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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 5 Oct 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Fatwa Permits Online Dating In West Bank, For The Purpose Of Marriage

New Age Islam News Bureau

5 Oct 2013

The 'Nikah' was performed in the district for the victims displaced by the communal riots. (IE Photo)


 Malay Woman’s Plan to Marry Shia Uncle Foiled by Her Parents

 All-Women Sharia Court to Redress Grievances of Muslim Women Launched

 Muzaffarnagar: Victims Displaced By Communal Riots Tie Knots at Mass Wedding

 Faith, Politics Clash Over Muslim-Run Women's Gym in France

 ‘White Widow’ Was Grooming Her Kids to Be Jihadists

 Madonna Reveals Rape at Knifepoint When Young

 Sarkozy’s Ex-Wife to Qaddafi: ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me!’

 Teens Held In Morocco for ‘Indecent’ Posting On Facebook

 Shas Mobilizes Seminary Girls to Disrupt Women of the Wall Prayer Service

 Meet the Syrian Women Who Aren't Afraid to Face Assad

 Saudi Women Unhappy With Feminisation of Lingerie Stores

 ‘Taking Care Of Yourself’ Is Key to Beating Breast Cancer, Says Zahra

 Saudi Businesswoman Eyes JCCI Board Position

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Fatwa Permits Online Dating In West Bank, For The Purpose Of Marriage

5 October 2013

Ramallah: Connecting online with members of the opposite sex with the aim of marriage has been approved for residents of the Palestinian territories by the Palestinian Higher Fatwa Council.

The Higher Fatwa Council issued on Tuesday a fatwa, a religious edict that is expected to influence the dynamics of how relationships between males and females in the Palestinian territories are formed and develop, given that the genders will now be allowed to connect via the internet for the purpose of marriage.

However, while Fatwa No 108 allows Palestinian males and females to connect online, it also urges them to adhere to the ethical standards of Palestinian society.

Sociologists and social workers said that the Fatwa will have tremendous social impact on life in Palestine and will affect the entire society.

“Despite this fatwa, Palestinian customs and traditions will be maintained as families will stick to the traditions even though the religion has officially authorised connection between sexes,” said Dr Omar Ayad, who heads the Sociology and Social Work Department at Al Najah National University in an interview with Gulf News.

“Religion and customs will clash. Customs will however prevail as Palestinian families and conservative Palestinian society will not easily accept such a Fatwa and put it in place.”

“Connection between sexes via the internet has become acceptable in religious terms, but is traditionally rejected. The entire situation in society may change for a great portion of the Palestinian public,” he said. “With the existence of this fatwa many people will accept connection between sexes.”

Ayad said that the concept of “connection for the purpose of eventual marriage” is vague and open to various interpretations. “Connection can be controlled in the beginning but after a very short while, there will be no chance to control connection,” he said, maintaining that things should be handled just the way they are.

“Males will blame females for not connecting via the internet and the social networks under the argument that after Islam had authorized it, why should you go against it?” he said.

He warned that the Palestinian families will confront serious problems as a result of this fatwa, but believes that families will primarily adhere to the traditions which ban any kind of illegitimate connection between the sexes.

Ayad said that in many ways the fatwa has come too late as the sexes already are connected via the internet. “With the fatwa and without it, males and females are connecting, but the fatwa has given legitimacy to the practice,” he said.

The Higher Fatwa Council urged men and women to connect via the internet if there was a necessity and for the talk between the man and woman to be limited to arranging their marriage and future. The fatwa instructs the woman to avoid providing a physical description or show herself on a camera. Meanwhile, in Hamas-run Gaza, the Higher Sharia Judicial Council has categorically rejected and criticised the fatwa, labelling it as “a source of vice and dirt”.

“This Fatwa will have dramatically negative effect on the ethical standards and morals of the men and women of Palestinian society,” said Dr Hassan Al Joujou, who heads the council in Gaza.

“The Ramallah Fatwa is baseless. It is not based on any Islamic proof or religious background,” he said.



Malay Woman’s Plan to Marry Shia Uncle Foiled by Her Parents

5 October 2013

KUALA TERENGGANU: A young woman's plan to marry her uncle, a hardcore Shia disciple, residing in Kuala Lumpur, was foiled by the quick action of her parents last week.

This was the first such case detected by the Terengganu Islamic Religion and Malay Customs Council (Maidam) involving a Shia follower and someone from the state.

Maidam chief executive officer, Datuk Mohd Rozali Saleh said the woman's parents only knew about the intended marriage at the last minute when informed about it by the woman herself, a teacher in Kuala Lumpur.

"For one week, they failed to contact their daughter but by checking through Facebook, they found that the uncle she planned to marry is a Shia follower and prevented the marriage from taking place.

"The man's wife claimed that she and her husband were divorced, which was not true, just to make it easy for her husband to marry her niece," he said after opening a State Fatwa Education Seminar on "Tackling the Shia Virus", on Thursday.

It is learnt that the man's wife is the elder sister of the female teacher's mother.

The woman is now being monitored by her parents for her own safety and to prevent her from being indoctrinated with Shia teachings.

In light of the case, Mohd Rozali urged parents to watch over their children's movements as Shia teachings could be spread easily, especially to those of weak religious faith, and also because the Shia practices were easier to follow than the more strict Sunni teachings.

On the Shia threat at the higher learning institutions in Terengganu, he said there were no cases detected yet to prove any of the lecturers or students' involvement in the deviant teachings.

"Nevertheless, we are monitoring the movements of students from countries such as Pakistan, Iraq and Iran, but their number is small," he said. - Bernama



All-Women Sharia Court to Redress Grievances of Muslim Women Launched

Oct 05 2013

Pune : A Sharia court conducted solely by women with an aim to redress grievances of Muslim women has started functioning in the city. Set up by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), the first all-women Sharia Court in Pune will deal with various family issues, including marital discord, divorce as well as property-related disputes.

"We will be functioning to mete out justice to women in Muslim community in tune of with the tenets of the Quran which confers equal rights to both men and women.

"In reality, however, women are often discriminated against by the all-men Sharia Courts traditionally run by All India Muslim Personal Law Board," said Saeeda Jamadar, president of the Court's Pune branch that opened on Wednesday.

Saeeda, along with Zubeda Khatoon, BMMA's Maharashtra Convenor, will be on the two-Judge Bench of the new Court, seen as part of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (DSR) mechanism in the judicial system.

Explaining the BMMA measure which supports the cause of Muslim women, Saeeda said the Pune Court had been set up by the organisation following an encouraging response to a similar initiative in three other cities of the country.

Noting that Muslim women are condemned to untold hardships after they are divorced, she said, "If the Quran has given equal rights to both men and women, why should women always experience discrimination often practiced by the male-dominated Sharia Courts that take a biased view of the marital dispute?"

The BMMA Courts would aim at delivering justice to Muslim women without harbouring any bias against men who, too, are welcome to approach its forum, she maintained.

There had been instances where the muftis (scholars) manning the regular Sharia Courts fail to even summon the woman concerned before disposing of the matter, Saeeda said.

Besides this new initiative, BMMA is also working to create awareness among Muslim women about their property rights, Saeeda, a city-based teacher, said.



Muzaffarnagar: Victims Displaced By Communal Riots Tie Knots at Mass Wedding

Oct 05 2013

Muzaffarnagar : Seventy two couples, who were displaced after last month's riots and living in a relief camp with their family, tied the knot at a mass wedding at Jolla village of the district.

The 'nikah' was performed in the district on for the victims displaced by the communal riots and currently living in relief camps.

The committee, which organised the marriage, has provided goods and essential items for daily use to the newly-wed couples, President of the Committee Jabbar Hasan said.

Several people have lost their homes and were forced to live in relief camps after the Muzaffarnagar riots that claimed at least 62 lives.



Faith, Politics Clash Over Muslim-Run Women's Gym in France

Reuters | Oct 4, 2013

LE RAINCY, France: A pink and orange all-women's gym has become an unlikely focus of a very French row over Muslim integration, secularism and what some view as blatant populism in the run-up to France's municipal elections.

The gym, which opened last month in the up-market Paris suburb of Le Raincy, is owned by a French Muslim couple who say their religion and appearance - she wears a headscarf and he a long beard - are the reason the mayor wants to shut them down.

The squabble has erupted five months before conservative mayor Eric Raoult, who says safety is his only concern, seeks re-election in nationwide municipal polls in which the anti-immigrant National Front is expected to gain ground.

It reflects France's uneasy relations with its five million-strong Muslim minority, Europe's largest, and tensions over an official policy of secularism Muslims say is used against them.

"'I don't want any veiled women in my town,' he told us," said gym manager Nadia El Gendouli, who sports a piercing in her nose and plunging neckline.

"'You're a fundamentalist!' he told me."

At the town hall on Thursday, Raoult denied the allegation that he did not want women wearing Muslim veils in Le Raincy. "These are fundamentalists, they lie!" he shouted.

"They consider because they're Muslims they're victims and they consider they have more rights," he said.

Local security officials said on Friday the gym met all safety standards. That meant it could stay open, but it did not guarantee it would now be out of the political spotlight.

The Orty Gym - Orty means "my sisters" in Arabic - is a 200 square-meter space with pink work-out equipment, freshly-painted fuchsia and orange walls and a large room where classes such as Hip Hop, Zumba, Stretching and Step are offered.

Some of the 70 women exercising in the room cover their hair with a headscarf but many do not as all races and religions are welcome, said Lynda Ellabou, who owns the gym with her husband.


Ellabou, wearing a fashionable pink and black headscarf, said their problems began in June after Raoult realized the couple planning to open the gym on a commercial strip on the periphery of the suburb of 14,000 residents were Muslim.

"When he saw my (bearded) husband he had a shock. 'You've rented a place where?' he asked us," Ellabou recalled. "'You're going to put a veiled woman at the reception desk too?'"

"In the end he made us understand it wasn't going to be possible to open," she said, adding Raoult later objected to the gym's lack of parking and steps leading to the emergency exit.

The issue of secularism arose when a Muslim website said the gym had a prayer room in the back. Ellabou said the page was not theirs and the report was wrong, as there is no such room.

Full-face veils are banned in public in France. Headscarves are prohibited for civil servants and girls in state schools.

Those laws do not apply to private companies, but some politicians are increasingly calling for limits there too.

France's war on religious headgear stems from its official separation of church and state enshrined in law in 1905 as a victory over the once-powerful Roman Catholic Church.

The growth of the Muslim population in recent decades has brought another religious group into the public sphere and has prompted calls from both ardent secularists and anti-immigration campaigners for limiting the public visibility of Islam.

Raoult told Reuters at his office that fire hazards, not racism, were the reason for his opposition to the gym.

"Whether it's Jews, Catholics, Arabs, it's all the same. If it's not according to the law they'll be closed," he said. "Muslims need to know they have to respect the law."

One resident who came to the gym to offer support to the couple said such comments played well in Le Raincy, where ageing residents worry about changing demographics in an area that is close to the tough run-down suburbs of northern Paris.

"There are people here in town who vote for him precisely because he says things like that," said the resident, Celine.

One gym employee, Lynda, who also wears a headscarf, said: "They hide behind 'human rights' here in France, but they're racist. We're considered foreigners."



‘White Widow’ Was Grooming Her Kids to Be Jihadists

 5 October 2013

British fugitive female militant, Samantha Lewthwaite commonly referred to as the ‘White Widow,’ was grooming her children to be jihadists, her secret diary found by the Kenyan authorities shows.

The diary was found in a luxury house in the Kenyan capital Nairobi where she reportedly stayed with her Jihadist al-Shabab fellows planning to attack two hotels and a shopping mall, the Daily Mail reported on Friday.

“Recently, my beloved husband gave a talk to my eight year old son and five year old daughter. He asked them what do you want to be when you are old? Both had many answers, but both agreed to one of wanting to be a Mujahid,” Lewthwaite wrote in a crumpled paper.

Her husband Germaine Lindsay, also known as Abdullah Shaheed Jamal, was one of the four terrorists who detonated were involved in the July 7, 2005 London bombings.

Two of her children Abdullah and Ruqayyah have the middle names Shaheed and Shahidah, the male and female forms of the word martyr, according to the Daily Mail.

She expressed comfort in being married to a ‘Mujahid’ and in following his footsteps.

“Alhamdulillah [thanks be to Allah], Allah has blessed me with being married to a Mujahid and meeting many wonderful inspiring people along the way,” she wrote in another manuscript.

“[I] wanted to document true reality of what it means to be a Mujahid, living as Ghuraba [strangers] and what it was that guided many of these amazing men and women to put forth all they have for Allah,” she added.

The names of all people have been changed for security purposes but Umar [the second Muslim Khalifa] said once about the Shuhadah,” she explained.

Lewthwaite married Jamaican-born Muslim convert Lindsay, who went by the name of Jamal, in 2002.

In her journals she noted how Lindsay once warned her that is if she married him she would be giving up her “comfortable lifestyle in the West.”

“I agreed. I mean of course, this path is all I ever wanted, “she wrote.

She describes her feelings and her life when her husband used to travel for “Jihad,” leaving her alone with kids in London.

“My husband has left me on many occasions to go out for Allah’s cause. The pain of missing your husband and wishing to be in his presence is a test in itself,” the woman, now wanted by Interpol, wrote.

“Then there are times you don’t receive the news on him for several weeks. The not knowing if he is alive ... is enough to lose appetite and sleep,’ she added.

“Can I sleep when bombs are dropping on his head? But when he is home, I sleep safely, eat well.’ She goes on to say: “My husband taught me earlier in marriage: look at those less fortunate than themselves.”

Reason for writing

The ‘White Widow’ explains that the reason she was writing all of this is to “a message of hope and encouragement” to “my brothers and sisters” to follow her footsteps.

‘I have for many years now wanted to write something that would benefit my brothers and sisters, a message of hope and encouragement and light in an era when many are still in darkness,” she noted.

“After reading the Women’s Role in Jihad, I realized that time had come for me to at least put forth what I have been blessed with and hope that this will incite others,” the ‘White Widow’ added.



Madonna Reveals Rape at Knifepoint When Young

AFP | Oct 5, 2013

LOS ANGELES: US pop icon Madonna was raped at knifepoint when she was young and newly arrived in New York, she revealed in an article published on Friday.

In a piece for Harper's Bazaar, she also talked about her time living in Britain married to director Guy Ritchie, saying there is "nothing more beautiful than the English countryside," and revealed that she is now studying the Quran.

Describing her arrival in the Big Apple from the Midwest, where she grew up, she wrote: "New York wasn't everything I thought it would be. It did not welcome me with open arms," and described "paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked."

"The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back, and had my apartment broken into three times. I don't know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time.

"The tall buildings and the massive scale of New York took my breath away. The sizzling-hot sidewalks and the noise of the traffic and the electricity of the people rushing by me on the streets was a shock to my neurotransmitters," she added.

Moving on a decade a time, she recalled being a pop star in her 20s, embracing Kabbalah in her 30s, before marrying Ritchie and moving to Britain by the age of 45.

"I consider moving to a foreign country to be a very daring act. It wasn't easy for me ... I didn't understand pub culture. I didn't understand that being openly ambitious was frowned upon. Once again I felt alone.

"But I stuck it out and I found my way, and I grew to love English wit, Georgian architecture, sticky toffee pudding, and the English countryside. There is nothing more beautiful than the English countryside."

A decade later she is divorced and in New York.

"I have started making films, which is probably the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done. I am building schools for girls in Islamic countries and studying the Quran. I think it is important to study all the holy books.

"As my friend Yaman always tells me, a good Muslim is a good Jew, and a good Jew is a good Christian, and so forth. I couldn't agree more."



Sarkozy’s Ex-Wife to Qaddafi: ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me!’

5 October 2013

Cecilia Attias, the ex-wife of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, rebuked late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and told him “don’t stand so close to me!” during a 2007 visit to Tripoli, according to Attias’s newly published book “A Need for Truth” (Une Envie de Verité).

Attias went to Tripoli to secure the release of six Bulgarian nurses who were on death row for reportedly injecting children with HIV at El-Fatih Children's Hospital in Benghazi.

After arriving in Libya on the “lonely” diplomatic mission, Attias tells of being driven to an underground bunker in Tripoli and locked in a room.

Shortly after the door slammed shut, Qaddafi walked in.

Attias described the Libyan leader as “this decrepit former athlete with a puffy face, obviously tired and looking like a second-rate actor in a second-rate production.”

She then started to berate Qaddafi before he could open his mouth.

“Are you at all aware of how I have been treated? And don’t stand so close to me!” she told him, adding that if anything were to happen to her, he would have the international community to answer to, France 24 reported.

After talking with Qaddafi, Attias said that she realized that his government and son, Saif al-Islam, was responsible for blocking the release of the prisoners, rather than him.

Qaddafi then told Attias that wanted to invite her husband, Sarkozy, to Tripoli. She replied by telling him that Sarkozy would not visit unless the prisoners were released. An “angry” Qaddafi replied: “I want to give them to you. There, you can have them. Are you happy now?”

Both Sarkozy and Saif al-Islam later denied reports that a major arms deal was behind the release of the nurses.



Teens Held In Morocco for ‘Indecent’ Posting On Facebook

5 October 2013

Rabat: Moroccan police have arrested a teenage boy and girl for posting a photo on Facebook of them kissing, with the incident provoking a slew of copycats, a rights organisation said Friday.

“It involves a teenage boy and his girlfriend. They were arrested on Thursday for violating public decency by posting a photo of them kissing” in the northeastern town of Nador, said Chakib al-Khayari, president of the Rif Association of Human Rights.

The photograph was taken outside the high school where the two are students.

The young couple is being held in the juvenile detention centre in Nador, where a sit-in has begun to demand their release, Khayari said.

The incident has caused such a stir among young people that a number of other couples have posted similar photos on their Facebook pages.

A local official contacted by AFP confirmed the arrests, but declined to comment.

Khayari said the pair are to appear before a juvenile court judge next Friday.



Shas Mobilizes Seminary Girls to Disrupt Women of the Wall Prayer Service

5 October 2013

Thousands of young seminary girls mobilized by Shas, the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party, filled the women’s prayer section of the Western Wall Friday morning ostensibly to pray for the recuperation of their leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

But hundreds of them, rather than pray, chose to encircle participants in the monthly Women of the Wall Rosh Chodesh service and taunt them while the worshippers recited their prayers.

This was in blatant defiance of a plea made the previous day by Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi of the Western Wall, urging those coming to the holy site to refrain from any confrontations with the women’s prayer group. Rabinovitch said such confrontations were the “greatest desecration of the name of God.”

For the first time in three months, police allowed Women of the Wall to hold their monthly service in the women’s prayer section rather than relegate them to an area much further away. About 200 women participated in the group’s Rosh Chodesh service.

Busloads of young seminary girls from all around the country began pouring into the area at about 6 A.M. The girls were not accompanied by their teachers or any adult supervisors.

During the prayer service, the young seminary girls were overheard shouting the following at participants in the Women of the Wall prayer service:

“You are garbage.”

“You are wicked.”

“You are men, not women. Why don’t you grow beards and move over to the men’s section?”

“You should burn.”

One young girl was overheard suggesting to a friend: “Let’s stone them.”

Many of the young girls stood on chairs, laughing and pointing in the direction of the women’s prayer group throughout the service. Whenever Women of the Wall participants would begin singing their prayers out loud, the young girls would shout and jeer in an effort to drown them out.

Several older ultra-Orthodox women were seen approaching the girls and trying to call them to order, warning them that the nearby television cameras were recording their actions. But to no avail.

After Psalms were recited for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, some of the girls left the area, and from the other side of the barrier separating the prayer plaza, began throwing down pieces of toilet paper at Women of the Wall participants and spitting on them.

No arrests were made at the morning’s service, police said, who estimated that somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 seminary girls had showed up.

One ultra-Orthodox woman passing by the Women of the Wall group was overheard telling a friend. “Just look at them. They’re not Jewish. Those aren’t Jewish faces. They’re goyim [non-Jews].”

Several participants in the Women of the Wall service put on tefillin and many wore prayer shawls. “My children asked me to take a picture of this because they really don’t believe that there are women who actually do this,” said one ultra-Orthodox woman, among many like her standing around and photographing the women’s prayer group.

About a dozen policewomen formed a chain around the women to protect them from the jeering crowd. “You don’t need to do that,” one ultra-Orthodox woman told them as she exited the site. “Who would even want to touch them? They’re impure.”

Though repeatedly asked, the young seminary girls refused to tell reporters which school they came from. When asked why she had decided to defy Rabinovitch’s request not to confront Women of the Wall, one young girl, who asked not to be identified, said: “I never heard he said any such thing. If I had heard such a thing, I would have respected it.”

This was the first Rosh Chodesh service held by Women of the Wall at the Kotel since Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett constructed a new platform on the other side of the Mughrabi Bridge meant to accommodate egalitarian prayer services. Bennett had hoped that the women’s prayer group would use the new platform as well for its monthly services, but its leaders have said they have no intention of doing so and will continue to hold their monthly prayer services, as they have in the past, at the women’s section of the wall.

A committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit is expected to present to the government any day now recommendations for new rules governing prayer at the wall. Jerusalem District Police Spokeman Shmulik Ben Rubi told Haaretz he was hopeful that once the new rules took effect, the confrontations of recent months could be avoided.

Lesley Sacks, the executive director of Women of the Wall, said the morning’s events were the worst she remembered. “I don’t recall that we were ever cursed like this before or that the hatred toward us was ever so blatant,” she told Haaretz.



Meet the Syrian Women Who Aren't Afraid to Face Assad

5 October 2013

The image of Syria in the Western media is an overwhelmingly masculine one. We see bearded men of the oppositional rebel forces carrying guns and fighting. The entire crisis has been simplified to an armed rebellion led by extremist oppositional figure and regime forces. The civil uprising no longer exists. Women are often depicted as the passive victims of this conflict.

These assumptions are wrong. Aisha (not her real name) is from central Syria and is a committed activist, who believes that freedom, dignity and rights cannot be killed or destroyed, regardless of what the Assad's regime does. As well as, being a prominent activist and citizen journalist, her voice is important because it represents the forgotten voice of the Syrian revolution. She reminds us that while there is an armed uprising, there is still civilian opposition.    

Q: What role do female activists continue to play?

Aisha: "Women play a diverse and critical role in the struggle. We are active mainly in civil oppositional activities, which include blogging, reporting, protesting, assisting and helping the local communities in which we live. In many local oppositional committees, women are important organisers of events and in some cases help to form some of the leadership roles."

Q: What are the female activists' relationships like with the rebels?

Aisha: "Women like all Syrians have mixed relations with the rebels. Not many, but some women have joined the rebels; there are female snipers in the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Others assist the rebels in other ways, when the armed rebellion began, it was women who would go and collect information on the movements and positions of Assad's forces. Even now, when rebels liberate a village or town it's women who take them into their homes and treat their injures and feed them. This happened recently in the Christian town of Maaloula- when the rebels entered the town they told the locals, that they weren't the target, the regime was. And the local nuns invited the rebels into the church and feed and clothed them. Of course the regime later lied about what happened there."

Q: But aren't some of the rebels' violent extremists who will oppress women? Aren't you worried about the effects of violence?

Aisha: "Okay, fine. Some factions of the rebels like Islamic State in the Levant and Iraq (ISLI), but women activists have taken action against these groups. You know, in northern Syria there were towns were hard line Islamist affiliated groups took control off. And when they began imposing restrictions on women, the local women fought back and staged mass protests. The group had to back away from some of the measures because of it.

But you have to remember two things. Firstly, most oppositional groups including rebel groups are local. They are full of local guys, who fight for local issues, and women play an important role in those local committees. They cannot disregard what women want. Secondly, not all the opposition to the regime is militaristic. There is still an active civil opposition to the Assad regime. In many towns there are weekly protests against the regime still. Plus, it is not as if the regime can claim to be the protector of women's rights. They openly rape and imprison women ... in parts of Central Syria the regime soldiers look for Sunni women to kidnap and rape. Just before Homs fell to the regime a few months ago, Assad's forces kidnapped 100 women from neighbouring town and forced them to march ahead of the army as they entered oppositional areas. To get the opposition to surrender. They use this tactic. In some towns they get the women to strip naked and then march."

Q: What were your opinions on an American military strike?

Aisha: "Syrians are divided over this questions. Many Syrians supported the idea and held up signs in anti-regime protests saying 'We are against the Syrian military intervention into Syria.' Others were against. For me it depends on their intentions. But now they have cut a deal with the regime, it is clear they do not care about the Syrian people".



Saudi Women Unhappy With Feminisation of Lingerie Stores

5 October 2013

The decision made by the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Commerce to feminise employment in women’s stores has created panic among saleswomen, who often have no background in sales and lack sufficient training.

Many saleswomen have been unable to familiarize themselves with the job function to execute their job efficiently and professionally.

Sarah E., an employee who was hired a week ago at a women’s lingerie shop, said: “I am thinking of submitting my resignation. It is really difficult for me to deal with demanding customers.

“We were given a five-day training course before we started work. It was beneficial, though mostly theoretical. The only practical part involved detecting fake currency,” she said.

“I took up this job to change my routine in life,” said Basma, who worked at a women’s lingerie shop with three months’ experience.

“Women have expressed their discontent with the decision taken by the ministry to enforce feminization in the sales sector at gatherings I have attended. They think saleswomen are slow, and they have a point,” she said.

“We never underwent enough training, especially on how to deal with customers, not to mention the fact that the store itself is not designed to accommodate female workers. There is no space for lockers to keep our belongings safe while on the job, which results in theft. We need more training, experience and patience from the customer’s side until we are properly trained.”

Aziza M., who works at a kids and women’s accessory shop, agreed with her colleagues.

“We never got the chance to learn from previous salesmen who were working at the store before us. They all left prior to our arrival,” she said.

Amal A., who works at a female lingerie shop, said: “We work in shifts that last long hours, making it difficult for us. The salary we are paid, which is around SR3,000, is hardly enough to cover our basic needs. Most of our money is spent on drivers. We were promised transportation, but nothing has happened so far.”



‘Taking Care Of Yourself’ Is Key to Beating Breast Cancer, Says Zahra

5 October 2013

Princess Haifa bint Faisal bin Abdulaziz, chairwoman of Zahra Breast Cancer Association, together with Al-Jazirah Vehicles Co. launched the “Life Awaits You” national breast cancer awareness campaign to mark the International Breast Cancer Awareness.

The formal launching was held at Al-Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh.

Princess Haifa, a supporter of Zahra Breast Cancer Association, said: “Together we will fight. We can be a force and source for change through early detection and screening of breast cancer.

“This year marks our seventh national campaign. Now, Zahra Breast Cancer Association takes through 20 cities within the Kingdom promoting early detection and screening of breast cancer with the help of government and other bodies as a united effort to fight cancer and support the life of affected people.”

Princess Haifa urged all women to become ambassadors to spread awareness about breast cancer utilizing social media channels for the emancipation of women.

“Warriors In Pink,” a Ford-Zahra Breast Cancer Association collaboration, is backed by Al-Jazirah Vehicles Agencies Co.

Reem bint Abdullah Al-Kuraidees, spokeswoman for Al-Jazirah, said: “We are honoured to initiate the logo for the campaign this year. ‘Warriors In Pink’ Powered by Ford, enforces our social commitment to fight for the cause, not for our cars but to be there for our women. Ford is proud of this campaign and we have already spent $120 million on this campaign.

“Pink fight is important to us,” she said. “We are dedicated to take our social commitment seriously to fight for early detection of breast cancer in this region. We need to do more and work harder to kill the killer disease.”

Zahra’s latest campaign aims to raise hope for all women who have breast cancer. The theme seeks to spread information and encourage all women to take care of themselves. Already, the Twitter campaign, #Life_awaits_you, launched on Oct. 2, recorded more than 4,000 tweets in a day.

Breast cancer is on a rise in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia registers 13.5 percent cancer cases as breast cancer with the highest cancer cases listed in the Eastern Province. More than 8,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year in Saudi Arabia.

“We will not wait for the disease, to treat. We will take steps to prevent it,” said Dr. Muneera Baraja, family physician and co-founder of Zahra. She recommended a change in lifestyle to fight obesity through regular exercise, healthy eating, reducing stress and to stop smoking apart from regular screening to prevent the disease.

“Act today. Have a breast cancer screening done. Undergoing self examination at home and regular clinical examination with ultrasound and mammogram as early detection improves the overall cure rate of breast cancer,” she said.

Cancer survivor Awatef Al-Houshan said: “You are actually stronger than what you think and early detection is important.”

A former teacher and a supervisor at the Ministry of Defence, Al-Houshan said: “I am just like every woman ... I have my strengths and weaknesses. In my testing times, my strength comes from my family. It is important to keep one’s strength because when morale is high, immunity is higher. Pain comes from within you and you can overcome your pain with a positive inner strength.”

Iman Binyamin, health education specialist and board member at Zahra, said: “Today, every woman is overwhelmed with responsibilities in different spheres of her life, at workplace and within the family. Women by nature are giving. Because life issues take them away from themselves, Zahra advises them to take time to care for themselves.”



Saudi Businesswoman Eyes JCCI Board Position

5 October 2013

JEDDAH — Not so many women in Saudi Arabia are commonly known for holding leading positions in the Kingdom’s booming business sector. But one young Saudi woman is aiming straight for the top.

Rania Salama has launched a campaign to be elected to the board of Jeddah’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), and currently serves as the chair of the Young Businesswomen Committee at the chamber.

Salama said that by running for the chamber’s board, she is seeking to help match Saudi women with the opportunities that men commonly enjoy.

“We really need to bridge the gap between women and opportunities,” Salama told Al Arabiya News. She also emphasized that her campaign for the board aims to spread awareness of the chamber’s uses amongst voters.

It is also aimed at “raising awareness and having more people participate in the elections,” she said.

“If the person is active and wants to search for their rights in public sectors, the chamber of commerce should play its role unexceptionally,” she added.

The young businesswoman proved her business credentials by launching in 2000 the Arabiyat Magazine — an online feminine, social and cultural publication.

Salama pledges voters in a campaign video to help advance the use of technology to facilitate business service and consolidate partnership with the public sector to overcome challenges that Saudi businesses are facing.

She said her goal is to also find “a comprehensive service system for business pioneering and achieving sustainability for productive families program.”

There are 63 candidates running for the JCCI board, which has 12 seats. However, only six members will win seats via the elections, while six will be appointed by authorities.

Anyone who holds a commercial registration in Jeddah is entitled to vote, she added.

Winning the board’s elections may not prove easy for Salama as a woman.

Only one other woman, Lama Al-Sulaiman, currently serves on the board. She was elected deputy chairwoman of the chamber in December 2009, becoming the first woman to occupy this post in Saudi Arabia’s history.

Salama is not alone in her bid.

Rawda Al-Yousef, a woman activist, leads a campaign called “My Guardian Knows Better.”

She argues that it is “not essential for a woman to participate in governmental sectors due to her religious and cultural perspective.”

Commenting on Yousef’s campaign, Salama said: “it is beautiful to see both sides of the story,” adding that a response to such a campaign would be based on actions and not words.

“The society will only be ready for such a step when they become aware” of the importance of the chamber and its uses for business development, Salama noted.

Basmah Al-Omair, CEO of Khadija bint Khuwailid Center for Businesswomen, stressed, however, the important role Saudi women can play in business and on their “ability to influence decision making.”

“Since women first took part in the chamber’s 2006 elections, they were able to influence decision making,” Omair said.

“The Saudi woman was able to prove that she is capable to confront economic issues and to propose solutions and is able to make decisions that others can benefit from.”

“We hope that this success will continue and the number of the female board members will increase,” she added.