New Age Islam News Bureau
13 Jul 2016
Photo: A French woman at a protest against the banning of headscarves in state schools. Photograph: Alamy
• Malaysia’s Kelantan State to Require Long Sleeves for Female Workers
• Isisrael? Top Israeli Cleric Permits Soldiers to Rape Muslim Women to ‘Boost Morale’
• Staff Walk Out Of School Ceremony After Muslim Pupil Refuses To Shake Female Teacher's Hand
• Through Poetry, Vermont’s Muslim Girls Call For Change
• Four Things We Learned About Anne Aly, the First Muslim Woman in Australian Parliament
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
European court backs French woman sacked for wearing hijab
Wednesday 13 July 2016
A French design engineer who was dismissed for wearing an Islamic headscarf should have been allowed to cover her head at work, the European Union’s highest court has recommended.
In an influential preliminary opinion, an advocate general at the European court of justice has found in favour of Asma Bougnaoui, a Muslim woman, who lost her job with Micropole SA, a French IT consultancy, in June 2009.
Advocate Eleanor Sharpston, one of the senior British members of the judiciary on the Luxembourg court, said an EU directive prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief should be interpreted strictly and that Bougnaoui’s dismissal amounted to direct discrimination on those grounds.
There was nothing to suggest that Bougnaoui was unable to perform her duties as a design engineer because she wore an Islamic headscarf, the opinion noted. Indeed, Micropole’s letter terminating her employment had expressly referred to her professional competence. No exemptions from the directive applied.
An ECJ statement said: “First, the advocate general rejects the idea that a prohibition on employees wearing religious attire when in contact with customers of their employer’s business may be necessary for the protection of individual rights and freedoms necessary for the functioning of a democratic society.
“In any event, in the present case, there does not appear to be any relevant national legislation enacted to give effect to that derogation. Secondly, the derogation for ‘occupational activities within churches and other public or private organisations, the ethos of which is based on religion or belief’ cannot apply given the nature of Micropole’s activities.”
Sharpston said that had Bougnaoui completely masked her face, she would not have been protected by law. “Western society regards visual or eye contact as being of fundamental importance in any relationship involving face-to-face communication between representatives of a business and its customers. It follows in my view that a rule that imposed a prohibition on wearing religious apparel that covers the eyes and face entirely whilst performing a job that involved such contact with customers would be proportionate.”
In a forceful comment, Sharpston concluded: “It seems to me that in the vast majority of cases it will be possible, on the basis of a sensible discussion between the employer and the employee, to reach an accommodation that reconciles adequately the competing rights of the employee to manifest his or her religion and the employer to conduct his business.
“Occasionally, however, that may not be possible. In the last resort, the business interest in generating maximum profit should then in my view give way to the right of the individual employee to manifest his religious convictions. Here, I draw attention to the insidiousness of the argument, ‘but we need to do X because otherwise our customers won’t like it’.
“Where the customer’s attitude may itself be indicative of prejudice based on one of the ‘prohibited factors’, such as religion, it seems to me particularly dangerous to excuse the employer from compliance with an equal treatment requirement in order to pander to that prejudice. [EU] Directive 2000/78 is intended to confer protection in employment against adverse treatment (that is, discrimination) on the basis of one of the prohibited factors. It is not about losing one’s job in order to help the employer’s profit line.”
Advocate general opinions are usually followed when the ECJ finally delivers its subsequent full judgment. ECJ rulings are legally binding on all EU member states and will be enforceable in the UK until British withdrawal has finally been achieved. Boris Johnson criticised the powers of the ECJ during the Brexit campaign.
Malaysia’s Kelantan State to Require Long Sleeves for Female Workers
12 July 2016
Women who work at fast-food outlets, supermarkets and stores in the Malaysian state of Kelantan will soon be required to wear long sleeves while serving customers.
Officials there this week announced a new statewide regulation that will take effect in January and will require female employees at such commercial establishments to cover themselves up in the workplace more than they already are.
In predominantly Islamic and religiously conservative Kelantan, all Muslim women are required to cover the entire body when appearing in public – except for the face and hands up to the wrists.
The custom conforms with awrah, an Islamic practice that governs how people cover their bodily parts while appearing in public. Men are required to abide by the practice, too, but the dress code is different for them. While out in public, men in Kelantan must always cover themselves at least from the navel down to the knees, according to the code.
Until now, most employees at fast-food restaurants and markets have worn short-sleeved shirts in the workplace but, starting next year, those establishments statewide will be required to dress their female workers in uniforms with long-sleeved tops.
But some women who live in the state, where members of both sexes queue up in separate lines at markets and where public benches are segregated by gender, and who would be most affected by the new regulation, don’t seem to mind it too much.
The new regulation is a good move for business owners because it is important to receive God’s blessings in running businesses since “covering awrah (bodily parts) is compulsory in Islam,” Ernie Abd Manan, a woman who works as a trader in state capital Kota Bharu, told BenarNews.
Hasnah, a trader from Wakaf Che Yeh, said she agreed with the regulation but hoped the authorities would not be too strict about it and consider employees’ comfort in doing their jobs.
“Employees should be allowed to wear a short-sleeved uniform with the option of wearing hand-socks or jackets. Covering awrah is good especially when it comes to cleanliness if they [employees] are preparing food,” Hasnah told BenarNews.
Local businessmen say they will also abide by the regulation, though they don’t necessarily welcome the rule that could drive up their operating costs.
"We have to support it because we are Muslims. We may not like it but God has said it, so we have to support it,” said Ahmad Nazri Che Omar, chairman of the Siti Khadijah Market Association of Bumiputera Traders.
“We cannot say no because this is the law of God,” he told BenarNews.
‘A method of education’
Abdul Fattah Mahmood, chairman of Kelantan’s Local Government, Housing, Youth and Sports Committee, announced the new regulation during an Eid gathering in the state on Monday.
“A majority [of women] has chosen to cover their bodies by themselves. What we have announced is to prove the dynamism of Islam,” he told BenarNews.“We are confident that with the new uniform, more will follow. This is also a method of education,” Abdul Fattah added.
The new regulation appears to build upon a policy implemented nearly two years ago by local authorities, who instituted fines of 500 ringgit (U.S. $126) on women traders and female workers at stores who were caught not covering their hair or wearing tight-fitting outfits.
Non-Muslim female workers in Kelantan will not be required to follow the new regulation.
“The ruling is a must for Muslim women workers, but non-Muslims are encouraged to wear proper clothes. I would like to thank the non-Muslim community in the state for their support of the state government’s policy,” the New Straits Times newspaper quoted Abdul Fattah as saying.
Helping to ‘elevate’ women: PAS
Kelantan, whose population of 1.68 million people is 97 percent Muslim, is a state that is almost synonymous with the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which has controlled the state government for 43 years and has been in power there non-interrupted since 1990.
Kelantan is the only one of Malaysia’s 13 states and three federal territories ruled by the faith-based party.
The regulation that will take effect in January 2017 will be enforced under local bylaws by which local councils issue annual permits to businesses.
The new rule will “preserve the dignity and self-esteem” of Muslim women, according to PAS information chief Nasruddin Hassan Tantawi.
“The issue here is the awrah. Islam requires a Muslim woman to cover herself, so the ruling by the Kelantan state government is actually helping to elevate the status of the Muslim women.
“Most importantly, at the same time, it gives a clearer picture that Islam does not hinder the freedom of earning a living, working and socializing among women as long it is within the limits such as covering the awrah. Actually it gives more safety to women themselves,” he told BenarNews.
Isisrael? Top Israeli Cleric Permits Soldiers to Rape Muslim Women to ‘Boost Morale’
July 12, 2016
JERUSALEM (Web DesK) – The Israel chief rabbi’s appointment is being met with backlash as he is outspoken for allowing soldiers to rape women during wartime.
According to Mint Press News Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, of the Israeli Defense Forces, who is stepping down after six years in the position is being replaced with his successor, Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim.
Karim, who was announced on Monday as the intended new IDF chief rabbi, has kicked up controversy with previous misogynistic statements, such as opposing female conscription and implying that rape was permissible in times of warfare.
According to Ynet News, Karim has been functioning as the principal of the Rabbinate Department in the Military Rabbinate. He is an alumnus of the Bnei Akiva Nachalim and the Ateret Cohanim yeshivas, and he served previously as a combat paratrooper.
Karim is eventually commanding their elite reconnaissance unit, before taking a break from the military and eventually returning to its rabbinate.
In 2012, Karim’s controversy started when the Hebrew religious website KIPA, asked him, in the light of certain biblical passages, if IDF soldiers were permitted to commit rape during wartime despite the general understanding that such an act is widely considered repugnant.
“And because of the liable damage to the modesty of the girl and the nation, the great rabbis and the Chief Rabbinate have ruled that the enlistment of girls to the IDF is entirely forbidden.”
Karim is also outspoken about women singing at military events. If a woman sings at an event, he claims, men should not have to attend as it is repugnant.
His answer enraged many Israelis.
“Although intercourse with a female gentile is very grave, it was permitted during wartime (under the conditions it stipulated) out of consideration for the soldiers’ difficulties,” he wrote. “And since our concern is the success of the collective in the war, the Torah permitted [soldiers] to satisfy the evil urge under the conditions it stipulated for the sake of the collective’s success.”
In other words, soldiers can rape innocent women during times of war in order to keep their morale up.
Staff walk out of school ceremony after Muslim pupil refuses to shake female teacher's hand
July 12, 2016
Five class heads made decision to leave after school refused to make pupil go home
It is not the first time handshake etiquette has been a source of controversy in Germany Getty Images
Staff at a school where a Muslim pupil refused to shake hands with a female teacher during a graduation ceremony have staged a walkout in protest.
Teachers at the Kurt-Tucholsky School in northern Germany were said to be outraged when the class mistress extended her hand to the student to congratulate him for passing Abitur sixth-form exams, and he offered his wrist to shake instead.
“No offence, my religion won’t let me do that. I do not mean to disrespect you”, the pupil said by way of explanation, according to Hamburger Morgenpost.
Headteacher Andrea Lüdtke refused to send the boy home from the event for disrespecting his teacher, which several staff members felt he should have been.
After engaging in “intense discussions” about the situation, five class teachers walked out of the ceremony and refused to return until the boy had been told to leave.
Later in the evening, seven teachers boycotted the graduation celebration ball, a decision the headmistress described as “very bad”.
Ms Lüdtke said the student was a “committed” pupil in religious studies as well as in other subjects, adding that he "in no way" held extremist views and that the school was “considering how to show that we cannot tolerate such behaviour”.
This is not the first instance in which a refusal to shake hands has created tensions between cultures in Germany.
In June, an imam took his child out of a Berlin private school after a meeting with a teacher, when he explained he wouldn't be able to shake her hand.
In response, the teacher said he should "adapt to the culture" and was harming his child’s hopes of integrating with his fellow students.
Meanwhile in May this year, Muslim schoolboys in Switzerland were told they must shake their female teachers’ hands by law or face fines of up to £3,500.
The court ruling followed an incident at a school in Therwil in April, where two pupils requested an exemption from shaking a female teacher’s hand.
Through poetry, Vermont’s Muslim girls call for change
July 12, 2016
SOUTH BURLINGTON, US // Four girls from Vermont are using their voices and powerful performance poetry to get their message out about being Muslim in America.
Five months after forming their slam poetry group, Muslim Girls Making Change is competing this week in the Brave New Voices international youth poetry slam competition in Washington, DC.
“We write poems about things that we can’t keep inside of us anymore, so things that we care so much about," says Kirin Waqar, 16, of South Burlington, whose parents are from Pakistan.
With titles like American Dream, Welcome and Chameleon, the girls address their parents’ expectations when coming to this country, Syrian refugees and the challenges they face in balancing their American identity with where their family is from.
“We will never be white only pretend to be. We hide behind big mirrors and lies unsure of who we really are. African American or the other way around? Pakistani first, American?," they say in the poem . “Tears roll off our face. The droplets form a perfectly curved rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, which one am I?"
“Which one are we. Maybe we’re a mix. Maybe we are many. A combination of colors ... Maybe we are one."
Through the poetry, 15-year-old Lena Ginawi, whose father is from Egypt and mother from Yemen, wants people to know that “whenever you hear the word terrorism I don’t want the first thing you think about is Islam, because Islam to me is a religion of peace. Anything that these terrorists do has nothing to do with Islam".
The group won a tryout in Vermont to compete in the Brave New Voices festival.
They not only have a powerful message and stage presence, but they are willing to discuss the issues they talk about in their poetry, answer questions and use that as platform for good and creating change, says Sarah Gliech of the Young Writers Project, which helped raise funds for the group’s trip to Washington.
In middle school, Kirin says she tried to assimilate by wearing American clothing.
Then at 15, she decided her religion was more important and started wearing a hijab.
Her attire eventually prompted questions and started conversations, “which was really, really amazing," she says.
“We’d talk about common stereotypes and like Muslim countries and culture versus religion, almost anything; it was wide range," she says.
She says she still gets stares sometimes when she’s out in public and sometimes feels afraid if someone gives her a weird look.
Hawa Adam, who had the idea to start the slam poetry group, says a bigger challenge for her growing up was being black in a largely white school in the town of South Burlington, where she says she felt some students made fun of her. She also was the only one wearing hijab at the school at the time. She now attends Burlington High School, which is more diverse. But, she says she feels segregated because most of her friends are either Muslim or black.
Muslim Girls Making Change is a way for her express herself and connect with other people, says Hawa, whose parents moved to Vermont from Somalia when she was five years old to escape the war.
“Because I know a lot of people come up to us after performances and say, ‘Like oh, yeah, what you said right there makes sense to me because my story is similar to that’."
Four things we learned about Anne Aly, the first Muslim woman in Australian Parliament
WED 13 JUL 2016
Member for Barton Linda Burney will be the first Indigenous woman sitting in the House of Reps.
And Dr Anne Aly, professor at Edith Cowan University in WA and expert in counter-terrorism, will be walking through the doors as the member for Cowan and the first Muslim woman in Parliament.
Both women have won Labor seats this election that were previously held by Liberal MPs. And both have now joined Hack host Tom Tilley in the studio for their Let’s Talk™ appointments.
Here’s what we learned about Anne Aly at the beginning of her career in Federal politics.
She didn’t expect to become a politician
On ABC's Q&A last year, Dr Anne Aly said that part of a politician’s job was learning how to “lie”.
Anne Aly told Hack that she hopes to prove her own criticism wrong.
“Well I’m hoping that I’m not going to be one of those politicians,” Dr Aly said.
“If you had said to me back then that I was going to have a career in politics I would have said ‘no way, not touching it with a ten foot pole’. But it did get to a situation in the work that I do where it got to the point where I just thought, 'I need to make change from the inside, something needs to change.'
“And what needs to change is political will. And the offer came up to run for this seat, it was a marginal seat, and I thought, 'maybe this is a sign? Maybe I can make change from the inside'.”
Supports taking away passports from people intending to fight overseas
Anne Aly has previously criticised the Government’s plan to take passports away from Australians intending to fight overseas, saying local intervention after-the-fact would be needed.
“I never thought it was a bad idea, I think it’s a good thing to take away the passports,” Anne Aly said on Hack.
“What my criticism of that is, that if you take away the passports, all very well and good but let’s have something in place for those that are left here. Because they can’t travel and those who have a pathway to violence, and ensuring that that pathway to violence isn’t then turned to violence within Australia. And indeed that’s what we’ve seen, if you look at the arrests over the past couple years of young people who are planning terrorist attacks.
"And most of them, if not all of them have had their passports taken away. So it's all very well and good to have their passports taken away, yes we can absolutely support that, but let’s look at where there are gaps, and the gaps that that creates. And develop interventions and programs to fill those gaps.”
She expects to face off with Pauline Hanson
Is Anne Aly excited about the prospect of sharing the corridors of power with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who has called for a royal commission into Islam?
“I don’t know about ‘excited’ about it, I don’t know about 'excited', Tom,” Anne Aly said.
But does Anne Aly expect to face off with Pauline Hanson in Parliament?
“I’m sure we will. I’m actually looking forward to it, because you know, if enough Australians have voted for One Nation to be in the Senate, then it certainly means that people want this discussed.
“So let’s have the discussion, let’s have a robust discussion, let’s ensure that discussion is respectful, that it’s based on fact, that it’s informed.
Anne Aly also didn’t accept Pauline Hanson’s claims that Halal Certification is used to fund terrorism.
“ASIO certainly doesn’t think so. They’ve done a report, they’ve done an investigation, and they’ve said no. Unless [Pauline Hanson] knows something that ASIO doesn’t, absolutely not.”
She thinks we need a more informed debate on wearing the burqa in Parliament
“These debates periodically raise their heads. And I’m constantly left quite flabbergasted at how it is, in this day and age, still continue to talk about what women wear.
"Surely, as a progressive nation, we’ve accepted that what a woman wears is her choice. Is her right to wear.
"I think that discussion needs to be had among Muslim women about what these forms of clothing actually represent, and what they actually mean to Muslim women.”
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