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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 9 Oct 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Families Torn Apart As Western Girls Join Islamist Cause

New Age Islam News Bureau

9 Oct 2014

A Muslim woman was turned away from a pool for wearing an Islamic dress over a shirt and pants, Reuters


 Iraq's Sole Yazidi Lawmaker Says 25,000 Girls Abducted By IS To Be Raped, Sold

 Muslim Woman Barred From Pool over Dress in Colorado City

 Muslim Youth Summit Told FGM Is Not Part of Islam

 Fashion Conscious 'Hipster Hijabis' Reinvent Muslim Dress Code at Dubai Fashion Festival

 Style Savvy Muslim Women Turn To Turbans

 Australian Group Don Hijab for Fellow Muslims

 Kenya: Kakamega Muslims Side Back Out of Girls League

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Families Torn Apart As Western Girls Join Islamist Cause

09 Oct, 2014

PARIS (Reuters) - Foad, a French truck driver of Moroccan origin, travelled alone through Syria to rescue his 15-year-old sister from an Islamist group she said was holding her captive. But when they finally stood face to face, in tears, she would not leave.

Foad is convinced that his sister Nora, whom he described as an impressionable teen who loved Disney movies before leaving for Syria one afternoon in January, stayed on because she was threatened with execution by the French-speaking commander, or emir, of the group she joined.

The former high school student is among dozens of European girls, many of them her age, living with such groups in Syria. It is an aspect of the conflict that is beginning to worry European governments previously more focused on the flow of young men to join the ranks of Islamic State and others.

Many of the youngest girls are lured with promises of humanitarian work. It is only once in Syria that they discover their fate: forced marriage to a fighter, strict adherence to Islamic law, a life under surveillance and little hope of returning home, say parents, relatives and radicalization experts.

"When she saw me enter that room, she couldn't stop crying and holding on to me. At one point I said, 'So, are you coming back with me?'" Foad, 37, told Reuters. "She started to bang her head against a wall saying, 'I can't, I can't, I can't.'"

Foad, who asked not to be identified by his full name to protect his family in France, said Nora had told him her first location was in Aleppo. He declined to give the location of their second encounter because he said French police had asked him not to reveal details relevant to investigations.

Foad said a conversation he overheard between his sister and the emir suggested she was warned to stay. Nora had repeatedly asked her family over the phone to be rescued from militants whom she called "hypocrites" and "liars".

While Western governments have focused on the thousands of male jihadist volunteers who have left to Syria and Iraq, security officials in Europe are expressing alarm about a smaller but steady stream of female groups heading the same way.

Making up about 10 percent of all departures for Islamist-held areas, according to government officials and terrorism experts, young women are seen as prizes for fighters keen to marry.

Teenaged Westerners are often targeted by older, female recruiters, many of whom are based in Europe and use social media, phone calls and false friendships to convince them to do charitable work in war-torn areas. Others need little convincing, keen to have a role in what they perceive to be jihad, or holy war.

A video recorded in secret by a woman in the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa in Syria and broadcast last month on France 2 TV gave a glimpse of the reality: women walking in burqas and one called to order by Islamic police for not adequately covering her face.

While women do not fight - although some form police units - their homes are near combat zones and exposed to bombing from coalition warplanes fighting the Islamic State. Women have little hope of escaping if they have regrets.

Austrian media reported that a girl of Bosnian origin, who left for Syria in April, had been killed in fighting. Reuters has not been able to verify the report.

Foad said all contact with his sister had been cut off since his May visit.

"Of the young women whom we follow, none have returned alive," said Dounia Bouzar, a French anthropologist in charge of a French mission to de-radicalize candidates for jihad.


As with other girls, Nora's embrace of radical Islam came as a shock to her family, which is not strictly observant.

Studious, sensitive and even childlike at home, Nora had a double identity including a mobile phone, Facebook account and Islamic garments that she kept secret from her family and which Foad only discovered after her disappearance.

"Her friends told me about the other Facebook account. When I connected, everything became clear: it was full of calls to jihad, of pictures of mutilated Syrian children," he said. "Three days later we got a message from her saying she was in Aleppo, that she was happy, well fed - as if she was in Disney World."

His quest to bring her home took him to Turkey's border with Syria, where he was taken in by Islamist militants and driven to a city he declined to name due to the sensitive nature of the information. The town was "full" of foreigners, each nationality having its own supply stores, including one area that was totally French-speaking, he said.

His sister currently lives with the close aide of an emir and was in charge of daycare for jihadists' children. She had earlier escaped a forced marriage arranged by a French recruiter who has since returned to France and is being held in custody.

Foad said his sister had identified the man as a Franco-Moroccan recruiter and former Al Nusra Front member, who returned to France in September and has been placed under formal investigation for various terror-related charges.

Severine Mehault, whose daughter Sarah disappeared from their home in southern France six months ago, said she believed her daughter, 17, also lived under strict surveillance.

"When we speak, it's always the same: 'I'm fine, I have everything I need, I'm not coming home,'" said Mehault, who last spoke to her daughter on Sept. 27 after 17 days of silence. "But I know somebody is listening, even writing in her place. The rare times she is alone, I can tell because her tone is different. She sounds like my daughter."

Security officials and radicalization experts say many women being radicalized hail from moderate Muslim households. But volunteers have also come from atheist, Catholic and Jewish households, both rich and poor, urban and rural.

"Recruiters have refined their methods to such a degree where they can take in people who are doing fine," said Bouzar. "Some are contacted on Facebook, others were chatted up on dating sites. Others met a friend who became a sort of guru."

Bouzar added that some of the women 'thought they were in love' after being groomed by men over the web or telephone - a trend also present in Germany.

"The romance of jihad is very pronounced in propaganda and used by women to recruit other women," Hans-Georg Maassen, head of Germany's domestic intelligence, said in a recent parliamentary briefing. "There is a real euphoria in the German Salafist (radical Islamist scene) right now, with people wanting to join this new state."

Of the 400 people who have left Germany for Syria, about 10 percent are women, he said. French officials estimate around 1,000 departures, with 60 of those being women. Of 85 jihadis who have left from Sweden, 15-20 were women, said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at Sweden's National Defence College.

"They want to marry martyrs," he said. "There is almost an obsession with paradise and the afterlife, which makes it like a death cult. Death matters more than life."

"Women also become more revered. There is an internal hierarchy. If you become a widow, you become a mentor to the younger women and you would get status," added Ranstorp.

Bouzar - who follows 130 families concerned by the radicalization of their children - said her CIPD anti-radicalization group focused on stopping teens from leaving because the likelihood of getting a young woman back from Islamic State or other Islamist groups was nearly nonexistent.

Many French-speaking girls were housed together in an area controlled by the al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra front, she said.

"Some of them come to their senses over there," she added. "But that's almost worse than anything else, because they may be back to their old selves, but they are stuck over there."



Iraq's Sole Yazidi Lawmaker Says 25,000 Girls Abducted By IS To Be Raped, Sold

09 Oct, 2014

Iraq's only ethnic Yazidi member of parliament says that the human rights situation in her country is "deteriorating," with Islamic State (IS) militants kidnapping, raping, and selling Yazidi women.

"They are still without any shelter. They are sleeping on the streets. The situation is not good and the winter is [advancing], and it's raining, actually, in Iraq [now]. So the situation is deteriorating," legislator Vian Dakhil told RFE/RL in an October 8 telephone interview from Iraq's Kurdish region. 

Dakhil, who has been cited by U.S. President Barack Obama, was named the winner of the 2014 Anna Politkovskaya Award on October 6 by the organization Reach All Women in War. The award, named after the murdered Russian journalist, honors women working to help those trapped in conflict.

The lawmaker, who is currently recovering from injuries she suffered in an August 12 helicopter crash on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, said that while IS militants have forced Christian women from their homes, Yazidi women often suffer worse fates.

"Only Yazidi women are kidnapped. We don't know, actually, why exactly the Yazidi women [are targeted]," she said. 

Dakhil says that of the more than 500,000 Yazidis in Iraq, some 25,000 Yazidi girls have been abducted by IS militants. 

"We don't know exactly [where all of them are], but some are [kept] at [various] prisons here, still in Iraq, and some have been taken to Syria, and some are in Mosul," she said. "They are taken to be raped, and they are selling them -- $150 for a girl."

Dakhil called on the international community to step in to help the plight of the Kurdish religious and ethnic minority that has faced religious persecution for centuries and that has been dubbed "devil worshippers" by some Muslims.

"I ask every government -- not only here -- to take some action to save these people here because the situation is really bad. What is happening here cannot be solved by [the] Iraqi government only," she said. 

Dakhil gained international attention in August after making an impassioned plea to the Iraqi parliament about Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar, which was surrounded at the time by IS militants. She called it genocide. 

"My family is being butchered, just like all Iraqis are being killed. … And today, the Yazidis are being slaughtered. Brothers, away from all the political disputes, we want humanitarian solidarity. I am speaking here in the name of humanity. Save us! Save us!" she told lawmakers on August 5. 

The speaker of parliament interrupted her speech, while others shushed her emotional address, after which she collapsed.

The speech caught the attention of the U.S. president, who referenced her on August 7 when announcing U.S. air strikes against IS militants and a humanitarian aid effort to rescue the Yazidis. 

"Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, ‘There is no one coming to help.’ Well today, America is coming to help," Obama said. 

'What Would You Feel?'

Dakhil broke both legs and several ribs in an August 12 helicopter crash on Mount Sinjar. The pilot of the aircraft, which was carrying about 35 people, was killed in the accident, while "New York Times" reporter Alissa Rubin was injured. 

Dakhil said that she plans to return to parliament once she is fully healed.

She also asked Western Muslim women who are supporting IS militants -- an estimated 30 of whom have actually traveled to Iraq or Syria -- to look at what the group, which is also known as ISIL, is doing to Yazidi women. 

"Every girl [in the West] who is supporting ISIL should put herself in any [local] girl's [shoes] and see what she has gone through. Twelve-year-old girls [are being] raped. Ten-year-old girls [are being] raped. I would like to ask [women supporting ISIL], if she was in their situation, what would she feel? If she was from your family, what would you feel?" Dakhil said.

"This girl could be your daughter, she could be your sister, she could be your neighbor,” she continued. “[Would] you be totally comfortable if someone raped your daughter, or your sister, or your neighbor?"



Muslim Woman Barred From Pool over Dress in Colorado City

09 Oct, 2014

A Colorado city is standing by its decision to turn away a Muslim woman from its recreation centre pool for wearing an Islamic dress over a shirt and pants.

Saba Ali told KMGH-TV that she offered to just wear the shirt and pants to swim on the weekend but was denied.

Commerce City spokeswoman Michelle Halsted says street clothes aren't allowed in the pool because they can increase the likelihood of contamination and waterborne illness.

She says full body swimsuits are allowed, including "burkinis" - loose fitting full-body swimsuits with a hood made for Islamic women.

She says the city's swimwear brochure will be updated to make clear full-body swimsuits but not street clothes are allowed.



Muslim Youth Summit Told FGM Is Not Part of Islam

09 Oct, 2014

A youth summit of extra than 100 young Gambians has been told by an Islamic scholar that the practice of female genital mutilation is not Islamic. Hama Jaiteh told the Muslims gathered at the initially youth summit on female genital mutilation (FGM) in Banjul, Gambia, that Islam was being utilized to “shield an evil intention [that is] harmful to a person’s development”.

The event was arranged to enable construct up a legion of young persons prepared to tackle the practice across the nation.

Taking on the religious arguments employed to justify FGM – a procedure that can generate lifelong mental and physical issues for the women subjected to it – was crucial to altering preconceptions and practices across the country, where virtually 80% of girls were cut as children, Jaiteh stated.

Speaking at the youth summit – a two-day event being co-funded by the Guardian, and The Girl Generation, a consortium funded by Britain’s international improvement division – Jaiteh stated FGM was not justified by either the Qur’an or the sunnah or hadith (traditions and sayings of Muhammad).

Directing her words to “venerable so-named Islamic scholars” Jaiteh mentioned: “There is no valid hadith they can bring to support their claims [...] he who designed a lady knows the advantage of that factor there, leave it. Let everyone go back and read, conduct research. Islam is Islam, it is right here to preserve the interests and rights of the woman. This FGM is fully against Islam.”

Jaha Dukureh, the face of a Guardian campaign to raise awareness of FGM in the US, who has taken her campaign back to her household nation, mentioned equipping young men and women at the occasion with religious arguments was crucial in the battle to end FGM inside a generation.

“Almost absolutely everyone who practises FGM believes it is a religious obligation, and this religious scholar has told us that this is not the case,” she said.

Jaiteh applied the example of altered public health practices caused by the Ebola outbreaks to show that traditions could adjust, and promptly.

“Shaking hands is an obligation in Gambia,” he mentioned. “But now Ebola has led to that practice being curtailed. Shaking hands is of course therefore basically a cultural practice – when it is discovered that culture can lead to harm, it is stopped. Islam is right here to safeguard and repel whatever causes harm.”

The impassioned youthful audience engaged in the detail of Islamic argument, and some young women urged other individuals not to be afraid to challenge practices and laws created without the need of their consent.

“Women had been not there when these laws had been getting made for them,” said Ruqayah Sesay, attending the summit. “So considerably injustice is getting accomplished to women in the name of Islam and we are afraid to challenge it. But we must not be afraid to challenge, we have to have to stand up and be element of creating these laws ourselves.”

Amie Bojang-Sissoko, a veteran anti-FGM campaigner, who has worked with the Gambian feminist organisation Gamcotrap for extra than 20 years, said she hoped young folks would go directly to the Qur’an to arm themselves with the details.

She stated: “If the prophet was mentioned to appreciate and care for his kids, why cannot we discover from him? If he is this variety of person why would he condone cutting a female body in the name of Islam? I don’t consider he would.”

Bojang-Sissoko said that the youth summit had offered new power to the campaign to end FGM in Gambia, adding that she hoped young men and women would continue to push for a law that would make FGM illegal. “I am so proud to be working with these young persons. At 1 point I felt we had been losing our activism, but now I really feel it has been re-energised,” she said.

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Fashion Conscious 'Hipster Hijabis' Reinvent Muslim Dress Code at Dubai Fashion Festival

09 Oct, 2014

A subculture of Muslim fashionistas who have dubbed themselves "Hipster Hijabis" are taking Dubai's Fashion Forward festival by storm.

The fashion-conscious women don the Hijab or head scarf in creative and stylish ways, in a bid to prove Muslim women can be trendsetters while staying true to their faith.

American teen fashion blogger and founder of Hipster Hijabis Summer Bulcher has more than 22,800 followers on Instagram, where she posts her latest looks.

She says she took the alliterative moniker to attract underground style seekers.

"At first I thought it sounded really cute because it matched - and then I also knew that I wanted to inspire hipsters, people who stray away from mainstream fashion  ... and Hijabis, which I represent myself as a Muslim who wears the scarf," she said at Fashion Forward in Dubai.

The Fashion Forward Festival brings together style aficionados from around the world to sample the latest catwalk creations designed for Arab women.

The festival also discusses fashion issues pertinent to Islam, like modesty in fashion.

Many of the young women say there is a huge gap in the market for people who want modest pieces that are still trendy and cutting-edge.

"I want to stay as modest as I can, which is why I still wear a headscarf, but at the same time I like my fashion so I like to incorporate that into modesty," said Somali fashion blogger Dee Mohammed.

Palestinian blogger Maria Al-Sadek said Hijabis had traditionally been conservative, so getting hipsters onboard could make the Hijab more daring and stylish.

"Most people tend to do the safer route, they're not really into style as much, and hipsters, I guess, they're the ones who cross boundaries and lines that most traditional hijabis didn't do," she said.

Mainstream brands have been slowly catering to this growing demand, with designer label DKNY releasing a Ramadan collection exclusively for the Arabian Gulf, and Karl Lagerfeld also unveiling designs inspired by Middle Eastern culture.

Some more conservative Muslims have criticised the hip hijab movement, saying it contradicts the Islamic principles of humility and simplicity.

Last year a group calling themselves 'Mipsterz', for Muslim hipsters, drew mixed reactions for their video Somewhere In America, showing young American Muslim women showing off their style.

Some commentators criticised them for wearing skinny jeans and tights, saying it defeated the purpose of the Hijab as a symbol of modesty, while others like blogger Fatimah Waseem criticised the women for their "fluffed" and "frivolous" treatment of a sacred practice, even saying it is exploitative.

But these women disagree.

"People are resistant to change and people like to keep things the same, they like normality, you do something different, you wear something different it's just like why? It's a stigma to be stylish and resemble Western wear sometimes, and I just think that you have to be confident and do what you believe in and what makes you comfortable," said Ms Al-Sadek.

"Wear what you want - and it's between you and God in the end whether it's right or wrong."



Style Savvy Muslim Women Turn To Turbans

 9 October 2014

Fashionable turban head covers are the entire rave as women who seek to cover their hair raid their closets for stylish looks that offer an alternative to the Hijab.

Once a typically male accessory, the turban is breaking the mould and is being picked up by many Muslim women across the Gulf.

“The new ways of wearing the Hijab is becoming a new global phenomenon,” Lezley George, professor of fashion at the Heriot Watt University in Dubai, told Al Arabiya News. It combines the desire to look Muslim and appear more fashionable, George added.

“Variation in the world of turban styling” is one reason why many girls like the trend, according to George. “What they find exciting with the headscarf in general is the way you can customize it and personalize it.”

‘Practical’ for different occasions

Sara Adel, a fashion blogger and digital designer living in Dubai told Al Arabiya News that the turban-style Hijab gives more head-covering options to Muslim women, especially in hot weather.

“On some days, I have to shoot outdoors and it’s a relief to wear a turban on a sunny day,” Adel said.

Like Adel, Jihad M’nasria, a Tunisian TV producer based in Dubai, said that due to the long hours she spends in the heat a turban is a practical choice.

“I do find it practical and chic,” said M’nasria.

“Personally I’ve been wearing Hijab since I was 13 years old and I’m bored of wearing it the same way over and over,” she added. “I tend not to be a routine kind of a person and Hijab kind of limits you to some head-wear styles.”

Heba Ashraf, an Egyptian dentist, told Al Arabiya News that the turban style is “very practical” for celebratory occasions such as weddings.

“It is a change because we Hijabi girls sometimes get bored of looking the same all the time so we like to change it up,” Ashraf said.

Meanwhile, George said some girls like to wear the turban while travelling to abroad, as it makes veiled girls look less typical and is seen by some as more fashion savvy.

Is it modest enough?

While some may regard the style as a proper head cover, others argue that is cannot be considered a proper Islamic veil.

“Some consider it not modest enough because there are different types of turbans which might expose your neck,” George said.

“Some might be critical that you’re not converting sufficiently,” she said. However, people perceive modest dressing differently.”

To those who think wearing a turban is not modest enough, Ashraf says wearing under- garments to cover up the neck and the ears can be used “if you think it is revealing.”



Australian group don hijab for fellow Muslims

09 Oct, 2014

A group of non-Muslim Australian women organized a show of support with the Islamic community in Canberra earlier this week by putting on the Islamic headscarf and offering flowers to Muslims celebrating the feast of Eid al-Adha.

In a bid to send a “message of love and solidarity,” some 10 women attended an Islamic festival in the Australian capital to give away flowers to feasting Muslims, The Canberra Times reported.

The event organizers said that they wanted their “fellow Canberran Muslims” not to feel left out amid an anti-Islamic rhetoric that has recently surfaced in the country.

"We told them we were sorry you've been treated so badly in the media and we wanted to say we stand with you in solidarity and we want to share love instead of hate," said Annabelle Lee, a 26-year-old who helped organize the event.

She said some Muslims had been cautious at first but then welcomed the gesture.

"And when they heard that, many of them wanted to give us a hug, many smiled and some were brought to tears," she added.

Annabelle Lee said they gave flowers to women, children and men attending Eid morning prayers at the AIS Stadium in Bruce. Some men asked to take flowers for their wives at home.

Islamic Society of Belconnen vice-president Hassan Warsi said members of Canberra’s Muslim community were “touched” by this gesture.

"They had people coming forward and putting a [hand] on their shoulder, saying 'Look, we're here with you. We know you guys are good people like us and we are all in a community, caring and sharing and it should be an exception," he said.

"It was obviously a very good feeling and people were touched by that."

The gesture comes at a time when tensions between Australia’s Muslim community and its politicians have escalated over fears of attacks by radicalized Muslims.

Australian Muslims have reportedly said that their community is being unfairly targeted following a series of security-related raids.

Australia recently began flying combat operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the two countries that they operate in, Iraq and Syria.



Kenya: Kakamega Muslims Side Back Out of Girls League

09 Oct, 2014

NATIONAL Premier League side Kakamega Muslim girls have pulled out of the league due to lack of funds ahead of the second leg.

The Kakamega-based team who failed to honour their matches during the last stage of the first leg said admitted they are broke and not able to carry on with their assignments.

The team was scheduled to play four matches on October 18, according to the team manager David Musyoka. "This is an extremely hard decision to make considering that without the appropriate funding, it is hard to move forward as a team," said Musyoka.

He said it has been the worst season for the girls despite the efforts they have tried to make. "We have really struggled to stay strong throughout the first leg. But we have had no choice but to pull out of the second leg. We don't have money to honour our matches," he noted.

Meanwhile, eighth-placed Eldoret Falcons have been pitted against league leaders Oserian Girls, Soccer Sisters and Thika Queens respectively on October 18 at the Pumwani grounds.

Head coach Joshua Ariko said they have prepared well and they are looking forward to a good performance. " The girls are quite focused and we hope to win all the matches. However I would like to appeal to referees to improve on their officiation."