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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 21 Jan 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Egypt's Endowments Ministry Welcomes Women Preachers

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 Jan 2015

Iranian players were warned that they risk being used as a 'political tool' if snapped with female fans


 Islamic State Stones Two Women in Mosul

 Decreasing Sex Ratio Is a Threat to Human Race: Indian Supreme Court

 Islamic State Executing 'Educated Women' in New Wave of Horror: UN

 Iran Football Players Warned: Don't Take Selfies with Female Fans in Australia

 Saudi Woman Blazes Trail in Construction Industry

 Muslim Women’s Network Chair: ‘A Lot of Women Are Suffering In Silence’

 Over 2,220 Child Custody and Alimony Lawsuits in 3 Months in Saudia

 Malay Girls under Investigation for “Shaming Islam”

 Pak Judge Sends Alleged Lal Masjid Detainee to Women’s Shelter

 Bihar CM Honours Shail Devi, Who Saved Many Lives in Muzaffarpur Village Attack

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Egypt's Endowments Ministry Welcomes Women Preachers

 Jan 21, 2015

Egypt's endowment ministry has announced volunteering opportunities for the position of women preachers, in cooperation with the National Council for Women.

The announcement, published on Tuesday on the ministry's website, called for women interested in either "preaching, teaching preventive medicine or human development" to work in women-only sections of mosques, forums, and lectures.

Last year, a series of decrees by former interim president Adly Mansour and the endowments ministry tightened the government's control over mosques and preachers.

The deccrees aimed to stop the spread of "extremist ideas" and politically-motivated sermons in mosques, and stipulated that all mosques be placed under the ministry's supervision, including small side-street praying areas.

The ministry also issued directives to all its licenced preachers to unify Friday prayers' sermons across the country.

Individuals without official permits from the ministry are not allowed to preach in mosques and face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to LE50, 000 (around $7, 000).

Women in Egypt traditionally volunteer to give religious lectures to other women in mosques or teach the Quran to children.



Islamic State Stones Two Women in Mosul

21 Jan, 2015

The Islamic State (IS) militants have committed another horrific crime in Mosul in northern Iraq, this time stoning two women in public.

The Islamic State (IS) militants stoned two women to death in Mosul for refusing to accept a temporary marriage, or ‘Nikah’, with IS insurgents.

Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official from Mosul Saed Mamuzini told BasNews that IS militants arrested the two women in the Ghabat area of the city.

He said the sentence of stoning was handed down to the women directly after their arrest on Saturday.

Claiming that it is decreed under Sharia Law (Islamic Law), IS employ a range of punishments for the refusal of Nikah, the harshest of which is death.

The Islamic State militants in recent weeks have committed numerous crimes against humanity in Mosul, which has been under the control of the extremist group since last June.



Decreasing sex ratio is a threat to human race: Indian Supreme Court

TNN | Jan 21, 2015

NEW DELHI: Decreasing sex ratio is a potent threat to human race and civilization and all steps must be taken to stem the tide, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said while directing Haryana to take effective steps to stop the malaise of female feticide causing an imbalance in society.

Holding that female is the basic pillar of human race, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A M Sapre directed Haryana government to complete the trial of cases for offences of sex determination and female feticide within four months and appoint specialized officers to deal with such cases.

"The decrease in sex ratio is a disturbing and distressing problem and the same is likely to ultimately affect the human race as well as civilization in entirety," the bench said.

In Haryana sex ratio is at 874:1000 which is the worst in the country.

The court directed that all concerned persons who handle investigation and prosecution of such cases be imparted training in judicial academy of Punjab and Haryana high court so that accused don't go scot free due to poor investigation and prosecution.

It asked the chief justice of the HC to fix a date for imparting training and directed the government to make it compulsory for all concerned officers to attend the programme.

"The state may think of a panel of lawyers who can guide prosecuting authority so that cases filed under the act do not collapse due to technical fault," it said while asking the state legal services authority to spread awareness about the problem of female feticide.

It asked the state government to submit list of all cases pending under Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act so that it could be forwarded to chief justice of the HC who can ensure that all trials get completed by end of May.



Islamic State Executing 'Educated Women' in New Wave of Horror: UN

21 Jan, 2015

GENEVA:  The United Nations decried numerous executions of civilians in Iraq by the Islamic State group, warning that educated women appeared to be especially at risk.

Numerous women have reportedly been executed recently in IS-controlled areas, including Mosul, UN human rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters.

She said "educated, professional women, particularly women who have run as candidates in elections for public office, seem to be particularly at risk."

"In just the first two weeks of this year, reports indicate that three female lawyers were executed," Shamdasani said.

The group, which controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and in neighboring war-ravaged Syria, last week published pictures of the "crucifixions" of two men accused of being bandits, and of a woman being stoned to death, allegedly for adultery.

The jihadist group is showing a "monstrous disregard for human life" in the areas it controls in Iraq, the UN human rights office said.

A number of other groups are also targeted by the jihadists, Shamdasani said, pointing to "the ruthless murder of two men, who were thrown off the top of a building after having been accused of homosexual acts by a so-called court in Mosul."

Minorities are not the only ones suffering, with IS meting out "cruel and inhuman punishments" to anyone accused of violating its "extremist interpretations of Islamic Sharia law, or for suspected disloyalty," she said.

Four doctors were recently killed in central Mosul, allegedly after refusing to treat IS fighters.

The group also reportedly executed 15 civilians in front of a large crowd in Fallujah on January 1, on suspicion they had cooperated with Iraqi security forces, and 14 more in a public square in Dour, north of Tikrit, for refusing to pledge allegiance to IS, Shamdasani said.



Iran football players warned: Don't take selfies with female fans in Australia

21 Jan, 2015

Iranian football players have been warned not to take selfies with female fans in Australia, as it is against the country's "moral principles."

The team is currently playing in the Asia Cup finals, and Iranian-born Australian fans have flocked to the matches — wearing Australian summer attire — to meet their football heroes. Females are not allowed to attend games in the Islamic republic due to harsh gender-segregation regulations.

After photos of Iranian players posing with these women were shared on social media, the head of the Iranian Football Federation's disciplinary committee, Ali Akbar Mohamedzade, issued a firm warning.

"Players are not allowed to pose for selfies with female fans," Mohamedzade reportedly said. "They [the women] may later use these photos for political ransom against our country, or sue the players for harassment. If the players refuse to act according to our clear instructions, then we will be left with no option but to deal with them."

"In some of the selfies that our players have taken with the fans we can see they appear next to people whose appearance we regard as being against our moral principles," he added.

One photo that caused controversy on social media shows a female fan wearing a midriff top, while holding an Iranian flag with the words "Will Alireza marry me?" scrawled in English on it. The message was aimed at Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi.

"We are monitoring what is happening in Australia, we haven't sent any representative to Australia," Mohamedzade reportedly said.



Saudi Woman blazes trail in construction industry

21 Jan, 2015

Fouziyah Al-Karri is fast developing a reputation as a trailblazer for being the first Saudi woman to get a commercial license to operate in the Eastern Province construction industry.

Al-Karri now also operates as a property broker but complains bitterly about what she sees as a lack of support from the local Asharqia Chamber and other women in business.

She said that participation in the industry runs in the family because her father became a contractor after retiring from his job. Her personal interest in handicrafts has also helped to prepare her for the business.

“Being a woman was the first obstacle I faced in the contracting sector because men look at a woman working as a contractor as something odd,” Al-Karri said. She said the men contractors often ask her why she chose the construction industry.

Al-Karri said she was not initially permitted to participate in the sector. “So I began working in the field of commercial services. I became the first woman in the Eastern Province to get a commercial register, which then gave me entry into the contracting business,” she said.

She said she has the “complete support” of her husband and family. “However, I have always depended on myself. I want to prove that Saudi women are capable of undertaking any work in any sector as long as she gets the support and is trusted,” she said.

Al-Karri said few women are operating in the industry. Many more would get involved if government awards them large contracts, she said. “The projects I completed include maintenance of government schools, hotels in Alkhobar and Riyadh, offices for some companies and private villas.”

She said that some women are involved in name only, with their husbands or men relatives running their businesses. She is now aiming at getting more government contracts directly, and becoming a member of the local contractors’ committee, which is currently not open to women in the Eastern Province.

“I was denied membership of the committee at the Asharqia chamber because I am a woman,” she said, adding that this kind of treatment amounted to discrimination against women.

“My advice to Saudi women investors is to have passion for the projects they want to get involved in, and conduct detailed viability studies. This will give them self-confidence and courage in whatever they take on, including facing up to losses that might occur. They should know that losses are part of the road to success,” she said.

She also urged them to seek out advice and ideas from a wide group of people. She warned that they might not get proper information from government labor offices that apparently do not have proper staffing. Another obstacle is the “constantly changing” regulations of the Labor Ministry, she claimed.



Muslim Women’s Network chair: ‘A lot of women are suffering in silence’

21 Jan, 2015

As the head of a national charity for Muslim women, Shaista Gohir is determined to give voice to those who need it to fight against abuse, persecution and inequality

“We had a lady call because her neighbour’s daughter kept coming round to her house,” Shaista Gohir, chair of the national charity Muslim Women’s Network UK (MWN), tells me. “She couldn’t understand why this 13-year-old Muslim girl wanted to spend so much time with her. Finally, she had a long chat with the girl, who told her that when her parents went out her older cousins would come round. The cousins had been sexually abusing this girl for two years.”

Gohir says she convinced the neighbour, who was worried the parents might marry off their daughter if they found out about the abuse, to call social services. “But she still felt bad about not telling the girl’s parents herself. In the end, she told the father and he believed his daughter.

“But the next day the mother came round shouting abuse – she was angry at the neighbour, because the abusers were her sister’s children and she thought it made her family look bad.”

Cases like this, says Gohir, are why, on 15 January, the charity launched a national helpline for Muslim women. The charity – whose three part-time staff run a network of more than 700 organisations and members – offers specialised help and support to women on issues from mental health to abortion, taking into account their cultural and religious backgrounds. It also campaigns and provides training and workshops. The helpline, staffed by 10 trained volunteers, will allow it to reach more women than ever before, says Gohir, whose relentless energy fuels the small charity’s big ambitions. What motivates her? Dressed in smart businesswear, she replies calmly but bluntly: “Anger drives me.”

Brought up by a single mother who worked long hours in a clothing factory, Gohir says she understood from an early age the injustices women can face. “I had to come home from school and feed my brothers and cook and clean – an 11-year-old acting like an adult. Even in a single-parent family, I saw how women would take responsibility for men’s bad behaviour.”

After graduating with a science degree, she was pressured into marrying and ran away from home. “I didn’t know about women’s groups,” she says. “I went to the first place I could find: a rented room in a house full of strangers with no heating.”

Gohir began working in environmental health, and although she reconciled with her relatives, she still desperately wanted a stable family. “My goal was to get married and have children,” she says. “I just wanted to have a nice family unit.”

But after marrying “the best husband in the world” and having three children, something changed. “I don’t know what happened,” she laughs. “It was around 2004, and I kept seeing the Muslim Council of Britain on TV. They were the only [Muslim] voices on TV, the only ones talking to the government. It didn’t seem right that they were all men.”

In response, she set up an online poll, Muslim Voice, to try to gather a more representative sample of opinions; eventually, she was asked to join Muslim Women’s Network. Last year, the charity’s harrowing report into the sexual exploitation of Asian girls was cited in the Jay report into the Rotherham scandal. More than 1,400 victims, most of whom were white, were said to have been attacked in the town by men, the majority of whom were British Pakistani. But MWN’s report suggested Asian victims faced extra barriers to reporting abuse and had not been spotted by the services that worked with other abuse victims.

Gohir and her colleagues had collated case studies from charities across the country that detailed the experiences of girls and young women who had been repeatedly raped by multiple attackers, often beaten, and blackmailed into silence. The conclusion was that Asian victims were not only less likely to report abuse, thanks to cultural barriers, but they were also at risk of being “revictimised” if they did; forced into marriages, or disowned by their families for “shaming” them. Gohir says she was shocked by the scale and the brutality involved, but not by the fact there were more Asian victims. “After Rochdale [where nine men were jailed for abusing young girls], I was going to meetings and no one was taking me seriously, because [Asian victims] don’t show up in the statistics. I started looking for case studies – and they were there.”

Since the report, MWN has held meetings to raise the issue of Asian victims, and has created information packs for communities and schools. It has also run child sexual exploitation workshops for taxi drivers, training them in how to spot and report suspected abuse.

“Growing up, I heard tons of stories about abuse,” she says. “Women would retell these experiences as though it happened to someone else, but never admit it was about them.”

Gohir is outraged that offenders can go unpunished because of the cultural emphasis on “honour”, and women’s role in upholding it, that means someone reporting the abuse of a girl could be accused of bringing “shame” on her family. “I wish the words shame and honour could be deleted,” she tells me. “That is the root of our problems – from forced marriages to not reporting domestic violence.”

Interviewing victims, she admits, is taking an emotional toll and bringing up buried memories. “I have to space [the interviews] out,” she says. She tells me about one woman who was raped by six relatives and family friends when she was between the ages of nine and 12. “When I hear the stories, I can’t sleep at night.” But Gohir remains optimistic; she talks about the number of women who are speaking out, and puts this down to increasing independence – both social and financial – among the younger generation of Muslim women in the UK, as well as an increased media focus on the issue.

“A lot of these women are suffering in silence, and they aren’t strong enough to vocalise that they want help,” Gohir says. “I don’t mind taking the flak.”



Over 2,220 Child Custody and Alimony Lawsuits in 3 Months in Saudia

21 Jan, 2015

AL-KHOBAR — Saudi courts received 1,039 child custody cases and 1,188 alimony cases during the last quarter of 2014, according to Ministry of Justice statistics.

The statistics also showed that Makkah had the highest rate of both types of cases with 192 child custody cases and 158 alimony cases, Makkah reported.

The Secretary General of the National Society for Human Rights Khalid Al-Fakhry said the Personal Status Court just opened six months ago but it is already handling all family cases and legal affairs such as child custody, alimony and divorce.

He said: “Having such cases handled by specialized courts and judges means a better facilitation of procedures.

“But we still face the obstacle of having plaintiffs and defendants remaining absent from court sometimes.

“As minor as this may seem, it is absolutely detrimental to the progress of the case.”

He added that filing a lawsuit has become a very clear and straightforward process.

After opening the case file the court will schedule three hearings. The court only permits defendants’ one instance of absence and gives a maximum of four hearings for each case. In addition, the ministry has offered a number of e-services to facilitate legal processes.

Al-Fakhry said: “The Personal Status Court does not have a charter for most of its cases, but the court’s judges have set fixed alimony amounts depending on the cases presented.

“The criteria for defining alimony amounts are the income of the husband, the amount of residence or car rent he has to pay, family expenses, number of wives and children.”

Al-Fakhry stressed on the importance of having a legal charter for child custody and alimony cases to accommodate rising living expenses and eliminate forgery of documents.

He said: “If the husband refused to oblige with the executive judge’s ruling, the judge has the authority to cut the husband’s salary by contacting his employer or the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency directly. “Every woman should know that she has the right to file a lawsuit if her husband or guardian is not providing her with her alimony.”



Malay Girls under Investigation for “Shaming Islam”

21 Jan, 2015

WASHINGTON – The BCC reports that a video of a Korean pop band embracing teenage girls in Malaysia has attracted heavy criticism. The video shows several girls, giggling and sometimes hesitant, acting out scenes from Korean dramas with different members of the band, all of which end in friendly hugs.

A band member also kisses one girl on the top of her head.

International reports are that four Malay girls, who re-enacted scenes from drama “The Heirs” with members of B1A4, will be investigated by JAWI (Federal Territories Islamic Department). The president of JAWI stated that the girls in the video were “inappropriate” and going against the teachings of Islam by “[disturbing] the sensitivities of Muslims in [Malaysia].”

JAWI says the girls should come to the office and that if the girls do not comply, they are to arrest the girls in question, who may be imprisoned for up to six months and/or be fined with up to 1,000 RM.

Sukan Star TV reported the happenings by uploading a video that was titled “Malay Girls Molested on Stage By K-pop Men Last Night.” Some Malay netizens are mocking K-pop, while others are calling the girls “indecent” and to be “shaming Islam”. Comments on social media include ridiculous statements that the girls “acted like prostitutes,” that the girls would “sleep in the same bed” with K-pop singers given the chance and still others saying that JAWI should arrest the girls, and the parents.

After the video was dispersed all over the internet through various social networking websites,  The most popular comment in one of the articles says that the commenter wishes JAWI would arrest not only the girls, but “all the responsible parents of the girls,” as well.

Islamic authorities for Kuala Lumpur, where the meeting took place, have said they will investigate the incident for possible violations of Sharia law.



Pak Judge sends alleged Lal Masjid detainee to women’s shelter

 Jan 21, 2015

ISLAMABAD: A sessions court on Tuesday sent twenty-six year old Uzma Quyyum, who is allegedly detained at Jamia Hafsa, the women’s seminary at Lal Masjid, to Darul Aman (women’s shelter). She will be produced before the court in one week when her final statement will be recorded.

High Court advocate Mohammad Haider Imtiaz who is representing Uzma Quyyum’s father told Dawn that the hearing began at around 10:15am. As soon as the hearing began, Uzma told the sessions judge Nazir Ahmed Gujana that she wanted to talk to him in private.

The judge ordered Uzma’s family, lawyers and the men and women from Jamia Hafsa to leave the courtroom,” Haider Imtiaz said.

“Fifteen minutes later, the judge called us inside and said that he will hear the case as soon as the day’s cause list was exhausted,” he said.

Advocate Haider Imtiaz said that at 12:30pm, the judge decided to resume the hearing.

He asked Uzma about her plans, to which she responded that she has devoted her life to Islam and does not want to return home to her family.

“The judge tried to convince Uzma to return to her family and said that she should serve her parents because Islam teaches us to do so,” he said.

Her statement will be recorded in court in one week

Mr Quyyum, Uzma’s father, told the court that he will not force Uzma to marry her fiancé and will not have any objection if she chooses to marry someone else.

Uzma said that she does not have a problem with her parents or any complaints against them.

Her only wish is to serve Islam which is why she thinks it’s best if she does not live with her family.

“There was a decision of the Lahore High Court in which a girl was not allowed to go with her husband because she failed to produce a certificate of marriage,” he said.

“The court ordered for the girl to be taken to the Darul Aman in Rawalpindi and her statement will be recorded on January 27. During those seven days, the parents can meet her,” the lawyer added.

On December 29, 2014 Sheikh Mohammad filed an application with the Human Rights Cell (HRC) of Supreme Court, alleging that his daughter is being kept at the seminary against her will for the last seven months.

He said his daughter had been taken away by Umme Hassan, the wife of cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, from the seminary Jamia Binaat-i-Ayesha in Rawalpindi where she was a student.

Umme Hassan stated that the girl was not willing to live with her family and that Uzma does not wish to marry her fiancé Muhammad Imran with whom her parents have arranged a marriage.

The Supreme Court ordered sessions judge Nazir Ahmad Gujana to investigate the matter and submit a report.



Bihar CM honours Shail Devi, who saved many lives in Muzaffarpur village attack

 Jan 21, 2015

Taking note of the story carried in The Hindu on January 20, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Wednesday honoured Shail Devi, an elderly woman who had saved many lives of the minority community during an attack on Azizpur village in Muzaffarpur on Sunday. Shail Devi’s is the lone Hindu family living in the village.

The Chief Minister visited the village on Wednesday morning to meet the villagers and honoured Shail Devi for her commendable deed. “The chief minister honoured Shail Devi with a certificate, a shawl and Rs. 51,000 for her exemplary deed of saving so many lives during the attack on the villagers”, Dilip Kumar Deo, an official accompanying Mr. Manjhi told The Hindu.

On her request, the Chief Minister also asked officials to provide Rs. 20,000 each to two school going daughters of Shail Devi for their education from the CM’s relief fund. She would also be getting a pucca house under Indira Awas Yojna, said the official.

Earlier, after visiting the village The Hindu had published a profile story under caption “She was their Guardian angel” on Shail Devi on Tuesday.

When hundreds of armed men from the neighbouring Bahilwara Rupnath Uttari village raided a minority village Azizpur in which at least three people were charred to death while one’s body was found in the nearby field next day, Shail Devi gave shelter to over 20 villagers, including women and children, in a corner room of her thatched house.

She had put all of them under the wooden cot and placed grain sacks over it to misguide the violent mob. The villagers had attacked Azizpur in retaliation of the body of a youth, Bhartendu Sahni, of their village was found from mustard field near the village mosque.

Shail Devi’s husband Jai Lal Sahni, a construction labourer, died few years ago and she was living in the village with her two school-going daughters and a son, working in Muzaffarpur town.

“When the rampaging mob attacked our village and I immediately gave shelter to at least 20 fleeing villagers in a room of my house and locked it up from outside”, Shail Devi told The Hindu while showing the dingy room and the wooden cot under which she had put them all.

Thereafter, she said, she came outside and started screaming while requesting the attackers that she was a Hindu and should not be attacked.

“Someone from them shouted she comes from their own community and they left me without any harm”, she said.

However, after the incident she started fearing for her own and her two daughter’s lives as she apprehended further target from members of her community for giving shelter to members of the minority community.

“If she would not have given us the shelter at that time we all would have been killed”, sexagenarian Aash Mohammed told The Hindu on Monday. Aash Mohammed along with her daughter-in-law Khairu Khatun had hid themselves in Shail Devi’s home to escape the violent wrath of the mob.

Now, after the Chief Minister honoured her for her courageous and exemplary deed, Shail Devi has become a talk of the town.

“It’s all because of Him up there that I could muster courage to save human lives…had I done wrong?”, asked Shail Devi while pointing her fingers towards sky.