New Age Islam
Sat Sep 23 2023, 04:02 PM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 2 Feb 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Eves Overawed By Frontiers Hijab Opens; Beautiful Without Scarf, Wonderful With It’

New Age Islam News Bureau

2 Feb 2015

Veiled Muslim Teens Reflect on World Hijab Day, Credit: beauty.lover on Flickr, under Creative Commons


 Save-Your-Virginity Campaign Gets Nailed On Twitter in Malaysia

 Jolie Beats Malala in World’s ‘Most Admirable’ Title

 Syrian Fashion Designer Revives Ancient Mesopotamian Wardrobe

 Woman Sentenced To 1,000 Lashes for Insulting Islam Is Freed From Prison In Saudi Arabia

 Hindu Mahasabha to Organise Inter-Religious Weddings on Valentine's Day

 Veiled Muslim Teens Reflect on World Hijab Day

 Western Cape High Court Landmark Judgment Grants Rights to Wife

 Muslim Women Bring Story of Faith through Fashion to Galleria Event

 Malaysia Welcomes Next K-Pop Act Taeyang But No Hugs for Fans

 Aussie Muslim Women Speak to End Violence

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Eves Overawed By Frontiers Hijab Opens; Beautiful Without Scarf, Wonderful With It’

Yusra Husain,TNN

2 February 2015

LUCKNOW: When 12 Hijab Muslim girls secured a corner on the steps leading to the Bada Imambara on Sunday, the World Hijab Day (WHD) became more than an invitation to try it for a day by women of other faiths, and a lesson for men too. Number of ecstatic young girls belonging to all faiths came up and donned the headscarf, looking in the mirror at the new avatar with utter astonishment. The curiosity of men and their questions pertaining to the Muslim headgear were also satiated by the organising team. The campaign in the city was to stand up in support of those hijabi girls who face criticism, instilling in them confidence instead.

WHD became a world phenomenon after its founder Nazma Khan, a New York resident faced societal backlash against Muslims post 9/11 in the US. She took to getting together the idea internationally in 2013 with 64 countries initially, and on February 1, 2015, more than 140 countries took part in the campaign.

Yang Doma, on a Lucknow trip from Darjeeling with her husband and brother, tried on a grey scarf, and while looking at herself in the mirror she could not believe how comfortable she felt under the cloth. Her husband Pawan Chamling felt his wife looked beautiful with the headgear and should sport it in future too. "Without the scarf she looked beautiful, but with it she is looking wonderful," exclaimed Yang's younger brother, Prabesh Gureeng.

As young girl's kept pouring in, men too found answers to their anxious question. Not understanding why Muslim women cover themselves up, Reshin Bhatia had always considered the Hijab had been forced on them. "The Hijab is a part of our religion, but it is not just for us girls. There is another form of it applicable on men too. Men should follow Hijab of the gaze and their actions, while a Muslim woman is considered a pearl in a shell," said Mary Raza answering Reshin. His friends Tripti and Bhavna wore the scarves too with the help of the team, trying to dispel their earlier held on notions and prejudices, accepting religious tolerance.

"It is not that we are not independent with the hijab on that is what most people think and have been asking us. But I told a young boy about it and he agreed that it's not a harness to our life," said another team member Eema Naqvi.



Save-your-virginity campaign gets nailed on Twitter in Malaysia

2 February 2015

KUALA LUMPUR— A campaign to promote sexual abstinence among young girls has been pummelled on Twitter, with users criticising the local magazine behind it for focussing solely on preserving female virginity.

The issue debated under the hashtag #SaveYourDaraCampaign sparked outrage, with some mocking the initiative and taking swipes at the campaign’s organiser, Majalah Dara, a subsidiary of the Karangkraf Group.

“Yg tudung litup tutup elok pun kena rogol so perlu ke #SaveYourDaraCampaign ni? Teach men to respect ladies?” said a user with the handle @seriousmockery.

[Translation: Those who are fully covered in a tudung are also raped, so is there a need for this #SaveYourDaraCampaign?]

In similar tone, a user who goes by @ladymissazira posted: “I find it disturbing that a popular woman’s magazine approved sexist #SaveYourDaraCampaign #CintaHalalItuIndah #KeepItHalal #saveyourdara.”

“Pe benda sial #SaveYourDaraCampaign ni aduh why is malaysia constantly begging to be made fun of,” added @nylaineza.

[Translation: What is wretched #SaveYourDaraCampaign? Why is Malaysia constantly begging to be made fun off]

While most of the critics were women, the campaign was also lambasted by Malay Muslim men who labelled it a “shallow approach”.

“Selain jatuhnya nilai matawang RM, tingkat pemikiran sebahagian orang Malaysia jugak makin merudum. Siapa buat #SaveYourDaraCampaign ni?” said a user who goes by the handle @kuhaf.

[Translation:Aside from the drop in value of the ringgit, the level of thinking of some Malaysians has also taken a plunge. Who’s behind #SaveYourDaraCampaign?]

Another Twitter user with the account @TOKKhairul protested by calling the campaign “blatantly stupid”.

Sex education has long been a taboo subject here in Malaysia where even being in close proximity with a member of the opposite sex, who is not a spouse or a family member, is considered an offence for Muslims.

The two-day corporate social responsibility campaign, which was launched by National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) director-general Datuk Dr Siti Norlasiah Ismail at the Karangkraf Carnival 2015 on Friday, is to raise awareness on protecting one’s chastity to avoid the risk of getting involved social ills.

In an interview by Sinar Harian, Dara’s editor Noor Fazidah Umar was quoted saying that “cases of baby dumping, illegitimate children and free sex are closely related to one’s’ chastity”.

A brief introduction of the magazine states that “it is a guide” for campus dwellers and young working adults from ages 16 to 25.

Despite the backlash, the campaign appeared to have gained the sought attention as it drew encouraging feedback from those who had attended the carnival.

According to a video posted by Sinar on YouTube, participants interviewed found the programmes to be beneficial and empowering.

“Teenagers gained plenty information and a lot of importance was given to how we carry ourselves, how we dressed to not arouse men,” said Nur Shahirah Ali.

Another participant identified as Nur Lia Muhd added that the scope of the campaign should be widened to involve more teenagers as the activities organised effectively covered issues affecting the youth, especially on sexual promiscuity.

Likewise a Twitter user, who goes by @Aidris28 posted, “I don’t think the #SaveYourDaraCampaign is a bad idea. It educates young women about the harms of free sex.”

“I am proud of this nation to at least recognise the subject of free sex. Rather than just ignore it. #SaveYourDaraCampaign,” said @Aidris28, but added that the campaign organisers could opt to change the name of the campaign.

In Malaysia, abstinence is the primary focus in sex education, with a curriculum focussed on teaching teenagers on how to identify and avoid risky behaviour.

But the rising number of teen pregnancies as well as baby-dumping cases in recent years has led to various efforts to address the issue. This includes the setting-up of baby hatches, a safe place for mothers to leave unwanted babies, as well as a school for pregnant teens in Malacca.

Between January and March last year, a total of 1,048 teen pregnancies were reported.



Jolie beats Malala in world’s ‘Most Admirable’ title

2 February 2015

Hollywood sweetheart Angelina Jolie beat the likes of Malala Yousafzai and Europe’s lavish royals in a poll that crowned her the world’s most admired woman.

In a survey conducted by YouGov, in which 25,000 people from 23 countries participated, Jolie beat the Queen of England, Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and Sonia Gandhi.

Jolie’s name was the most common answer in the survey which asked people to name a man or a woman they most admired. The U.N. special envoy for refugees and Hollywood powerhouse came on top, along with Bill Gates who secured the title of “most admired man.”

The poll was conducted by asking almost 30,000 people to name the man or woman they most admired, then compiling a list of the most common answers in each country for a subsequent vote.

People were allowed to choose one favourite and select any others they also respected. The final rankings combined these two factors.

In addition to blockbuster-films such as Tomb Raider and Maleficent, Jolie is known for her work with refugees and frequent involvement with the United Nations.

The UK’s Emma Watson, also an actress involved with the United Nations, made her first appearance on the list, coming in at 11th place in Britain. YouGov broke down the survey also by country, listing the most admired people each nation voted for. Watson and Malala both came in first in Malaysia.

Brad Pitt, Jolie’s husband, came in at number 13.

While Gates secured the number one spot globally, the UK chose iconic theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking to be the most admirable man.



Syrian fashion designer revives ancient Mesopotamian wardrobe

2 February 2015

Damascus, Asharq Al-Awsat—As Syria’s archaeological gems are flattened and looted in the midst of war, one Syrian fashion designer is bringing the ancient civilization of Mari back to life on the catwalk.

Nozha Abdelmohsen creates robes and dresses inspired by the kings and queens of the royal Mesopotamian city of Mari, found along the banks of the Euphrates river in modern-day Syria near the border with Iraq. These royals lived over 5,000 years ago during the time of the Sumerian and Akkadian empires. Nozha hopes to keep the memory of their ancient civilization alive among Syrians, a cause that is close to her heart as she was born in Deir Ezzor, the province that now encompasses the ancient site.

Today, Deir Ezzor is overrun by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants. The ruins at Mari have been plundered, like so many other archaeological sites across this war-ravaged country. A report issued by the Syrian government’s Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums specified that most of the looting had taken place in the site’s Royal Palace, the Southern Gate, the baths, and the temples of Ishtar, Dagan and the Goddess of Spring as a result of 50 illegal excavations.

Nozha began the project five years ago, before the outbreak of the war, and organized her first fashion show inspired by the dresses worn by the royal court women in Mari. The show was held in Deir Ezzor.

The Syrian designer was undeterred by the violence that soon gripped much of the country, especially the northeast, and proceeded to conceive evermore elaborate pieces. They included imitations of the cloaks worn by the king of Mari, Zimri-Lim, and leather skirts donned by other kings. The designs were inspired by statues found at the site that are now housed in museums in Syria and all across the globe.

The excavation of the ancient city by French archaeologist André Parrot in 1933 is considered one of the most significant finds of the 20th century in illuminating our understanding of city planning and royal society in Mesopotamia, as well as cuneiform writing and art.

Nozha’s collection includes multi-layered garments inspired by the clothes depicted in graphite carvings in a scene of the king’s inauguration ceremony. The pieces are distinguished by their striking colors, as well as the men’s bare right shoulders and knee-length skirts. Another piece reproduces a skirt originally made out of animal hide, known as the the Kaunakes Skirt, worn by a temple worshiper.

Nozha has also tried her hand at recreating the jewelry of the era. “Having seen the pieces displayed in the museums of Damascus, Aleppo and Deir Ezzor, and the important statues displayed there, especially the caches found in the Nini Zaza temple, I came to notice that the kings of the Mari kingdom did not wear rings,” Nozha says. “Yet, there is documented evidence that Zimri-Lim, king of Mari, used to import precious stones from kings of neighboring states to decorate the famous official seals.”

The use of the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli, which came from Afghanistan, testifies to the early diplomatic relations that were formed between countries in the Middle East as early as the third millennium BCE. “Kings considered lapis the stone of wisdom and family happiness. This is why the eyes of the statues found in the kingdom’s excavations were made of the precious stone as well as from ivory imported from India and agate from Yemen,” explains Nozha.

The influence of this ancient civilization and its early fashion designers can still be seen today. “The loom, called the ‘jouma,’ and the simple weaver are both still in use in Deir Ezzor,” says Nozha. The memory of the great city of Mari, twice the capital of huge empires, will not easily be forgotten by the descendants of this land.



Woman Sentenced To 1,000 Lashes For Insulting Islam Is Freed From Prison In Saudi Arabia

2 February 2015

A Saudi woman who worked on a liberal blog with jailed activist Raif Badawi has been freed after almost three months in prison, her daughter has said.

Suad al-Shammari was jailed for insulting Islam after co-founding online discussion group the Saudi Liberal Network with Badawi, who was sentenced to ten years jail and 1,000 lashes for his blogging.

As outrage mounts on the kingdom over Badawi's sentence, al-Shammari has been released after 90 days at a women's prison in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, her daughter Sarah al-Rimaly said.

'She's released now, thanks be to God,' Ms Rimaly told AFP, adding that her mother left jail three days ago after signing a pledge 'to reduce her activities'.

Saudi Arabia's new King Salman late on Thursday issued an amnesty for some prisoners, but Miss Rimaly said her mother's release was unconnected to this.

She added that she does not think the amnesty will cover Badawi, whose flogging was on Friday postponed for the third week in a row.

Badawi's corporal punishment had been set to be dealt out piecemeal each Friday but he has so far endured only one set of 50 lashes.

The 31-year-old won support from governments and human rights groups around the world after he was sentenced to the hefty jail time, the lashes and a £177,000 fine.

Al-Shammari, who helped Badawi set up the Saudi Liberal Network, was arrested in late October for insulting Islam after posting comments on Twitter about Islamic religious leaders, Saudi activists said at the time.

The charges against Badawi were also brought over criticism of clerics and the Saudi Arabia's notorious religious police, who have been accused of a heavy-handed enforcement of sharia Islamic law.

Paris-based watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) described the SLN Internet site as 'an online discussion network whose aim is to encourage political, religious and social debates in Saudi Arabia'.

Badawi endured the first 50 lashes of his sentence outside a mosque in Jeddah on January 9, but two subsequent rounds of punishment were posted on medical grounds.

It is not clear why the latest round of flogging was postponed, according to Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar, who has since fled to Canada with their three children.

Speaking to reporters and lawmakers in Canada, where she has sought asylum with their three children, she said on Thursday that Badawi's health is 'bad and it's getting worse'.

Last week, Badawi's spokesman said there was a chance he could have his jail sentence reduced.

Dr Elham Manea, who is a professor at the University of Zurich, said the Saudi ambassador in Germany had told a broadcaster of the development.

In a posting on her Facebook page, she wrote: 'Saudi ambassador in Germany informed NDR-TV that flogging will not continue and #RaifBadawi maybe not (sic) have to serve the whole time in prison.'

Badawi is among more than a dozen 'prisoners of conscience' behind bars for their peaceful activism in Saudi Arabia, according to rights group Amnesty International.



Hindu Mahasabha to Organise Inter-Religious Weddings On Valentine's Day

2 February 2015

NEW DELHI: And now, from the banner that delivered such political blockbusters as Ghar Wapsi and Love Jihad comes a special release for February 14, observed by some as Valentine's Day. From all accounts, it will be a day to remember. And if you think you've seen this movie before, remember, there are no new stories, just the same old ones with better special effects.

Protests by the Hindutva brigade have been virtually institutionalised as part of Valentine's Day, but this will be the first since the advent of the BJP-led government at the Centre. The Hindu Mahasabha, however, says it will mark the occasion differently this time — by welcoming inter-religious couples with open arms, even offer to get them married in their offices. Just one catch — the non-Hindu partner would need to "return home", also known as Ghar Wapsi.

Prem Vivah Diwas (Love Marriage Day), as February 14 has been dubbed, is also part of Ghar Wapsi, according to Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha president Chandra Prakash Kaushik.

"The Ghar Wapsi of the Muslim/Christian partner will be done an hour before the wedding. For that we are asking couples to inform us a day before so we can make arrangements," said Kaushik.

The Hindu Mahasabha was recently in the news for wanting to install statues of Gandhiji's assassin Nathuram Godse across the country. Expanding on the theme, Kaushik said Valentine's Day will be a "Prem Pariksha" (test of love) for couples who follow different religions." There have been plenty of cases of Love Jihad. If the boy really loves the girl, let him embrace the religion his forefathers followed and become a Hindu again. It will also prove to the girl what his plans are," he said. Love ..

Three priests and if needed more will be employed in line with the demand thus generated for peaceful conversion, Kaushik said."At least eight of the planned marriages are inter-religious. We are giving them all support so that they get convinced to embrace Hinduism. All these years we let go of our boys and girls who fell in love with people from other religions. We have to start looking at it differently now," he said.

"We will also ensure that Hindu boys get married to their Muslim girlfriends after the girls are brought back into the Hindu fold," Kaushik said.

Some couples he spoke to had said they were too young and needed time to think about marriage. "We told them in that case it is not true love and they shouldn't belittle love by openly going around like this-."Kaushik said all these years the organisation had tried to protest against the celebration of Valentine's Day but it was time the nature of the challenge changed. The organisation wants to also make sure that morals are upheld.

Upheld."We are getting a Prem Vrat ready that all couples will have to take that day — of being with that person and not indulging in other affairs. If youngsters want to celebrate the day, they must do it the Indian way, by showing what love is all about — commitment and loyalty," Kaushik said.Last year, the organisation's volunteers were on the lookout in Delhi Metro stations to "catch couples with roses".

When friendly persuasion didn't work, alternative methods were tried."We had strictly explained to youngsters that this open display of affection was wrong and that only India has taught the world the meaning of love. Many of them agreed after we told them we will inform their families," Kaushik added.Still, not everyone's happy, with some picking holes in the narrative.

Charu Gupta, associate professor of history at Delhi University, said it was paradoxical that those who said women were being duped when they converted to Islam were using the same argument of love and conversion to strengthen their own religious identity.`



Veiled Muslim Teens Reflect on World Hijab Day

2 February 2015

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--In second grade, the year when students begin to spell, Tehran Riaz decided to wear the hijab.

"I was nervous at first but everyone was so supportive," said Riaz, now a seventh grader in Corona, Queens. "Some people told me that I looked better without the hijab but that didn't affect me. I even made new friends who also wore the hijab. Nobody looked at me differently. It was all my decision to wear the scarf."

The headscarf or veil some Muslim women and girls wear to show their devotion to God is an act of modesty. But for many teens, the hijab can also make them the target of harassment.

In California, for example, more than 10 percent of Muslim students in middle and high school have been bullied because of their faith, according to a 2012 report, "Growing in Faith," by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Dona, who requested her last name not be used to protect her privacy, started wearing the hijab when she was 13, soon after she moved to the United States from Egypt. She said the teachers at her middle school in Brooklyn were "racist and I was miserable."

"One day we had cultural day so I dressed in an abaya [a full-length robe]," she said. "Students laughed at how I looked and made fun of it."

The harassment, bullying and teasing didn't end until Dona went to high school. She said the diversity at Curtis High School in Staten Island helped her feel welcome and accepted. For the first time, she said, she felt comfortable to join after-school activities.

Maybe waiting until high school to wear the hijab was why Hareem Riaz, a freshman at Brooklyn College, never faced any harassment. She waited until her sophomore year. "I thought I would be judged or people would look at me differently," she said. "Nobody bullied me or commented."

However, for some younger Muslims, potential peer reaction didn't factor into whether to wear the hijab. Mirna Elsheemy, an eighth grader from New York City, began wearing a hijab in fifth grade.

"I chose to wear a hijab because I liked how my mom wore it," she said. "It looked nice and pretty."



Western Cape High Court Landmark Judgment Grants Rights to Wife

Aarti J Narsee | 02 February, 2015

For almost six years Faiza Rose, 49, was unable to claim her share of the assets from her marriage to her former husband because he was already married when he married her.

But now, following a precedent-setting judgment by the Western Cape High Court last week, she mighty be able to claim her due.

The court ruled that Faiza, a nurse from Simon's Town who was married to Faizel Rose for 20 years, can claim for maintenance and a share of her former husband's pension.

When Faiza married Faizel under Islamic law in 1988 he was legally married to another woman. That marriage ended a few months later, and his marriage to Faiza was annulled by the Muslim Judicial Council in 2009.

Faizel, and the ministers of justice and of home affairs, who were also parties in the case, argued that Faizel's first marriage made his second invalid and prevented a claim by Faiza grounded on the invalid marriage.

"It was devastating. When we got separated, I left with nothing. I didn't have an income," Faiza said.

Muslim marriages are not recognised as valid in South African law but Muslim practice holds that a man is permitted to marry more than one woman.

In last week's judgment the court said that men do enter into more than one marriage simultaneously and that marriages can be civil, religious or customary.

Acting for Faiza, Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker, attorney for the Women's Legal Centre, said Muslim women usually got the "short end of the stick" because the law does not recognise Muslim marriages.

The Muslim Marriages Bill, intended to regulate legal recognition of these marriages, was drafted in 2010 but has yet to become law.

Abrahams-Fayker said the judgment will set a precedent for many other women who are in customary marriages whereas their husband is in a pre-existing civil marriage.



Muslim women bring story of faith through fashion to Galleria event

2 February 2015

Flowered or fringed, striped or dotted, shaped into a turban, a twist or a simple drape, head scarves worn by Muslim women – hijabs – speak more of faith than fashion.

A group of teens and women representing the group WNY Muslims gathered Sunday afternoon around a scarf-stacked table outside Sears in the Walden Galleria to share the look and feel, as well as the meaning, of the hijab with Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

“The reason that I wear it is that it’s a commandment of Allah, that women be modest,” said Rose Salley of Buffalo, who converted to Islam in 2011. “My family is not Muslim, the man who is now my fiance did not tell me to put it on.”

The women say they are often asked whether they are forced to wear the hijab, a veil or scarf that means “cover” in Arabic.

“People will say, ‘You don’t seem oppressed,’” said Salley, who accented her long black and gray printed scarf with a lace-edged underwrap and a sparkling headband.

Event organizer Julie Boody, assistant executive director of WNY Muslims, who wore a turquoise hijab, said, “We’re not being forced to do this. This is a choice we make, every day. We’re looking for people to understand that this is not oppression, this is our freedom.”

At the mall, Salley said, she was speaking with a woman when the man behind her on the escalator leaned in and said, “They’re trash, don’t get involved with them!” before walking away.

Although both Salley and the women were surprised by the stranger’s comment, Salley was not rattled. “If I had to worry what people say about me, I’d never get out of bed,” she said.

Boody said the event had to be moved from its original location in front of Dick’s Sporting Goods to a spot closer to the security office as a result of threats. The security office at Galleria referred questions about the incident to the main office, which was closed on Sunday; a Cheektowaga Police spokesman said his department had not been notified of a threat.

Muslim women wear the hijab in response to verses in the Qur’an that require modest dress for both males and females after puberty. Women must wear the hijab in public and also in front of any man they could potentially marry, which excludes close relatives, as well as male children and elderly men.

Men may choose traditional loose cotton clothing and a kufi cap, but may also obey the requirement for modesty with appropriate Western clothing.

On Sunday, the level of coverage varied among women. While most had the long scarves carefully pinned to cover every strand of hair, several women chose more loosely draped scarves that covered most but not all of their hair.

QueeNia AsheeMa’at of Buffalo covered most of her hair with two scarves twisted around each other and rolled and tucked into a spiraling crown. “This is the way I wear it – a lot of people don’t wear it this way,” she said.

For AsheeMa’at, the hijab is not only a statement of faith, but a protection, she said. At an out-of-town restaurant, when a homeless man harassed her, a man she didn’t know defended her, she said. “A Muslim will recognize another Muslim wherever we go,” by dress and the exchange of traditional religious greetings, she said. “We have friends in all corners of the world, and I feel good about that.”

Salley has found that she gets more respect while wearing the hijab. A young man reciting vulgar song lyrics spotted her and quickly apologized, she said.

A group of lively girls, including Zayneb Algawani, 15, Ghuzlan Alhaddad, 16, Maryem Almraisi, 14, Mariam Alberri, 16, and Nofa Alawdi, 14, all from Lackawanna, fanned out through the mall to hand out fliers for the event. They returned to the table with Daemen College student Erin MacAllister, who was willing to try on a hijab. The girls quickly covered MacAllister’s long blond hair with a bright blue underscarf to match her blue lipstick, then topped it with a flowing, snow-white hijab. “It feels comfortable; I like it,” said MacAllister.

Aqmera Williams, of Buffalo, handed over her own skull-and-crossbones scarf with fringe to AsheeMa’at, who wrapped and tucked it into a rounded crown. “It makes me feel more confident,” Williams said. “It might attract somebody to ask questions, and then they can know me for me.”

That was the exact point of the event, said Boody, who would prefer to wear a niqab, which covers all of a woman’s face except her eyes. “Stop judging people by how they look, say hello and get to know them. We want people to talk. The more conversations that happen, the better. We’re looking for dialogue at all times.”



Malaysia welcomes next K-pop act Taeyang but no hugs for fans

2 February 2015

The furore over a South Korean band’s members hugging their female Muslim fans at a K-pop concert last month and the ensuing backlash from Islamic religious authorities have not dampened local fans’ appetite for this music genre, judging from the speed with which tickets for an upcoming concert have been snapped up.

Already 75% of the tickets for the February 7 concert of artiste Taeyang, a member of the South Korean Big Bang group, were sold last Wednesday.

"Response has been very encouraging and the upcoming concert has not been affected by the previous incident," the concert organiser told The Malaysian Insider.

Refusing to divulge either his identity or his company, the organiser said that they have not received any warning or notice from the religious authorities.

The organiser said the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) had neither blocked nor imposed any conditions on the sale of tickets for the upcoming concert.

"We have not heard anything. The religious authorities have not contacted us yet to issue guidelines on the dos and don’ts for next weekend's concert."

There will, however, be some changes to the concert programme to avoid the singer's interaction with fans, and some Muslim groups have already begun making statements against the concert.

The organiser acknowledged that Taeyang had a loyal following here, and his "2015 Taeyang World Tour Rise In Malaysia" concert to be held next weekend at Stadium Negara will be his first solo performance on Malaysian soil.

The event is estimated to cost about RM1.5 million and will involve some 200 people to monitor the stage effects and concert equipment.

Taeyang is also scheduled to perform in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and China on this tour.

But the show in Kuala Lumpur will adopt some changes that the organiser said had to be made following the outcry over the performance of boy band B1A4 in Kuala Lumpur last month.

During that concert, tudung-clad Malay girls were embraced and kissed by the band members on stage, which drew criticism when it went viral.

"We have discussed with Taeyang and the dance crew on wearing the proper attire. There will also be no interactive sessions between fans and Taeyang, unlike previously," said the organiser.

"Serious attention has been given to the concert programme to make sure that a repeat of what happened last month does not occur."

A video of the band B1A4 hugging their three Muslim fans at a concert went viral after it was posted online with a sensational title, “Perempuan Melayu dicabul atas pentas oleh mat K-pop semalam” (Malay girls molested on stage by K-pop artistes last night).

The incident triggered a backlash from Muslims and prompted Jawi to haul up the organiser, and to ask the fans involved to come forward to assist in investigations.

The case was probed under Section 29 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 (Act 599 Indecent Acts in Public Places).

Jawi director Paimuzi Yahya was quoted by Utusan Malaysia as saying the department would apply for an arrest warrant if the female fans refused to come forward.

Last moth, Paimuzi told The Malaysian Insider that the religious body might forgo the arrest warrants and adopt a softer approach by counselling the three girls involved.

owever, so far none of the girls involved in the video has come forward to meet with Jawi.

Taeyang's concert has been met with resistance from several NGOs, including the Malaysian Islamic Youth Association (Pembina), which expressed disappointment that the authorities had not been stern in handling the K-pop issue.

Malay rights group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) has called for Taeyang's concert to be postponed or cancelled until the organiser abided by the rules and regulations applicable to performances by foreign artistes.

In a posting on Isma’s website, the group’s vice-president Muhammad Uzair Izzat Amir Muhammad said last month's incident involving the three girls should be a lesson to all parties to avoid a recurrence.

When asked about Taeyang's concert, Paimuzi merely said that Jawi had asked the organiser to follow the guidelines set out by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

Director-general of Jakim Datuk Othman Mustapha told The Malaysian Insider that they would not be carrying out any specific monitoring.

"The guidelines have been set by the Central Agency for the Application of Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (Puspal), under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry.

"As long as the organiser follows the guidelines set by Puspal, it is sufficient as the agency is responsible for approving or rejecting concerts by foreign artistes.

"Jakim merely gives additional guidelines," Othman said in a text message.



Aussie Muslim Women Speak to End Violence

Forum in Hume to help Muslim women speak up against violence

2 February 2015

A FORUM later this month is giving Muslim women an outlet to speak up against ­violence.

Recent and past events on a worldwide scale have lent a hand in the unjust backlash often felt by Muslim women, many of who have been advised not to leave their house unescorted.

It has led the Uniting Church in Australia in conjunction with Lentara UnitingCare and Dianella Community Health to hold workshops for those living in fear, both to air their personal experiences and to search for practical strategies against discrimination.

Uniting Through Faiths interfaith network developer April Robinson said she constantly heard stories of Muslim women being spat on or abused, but not knowing what to do about it.

With two Muslim friends, she came up with the idea of a forum to bring together service providers and those who were experiencing such treatment.

“Muslim women are more explicit than men when they wear the hijab,” Ms Robinson said. “They’re wearing this as an expression of their devotion ... yet a lot of women are feeling like they have to take it off just so they can ride the train without being harassed.”

She said large-scale events – including the events of September 11, 2001, and more recently the Sydney siege – often led to repercussions for Muslim women.

“To feel and be told that you should not leave the house unless you are walking with a man or walking with a group ... it makes you feel despondent and it makes you feel alone and isolated,” Ms Robinson said.

Muslim woman Reem Hakem, who will chair the forum, migrated from America and admitted she was surprised by some of the negative backlash she had copped in Australia.

“It’s unfortunate that sometimes when a bad event occurs, you sort of anticipate that something might happen,” Ms Hakem said.

“It’s also sad to say it’s somewhat understandable because people will choose to look at the Muslim female as a symbol – that’s the only symbol available to them, physically in front of them, to vent their anger and frustration towards.

“It is unfair because it’s almost like putting all of us in one big pot along with the terrorists.”

She said relationship-building between Muslim women, organisations and the wider community would help minimise issues.

The forum is from 9.30am-3pm, February 25, at Hume Global Learning Centre, 75-95 Central Park Ave, Craigieburn. To RSVP, phone 9351 3611.

REHAB Ayoubi knows exactly how it feels to be degraded because of her religion.

The Meadow Heights woman was walking along Sydney Rd while heavily pregnant when a male stranger approached her, pushed her and threw her into a trestle table. Her crime was simply being Muslim.

It’s just one of the many incidents Ms Ayoubi has faced over the years for wearing a hijab, particularly since the September 11 attacks in America.

“When we do go out, we get physically abused, we get verbally abused,” she said. “You get terrible stares everywhere you go and just having to constantly feel almost apologetic everywhere we go. We’re carrying a burden of what’s being portrayed by the media.”

Being physically attacked by a man on the street was the first real experience Ms Ayoubi had dealt with, but not the worst. After giving birth, she was threatened by a woman in her ward, but was denied a room change.

“It wasn’t until I started doing a course and started integrating back into the community and having the support of my mentors and my teachers that I was able to build that confidence up again,” Ms Ayoubi said.

“Now my role is to help women like myself. (By being) a role model, being positive, not hiding away andbeing a victim, you can really be useful in the ­community.”

Ms Ayoubi said some women avoided necessary trips to the doctor for fear of being glared at.

For a year and a half, she avoided going out unless it was absolutely necessary, taking extra precautions and becoming anxious about where she parked her car. She said practical strategies needed to be developed and that knowledge was the key.

“(We need to be) breaking the stigma and being role models ourselves and integrating into the community,” she said. “There is a lot of support out there but we just (need) to know how to (find) support and be confident.”