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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 16 Feb 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Arrested Egyptian Girl, 18, Gives Birth While Handcuffed

New Age Islam News Bureau

16 Feb 2014

Photo: Arrested Egyptian Girl, 18, Gives Birth While Handcuffed


 Saudi Valentines Defy the Love Police

 Chicago Muslim Woman Says People Friendlier When Hat, Scarf Cover Hijab

 Saudi Gazette Appoints Kingdom’s First Female Newspaper Editor

 Police Detain Radical Women's Outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat Chief for Anti-Valentine's Day Drive

 FATA Women and the Question of Taliban Sharia

 Sharjah Jail Nursery Encourages Mothers to Bond with Children

 Saudi Justice Ministry to Hire Women for Top Jobs

 Fitness Femme: Health En Vogue with Emirati Women

 Success for British-Bangladeshi Sisters

 35-Year-Old Bangladeshi Woman to Create World Record

 3rd Conference of Muslim Women Parliamentarians Held In Tehran

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Arrested Egyptian Girl, 18, Gives Birth While Handcuffed

February 16, 2014

18-year-old Egyptian Dahab Hamdy was 8 months pregnant when she accidently got caught up in an anti-coup protest on her way to hospital for a check-up on January 14.

As Egyptian police cracked down on the protest, Hamdy and her friend were arrested for taking part in the protest even though they were clearly just passersby and taken to the Al-Amereya detention center. Since then, she has had her detention renewed 15 times.

When she went into labor, she was still in the detention. The authorities temporarily released her to go to hospital to give birth, but still handcuffed her to her hospital bed, and are now waiting to be taken back into detention.

According to the Middle-East Monitor, her husband appealed to a public prosecutor but is yet to get a response.



Saudi Valentines defy the love police

February 16, 2014

Riyadh: Red roses lurk hidden in flower shop back rooms and heart-shaped chocolates are sold under the counter, but Saudis still manage to buy Valentine’s gifts and defy the religious police.

Florist Hussain came up with a simple solution to a ban on red tokens of love: he filled his window with white roses, orange irises and violet hydrangeas.

“I’ve hidden everything red in the shop, so when a religious police patrol comes along, they find nothing to complain about,” he said.

Anti-Valentine’s Day patrols by the Muttawa religious police — formally known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — started on Wednesday.

They began entering premises stocking chocolates, flowers and souvenirs to warn proprietors against selling anything red or heart-shaped and linked to the annual “infidel celebration” of matters romantic.

In Saudi Arabia sexes are strictly segregated and any public display of affection is completely taboo.

Hussain’s shop window may be blooming with white, orange and violet, but he still has the real thing — red roses — out the back.

“I’ve sold at least 350 red roses at 20 riyals [Dh20] a pop,” he said.

“Many women call us on the phone to order roses, because they fear the religious police.”

Kumar, another florist, was persuaded by a Muttawa visit not even to consider flouting the Valentine’s Day ban, however.

“We’re going to sell these to a chocolate shop,” he said, pointing to bouquets of red flowers in a back room of his store.

Confectioners do have chocolate hearts for discreet sale, but only to the right people.

“Of course we have them, but the religious police came by and warned us against selling them,” said one chocolate shop owner who asked not to be identified.

‘It’s only chocolate!’

“We hid them because we don’t want any problems,” he added, smiling, indicating that an illicit transaction involving the chocolate contraband would be more than acceptable.

In another shop in a commercial district of the capital, an Egyptian employee said the religious police had told them not to sell heart-shaped chocolate or sweets wrapped in red paper.

One man browsing in the shop was clearly unhappy: “Why are they forbidden? It’s only chocolate!” he complained.

Another customer — an older man — shot him a dark look.

Only a liberal fringe of Saudis actually celebrates Valentine’s Day in an ultraconservative society in which clerics and their pronouncements are widely respected.

One of the most popular, Mohammed Al Oraifi, this year took to Twitter where he has hundreds of thousands of followers, decreeing that those in the kingdom who celebrate Valentine’s Day “want to copy the infidels”.

However, not everywhere in Saudi Arabia is the ban strictly enforced.

In the Red Sea port of Jeddah, the country’s commercial capital in the west, a more liberal attitude towards the lovers’ festival can be noted.

This year, some florists have been openly selling red roses, and are unafraid to give their names.

“The religious police didn’t come. We’re doing nothing wrong anyway,” said Abu Zakaria, who runs a flower shop in the north of the city.

Another man, Thamer Hussain, said some people with romantic yearnings marked the Valentine’s festival a day in advance, to ensure the experience was hassle-free.

“Some young people celebrated St Valentine’s Day on Wednesday evening, with small parties and exchanges of gifts,” he said.

In this way they managed to avoid the attentions of the Muttawa, who are expected to perform their duties religiously on Friday, ensuring that for unmarried couples a quick canoodle is definitely unacceptable.



Chicago Muslim Woman Says People Friendlier When Hat, Scarf Cover Hijab

February 16, 2014

A Muslim woman’s effort to deal with Chicago’s brutal cold by covering her head with warm winter gear — inadvertently concealing her Hijab — produced unanticipated and thought-provoking results.

Leena Suleimani’s online posting about her experience — which included suddenly getting more friendly treatment from non-Muslims and getting the cold shoulder by members of her faith — was among the top stories Monday morning on website’s TrueReddit and Chicago Reddit.

“I didn’t understand what was happening at first,” Suleiman, 25, who works as an architectural designer downtown, said in a post titled “I Took Off My Hijab,” on her blog, Facetruth, at

Non-Muslim “people started talking to me more. Women would speak to me like I knew them since forever. Men looked at me like I was actually approachable. And I was made to feel like I was actually from this planet,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Muslim taxi drivers, who previously typically greeted her warmly and on occasion wouldn’t even let her pay, were far less friendly.

“I’m used to going in [taxis] with my Hijab showing, and immediately they’re smiling and asking me where I’m from . . . if I’m single,” she said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. “If it’s an older man, he’s very fatherly, very nice . . . we have like a full conversation.”

Suddenly, she was greeted with cold, dead silence.

As she passed other Muslim women wearing Hijabs, they no longer acknowledged her. Typically when one woman wearing a Hijab passes another wearing one, one of the women will stare at the other until she notices, and they exchange a traditional Islamic greeting, she said.

Now there was none of that.

Suleiman, who was born in Oak Lawn and resides in Chicago Ridge, realized the change in treatment was because her Hijab — a head scarf — was concealed by her knit hat and scarf. Before this winter, she had never previously covered her Hijab and hadn’t intentionally meant to do so.

At first, she embraced the warmer treatment she got from non-Muslims.

“It was as if I accidentally walked into the wrong door,” she said. “I felt like I was actually a part of the society here. I belong here. I have a place, and I can be loved and respected and accepted.”

But upon reflection, she said she began to despise the inequality.

In her blog post she asked, “Did that mean that with the Hijab I am not as respectable . . . as lovable . . . I cannot be accepted? . . . . Apparently, the type of cloth you place or wrap around your head defines how you will be treated . . . I pray one day . . . that people will be familiar enough with all other cultures and beliefs that the thing that stands out to them is no wrap around my head, but the smile on my face.”

Suleiman told the Sun-Times she was saddened by the realization that when the weather gets nicer and she takes off her winter garb, the old patterns will return.

She hopes Muslims and non-Muslims get this message from her blog post:

“Take steps to learn when you see someone who doesn’t look like you, doesn’t’ act like you, doesn’t believe the same way you do,” she said. “. . . The basic is treating each other well and respecting them . . . be as accepting as they possibly can.”

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, said his mother and sister have had similar experiences. He said he first began to understand what Muslim women who wear the Hijab experience when he walked with his sister in a mall after she started wearing it.

“People would stare at her, and I would stare at them,” he said. “She on the other hand would just look ahead saying, ‘I won’t let it bother me.’ ”

He said the message of Suleiman’s experience is “just like a book, don’t judge a woman by her cover.”



Saudi Gazette appoints kingdom’s first female newspaper editor

February 16, 2014

The Saudi Gazette newspaper has appointed the country’s first female editor-in-chief, in what has been called a “historic” move in the conservative kingdom.

Somayya Jabarti takes the reins of the English-language newspaper from Khaled Almaeena, who becomes editor-at-large.

Jabarti, previously deputy editor, becomes the first female editor of a national newspaper in Saudi Arabia, although other women have headed magazines in the kingdom.

“There’s a crack that has been made in the glass ceiling. And I’m hoping it will be made into a door,” Jabarti told Al Arabiya News.

“This is a first for a Saudi daily… A mold has been broken where editors-in-chief of Saudi daily newspapers are concerned.”

Jabarti spoke of the responsibility she feels in the new position, given that her success may have a bearing on other women’s careers.

“Being the first Saudi woman [newspaper editor] is going to be double the responsibility... One’s actions will reflect upon my fellow Saudi women,” she said.

“The success will not be complete unless I see my peers who are also Saudi women in the media, take other roles where they are decision makers.”

Before joining the Saudi Gazette in March 2011, Jabarti worked at rival newspaper Arab News, where over nine years she rose in the ranks to deputy editor.

Jabarti’s new role begins imminently, with her name appearing on the newspaper masthead from tomorrow.

The editor says she has not encountered any sexism or racism at Saudi Gazette, which has about 20 reporters, of which just three are men.

“The majority of our reporters are women – not because we are biased and choosing women over men. There are more women who are interested in being journalists, and who are journalists.”

However, most of the newspaper’s staff are content editors, and these are predominately men, she added. She said Saudi visa restrictions and working hours were challenges to employing more women.

The former editor-in-chief Almaeena confirmed the change at the newspaper, calling Jabarti’s appointment a “historic” move.

“She’s the first editor-in-chief of a Saudi paper - English or Arabic-language,” he said. “In Saudi Arabia it’s a major achievement.”

Almaeena, writing of his move here, said he has long held a goal of seeing a “Saudi woman enter the male-dominated bastion of editors-in-chief.”

But he told Al Arabiya News that Jabarti’s gender was not a factor in the appointment. “She deserves it,” he said. “For me, gender doesn’t matter.”

Almaeena said that the newspaper’s “greatest competitor” is Twitter, something that will prove a “major challenge” for the new editor.

Almaeena took the editorship of Saudi Gazette in April 2012, having twice been editor of Arab News, from 1982 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2011.

“An editor-in-chief is like a platoon commander,” he wrote today. “He has to make hasty decisions, shoot from the hip and improvise without turning to press rules and regulations. And I enjoy doing that as exhibited by front-paging the story of the two Saudi women athletes to the Olympics when many others were hesitant to do so. For our team, red lines often were very thin and blurred.”



Police Detain Radical Women's Outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat Chief for Anti-Valentine's Day Drive

February 16, 2014

Radical women's outfit Dukhtaran-e-Milat Chief Asiya Andrabi and her three colleagues were today detained by police here while carrying out an anti-Valentine's day drive.

Every year on Valentine's Day, Dukhtaran activists visit restaurants and cafes in Srinagar city to chase away young couples. Abdrabi and her colleagues were taken into preventive custody by police team including female cops at Residency Road here while they were going for their drive, police sources said. The detained separatist leader and her aides were taken to Rambagh women's police station and lodged there, the sources said.

Before being taken into custody, Andrabi told reporters that Valentine's Day celebrations were un-Islamic and had not any place in a Muslim society. "We live in a Muslim society and Islam does not permit free mixing of unmarried boys and girls as promoted by Valentine's Day celebrations," she said.



FATA women and the question of Taliban sharia

February 16, 2014

The Taliban have achieved their aim of becoming non-state national actors by pretending to be concerned about the constitution and the future political agenda it wants to set

As Pakistan prepares to define the parameters of talks with the Taliban, certain questions and concerns are missing from our media. Specifically, the question of women in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has, so far, been omitted from the discourse in the mainstream media. During the past decade, reporting on FATA has largely been limited to drone attacks, martyrs versus non-martyrs, the US-led war or our own war, military operations and the subsequent displacement of a large number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The human side of this war — especially its gender effects — is rarely discussed in our media. The miseries of women in FATA because of mass migration, internal displacement, rape, abuse and killings in this war have received little attention or sympathy. No help is available for women widowed or sexually abused, and their children, semi-orphaned, during this war.

Women and children in camps and different villages are traumatised but, because of conservative cultural norms and traditions, they cannot seek help or counselling. According to a recent study, a great majority (71 percent of respondents in IDP camps), believe they suffer from depression, anxiety and other psychological issues, particularly among women and children. Women are less likely to share their burdens however, and have learnt to dull their feelings and remain silent.

The already existing vacuum created by Article 247-B of Pakistan’s constitution, which put FATA outside the jurisdiction of Pakistan’s Supreme Court (SC) and parliament, had already isolated the region, particularly in times of ongoing militancy. That vacuum was filled with traditions, local customs and tribal jirgas (councils) and was further widened when the Taliban entered the area, exploiting the situation and making the administrative system ineffective. Their stern, dogmatic views have made women’s rights to education, voting and free movement the main casualty in the current situation.

With the estimated seven million population of FATA, women constitute up to 60 percent of the workforce in the agricultural sector, mainly to earn their sustenance and support their families. With the Taliban takeover, many were restricted to staying indoors. The loss of their workforce has pushed some families, especially those families that have no male breadwinner, into extreme poverty.

The Taliban’s foremost ideological agenda seemed to be annihilation of educational institutions across FATA. Bombings of girls’ schools in FATA by the Taliban were coupled with girls being banned from attending schools. There are news reports that the remaining schools were taken over by the army as base camps. According to official data from the FATA Secretariat, 450 schools in FATA were bombed in recent years. With less than three percent literacy rate among FATA women, the destruction of infrastructure, and forcefully stopping girls from going to school has further affected the lives of women in one of the poorest regions in the world.

While the education sector suffers from bombing of schools by the Taliban, the health sector has also had a major setback in the targeting of polio workers in the region. The already non-existent health infrastructure in FATA has further deteriorated with ongoing militancy. FATA has 41 hospitals for its estimated seven million population. There is one bed for every 2,327 people as compared to 1,450 in the rest of Pakistan. For a population of 8,189, only one doctor is available and a mere 43 percent of people have access to safe drinking water. The Taliban banned women from stepping out of the house without a mehram (male guardian). With restricted mobility, women and children cannot visit health clinics, thus affecting their health and wellbeing. During Taliban sharia rule in Afghanistan, many women died of minor ailments because of their restricted mobility, and the added restriction that women could only by treated by female doctors.

Taliban control in FATA has created a system that runs parallel to the one already operating (albeit dysfunctionally), making it more oppressive and further subjugating women in the region. The recent development of talks with the Taliban and the subsequent demand of Taliban-imposed shariat ignore the question of women. In fact, they ignore the lives of people in FATA. Does this mean that the impending imposition of official sharia will replace the old system operating in FATA? Will imposition of sharia with state blessing acknowledge the basic rights of women? Will women’s right to education, healthcare and free movement be ensured?

The implementation of sharia by the Taliban, even in its very strict sense, ideally should not have affected the education, health and work rights of these women but the Pakistani Taliban version of sharia is more regressive and ‘Arabised’ in nature than Islamic. The Taliban in Pakistan have given the same edicts that were made by the Taliban in Afghanistan regarding women, making it one of the most misogynist movements in the world. Unfortunately, with their myopic sharia, girls were forced to stay indoors, schools were closed and their mobility was restricted in the Taliban-controlled areas of FATA. It is very clear that the Taliban are averse to even a limited role for women, like the one women in FATA had before. This is their policy agenda of sharia, regarding women.

The Taliban have achieved their aim of becoming non-state national actors by pretending to be concerned about the constitution and the future political agenda it wants to set, but we know that these concerns will only be entertained by Pakistan in areas that do not come under the constitution like FATA. However, with state approval, this tyranny will become official.

All these basic concerns of the women in FATA — who are already burqa-clad, have restricted mobility and are suppressed in the name of patriarchy — should be addressed if we want to talk about durable solutions in the region. Women become the worst victims of war and the biggest stakeholders of peace. How does our country expect a ‘return’ to peace when women, who are already a part of the marginalised system, will be further persecuted with state blessings and tribal selective sharia? The precedent of Taliban rule and their treatment of women are visible next door to us. Ignoring the question of women and their stake in the possible imposition of the Taliban version of sharia in FATA in our dialogue with the Taliban is criminal neglect, and one that our liberals are quiet about since achieving peace is a desperate priority for the state. Recently, the Senate passed a resolution asking the government to protect the rights of women and minorities in the peace talks but how is that resolution extendible or binding on the government when Article 247-B puts FATA outside the jurisdiction of parliament? Achieving ‘peace’ by ignoring half the population of FATA would be a farce.

Mona Naseer



Sharjah jail nursery encourages mothers to bond with children

February 16, 2014

Sharjah: Children play happily with toys and colourful photographs adorn the walls. At first glance, this could be a nursery anywhere in the city — except for the view of the high wall outside.

The children in this nursery are at the Dar Al Aman child care centre and their mothers are all serving jail terms.

Women prisoners in Sharjah are being given the opportunity to bond with their children in this facility on Wasit Road, which in turn helps them put their lives back on track, Gulf News learnt during a recent tour of the facility. The nursery is available for children ages two years and under.

Gulf News was taken on an exclusive tour of the jail nursery, located on Wasit Road in Sharjah. The nursery currently has 10 children, four boys and six girls, ages two months to two years.

The facility is in a separate building from the main jail. It’s a cheerful place with pink and blue cradles and beds, coloured curtains and patterned blankets. In addition to a play area, there is a medical centre and education centre.

There are no bars in the bedrooms.

There are stand-in mothers who live at the nursery, in addition to five Filipino caregivers.

Four drivers are on hand to transport the children to various entertainment zones and malls.

At the entrance the administration has decorated the walls with brightly coloured photos of children admitted to the nursery at the time of its launch and who have since left the facility with their mothers.

Strong bond

Dar Al Aman Nursery was inaugurated in 2008 by Sharjah Police in coordination with the social services department to provide special care for abandoned children and children of female inmates in the jail.

Mariam Esmail, director of the Dar Al Aman Nursery, told Gulf News that mothers can spend as much time as they want there with their children.

“Jail nurseries will most likely make mothers commit less crime. We provide the mothers with the social services they need; we study their files, the conditions they lived in as well as their motives for committing the crime in order to see what is best for their children and who will raise them after they reach the age of two when they are moved to the Social Service Centre for Children,” she said.

Mariam added that the jail nursery also provides education and health care programmes.

Pregnant women also receive the utmost care and are transferred to hospital during childbirth.

The daily needs of the children such as clothing, nutrition and the supervision of breastfeeding are taken care of.

Colonel Khalifa Mohammad Al Merri, acting director of the Sharjah Punitive Establishments Department, told Gulf News: “Dar Al Aman ensures that the new generation will grow up in a decent atmosphere.”

Case studies

An Asian housemaid, serving a two-year jail term for adultery, visits her six-month-old son at the Dar Al Aman nursery regularly to check on him and breastfeed him.

Another Asian woman, who was caught living in the country illegally and who had an illicit relationship with a man, expressed happiness that her infant is being taken care of.



Saudi Justice Ministry To Hire Women For Top Jobs

 February 16, 2014

DAMMAM – The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is planning this year to give women high administrative positions, according to Dr. Nasser Al-Oad, adviser for social programs at the ministry. A website will be launched to receive applications from women who are interested. The ministry will construct new buildings and set up new departments to accommodate female employees. The vacancies will be announced soon, said Al-Oad.



Fitness Femme: Health En Vogue with Emirati Women

February 16, 2014

Dubai: Fitness is in fashion with more Emirati women as perceptions change and lines blur between exercise and leisure, a UAE national who runs a gym said.

Amal Khammas, who is in charge of the ladies division of Gold’s Gym UAE, said Emirati women are an increasing clientele -- in some branches, they comprise 99 per cent of the membership.

“[Fitness] was a tough concept at first. Now they know the latest sports fashion, and have the latest equipment,” she said.

Many of them train with female family members or friends, socialising while sweating it out.

Amal said Emiratis like to have personal lady trainers, for one-on-one classes. Group dance classes, at times led by an Emirati woman, are also popular.

And they are not too meek for military-style boot camp exercise drills either, Amal said.

“We have all age groups, from teens to women in their 60s. You can see mothers and daughters training together.”

Amal said growing awareness about health issues, especially obesity in the Emirati community, gradually led to more Emiratis taking up fitness.

“I think a few years ago they realised they had to change their lifestyle. They didn’t have the facilities for women before. Now it’s easy,” she added.

“I’ve seen many cases of women losing a lot of weight. They come in every day, they’re committed to do it. There is one lady whose waist shrunk from 95cm to 64cm in three months.”

There is also more variety in what is on offer: outdoor exercises on women-only beaches and parks, yoga, and swimming.

Ladies fitness clubs too are changing. Gold’s Gym, for one, has spas, slimming massages, facials, in-house cafes, aromatherapy and other add-ons.

“They don’t need to go out, everything’s in one place,” Amal said.

She also likes to practise what she preaches.

“I’m a sporty girl. I like to do all kinds of activities, like horse riding, climbing, and training in gym. I pass it on to my children as well. We go as a family to fitness events, it’s fun.”



Success for British-Bangladeshi sisters

February 16, 2014

Two well-known sisters have been honoured with awards which recognise successful Bangladeshis in the UK, reports getwestlondon.UK.

Former Ealing deputy mayoress Rupa Huq, 41, who was recently announced as Labour’s candidate to be the next MP for Ealing Central and Acton, won the ‘emerging influence’ category in the annual Bangla Power List at the House of Commons on January 28.

Her 38-year-old sister, ex-Blue Peter and Xtra Factor presenter, Konnie Huq, won a prize for her success in the media industry.

The ceremony, held to honour the achievements of British people of Bangladeshi origin, was a cross-party event addressed by Government Minister Baroness Warsi as well as Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

Rupa, a senior lecturer at Kingston University who has had two books published, said: “I’m delighted to be part of this magnificent event.

“It’s fantastic to be named as an influential force, even though I see myself as a mum and university lecturer who in many ways is the squeezed middle of Ealing.”

The power list nominates 100 bright, ambitious and successful British Bangladeshis across 19 categories.



35-year-old Bangladeshi woman to create world record

February 16, 2014

Thirty-five year old Jannatul Mawa Ruma is on her way to create a world record by travelling 450 kilometres on foot in nine days.

Holding the national flag, Ruma started from Kolkata Press Club in India on February 11 around 4pm and reached Bangladesh’s largest land port, Benapole, on Thursday evening. After resting there the whole night, she started for Dhaka yesterday.

Resident of Purbo Rajabazar in the capital, Ruma is an NGO activist.

She told reporters at Benapole yesterday that she had stayed at a rest house in Benapole five kilometres off the starting point and started walking again the next morning.  She said she needed to take rest on the way.

“It will take six more days to reach Dhaka,” said Ruma. “I will be the first woman from Asia to break the record if I can reach successfully,” Ruma said.

Ruma said she wanted to create the record to raise awareness on having healthy lifestyles by walking on a regular basis, which would, in turn, reduce the traffic jams in Bangladesh.

“People welcomed me cordially on my way,” she added.



3rd Conference of Muslim Women Parliamentarians Held in Tehran

February 16, 2014

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Iran’s capital of Tehran on Sunday hosted the third Conference of Muslim Women Parliamentarians, with an Iranian female lawmaker elected as the chairwoman of the Muslim Women Parliamentarians Committee.


Laleh Eftekhari, a member of the Iranian parliament, took over from a female Sudanese legislator as the new chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians Committee for a one-year period.

The Second Conference of Muslim Women Parliamentarians was held in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum in January 2013, under the motto “Together towards Intellectual Renaissance of High Values”.

In the meantime, Tehran is gearing up to host the ninth meeting of the Islamic Inter-Parliamentary Union (IIPU), which will be officially launched in a ceremony on February 18.

44 countries have announced preparedness to attend the IIPU Conference. 25 parliament speakers will be among the participants at the event in Tehran.

The IIPU was established in 1999 based on an initiative by Iran. It seeks to strengthen the parliamentary cooperation among the Islamic countries in order to solve the challenges facing the Islamic world.