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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 8 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Burqa-Clad Muslim Women Face 750-Euro Fine in France

German Lingerie Ad Lifts the Veil on Muslim Women

Women should be wary of romanticising Islam

Transportation Security Administration Targets Women Wearing Hijabs?


Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Burqa-Clad Muslim Women Face 750-Euro Fine


(RTTNews) - Women who wear the burqa--the all-encompassing garment with a mesh over the eyes and worn by traditional Muslim women--in public places will be fined Euro 750 (USD 1000) under laws being considered in France.

Men, who force their wives or other female members of their families to cover their faces, will be fined double the amount.

Lawmakers are set to vote on the proposal this month following a long and impassioned debate over the merits of outlawing the burka and niqab--a full-body veil with eye slits.

The move is coming ahead of the release at the end of the month of a much-awaited report by a parliamentary panel that conducted six months of hearings on the issue.

Jean-Francois Copé, president of Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP Party in parliament, is set to introduce the draft law in the National Assembly. Sarkozy had said veils were 'not welcome' as they intimidated and alienated non-Muslims, especially in secular France.

Asserting that the new legislation was intended to protect the 'dignity' and 'security' of women, he added that wearing either would be tolerated only under exceptional circumstances, such as "cultural events or carnivals."

Copé, who insists the law is based on considerations of public safety as also sexual equality and does not restrict religious practices, said the committee has consulted religious and secular figures who all confirmed [the burka] is not a religious prescription.


German Lingerie Ad Lifts the Veil on Muslim Women

Aimee Picchi


What makes an effective lingerie ad? If you guessed a niqab, a type of veil worn by some Muslim women, kudos to you for thinking outside the box like the creators of this spot by German lingerie retailer Liaison Dangereuse.

Be assured, however, that there are also plenty of sexy curves in this ad.

The spot begins with a dark-haired woman stepping out of the shower. With vaguely Middle Eastern music playing, she applies mascara, steps into high heels, slips on black lingerie and garters and spins in front of the mirror, clearly admiring her body and the lingerie she's wearing. Up to this point, it's typical lingerie commercial fare, but then the ad leaps from the mundane to the surprising: the woman quickly flips a niqab over her head. With only her mascara-ed eyes visible, she gazes out of a window. Then the tag line appears: "sexiness is for everyone."

It's a daring ad, yet one that sends a positive message that goes well beyond hawking lacy teddies. Whether a person is wearing a sweatsuit or burqa, their true identity cannot be parsed by their outward appearance.

Of course, this ad is not meeting with approval from every corner. discusses a Norwegian television interview with religion historian Hanne Nabintu Herland, who criticized the commercial because it "links the Arab dress with sexuality, and not to morals and virtue." Well, Liaisons Dangereuse is in the business of making money by selling naughty undergarments, so it's unlikely their marketing plan called for promoting "morals and virtue." Herland says the ad unnecessarily "trample[s] the cultural dress of Muslims."%Poll-39712%

Liaisons Dangereuse isn't the only lingerie retailer to court Muslim women. Last year, Victoria's Secret, which is owned by Limited Brands (LTD), sent a box of bras to Saudi Arabia to help more than two dozen women learn how to fit and sell underwear, according to the Associated Press. The course was created after some Saudi women protested that their lingerie stores were staffed only by men, causing embarrassment and leading to ill-fitting purchases, the AP reported.

One question raised by the ad is where the niqab-clad woman is planning to go? Liaison Dangereuse could court more controversy and raise more eyebrows if they provide a sequel to this story.


Women should be wary of romanticising Islam

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown


I am keen to meet Allegra Mostyn-Owen and support her invaluable work at the mosque in Forest Gate, east London.

She runs art classes there for Muslim women and children. Muslim minds and lives are being closed down worldwide by fanatics who deny young people art, music and books. This intrepid white woman dares to push aside the curtain of ignorance.

She was the first wife of Boris Johnson — clearly not a woman to shirk challenges. But then I find out that she has married a much younger Lahori man and imagines her future as an ageing wife who will happily accept her lot within an orthodox Islamic set-up and welcome a younger wife to produce children. It is her choice and one wishes her well.

Several of my close Pakistani and Arab friends are happily married to European wives, with both sides compromising on lifestyles and values.

That is not what Mostyn-Owen has opted for. First she has married a much younger, fit man and maybe feels excessively grateful. Then she is going for complete surrender, an uncritical acceptance of the most regressive practices of some of my co-religionists. The reactions of her family are subtly xenophobic and must hurt. But her actions are as inexplicable to Muslims like myself too. My mother's generation fought for equality and monogamous marriages, a struggle that carries on. To see the daughters of Britannia carelessly surrendering these rights is almost unbearable.

It is happening elsewhere in Europe too. Since 9/11, vast numbers of educated, privileged middle-class white women have converted to Islam, often the most restricted forms with tediously long rulebooks. Surveys suggest they are the fastest growing group of converts in the West. Here they include women at investment banks, TV stations, universities and in the NHS.

Four years ago, when the trend first became clear, Dr Haifa Jawad, of Birmingham University, said: “The women were reacting to the moral uncertainties of the Western world. Many convert out of conviction and not because they are in love.”

Mostyn-Owen says her husband is “untainted by the jaded confusion of western urban life”. Such images of contamination and purity are often used to explain the decisions. Three such converts told me last year their nun-like apparel makes them feel less objectified and they feel “cleansed”. 

Islam gives women their own property and money and the right to sexual pleasure within marriage — radical stuff at a time when females in the world were but chattels. Most Muslim women I know are blissfully happy and able to be what they want. Not one of them would accept polygamy. The religion was born at a time when men around the world had several wives. It has no place in today's world.

Mostyn-Owen and other such submissive converts may think their new lives are excitingly exotic but their choices drag the faith back to the dark ages. And why? Just because they are a bit bored with liberty? Progressive Muslims have enough to contend with without these whimsies. The good lady must make hers a modern Muslim marriage between equals, otherwise I fear there will be many tears before bedtime.


Transportation Security Administration Targets Women Wearing Hijabs?

By Matthew Rothschild

January 7, 2010

Nadia Hassan is a frequent flyer. The forty-year-old MBA, who was born in Michigan, had never been hassled until Tuesday morning, January 5.

She was traveling with her five-year-old daughter and went to Dulles International to board a plane for Los Angeles.

She was in line to go through security.

“Before I could even get to the conveyor belt,” she says, “a lady in uniform comes up to me and asks me to remove my headscarf. I said, ‘No, I cannot, but you’re more than welcome to pat me down or search me.’ ”

The TSA agent stood there while she put her belt, shoes, coat, and laptop in the bins and went through the usual screening device with her daughter.

“But as soon as we went through the screening, she said, ‘Ma’am, can you come to the side for a full body pat-down?’ She did it right in front of four men, and she was touching me everywhere. And every article in my baggage was being checked for bomb-making materials.”

Hassan says she asked the man who was examining her bags what was going on.

“Ma’am, they just switched procedures on us this morning,” she remembers him saying. “Every woman wearing a head scarf must go through this type of search.”

The TSA denies this new policy, sort of.

“The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) current procedures for the screening of bulky clothing or headwear -- which have been in effect since 2007 -- remain unchanged,” it said in a statement. “The wearing of a hijab itself does not automatically trigger security checks. To ensure the highest level of security, passengers wearing loose fitting or bulky clothing -- including headwear -- may be subject to additional screening. In instances where passengers choose not to remove bulky clothing, including headwear, our officers are trained to offer a private screening area and may conduct a pat down search to clear the individual.”

Hassan calls the “additional screening” of women wearing hijabs “villainization.”

“I was born and raised in this country,” she says. “My father was a Marine and fought in the Korean War. We were taught to love this country. You’re targeting good Americans who just want to practice their faith and dress modestly.”

Hassan understands the need for “safeguarding Americans, myself included,” she says.

“But that morning I didn’t feel I was safeguarded or protected. I felt like I was being insulted. I felt like I was being targeted.”

In a separate incident on January 4, a Muslim woman with a Canadian passport was trying to fly from the airport in Halifax to Ohio to visit her husband. She believes she was held for questioning because she was the only woman wearing a head scarf, the Council on American Islamic Relations reports.

Nihad Awad, head of the group, objects to the policy of profiling women who wear headscarves. “Screening of passengers,” Awad said, should be based on an analysis of “people’s suspicious behaviors, not on their skin color or religious attire.”


Women To Be Fined For Wearing Burkas

By Gary Nicks

8th January 2010

CALLS were made last night for women in Britain to be fined for wearing burkas.

Strict new laws are being considered in France to tackle Islamic extremism.

And campaigners want the same tough penalties in the UK.

Women wearing veils in public will face a £700 fine under proposed legislation that French MPs will vote on next month.

Men who force their wives or family members to adopt the traditional dress will pay double.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, 54, says drastic measures are needed to protect women’s “dignity and security” and to stop the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. It comes after Italy proposed a burka ban and Switzerland voted to stop minarets on mosques.

Protesters say women in Britain should be banned from covering their faces.

The plans to introduce fines in France are receiving strong support here.

Jean-Francois Cope, president of France’s UMP Party, said: “Burkas are about extremists, not religion.

“Schools should not hand children over to people whose faces they cannot see.”

The burka is a full body covering worn largely in Afghanistan with a mesh screen over the eyes.

Critics say wearing them in Britain is intimidating. Stephen Green, director of Christian Voice, said: “We ought to assert our Christian heritage as strongly as France does its secular heritage.

“There’s no doubt the burka is culturally divisive. Measures like fines would send out a great signal. If we don’t take action against Islam now we are going to see terrible problems in this country in 30 years’ time.”

Hate preachers like Anjem Choudary, who plan to march through Wootton Bassett, where the bodies of soldiers are brought home, want Sharia Law in Britain and back the burka.

Choudary’s Islam4UK organisation’s dream is to see the flag of Islam flying above Buckingham Palace.

But many leading Muslim groups believe the burka should be outlawed in Britain.

Diana Nammi, of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, said: “We support bans anywhere in the world.”

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