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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 6 Jul 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Eidi for Lucknow Women: Muslim Women Allowed Entry for the First Time in Aishbagh Eidgah

New Age Islam News Bureau

6 Jul 2016 

Photo: A woman offers namaz at Eidgah in Jaipur. (HTFile Photo)


 Israeli Woman Gets 22 Months for Trying To Join Islamic State

 CAIR Warns Donald Trump's Comments Endanger Muslim Women

 Islamic State Terrorists Use WhatsApp, Telegram to Sell Women, Girls as Sex Slaves

 Angelina Jolie Spoke to A Mixed Audience at a Masjid, But Our Muslim Sisters Are Still Largely Voiceless

 Women-Only Pools: New York Times Still Says They Are OK For Muslims, But Not Jews?

 Woman Asks Trump Highly Offensive Question about Airport Security

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Eidi for Lucknow Women: Muslim Women Allowed Entry for The First Time In Aishbagh Eidgah

July 6, 2016

Here's some good news for Muslim women.

For the first time, the Aishbagh Eidgah in Lucknow has opened doors for women to offer Namaz.

The Eidgah will have a separate dedicated enclosure for women to offer their prayers.

The Imam of the Eidgah, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farani Mahli, said that a separate enclosure exclusively for women Namazis was being put in place in Taiyab Hall of Eidgah for the Eid-ul-Fitr Namaz to be held on Thursday morning.

The enclosure will accommodate nearly 500 women, and arrangements will be made if more numbers turn up.


This move comes at a time when India has witnessed numerous controversies regarding the entry of women to places of worship.

Women being denied entry to Sabarimala in Kerala, Shani temple in Maharashtra and Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai infuriated many with women taking to streets to protest against this discrimination.


Zakia Soman, co-founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA)- an organisation which filed a petition in the Bombay High Court against restrictions on women entering Haji Ali Dargah- termed the move as "very progressive" but with a caveat.

While speaking to India Today, she said that she welcomed the move as there were very few mosques in the country which allowed women to offer prayers.

"It is ironic because the Quran nowhere states that women should be barred from entering mosques or offering prayers," she said, adding that the ban on women entry was another way of exercising control by men.

"Even the petition we filed in the High Court was not just about allowing women into Haji Ali; it addressed a larger question. How can women be denied their right to religious worship," she asked.

Zakia was, however, irritated with the separate enclosure being made.

"Why don't they hand over the control of mosques to women and make separate enclosures for men? If women are comfortable with praying in the same space as men, then let them be. Those who wish to worship separately can do so in the enclosure, but why make it binding?" she questioned.

She did not buy the "segregation argument". "It is not just differentiation, it is discrimination".

Shabnam Hasmi, a women rights activist and founder of ANHAD, was a bit skeptical.

"No doubt it is a progressive move and women who wish to go and worship would hail this. All spaces, whether religious or public, should be available to women," she said.

"But personally, I think Muslim women have other serious issues than getting an entry into a mosque which need to be addressed. I am not sure but perhaps we are diverting from those issues."

Zakia Soman, however, believed that there were obviously other issues, but that did not mean "we don't fight the issue".



Israeli Woman Gets 22 Months For Trying To Join Islamic State

July 5, 2016

The Haifa District Court on Tuesday sentenced an Israeli-Arab mother of five to 22 months in prison for trying to join the Islamic State group in Syria, where she wanted to teach jihadist ideology to new recruits.

Iman Ahmed Mohamed Kanjou, 44, a teacher from the northern city of Shfaram, was convicted in a plea bargain of contacting an enemy agent and illegally leaving the country. She was also given a year’s suspended sentence and ordered to pay a fine of NIS 30,000 ($7,750).

Kanjou traveled to Turkey without the knowledge of her husband, an imam in their home city.

After months of interest in IS during which she contacted a representative of the jihadist terror group via Facebook, Kanjou traveled to Turkey in August 2015 with the intention of crossing the border into Syria and joining the jihadists. Kanjou had told the IS representative she could teach ideology to new recruits.

The trip was financed by her father, who accompanied her on the journey with the intention of also entering Syria, and was made without the knowledge of her family at home. Her husband, unaware of her plans, reported her disappearance to police.

After arriving in Istanbul Kanjou’s father changed him mind, but she remained determined to cross the border and meet up with IS members. He lost contact with her and returned to Israel on August 26.

Two days later, Turkish police captured Kanjou as she attempted to cross the border into Syria. Turkish authorities sent her back to Israel, where she was promptly arrested by security forces upon arrival in Ben Gurion International Airport.

Kanjou holds a doctoral degree in Islam from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, and admitted to Shin Bet interrogators she had been planning for months to join the Islamic State. She had no previous criminal past.

Over the past several years, the number of Palestinian and Israeli Arab volunteer recruits has increased among Syrian rebel groups, and the Shin Bet believes that more than 40 Israeli Arabs have joined the Islamic State in the last two years.

In May the Lod District Court sentenced an Israeli-Arab man to 18 months in prison for trying to join IS. A month earlier another man was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of traveling to Syria to join the al-Nusra Front and fight against President Bashar Assad’s regime.

In July 2015 five Israeli Arabs, including two teachers, were indicted for supporting the Islamic State group and promoting jihadist ideology in their classes.



CAIR Warns Donald Trump's Comments Endanger Muslim Women

July 6, 2016

This comes as the Council on American-Islamic Relations is warning "American Muslims, and particularly Muslim women, are facing an unprecedented spike in discrimination and hate attacks, due in no small part to Donald Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric and policy proposals." This comes after Donald Trump’s comments during a town hall in New Hampshire on Thursday.

Trump Supporter: "Just to mix quickly homeland security and jobs. Why aren’t we putting our retiree—our military retirees on that border or in TSA? Get rid of all these 'hibijabis' they wear at TSA."

Donald Trump: "Well, I—"

Trump Supporter: "I’ve seen them myself."

Donald Trump: "Yeah, I understand that. Yeah."

Trump Supporter: "We need the veterans back in there to take it. They’ve fought for this country and defended it. They’ll still do it."

Donald Trump: "OK."

Trump Supporter: "Thank you."

Donald Trump: "You know, and we are looking at that. And we are looking at that. We’re looking at a lot of things."



Islamic State terrorists use WhatsApp, Telegram to sell women, girls as sex slaves

July 5, 2016

KHANKE, Iraq: The advertisement on the Telegram app is as chilling as it is incongruous: A girl for sale is "Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old.... Her price has reached $12,500 and she will be sold soon."

The posting in Arabic appeared on an encrypted conversation along with ads for kittens, weapons and tactical gear. It was shared with the Associated Press by an activist with the minority Yazidi community , whose women and children are being held as sex slaves by the extremists.

While the Islamic State group is losing territory in its self-styled caliphate, it is tightening its grip on the estimated 3,000 women and girls held as sex slaves. In a fusion of ancient barbaric practices and modern technology, IS sells the women like chattel on smart phone apps and shares databases that contain their photographs and the names of their "owners" to prevent their escape through IS checkpoints. The fighters are assassinating smugglers who rescue the captives, just as funds to buy the women out of slavery are drying up.

The thousands of Yazidi women and children were taken prisoner in August 2014, when IS fighters overran their villages in northern Iraq with the aim to eliminate the Kurdish-speaking minority because of its ancient faith. Since then, Arab and Kurdish smugglers managed to free an average of 134 people a month. But by May, an IS crackdown reduced those numbers to just 39 in the last six weeks, according to figures provided by the Kurdistan regional government.

Mirza Danai, founder of the German-Iraqi aid organization Luftbrucke Irak, said in the last two or three months, escape has become more difficult and dangerous.

"They register every slave, every person under their owner, and therefore if she escapes, every Daesh control or checkpoint, or security force - they know that this girl ... has escaped from this owner," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby told the AP that the US continues "to be appalled by credible reports that Daesh is trafficking in human beings, and sex slavery in particular."

"This depravity not only speaks to the degree to which Daesh cheapens life and repudiates the Islamic faith, it also strengthens our resolve to defeat them," he said.

The AP has obtained a batch of 48 head shots of the captives, smuggled out of the IS-controlled region by an escapee, which people familiar with them say are similar to those in the extremists' slave database and the smartphone apps.

Lamiya Aji Bashar tried to flee four times before finally escaping in March, racing to government-controlled territory with Islamic State group fighters in pursuit. A land mine exploded, killing her companions, 8-year-old Almas and Katherine, 20. She never learned their last names.

The explosion left Lamiya blind in her right eye, her face scarred by melted skin. Saved by the man who smuggled her out, she counts herself among the lucky.

"I managed in the end, thanks to God, I managed to get away from those infidels," the 18-year-told the AP from a bed at her uncle's home in the northern Iraqi town of Baadre. "Even if I had lost both eyes, it would have been worth it, because I have survived them."

'Where is humanity?'

The Sunni extremists view the Yazidis as barely human. The Yazidi faith combines elements of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion. Their pre-war population in Iraq was estimated around 500,000. Their number today is unknown.

Nadia Mourad, an escapee, has appeared before the US Congress and the European Parliament to appeal for international help.

"Daesh is proud of what it's done to the Yazidis," she said to Parliament. "They are being used has human shields. They are not allowed to escape or flee. Probably they will be assassinated. Where is the world in all this? Where is humanity?"

IS relies on encrypted apps to sell the women and girls, according to an activist is documenting the transactions and asked not to be named for fear of his safety.

The activist showed AP the negotiations for the captives in encrypted conversations as they were occurring in real time.

The postings appear primarily on Telegram and on Facebook and WhatsApp to a lesser degree, he said.

Both Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Telegram use end-to-end encryption to protect users' privacy. Both have said they consider protecting private conversations and data paramount, and that they themselves cannot access users' content.

"Telegram is extremely popular in the Middle East, among other regions," said Telegram spokesman Markus Ra. "This, unfortunately, includes the more marginal elements and the broadest law-abiding masses alike." He added the company is committed to prevent abuse of the service and that it routinely removes public channels used by IS.

In addition to the posting for the 12-year-old in a group with hundreds of members, the AP viewed an ad on WhatsApp for a mother with a 3-year-old and a 7-month old baby, with a price of $3,700. "She wants her owner to sell her," read the posting, followed by a photo.

"We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and disable accounts when provided with evidence of activity that violates our terms. We encourage people to use our reporting tools if they encounter this type of behavior," said Matt Steinfeld, a spokesman for WhatsApp.

Like the Bible, some passages of the Quran implicitly condone slavery, which was widespread when the holy book emerged. It also allows men to have sex with both their wives and "those they possess with their right hands," taken by interpreters to refer to female slaves.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, most Muslim scholars backed the banning of slavery, citing Quranic verses that say freeing them is a blessing. Some hard-liners, however, continued to insist that under Shariah sex slavery must be permitted, though the Islamic State group is the first in the modern era to bring it into organized practice.

In the images obtained by AP, many of the women and girls are dressed in finery, some in heavy makeup. All look directly at the camera, standing in front of overstuffed chairs or brocade curtains in what resembles a shabby hotel ballroom. Some are barely out of elementary school. Not one looks older than 30.

One of them is Nazdar Murat, who was about 16 when she was abducted two years ago _ one of more than two dozen young women taken away by the extremists in a single day in August 2014. Her father and uncles were among about 40 people killed when IS took over the Sinjar area, the heart of the Yazidi homeland.

Inside an immaculately kept tent in a displaced persons camp outside the northern Iraqi town of Dahuk, Nazdar's mother said her daughter managed to call once, six months ago.

"We spoke for a few seconds. She said she was in Mosul," said Murat, referring to Iraq's second-largest city. "Every time someone comes back, we ask them what happened to her and no one recognizes her. Some people told me she committed suicide."

The family keeps the file of missing Yazidis on a mobile phone. They show it to those who have escaped the caliphate, to find out if anyone has seen her, and to other families looking for a thread of hope they'll see their own missing relatives again.

The odds of rescue, however, grow slimmer by the day. The smuggling networks that have freed the captives are being targeted by IS leaders, who are fighting to keep the Yazidis at nearly any cost, said Andrew Slater of the non-profit group Yazda, which helps document crimes against the community and organizes refuge for those who have fled.

Kurdistan's regional government had been reimbursing impoverished Yazidi families who paid up to $15,000 in fees to smugglers to rescue their relatives, or the ransoms demanded by individual fighters to give up the captives. But the Kurdish regional government no longer has the funds. For the past year, Kurdistan has been mired in an economic crisis brought on by the collapse of oil prices, a dispute with Iraq's central government over revenues, and the fallout from the war against the Islamic State.

Even when IS retreats from towns like Ramadi or Fallujah, the missing girls are nowhere to be found.

"Rescues are slowing. They're going to stop. People are running out of money, I have dozens of families who are tens of thousands of dollars in debt," Slater said. "There are still thousands of women and kids in captivity but it's getting harder and harder to get them out."

'Sold many times'

Lamiya was abducted from the village of Kocho, near the town of Sinjar, in the summer of 2014. Her parents are presumed dead. Somewhere, she said, her 9-year-old sister Mayada remains captive. One photo she managed to send to the family shows the little girl standing in front of an IS flag.

Five other sisters all managed to escape and later were relocated to Germany. A younger brother, kept for months in an IS training camp in Mosul, also slipped away and is now staying with other relatives in Dahuk, a city in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

Sitting very still and speaking in a monotone, Lamiya recounted her captivity, describing how she was passed from one IS follower to another, all of whom beat and violated her. She was determined to escape.

She said her first "owner" was an Iraqi IS commander who went by the name Abu Mansour in the city of Raqqa, the de-facto IS capital deep in Syria. He brutalized her, often keeping her handcuffed.

She tried to run away twice but was caught, beaten and raped repeatedly. After a month, she said, she was sold to another IS extremist in Mosul. After she spent two months with him, she was sold again, this time to an IS bomb-maker who Lamiya said forced her to help him make suicide vests and car bombs.

"I tried to escape from him," she said. "And he captured me, too, and he beat me."

When the bomb-maker grew bored with her, she was handed over to an IS doctor in Hawija, a small IS-controlled Iraqi town. She said the doctor, who was the IS head of the town hospital, also abused her.

From there, after more than a year, she managed to contact her relatives in secret.

Her uncle said the family paid local smugglers $800 to arrange Lamiya's escape. She will be reunited with her siblings in Germany, but despite everything, her heart remains in Iraq.

"We had a nice house with a big farm ... I was going to school," she said. "It was beautiful."



Women-only pools: New York Times still says they are OK for Muslims, but not Jews?

July 5, 2016

When is a pool not a pool?

When it’s a war zone. Which is what a certain pool in Brooklyn, N.Y., has become in recent months.

First, here's some background. You might recall a bucolic New York Times piece some months ago about a Toronto neighborhood pool that was the essence of Canadian openness. The Times called it a “model of inclusion” in the headline over the story of a pool that has separate women-only swim times for Muslims, then transgender people. The writer was positively rapturous over the gender-neutral locker rooms (it didn’t say what folks do in terms of showers), the yoga classes from women veiled up to their eyeballs with a niqab and disabled-friendly architecture.

Switch the venue east to Brooklyn, however, and a June 29 Times story about a similar pool with separate swimming hours for Orthodox Jewish women is about religious/gender intolerance. Yes, this is new coverage of the dispute that our own tmatt dug into recently in another post ("Swimmin' Orthodox Women").

Let's read further:

Under slate-colored light slanting from the skylights, the women entered the city pool on Wednesday morning, its oxidized copper ceiling lending a mint-green cast to the water’s surface. Their swimming outfits would have been considered prudish even by the standards of 1922, when the pool was built. They swam in dresses, some with long sleeves. One paddled in thick black tights. Inside the locker room, wigs sat upside down on window ledges and benches while their owners swam with heads under ruffled swimming caps or knotted silk scarves.

The swimmers were Hasidic women, who abide by strict codes of modesty and who go to the Metropolitan Recreation Center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for an unusual feature: It is one of two city swimming pools with gender-segregated hours. The other is the St. John’s Recreation Center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Although Wednesday was the urbanite’s summer solstice — the day that New York City’s 55 outdoor pools opened for the season and children could, at last, carom into the chlorine — the swimming season at the placid indoor pool in Williamsburg lasts all year. But a tempest has been threatening it, and the women who have long seen the lap pool as a sanctuary are awaiting a decision that city officials now say is imminent about the future of the segregated swimming sessions.

For 20 years, the center has blocked off female-only hours to accommodate the area’s large Hasidic population. The pool has no male-only hours, and some Hasidic men swim during the hours that are open to all genders. An anonymous complaint was lodged recently with the city’s Human Rights Commission, which sent a notice to the parks department this spring saying that the policy might violate a city law barring gender discrimination in public accommodations.

Later in the story, the reporter interviews a disgusted male patron:

Women’s hours are held three times a week during the summer months. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, a lifeguard’s whistle squealed. “Everybody out,” she said.

In fact, the message was just for the men. The women’s hours would begin at 10:30 a.m. (There was a half-hour break in between.) Swimming freestyle in the lane marked “Slow,” Tim Main stopped and gripped the pool ladder, peeling off his goggles. He turned to the nearest pool-goer and threw up his hands. “I hope this goes all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said before climbing out and shaking off.

Then after the inevitable ACLU quote accusing the women of “imposing a regime of gender discrimination” on pool patrons, we get:

Gripping a yellow pool noodle, Miriam Kahn, 77, treaded water in a pink dress and a pink ruffled swimming cap on Wednesday morning. “In our religion, women don’t go to no beach, don’t go to no movies, nothing,” she said in a thick Israeli accent. “Can’t we have this something?”

So we do get voices from both sides, including the Democratic state assemblyman whose area is heavily Hasidic. The female reporter covering this story had a humorous sidebar explaining how she did the interviewing for this story and how she had no problem finding space for her own strokes.

I was left feeling that more of this story needed to be told. The story referenced the Toronto pool, then added there are similar programs elsewhere in the United States.

Pray tell: Where? Here are links to stories about a YMCA pool in San Diego with women-only hours, another YMCA pool in Minneapolis, even a female-only swim hour at George Washington University in the District. All the pools mentioned here are private, albeit receiving taxpayer money), and the Jewish Week points out that no one seems to have a problem when it's Muslims getting accommodations.

In the comments section of the Times story, one writer pointed out the pool is women-only four times a week, not three and one of those times is Sunday afternoons, a high-volume time for everyone. Another said that a lesbian friend of hers got chased out of the women’s room by Hasidic women saying she looked like a boy and that the bathroom stalls are monopolized by the Jewish swimmers because they refuse to change in front of each other.

Still others noted that public pools have specific times for children only and no one’s threatening a lawsuit over that. What’s interesting is that it’s not so much a religion question (non-Jewish women are allowed in the pool at that time) as it’s a gender question. Is separation of the genders an option any more in our society?

But anyone can spot the big question here: Would the ACLU have complained had the group using the pool been Muslim?

Is there any record of anyone complaining when there’s been Muslim-only swim hours in pools around the country? Why is it that the Times piece on the Toronto pool waxed eloquent on its inclusivity whereas the report on the Brooklyn pool was less enthusiastic? Again, we wrote here about earlier coverage of this dispute, including a Times editorial calling the situation “a theocratic view of government services.”

The Israeli daily Haaretz published a different take on the topic by comparing the Williamsburg pool with the Crown Heights facility, which has women-only hours only one evening a week and that for two hours, along with a male-only time during another evening. It also pointed out that the Williamburg women originally only had swim times on Monday and Friday mornings, but they demanded – and got – extra sessions on Wednesdays and Sundays.

The Haaretz piece, which included quotes from Jews supporting and opposing the Hasidim, went into much more detail as to the complications (in terms of pool drains) that come up when Orthodox women swim fully clothed and why just telling the Hasidim to build their own pool won’t work. What is fascinating here is that not only is this a conflict between Hasidim and some of the secular populace that’s been moving into their section of Brooklyn, but it’s also a liberal-conservative conflict among Jews themselves.

The devil is in the details in this situation, whereby the Hasidic women may have a compelling reason for separate pool hours, but are they entitled to such a sizeable chunk each week? And why is it that such a situation benefiting Muslim women is OK but a similar one for Jewish women is not? Any ruling on this may be all or nothing; keeping things the same or excluding these women entirely, in which no one really wins except for the New York Times editorial page.



Woman Asks Trump Highly Offensive Question About Airport Security

July 5, 2016

Cathy Chevalier, a woman from Hudson, New Hampshire, is making headlines for the extremely Islamophopic question she posed to Donald Trump at a recent campaign event. "Why aren't we putting our retiree, our military retirees on that border or in TSA, get rid of all these 'hibby jobbies' they wear at TSA - I've seen them myself?" she asked, insulting Muslims by totally butchering the word "hijab," a head-covering worn by some Muslim women, and suggesting that Muslim-Americans less trustworthy than other Americans.

Trump, who has proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States, was vague. "Okay, you know, and we are looking at that, and we are looking at that, we're looking at a lot of things," he said.

Though his response was noncommittal, Chevalier seemed to be appeased. She explained her rationale to ABC and said Trump "said what I wanted to hear":

"I went through the Philadelphia airport and there was one of the TSA checking us with full hijab on." Shaking her head, she went on, "I'm a military wife, have been my whole adult life, I'm a Marine Corps wife, mother, grandmother. I don't feel safe with that.""I don't have a problem with Muslims working there" Chevalier said referring to the TSA, just "the security line with their face covered." When asked whether or not she found Trump's answer satisfactory she said "Yeah, yeah. Well -- because he said what I wanted to hear -- that you know they just have to look into that kind of thing. "




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