New Age Islam News Bureau
23 Apr 2013
Photo: Afghan children from MMCC take part in a performance on child labour to honour "World Day Against Child Labour" AFP
• Uganda's Anti-Pornography Bill - 'If a Woman Wears a Miniskirt, She Will Be Arrested'
• Tunisian woman who posed topless reconciles with family
• Children's circus in Afghanistan tries to bring joy to the war ravaged country
• Bikini Ban: Emirate Sets Fines for Skimpy Swimwear
• Another First in Saudi Arabia: Women Work In Coffee Shops
• Students Kicked Out Of School for “Tainting Religion”
• Lebanese Man Video Taped Sex Act with Liberian Girls, Ages 7-15
• 236% Increase in Female Voter Registration in Khyber Agency
• Acid Thrown On Three Women in Multan
• 17 Punjab, Pakistan, Constituencies Saw No Woman Voter
• Rights Group Speaker Discusses Women’s Issues in India
• Bangladeshi Mountaineer Wasfia Plans To Conquer Mount Mckinley
• Tanzanian Women Hailed for Empowerment Efforts
• Offenders Do Up School Where Eight Year Old Was Brutally Raped and Killed
• Somali Women Cashing in On Business
Winds of Change: Meet Hajiani Lanjo, Tharparkar’s First Female Candidate
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Boston Bomber ‘Brainwashed’ His American Wife
April 23, 2013
KATHERINE Russell, the widow of Boston bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was “an all- American girl who was brainwashed” by her extremist husband, according to one school friend.
Today Mail Online has gained the first glimpse and pictures of the early life of the woman who, according to those who knew her best, was “totally transformed” by Tsarnaev. At high school her personal motto was ‘Do something about it or stop complaining’. She dreamed of going to college and joining the Peace Corps. She urged her friends to “lighten up and enjoy the small things” in life.
Instead she met Tsarneav, 26, a disenfranchised man who came to America from his troubled homeland of Chechnya and rapidly had her in his thrall.
By the time she was 21 she had married him and borne his child, Zahara, now three. She had converted to Islam, hidden her tumble of chestnut hair beneath the hijab and undergone a change so profound that today few friends profess to truly understand it.
On Sunday, Katherine, who has been staying at her parents’ home in Rhode Island, returned to the Cambridge, Massachusetts home which she shared with her late husband. On Monday, she was back home, accompanied by armed federal agents who first interviewed Katherine and her family on Friday.
Their presence raises the question how much did Katherine know about her late husband’s activities and links? Katherine’s awareness of her then husband’s movements, thoughts and plans is under intense scrutiny as her relation to Tsaraev and her proximity to both brothers makes her a key witness — witting or otherwise.
After all she was living with Tsarnaev when he travelled to Makhachkala in 2011 — a trip now attracting the interest of investigators trying to establish whether he met with Gaczhimurad Dolgatov at that time. Dolgatov was a Dagestani jihadist who died in 2012 after a vicious stand- off with Russian security services.
Uganda's Anti-Pornography Bill - 'If a Woman Wears a Miniskirt, She Will Be Arrested'
BY NANGAYI GUYSON, 22 APRIL 2013
With its vague and broad definition of 'pornography', Uganda's proposed Anti-Pornography Bill could curb a range of individual rights and freedoms.
Uganda has hit the international headlines once again recently following the re-tabling in parliament of a proposed Anti-Pornography Bill. Just months after MP David Bahati's Anti-Homosexuality Bill - referred to by many as the 'Kill the Gays' Bill - attracted international attention and much condemnation, the Anti-Pornography Bill has now generated another storm of controversy in Uganda and beyond.
If passed, the Anti-Pornography Bill would cover a range of practices and activities, but much of the outrage and debate has come to be centred on one particular issue: the miniskirt.
The Bill laid bare
The Anti-Pornography Bill is purportedly a reaction to an "increase in pornographic materials in the Ugandan mass media and nude dancing in the entertainment world". Its provisions would aim to "equip the country with a better law to tackle the insidious social problem of pornography".
What exactly constitutes pornography, however, has long been a point of contention around the world. In a case in the US Supreme Court in 1964 regarding the proposed banning of a film for obscenity, Justice Potter Stewart famously declined to define pornography, instead saying "I know it when I see it". His remark reflected the subjective and changeable nature of different societies may deem to be pornography.
Unlike Stewart, Uganda's Anti-Pornography Bill does put forward a definition of pornography. But, ironically, this definition does not seem to iron out ambiguities but rather embraces vagueness. Furthermore, the Bill's understanding of pornography is so broad as to extend it from something seen on our screens to something seen on our streets.
The Bill defines pornography as "Any cultural practice, form of behaviour or form of communication... or leisure activity... that depicts a person engaged in explicit sexual activities or conduct ... erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement or indecent act or behaviour intended to corrupt morals".
This leaves as much unsaid as it says and could restrict a range of practices and activities, including the wearing of certain items of clothing. Indeed, Simon Lokodo, Uganda's Ethics and Integrity Minister and the main figure behind the Bill, has clarified: "Any attire which exposes intimate parts of the human body, especially areas that are of erotic function, are outlawed. Anything above the knee is outlawed. If a woman wears a miniskirt, we will arrest her."
If passed, the Bill could also prohibit the broadcasting of 'risqué' musical performances by Western singers such as Beyoncé and Madonna, and allow officials to monitor and establish stricter controls on internet usage.
Anyone falling foul of the pornography bill would stand to face a fine of 10 million Ugandan shillings (nearly $4000), up to 10 years in jail, or both.
Hands off our freedoms
The Bill has received support from some sectors of Ugandan society, such as certain religious groups. Pastor Omelem Paul, who leads a church in Kampala, for example, has high hopes the bill will be passed, saying "it is high time sanity is restored".
However, it has also drawn strong criticism. To begin with, many disagree with the way in which arguments for restricting clothing seem to spread the blame for sexual violence between both perpetrators and their victims. "An onlooker is moved to attack [a woman wearing provocative clothing]", Lokodo has said, "He is a criminal but he was also provoked and enticed".
Many Ugandans also fear a turn towards greater patriarchy, saying that the Bill harks back to the time of Idi Amin when control over female bodies was a hallmark of the regime. Furthermore, some claim the government has no place in legislating on personal choices, freedoms and morals.
"Abolishing miniskirts is not an issue to be discussed in parliament", Alex Makuyi, a youth chairman from eastern Uganda and a student of law at Kampala International University told Think Africa Press. "These are moral issues which need to be discussed in homes and religious places; the minister should preach this in churches. I think the bill should be abolished because it trespasses the freedom of people."
Skirting around the real issues
While many are debating the details of the Bill and its repercussions, however, there have also been attempts to understand the intentions behind the Bill. And like with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, some analysts believe there may be political - rather than just social or moral - motives underlying its discussion.
"They are just passing time because I think they lack things to do in that House," said singer Moses Ssali. "There are things you can't afford to discuss in a Third World country which still has roads and hospitals to fix, which has teachers to pay and which has MPs' morals to put right."
Similarly, Makuyi commented, "In a country that faces humiliating poverty, gross corruptions, poor roads, bad hospitals and a lousy education system, MPs need to find better ways to spend their time instead of discussing how to abolish miniskirts in the country".
Meanwhile, Namutebi Sarah*, a leader of a group of sex workers in one of the Kampala suburbs whose livelihood could be significantly affected by the Bill, insisted, "The government should find other ways of impacting good morals in people; they should solve the problem of unemployment because some of us are in this business due to a lack of good-earning jobs".
While the Bill awaits a final ruling in Uganda's parliament, those opposing the Bill are trying to make their voices heard. Popular bars and clubs in Kampala have been organising parties to preserve the miniskirt, for example, with some holding "Save the mini-skirt" parties in which girls wearing miniskirts get free cocktails. On the Twitter meanwhile, many Ugandans have been tweeting with the hashtag #SaveMiniSkirt.
With ample support on both sides, it may be too early to speak decisively on the fate of the Bill. But what seems clear is that those opposed to the Bill will not take the potential removal of their freedoms without a fight.
*This name has been changed to protect her identity.
Nangayi Guyson, is an investigative journalist based in Uganda's capital Kampala. He writes about social, economic, humanitarian and political issues on the African continent. He has written many articles for different media outlets across the African continent and the outside world.
Tunisian woman who posed topless reconciles with family
AP | Apr 23, 2013
TUNIS: The young woman who scandalized Tunisia by posting topless photos of herself as a form of feminist protest, says she has reconciled with her family.
Amina Tyler, 19, posted Facebook photos with the words "my body belongs to me" scrawled across her naked chest and was later spirited away by her family to a small village after religious hardliners issued death threats against her.
Last week, Tyler said she had escaped from her family after she was drugged, held against her will and subject to virginity tests.
Yesterday, she told The Associated Press she had been in contact with them and they sent her passport to her so she could get it renewed and leave.
Tyler said she plans to get a visa to France and take up journalism studies.
Children's circus in Afghanistan tries to bring joy to the war ravaged country
April 23, 2013
In a dusty city of grey concrete blast walls where there's not always much to smile about, the organisers of a children's circus try to provide a splash of colour and some moments of joy.
The Kabul-based Mobile Mini-Circus for Children (MMCC) was founded in Afghanistan in 2002,
months after the fall of the hardline Taliban Islamic regime which banned music and dance.
Fewer than one million children - and no girls - attended school nationwide at the time.
While other NGOs and government agencies focused on food, shelter and education, MMCC (www.afghanmmcc.org) strove to introduce "soft" values bringing children together to foster a more joyful atmosphere despite frequent hardship.
David Mason, founder of MMCC and a former salsa and tango dance instructor from Denmark. AFP
"It's a special circus," said founder David Mason, a former salsa and tango dance instructor from Denmark.
"It's a circus to educate, give meaning to life, make children happy, make them dream and realise their dreams and gain self-confidence and inspiration."
Professional adult artists tour and perform for children across the war-torn country.
In the past 11 years, the circus and its local partner the Afghan Educational Children's Circus have attracted a total live audience of more than 2.7 million people in 25 provinces.
At a show in Kabul on Sunday to mark World Circus Day, young performers in colourful cloaks circled a courtyard on rollerskates and headscarved girls showed off their juggling skills.
Children performed cartwheels and backward somersaults and formed human pyramids, dancing and clapping to entertain an audience of their peers from a camp for internally displaced people and an orphanage.
Conditions in the camps housing the country's half a million internal refugees are notoriously harsh. In the winter of 2011-2012 about 100 people, mostly children and the elderly, lost their lives in the cold.
"When you are living under a plastic sheet in a Kabul winter, then... hardship and surviving makes people forget about living. And then once you have survived, there's nothing much to live for," said Mason, 47.
The circus works to change that.
A total of 120 girls and boys attend a centre in Kabul after regular school hours to learn circus skills, going on to give performances in schools and refugee camps.
"They are semi-professionals," said Mason, co-director of the non-profit body with his partner Berit Muhlhausen. MMCC also draws on support from almost 100 international professionals and volunteers.
Enjoyment is the main message but the circus also stages hour-long educational performances starting with a Koran recital. They include messages lasting for 10-15 minutes on the importance of hygiene, school attendance, mine awareness and malaria prevention.
Children "never forget the messages because the music is there, the story is there, compared with traditional messages," Mason said.
But the overriding message is to be happy. "It's difficult to convince academics and people in power that having a reason to be joyful is a huge achievement, an aim in itself," he said.
Mason said he has "very good relations" with the education and culture ministries, and deputy culture minister Nabi Farahi watched Sunday's show.
He told AFP that attention to children's art and talents "is really important in society. We can see that young Afghan people have a lot of talent".
Firouz, an 11-year-old who lives in a camp for internal refugees, also enjoyed the show. "This programme is fun," he said. "I'd like to learn how to juggle and do gymnastics. It's really good."
Every year the circus brings together children from across Afghanistan for major events such as festivals and children's assemblies. This, says MMCC, promotes unity in a multi-ethnic country.
The circus, which has also performed overseas, says 75% of all its activities are run and taught by children at a time when Afghanistan is taking control of its own future as the international community steps back.
"Over the past decade, the children and youngsters at (the circus) have developed the capacity to lead young people across Afghanistan," it says on its website.
"Their voices are the voices of Afghanistan's future."
Bikini ban: Emirate sets fines for skimpy swimwear
22 April 2013
Authorities in Ras al-Khaimah, the northernmost emirate in the United Arab Emirates, have posted signs on public beaches warning of possible fines for revealing swimwear such as two-piece bikinis for women and brief trunks for men.
The Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National reports Monday that the move followed complaints from local families who did not like sharing the sands with tourists showing too much skin. The emirate is located about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Dubai.
The UAE hosts a patchwork of different social mores among its seven semi-autonomous emirates, ranging from conservative to relatively liberal. Dubai for example urges “respectful” attire but rarely objects to outfits such as miniskirts or bikinis.
Another First in Saudi Arabia: Women Work In Coffee Shops
23 April 2013
The Labour Ministry has said it is creating new jobs for women to decrease unemployment among women registered in the “Hafez” program.
Today the number of Saudi women working in restaurants and coffee shops is on the rise. Restaurant coordinator Alaa Khalid said she registered in the Hafez program and soon after received three offers, one of which was in a coffee shop.
“I thought it was the most appropriate because the other jobs required working in the morning, but in the coffee shop, I am required to work between 5 and 10 in the evenings.” She added there is no danger since the coffee shop is on a main road, has security guards, is well-known and that other girls work there.
Iman Mohammad, a cleaning supervisor at another restaurant, said: “The girls working here are able to work in many fields, but their work during this period is limited to receiving guests to the coffee shop and directing them to seating divided into the food section and the beverage and juice section and making sure guests are satisfied with the service, in addition to answering the phone and making table reservations.”
She said before starting work, the girls are trained for a week on how to receive customers and provide quality service and that there are advanced training courses that the girls may take later on.
At first, Iman’s family was against her working in such a job. Her husband was supportive of the idea but said society as a whole needs to change before more young women are accepted for such jobs.
Ahmad Al-Ghamdi, a regular at coffee shops, denounced female Saudis working in such places: “This kind of work for Saudi women is against our culture, especially since these jobs are all about interacting with guests.”
Ahmad Ali, a restaurant and coffee shop owner, pointed out: “Female workers are more professional than their male counterparts because women look for work out of need. At present, we have three female workers, one of whom has become a manager of 50 waiters.”
He said that because of prevailing culture, the acceptance of female workers in this sector varies from one case to another. If certain conditions are met at the work place, he believes Saudi society will accept the idea of female workers.
Hospitality Committee member in the Jeddah Camber of Commerce and Industry Adel Makki said: “The employment of young Saudi women in restaurants and coffee shops as coordinators and administrators is subject to special conditions that respect the nature of women by making sure there is enough space in the restaurant, a prayer room and a room to rest during a break.
Students Kicked Out Of School for “Tainting Religion”
Jakarta Globe | April 23, 2013
Five high school students in Tolitoli, Central Sulawesi, who recorded themselves dancing to a Maroon 5 song and praying, have been expelled from school and face time in juvenile detention for “tainting religion” after the video surfaced on the Internet.
The five girls were trying to kill time between an hours-long break from classes in the afternoon of March 9 when they made the video.
In a long explanation sent to Detik.com, the headmaster of the school, Muallimin, said he decided to report the students to the police after consulting with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
“The students were performing Sholat [prayer] movement with dancing while alternately reciting [the] Koran and turning on ‘One More Night’ music,” Muallimin said, referring to the Maroon 5 song. “The activity was recorded with a mobile phone of one of the students and they forced other student to hold the phone for duration of five to six minutes.”
The students have been expelled from school and were forbidden from taking last week’s high school national exam, which counts for 60 percent of a student’s final mark to determine whether they will graduate from high school. The expulsion was approved by the FPI Tolitoli branch head, local Youth and Sports Agency, Tolitoli Religious Affairs Ministry and the MUI.
The students were questioned for the first time by police on April 3.
Adj. Comr. Alhajat, the Tolitoli Police chief of detectives, said that the five students were charged with blasphemy against religion under article 156 of the Criminal Code.
“Temporarily we use this law, but there’s a possibility that we’ll charge them with other articles during the process,” Alhajat said, as quoted by JPNN.com.
Tolitoli Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Rudy Mulyanto said that the five have not been detained because they are children, but the legal proceeding would continue.
Minister of Education Muhammad Nuh said that the school had reacted disproportionately to the student’s video.
“Even students in [juvenile detention] were allowed to join national exam,” Nuh said on Tuesday, as quoted by Detik.com.
On March 29, a man told his wife, a teacher at the school, the he saw people watching the video at a market. She later reported the case to the school.
It was not clear who uploaded the video to YouTube.
Lebanese Man Video Taped Sex Act with Liberian Girls, Ages 7-15
BY WADE C.L. WILLIAMS AND TECEE BOLEY, 18 APRIL 2013
In what some are describing as the most sickening news out of post-war Liberia, a Lebanese national, Mr. Jafar Bashir, 43, is currently in the custody of the Liberia National Police facing a cloud of allegations that he has been involved in the raping of young Liberian children within the age range of 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 15.
Mr. Bashir, according to police, videotaped his encounters with the young children. FrontPage Africa has gathered that investigators of the LNP are currently going through the home-made videos to gather more evidence against Bashir.
"What he was doing was having sex on video and making pornographic movies of the kids. The investigation has reached a point of conclusion by the police and he has been charged for rape, sexual assault on minors, pornography and gang rape," a senior LNP official, unauthorized to speak about the case told FrontPage Africa Thursday.
Full report at:
236% increase in female voter registration in Khyber Agency
By Noorwali Shah
April 23, 2013
PESHAWAR: Voter lists finalised by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) have shown a 236% increase in the number of female registered voters in Khyber Agency.
According to the ECP’s 2008 voters list, the total number of people registered from Khyber Agency was 194,256, with 156,973 male and 37,283 female voters. This time, there have been 142,507 new registrations.
The spike may be attributed to the increase in the number of women getting Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC).
The total number of registered voters in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) is 1,616,601. Out of this, 1,063,807 are men and 552,794 are women.
Full report at:
Acid thrown on three women in Multan
MULTAN: Two people have thrown acid on three women, a mother and two daughters, in village Nauranga on the outskirts of Multan. Police said that they have arrested one suspect and the injured were shifted to Nishtar Hospital Multan.
According to police, Altaf and Naveed had some enmity with Aziza Mai and the accused wanted to take revenge from the woman.
“On Tuesday morning they went to her house and threw acid on her,” said police.
Moreover, police also said that when her daughters tried to save their mother, the accused also threw acid on them. Police added that one accused Altaf has been arrested and the other accused Naveed is on the run.
Full report at:
17 Punjab, Pakistan, Constituencies Saw No Woman Voter
By Ali Usman
April 23, 2013
LAHORE: On February 18, 2008, 31 polling stations in Punjab swarmed with only male voters. Not a single woman from 17 National Assembly constituencies of Punjab cast her vote in the elections of 2008 — a situation which experts agree should not be witnessed in 2013.
Political analysts and civil society activists believe that undoing a mindset is necessary to ensure women’s participation in the electoral process. “There are some social and cultural constraints, administrative issues and lack of interest in political process which hinder women from exercising the right to cast vote. It is up to the political parties, civil society organisations and Election Commission of Pakistan to educate women about the importance of casting vote,” said political analyst and rights activist Salman Abid, while talking to The Express Tribune.
Full report at:
Rights Group Speaker Discusses Women’s Issues in India
APRIL 11, 2013
BY EMILY WRIGHT
The president of an Indian women’s rights group used a campus speech yesterday to highlight women’s struggles in India and call for a more progressive legal system in the country.
Naish Hassan, the founder and president of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, spoke to a group of about 15 in the Office of International Education program centre. She was joined by Caroline Neilsen, who has worked with Hassan in India on changing women’s rights laws and improving educational opportunities for girls.
Hassan talked about her personal experiences as a Muslim woman in India. She said her work began by responding to religious fundamentalists who placed restrictions on clothing and opportunities for women. Her campaign focused on issues facing Muslim women, including educational and health care restrictions and violence against women.
Full report at:
Bangladeshi Mountaineer Wasfia Plans To Conquer Mount Mckinley
Bangladeshi mountaineer Wasfia Nazreen will leave for North America on Thursday to conquer Mount McKinley, popularly known as Denali.
Denali is the highest mountain in North America.
Her expedition to the 6,194 metre high summit will be her sixth expedition in her ongoing mission to climb the seven highest mountains in the seven continents.
“I anticipate that the expedition will not be an easy one as only 18 percent of the mountaineers make it to the summit,” she said at a press conference, organised by and held at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture (RCSC) in the capital yesterday.
Full report at:
Tanzanian Women Hailed for Empowerment Efforts
BY PATRICK KISEMBO, 22 APRIL 2013
Dar Es Slaam — American Women's Rights Leader Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever has underscored the private sector's potential to promote economic growth through jobs for Tanzanian women and girls.
Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever who is also the Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women based in Washington, D.C. made the remarks when she visited Tanzania from March 31 through April 6.
Full report at:
Offenders Do Up School Where Eight Year Old Was Brutally Raped and Killed
22 APRIL 2013
Offender labour is being utilised to do up Mzwilili Junior Primary School in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, where the body of eight year old Nonjabulo Sabela, who was brutally raped and killed, was found on 28 February 2013.
Seventeen parolees and probationers, as well as four Correctional Officials, have been assisting in cutting the grass and trees, clearing the bush and cleaning the school yard. On Saturday, 20 April 2013 Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele visited Mzwilili Junior Primary, as part of the Education Safer Schools Programme.
The Department of Correctional Services is actively participating in activities across the country, to contribute towards improving the infrastructure, and environment, in schools. This also ensures that offenders give back to communities, and demonstrate remorse for the crimes they committed against communities.
Full report at:
Somali Women Cashing in On Business
BY ABDURRAHMAN WARSAMEH, 22 APRIL 2013
Mogadishu — In the Hamarweyne market, Mogadishu's largest, 24-year-old Maryama Yunis is finding success with her tiny cosmetic store. The young Somali entrepreneur has been in business for two years, selling everything from soaps and shampoos to lipsticks and eyeliners, and now she's turning a decent profit.
"As more and more young women in Somalia grow increasingly aware of their looks and like to take care of themselves, the cosmetics business has naturally grown and I took the plunge to meet that demand," Yunis told IPS in Mogadishu.
Yunis is one of a growing number of women in this traditionally conservative Muslim country who are going into business because of the opportunity to attain financial independence and upward mobility.
Full report at:
Winds of Change: Meet Hajiani Lanjo, Tharparkar’s First Female Candidate
By Farahnaz Zahidi
April 23, 2013
MITHI: In Tharparkar, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Muslim or a Hindu. If you happen to be a woman then you’re automatically at the lowest rung of the social ladder, regardless of your caste or creed. For the women of this region, standing for elections is a distant dream, and most are not even allowed to cast votes. Now, one determined woman hopes to change all that. Meet 32-year-old Hajiani Lanjo, a lawyer and social activist who is the first woman in the history of Tharparkar to stand for elections.
It won’t be an easy fight. Contesting for the coveted NA-229 constituency from the platform of the Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT), Hajiani will be going up against political heavyweights like former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Faqir Sher Muhammad Bilalani.
Full report at: