to contact Fazul Ahad and verify the charges.

Self-immolation

“I poured fuel over my body and set myself ablaze because I was regularly beaten up and insulted by my husband and in-laws,” Zarmina, 28, told IRIN. She, along with over a dozen other women with self-inflicted burns, is in Herat’s burns hospital Over 90 self-immolation cases have been registered at the hospital in the past 11 months; 55 women had died, doctors said.

Full report at: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=88349

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Women's Rights Movement Slowly Taking Shape in Kabul

8 March 2010

Afghanistan Women's Rights Movement Slowly Taking Shape in Kabul, Eurasia Net,

EXCERPT: "Palwasha Hassan had no idea that her impressive resume would be her undoing when her nomination to become Afghanistan’s minister of women’s affairs came up for confirmation in parliament in January. Hassan’s qualifications should have assured her fast confirmation. She set up one of the first shelters for battered and abused Afghan women, and runs a groundbreaking non-governmental organization (NGO), called Rights and Democracy, which has lobbied extensively for women’s rights. She also has a graduate degree from a British university; and was a founding member of the umbrella Afghan Women’s Network, which coordinates the activities of over 70 women’s groups in the country. Yet at her confirmation hearing she came under a barrage of hostile questioning: she was probed on how she planned to limit the 'endless' freedom enjoyed by women; asked whether she supported, and would enforce the wearing of hijab (female head covering) and mehram (regulation requiring a male relative to escort a female while outside the family home); and was queried by a female MP, who hinted that setting up shelters for domestic abuse victims was a dubious proposition. Ultimately, legislators declined to confirm her. Hassan’s fate is just the latest in a string of troubling signs for advocates of women’s rights in Afghanistan. As President Hamid Karzai’s administration floats proposals for peace and reconciliation with insurgent groups, many advocates fear that the government may consent to rolling back their rights to education, employment, public office and even security."

http://www.afghanconflictmonitor.org/

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"We want to see your face," Yolande James tells Muslim women

Kevin Dougherty, Gazette Quebec Bureau

March 9, 2010

QUEBEC - Immigration Minister Yolande James said Tuesday she will not compromise in her refusal to allow students to cover their faces with Islamic niqabs or burqas in French classes.

“There is no ambiguity about this question,” James told reporters. “If you want to assist at our classes, if you want to integrate into Quebec society, here are our values.

“We want to see your face.”

James was reacting to a story about Naema Ahmed, a 29-year-old pharmacist from Egypt who left a French course for immigrants at Montreal’s CÉGEP St-Laurent, rather than remove her niqab.

She then enrolled, without questions asked, in a French course for immigrants at the Centre d’appui aux communautés immigrantes.

James said Roger Giroux, director general of francization in her department, with an interpreter, met Ahmed yesterday to clearly inform her the minister would not tolerate a face covering during French courses.

Giroux also presented the government’s position to Ahmed when she was at CÉGEP St-Laurent.

Ahmed says she wears the niqab of her own will, for religious reasons, although last year Egypt banned the wearing of niqabs in that country’s universities.

“If she wants to take a French course, whether it is in CÉGEP St-Laurent or anywhere else, where we have our francization professors, she has to do so with her face uncovered,” James said.

Ahmed has filed a complaint with Quebec’s Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse alleging the ban infringes Quebec’s freedom of religion guarantee.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/want+your+face+Yolande+James+tells+Muslim+women/2662233/story.html

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Iranian women rally against polygamy

By Sahar Sepehri

11th March, 2010

Iranian women's groups and other organisations are fighting a much discussed proposed law which they say would encourage polygamy by allowing a man to take a second wife without the permission of the first under certain circumstances. The proposal comes at a time when the country has been rocked by protests, in which women have played a major part, following the disputed re-election last June of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Although Islamic law permits a man to marry up to four wives (with strict restrictions), polygamy is not widely practiced in Iran. At present, an Iranian man needs his wife's permission to take a second wife.

A so-called Family Protection Law, proposed by the government in 2008, said a man could marry a second wife on the condition that he could afford both wives financially. The Parliament dropped that clause following a wave of opposition from women, but is now reconsidering a different version of the provision.

The spokesman for the Parliament's Judicial and Legal Commission, Amir Hussein Rahimi, announced recently that the commission has now approved Article 23 of the proposed Family Protection Law that states, "A man can marry a second wife under ten conditions."

The new version still requires the first wife to give her husband permission, though controversially this permission would not be required under certain conditions, such as if she is mentally ill, suffers from infertility, does not cooperate sexually or has a chronic medical condition or drug addiction.

Iranian women still oppose the legalisation of polygamy, saying it weakens their role and status at home and in society.

Full report at: http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/viewarticles.php?editorialid=968

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Malaysian Hindu woman wins custody battle with Muslim husband

11th March, 2010

Malaysia's High Court Thursday granted a Hindu woman custody of her child after a bitter court battle with her estranged Muslim husband, who converted their children to Islam and then took possession of them.

Kindergarten teacher Indira Gandhi, 35, was given custody of her 22-month-old toddler by the high court in the northern state of Perak, which ruled that the child be handed back to her mother immediately.

Gandhi's husband embraced Islam in March 2009 without her knowledge and in April had allegedly taken their three children's birth certificates to convert them to become Muslims.

The estranged couple then began a bitter custody battle for the children.

Gandhi's two older children, 13 and 12, were earlier ordered to be returned to her, leaving only her youngest child in the custody of her husband.

'I hope he will return my baby to me as soon as possible,' Gandhi was quoted by the Star newspaper as saying shortly after the court decision.

Gandhi, who is an ethnic Indian, is also appealing to quash the conversion of all three children.

Because of the case, mainly Muslim Malaysia announced last year that it would ban the forced conversion of children to Islam.

Islam is the official religion in Malaysia, but non-Muslims are allowed to practise their faiths.

There had been growing unease among Malaysia's mainly Chinese and Indian ethnic minorities who are mostly Buddhists, Christians and Hindus over numerous complaints of discrimination by the authorities when seeking legal redress after divorce and religious conversions.

http://www.malaysianews.net/story/610948

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Tunisia's 'feminist' Muslim scholar commemorated in London

By Mamoon Alabbasi

March 9, 2010

A lecture was held Friday in London celebrating the life and work of a prominent Tunisian Islamic scholar who was known for championing women's rights in 1930s.

The religious views of Taher Haddad (1899-1935), especially in his famous book "Our Women in Sharia and Society" (1930), were seen as having a major impact on modern Tunisia's stance towards women's rights.

His book, dubbed by some as an 'Islamic feminist' theory, relies on religious sources and arguments to make the case for women.

The lecture, entitled "Taher Haddad: the Precursor of Women's Rights in Tunisia," was organised by the Tunisian Embassy in London just days before the celebrations of International Women's Day on Monday.

During her speech, the Ambassador of Tunisia to London, Mrs. Hamida Mrabet Labidi, hailed her country's legal reforms in favour of gender equality and women's rights, which she stressed are "in no way imposed from outside our Arabic Islamic reality."

She added that "Tunisian reformist thinking which advocates the emancipation of women" was not confined to the modern schools of thought in Tunisia, but had included "prominent figures of the Zaytouna Islamic institution as well."

Labidi echoed the position of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who insists that Tunisia's reforms are in harmony with the country's Arab and Islamic identity and heritage.

Dr. Husni and HE Mrs. Labidi

The lecture was presented by Dr. Daniel Lawrence Newman, Professor of Arabic at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at University of Durham; and Dr. Ronak Husni, Senior Lecturer in Arabic at the School of Management and Languages at Heriot-Watt University.

"It would probably be true to say that [Haddad] is a precursor to women's right's the world over, not just Tunisia," said Newman.

Full report at: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/culture/?id=37715

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'Islamic laws not blame for abuse of women’s rights’

By Anwar Elshamy

09 March 2010

Islamic laws are not to blame for cases of abuse of women’s rights in the Arab region as they are due to either wrong application of these rules or deep rooted anti-women traditions in the region, according to delegates at the Fifth Arab-European Dialogue on Human Rights which opened in Doha yesterday.

Nour al-Malki, the secretary general of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, said that the Shariah has given women full rights without any discrimination, which she said, can only appear when it comes to putting the Shariah rules in place.

“Many of the women’s rights abuses come as a result of the wrong application or interpretation of Islamic principles in our region. Just to change legislation is not enough; there is a need to change the cultural heritage and social customs as well,” al-Malki, who is also a member of the National Human Rights Committee, said in an intervention during the second session of the meeting.

Fatoum Qudama of Morocco said many of the Islamic principles have been overshadowed by “old traditions and social habits” in Muslim societies.

“In Islam, equality between men and women is the prevailing rule,” Qudama said.

However, Ameena Lemreina, a member at the advisory council for human rights in Morocco, blamed what she called “historical discrimination” against women on the political leadership in many of the world’s countries.

She bserved that many of the women’s rights abuses are related to the interpretation of Islam.

Referring to the reservation made by some Muslim countries about Article 2 in the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Dr Bahija Bahaa Izzi, an adviser at the Saudi Shura Council, said the reservation would remain for good when it comes to the Islamic laws of inheritance.

“What you noted in your question, that women inherit less than men, is just part of the truth, and not the whole truth.

“There is a big misconception that women inherit less than men in Islam. This is a misconception because it is only one case while there are three other cases in which women inherit as much as men, inherit more than men, or even inherit while men don’t. But this depends on the closeness to the deceased,” Dr Izzi said, while urging the European community to read more about the Arabic culture, saying that Islam has given women privileges which even lacked in the CEDAW.

http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=347566&version=1&template_id=36&parent_id=16

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Women empowerment on Muslim body’s agenda

Faisal Fareed

March 10, 2010

The issues of youth affairs and women empowerment are set to hog the limelight during the upcoming annual convention of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in the state capital between March 19 and 21.

The Board is meeting for the first time in the state capital where the executive committee meeting will be held at the Islamic seminary of Nadwatul Uloom, while a Jalsa-e-Aam (open house) is scheduled at the Aishbagh Eidgaah on March 21.

Outlining the agenda of the Board's conclave, Aishbagh Eidgaah Naib Imam, Maulana Khaild Rasheed Farangi Mahli said that a guideline would be formulated to create awareness among Muslim youths and women about Islamic Shariah. “Of late, Muslim youths have drifted away from Islamic teachings. We need to bring them back to our fold besides presenting a true picture of our religion to the society,” he said.

The Board is also planning to issue guidelines in simple format to settle the controversial issue of 'triple talaq'.

“Several unpleasant incidents have taken place due to lack of knowledge about Shariah. Some issues like talaq serve as fodder for media and are exploited. Simple guidelines in do's and don'ts format will be issued for the average Muslims to safeguard their interests,” he added.

Several court verdicts which were against the tenets of Islam would also be discussed and the progress of establishing Darul-Qaza would also be reviewed, he said.

Full report at: www.dailypioneer.com/240974/Women-empowerment-on-Muslim-body%E2%80%99s-agenda.html

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Grand Mufti urges Muslim women to enter politics

March 10th, 2010

A top Islamic cleric Wednesday welcomed the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha, describing it as “a great step towards women’s empowerment”.

“This is a great step towards women’s empowerment. I would urge Indian Muslim women to enter politics and get themselves elected to parliament and state assemblies. They will have to empower themselves,” the Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Maulana Bashir-ud-Din, told reporters here.

The Mufti said that since there are apprehensions about the bill being anti-Muslim, “I urge political parties to give tickets to women from minorities so that all the apprehensions about the bill are cleared”.

Bashir-ud-Din heads the Sharia court of Jammu and Kashmir and is also the president of the state Personal Law Board. He is authorised to make decisions on Islamic law and issue fatwas.

“There is no doubt that the country belongs to us all. Muslims need not think that there is nothing for them or the nation doesn’t belong to them. They should come forward and start taking part in nation building and towards self empowerment,” he said, reacting to opposition to the bill by some parties on grounds that it is anti-Muslim.

He said that he hoped that the bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha Tuesday, will see a smooth passage in the Lok Sabha.

The bill seeks to set aside for women 181 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha and 1,370 of the 4,109 seats in 28 state assemblies.

http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/politics/grand-mufti-urges-muslim-women-to-enter-politics_100332742.html

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Kuwait women’s forum fights for equality

James Calderwood

March 10. 2010

KUWAIT CITY // Parliament’s committee for women and family affairs will propose legislation this month in an effort to end discrimination against women, the MP Aseel al Awadhi said at a forum celebrating International Women’s Day in Kuwait on Monday.

The bill will focus on changing laws that prevent Kuwaiti women who marry non-Kuwaitis from passing citizenship to their children and try to boost the number of women in top positions in the government and judiciary.

“We’re working on some changes to some laws that actually don’t treat men and women equally in their civil rights, especially in promotions and getting positions of leadership within the government institutions,” Ms al Awadhi said at the forum, adding that she expects a tough battle to get the measure through parliament.

She is one of four women elected last year who have since then won victories in the constitutional courts to enable women to get passports without their husband’s permission and to ensure they can participate in parliament without wearing a hijab. If they can get the new bill through parliament, it would be their biggest success.

About 50 people at the Marriott Courtyard’s Al Raya Ballroom listened to speeches from the parliament’s speaker, Jassem al Kharafi and Massouma al Mubarak, the committee for women and family affairs chairwoman. Ms al Mubarak said women are still not accepted as “genuine and effective partners” in the development process. She said some laws still discriminate against women or are unfairly applied.

She cited the law that prevents Kuwaiti women who marry foreigners from naturalising their husbands or raising Kuwaiti children as an example.

Lina Zuter, 50, is a Kuwaiti part-time teacher who married a Libyan. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Ms Zuter’s family moved to the United States, where her husband and three children all became American citizens. About 10 years ago, her husband’s job brought the family back to Kuwait.

Full report at: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100310/FOREIGN/703099839/1002

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For Afghan Women, Some Hard-Won Successes And An Ongoing Struggle

By Tanya Goudsouzian, Helena Malikyar

March 08, 2010

The iconic image of the green-eyed Afghan girl who graced the cover of “National Geographic” magazine in 1985 generated a media frenzy when a new picture emerged in 2002, just a few months after the ruling Taliban was ousted from her native Afghanistan. No words could have better depicted the extent of her suffering during the 17 years since the original photo was taken.

But it was not her war-weary face that launched 1,000 NGOs to work toward improving the lives of Afghan women. That vogue had actually begun with the Taliban’s coming to power in 1996, and regardless of whether their efforts were effective, a new wave of NGOs entered the fray in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 to champion the cause of the downtrodden Afghan woman.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, it is apt to consider what progress has been made, and what challenges continue to hinder the efforts of well-intentioned parties.

The fall of the Taliban brought global attention to the plight of Afghan women -- from overzealous, ultrafeminist Western groups to former hippie do-gooders. Suddenly, it seemed like the entire world was scrambling to ameliorate the condition of the Afghan woman. But even with a sizeable amount of aid and scores of consultants and projects, palpable changes remain elusive.

Some critics find fault in the approach taken by many of the foreign organizations. They charge that many programs are rooted in a Western worldview and have not taken into account the social and cultural realities of an Islamic, underdeveloped, and postconflict society. As such, they have sought to impose foreign values that cannot be absorbed, and consequently, cannot bring effective change.

Full report at: http://www.rferl.org/content/Struggle_And_Success_For_Afghan_Women/1977529.html

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HAIDARI: A new chance for women

By M. Ashraf Haidari

March 9, 2010

Opportunities are opening in health care, education and government

The long agony for Afghanistan's women ended with the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The story of Farida Tarana, for example, is no longer unique and gives Afghan women increased hope for equal rights under Afghanistan's progressive constitution.

Miss Tarana was among the first female contestants to appear on "Afghan Star," the local version of "American Idol." She impressed many by her performance of Afghan folk and pop songs, ascending to the No. 8 position on the widely watched TV program. Miss Tarana's achievement was no small feat. Her debut came just a few years after the Taliban, who publicly executed women for immodesty and had banned all forms of music and entertainment.

But Miss Tarana went beyond the performance stage and into the political arena; she entered politics following her successful stint in entertainment. Last August, she ran in Afghanistan's provincial council elections, winning the second-highest number of votes in the country out of 524 candidates that competed for 29 seats in Kabul's provincial council.

Like Miss Tarana, thousands of other women are active in Afghanistan in various capacities. The first female provincial governor and district mayor in Afghan history are serving their constituencies. The key ministries of public health and women's affairs are led by women, as is Afghanistan's Independent Commission on Human Rights. At the same time, the Afghan Parliament continues to convene with a higher percentage of female representatives, 27.3 percent, than the legislative bodies of many of the most established democracies, including the U.S. Congress (15.2 percent) and British Parliament (19.7 percent).

Full report at: http://washingtontimes.com/news/2010/mar/09/a-new-chance-for-women/

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Pennsylvania Woman Tied to Plot on Cartoonist

By Charlie Savage And Anahad O'connor

March 9, 2010

WASHINGTON — A Pennsylvania woman who called herself JihadJane was tied Tuesday to an alleged assassination plot against a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the prophet Muhammad atop the body of a dog.

In an indictment unsealed Tuesday, federal prosecutors accused Colleen R. LaRose, an American from the suburbs of Philadelphia, of linking up through the Internet with militants overseas and plotting to carry out a murder.

Ms. LaRose, 46, was arrested in Philadelphia in October, but her case was kept under seal. Although the indictment does not identify the target, a law enforcement official said her case was linked to the arrests Tuesday of seven Muslims in Ireland in connection with a scheme to kill the cartoonist, Lars Vilks. A group linked to Al Qaeda had put a $100,000 bounty on his head for the cartoon, which the group perceived as an insult to Islam.

European news reports said the Irish police, who arrested the four men and three women in Cork and Waterford, had coordinated the operation with the United States. A Justice Department spokesman would not confirm whether Ms. LaRose had been involved with the Irish assassination plot.

Mark T. Wilson and Rossman D. Thompson, federal public defenders in Philadelphia who are representing Ms. LaRose, declined to comment.

She is one of just a handful of women charged in the United States with terrorism offenses in recent years. Michael L. Levy, the United States attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, said in a statement the case illustrated how terrorists were looking for American recruits who could blend in. “It shatters any lingering thought that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance,” he said.

Full report at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/us/10pennsylvania.html

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Influential Muslim Women Through the Ages

by Fareeda Ahmed

3/9/10

March means Women’s History month, and yesterday, March 9th, was International Women’s Day. From the start of Islam through the present day, Muslim women have influenced the course of history, advanced the standard of women’s roles, and pushed the envelope of human possibility past the closed doors in front of them.

Here is a look at a group of 10 distinguished Muslim women throughout history, who have redrawn the boundaries of “Muslim” and of “woman’ in influencing the following 10 spheres: Activism, Religion, Athletics, Cinema, Arts, Diplomacy, Mysticism, Politics, Literature, and Empire.

elan’s selections span pre-20th century to modern day - some may surprise you in their accomplishments, while others are a celebration of the achievements we as Muslims know and love.  And as usual, we turn to you, our readers to ask - who else would you list, and why?

PRE-20TH CENTURY

Religion: Khadijah

The first convert to Islam was Khadijah, Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) first wife. Her support of her husband immediately following his life-changing revelation was instrumental to infant Islam’s survival starting in 600 AD. Several years senior to Muhammad (PBUH) and his boss, she was often consulted in matters concerning the burgeoning religion, and was one of his most trusted advisors. Her model faith and support have made her a paradigm for Muslim women and wives.

Additional Influencers:

Other women whose influence and support greatly aided Muhammad (PBUH) and whose example is often popularized in the Muslim world are Aishah bint Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s (PBUH) youngest wife, and Fatima, Muhammad’s (PBUH) daughter.

Arts: Walladah bint Mustakfi

Full report at: www.elanthemag.com/index.php/site/featured_articles_detail/influential_muslim_women_through_the_ages-nid420820776/

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Haniyeh to appoint female minister

Mar 9, 2010

This article was originally published by the Ma'an News Agency and is republished with permission.

De facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced Tuesday that his government intends to appoint a female minister to head a Women's Affairs Ministry in the Gaza Strip.

"The government is planning to appoint a number of female ministers to better include them in the decision-making process," Haniyeh told attendees at an event honoring women in the workforce in Gaza City.

"We are a national government, based on Islamic principles, and we call on women to be more involved in the parliament, municipalities, and ministries. We are proud of this for this is a woman's right," he added, speaking at the Palestinian Legislative Council building.

Haniyeh said the Gaza government will place more importance on women's issues, and giving their concerns more attention.

The announcement came a day after Palestinian women marked International Women's Day, taking part in rallies and other events throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.

http://imeu.net/news/article0018593.shtml

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Women immigrant outreach groups steer clear of burqa debate

By Guillaume LOIRET

09/03/2010

Women’s associations working to help immigrant families in underprivileged French neighbourhoods are resisting a politician’s initiative to use their influence to discourage the burqa, the head-to-toe Islamic veil.

Les Bosquets de Montfermeil (“Montfermeil Grove”) may only be 15 kilometres from Paris but it's a good hour-and-a-half train ride, and another world away from the French capital.

The low-income housing estate is an isolated enclave with a bad reputation. The area was hit hard by youth riots that rocked Parisian suburbs in November 2005; for the French press, les Bosquets is inextricably linked to violence and France’s problems integrating its minorities.

Integration is the mission of the Archives of Family Immigration (Arifa), an association of women who help immigrant families in the neighbourhood navigate bureaucratically complex French medical, legal, and educational institutions, as well as other social services. Arifa was founded in the late 1980s, a time that saw a rise in French organisations made up of female social workers from immigrant families.

Arifa’s headquarters are located in one of les Bosquets’ last standing housing blocks (the neighbourhood is being renovated), and its twelve employees are a group as diverse as the area they work in: the staff includes association director Maryse, a Frenchwoman, Nassima, who is of Algerian descent, Pinda and Aissata, who are Malian, and Assifa, who was born in Pakistan.

Full report at: www.france24.com/en/20100309-women-immigrant-outreach-groups-steer-clear-burqa-debate-france-paris-marseille

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Muslim woman in Canada expelled over face veil files complaint

Leanne Larmondin

Mar 9, 2010

A Muslim woman has filed a human rights complaint after she was expelled from a Canadian college for refusing to remove her face veil.

The Egyptian-born woman, who is a permanent resident of Canada, was enrolled in a government-sponsored French language class for new immigrants in Montreal, Quebec.

The school, CÉGEP St. Laurent, expelled her in November 2009 after she refused to remove her niqab, a veil that covers the face with only a slit for the eyes.

The school argued that the niqab interfered with the language teaching, since part of the class involves proper elocution and seeing how a person pronounces words in French.

"For the teacher, it was more difficult to hear her, and it was more difficult for all the people to understand what she had to say," said the school's director, Paul-Émile Bourque.

School officials said they had tried different ways of accommodating the woman between February and November 2009. She had previously asked that male students in the class not face her, so school officials allowed her to give an oral presentation at the far end of the classroom with her back turned to the other students.

The order to remove her niqab came after officials from Quebec's immigration ministry visited the class. She was told she could take the class on the Internet.

The woman, identified only as Naema, told Canada's CBC News that she wants to learn French so that she can work as a pharmacist in the province.

Full report at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/100/article/muslim-woman-in-canada-expelled-over-face-veil-files-complaint/?cHash=ade03c0d44

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Six girls killed in Rawalpindi hostel fire

By Shakeel Anjum

March 09, 2010

RAWALPINDI: At least six girl students belonging to different educational institutions, including the Riphah Medical College and the Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, lost their lives due to burns and suffocation when fire engulfed the National Foundation Women Hostel on the Iftikhar Janjua Road in Rawalpindi on Monday afternoon.

Two other persons, including a staff member, were shifted to a hospital in critical condition. There was an irony to the tragic incident that it took place on the International Women’s Day which is observed worldwide on March 8.

Army and police officers, including City Police Officer (CPO) Rao Muhammad Iqbal and SP (Potohar Town) Kamran Adil, reached the scene to control the situation. Kamran Adil confirmed the death toll, saying those who lost their lives were identified as Farah, Sobia, Aasia, Iqra Naheed, Atia and Huma. Farah Naz and Sobia belonged to Bhimber, Azad Kashmir, and were students of Riphah Medical College, Rawalpindi. Aasia was also studying in the final year at the Riphah Medical College. Huma was a resident of Rawalpindi while Atia and Iqra belonged to Mianwali.

Quoting a medico-legal report, the SP said Farah Naz and Sobia died of burn injuries while Aasia, Iqra Naheed, Atia and Huma died of suffocation. The building has been sealed on the orders of the Punjab chief minister to ascertain the cause of fire.

Most of the students were having a siesta in the afternoon after coming back from their institutions when the tragedy took place. The fire erupted in Room 314 on the top floor of the three-storey building, apparently due to the carelessness of a student, who locked her room and left the hostel leaving electric iron on after ironing her clothes.

Fire-fighting units of the Army, Rescue-1122 and Cantonment Board rushed to the scene and overpowered the rising flames after a two-hour struggle. Although the blaze was extinguished, the debris smouldered till late in the night and fire again erupted at 9 pm and the fire-fighters of Rescue-1122 reached the scene again to control the flames.

Full report at: http://thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27684

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/afghanistan--women’s-rights-trampled-despite-new-law/d/2566


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