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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 23 Oct 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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FBI Opens Hate Crime Probe in Indiana Attack on Muslim Woman

New Age Islam News Bureau

23 Oct 2015

An Afghan woman speaks as they attend a class of the gender and women's studies masters program in Kabul University, Afghanistan October 19, 2015. Reuters/Mohammad Ismail


 FBI Opens Hate Crime Probe in Indiana Attack on Muslim Woman

 Afghan University Unlikely Host for Women's Studies Programme

 MoU Signed On Technical Training Centre for Women in Pakistan

 Salon, Vox, Media Elitists, Endorse Global Human Rights Abuses against Women and Girls

 Transgender Muslim Woman Says Arizona Civil Rights Group Discriminated Against Her

 Refugee-Tripping Camerawoman to Sue Facebook, Move To Russia

 This 22-Year-Old Is Building a Go-Jek Competitor Exclusively For Women

 Maryam Nawaz Thanks Obama, Michelle for Hospitality

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




FBI Opens Hate Crime Probe in Indiana Attack On Muslim Woman

23 October 2015

BLOOMINGTON: The FBI has opened a hate crime investigation into an attack on a Muslim woman in which police say an Indiana University college student shouted racial slurs and tried to remove her headscarf.

FBI Special Agent Wendy Osborne said Thursday that there is no deadline for concluding the investigation into Saturday's incident in Bloomington, Indiana. She said the FBI became aware of the incident Monday and started the investigation Tuesday.

Also read: US man arrested in attack on Muslim woman

"The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and ensure the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner," she said. "We will conduct the investigation as expeditiously as possible."

Triceten Bickford, 19, has been charged with multiple felony charges, including intimidation, strangulation and battery, in the attack on the 47-year-old woman outside a Turkish cafe. Bloomington is about 50 miles southwest of Indianapolis.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the Muslim woman was sitting at a table with her 9-year-old daughter when a man later identified as Bickford emerged from a nearby alley shouting "white power," anti-black racial slurs and "kill the police."

Bickford grabbed the woman by the neck and forced her head forward, restricting her breathing as he tried to remove her headscarf, police say.

Indiana University expelled Bickford following reports of the attack. He was released Sunday from Monroe County's jail on $705 bond and other fees and is scheduled to appear in court Friday.

Bickford has said he has no memory of the incident and that a combination of drinking alcohol and not taking his anti-anxiety medication caused him to snap.

Messages seeking comment were left for Bickford's attorneys. He didn't respond to email and phone requests for comment.

The federal statute sets a maximum 10-year prison sentence for a hate crime in most cases.



Afghan University Unlikely Host for Women's Studies Programme

23 October 2015

KABUL: A group of Afghan students gathered on the leafy campus of Kabul University this week to embark on an unlikely course - the country's first Master's degree in gender and women's studies.

Advances made for women since US-led troops ousted the Islamist Taliban in 2001 are held up as one of the wins of the war, but women are still regularly sidelined from political life and subject to violence in public and at home.

Many worry that things could get worse as security deteriorates around the country, a fear buttressed by reports of abuse against women in Kunduz after the Taliban briefly took control of the northern city last month.

"There's been a lot of change for women, but it's not enough," said Zheela Rafhat, a high school teacher and one of 28 students enrolled on the two-year course, which will tackle subjects like gender and violence. "It's better in the capital than in rural areas where there's been a lot of fighting."

Read: Afghan men don burqas to highlight women’s rights

Photographs of Kabul from the 1960s and 70s show a city where Afghan women strolled the streets in miniskirts and heels, a scene that had disappeared by the time the Taliban came to power in 1996.

Under the hardline group's interpretation of Islam, women and girls were banned from public life, including going to school and working, and had to wear a full-body burqa when venturing outside.

Millions of girls have gone back to school in the last 14 years, but access to higher education has been limited.

Teaching women's studies at graduate level should help spread awareness and send people into the workforce who can promote equality, the faculty and students said. Eighteen women and ten men have enrolled in the programme.

But the project is not without critics, some of whom think the course amounts to little more than another misguided foreign intervention. The course is funded by South Korea and run by the U.N. Development Programme in coordination with the government.

"Some people don't take it seriously," said Nargis Nazer Hossain, a 21-year-old student from Kabul. "They think it's in the interest of foreigners." Other objections run deeper.

"There is no gender equality"

When the course was presented to the Ministry of Higher Education, it took two months to be approved, said Ghulam Farooq Abdullah, dean of the university's Faculty of Social Sciences.

Abdul Bari Hamidi, an Islamic studies professor and a member of the ministerial committee that approves new graduate programmes, said he objected to the course because it promoted gender equality.

Read: What could happen to Afghan women should the Taliban return to power

"There is no gender equality in Islam," Hamidi said. "In family affairs, the head of the family must be a man, and being an Imam (Islamic spiritual leader) is limited to men." Lecturers said the course work would address the topic, keeping Afghanistan's cultural context in mind.

"This is teaching by Afghan colleagues, Afghan professors, according with our reality and our society," said Nasrullah Stanekzai, a law professor who taught the first day of class on Monday.

Nevertheless, Kabul University is a somewhat unlikely host, having been the stage for heated protests against women's rights. In 2013, hundreds of students marched against the Elimination of Violence against Women law, objecting to its secular foundations.

"There are students at Kabul University with radical ideas, but it's not rampant," said Ahmad Zia Rafhat, a journalism lecturer.

Some of the students come to the university from provinces where the Taliban have a bigger influence. None of the students to whom Reuters spoke expressed any apprehension about taking the course. Nor did a small group of students hanging around the classroom offer any objections.

"I think it's a good thing," said Mushtaba Danish, a third-year undergraduate. "Men need the expertise for the future."



MoU Signed On Technical Training Centre for Women In Pakistan

23 October 2015

QUETTA: The Chief Minister of Balochistan, Dr Abdul Malik, has said that imparting technical training to women will not just enable them to seek job but also help reduce poverty in the province.

He said this while speaking at an event held to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and government of Balochistan on Thursday.

The MoU was signed by the provincial secretary for labour and manpower, Hamid Al Kareem, and UNHCR’s representative Dinesh Shrestha.

A Women Technical Training Centre (WTTC) will be set up in Loralai district at a cost of $103 million to teach women four different trades. Under the project the incumbent technical centre for men will also be renovated and provided with the latest equipment.

The chief minister said that the WTTC would play a vital role in providing technical training to women and create employment opportunities for them.

“If more than half of society is cut off from economic activities then such a society can never progress,” he said, adding that women should play their role in economic activities as well.

Dr Malik said that by initiating such projects for women they could reduce poverty from society to a great extent. He held out the assurance that the government would extend every possible support to international organisations in establishing technical centres so that quality education could be provided to people.

Mr Shrestha said that the aim of the project was to increase livelihood opportunities for women living in the Zhob division of Loralai district.

Adviser to Chief Minister Obaidullah Jan Babat, the UNHCR’s spokesperson Javaria Tareen and Commissioner and Project Director of Afghan Refugees Repatritation Cell, Sindh, Ghazanfar Ali Agha were also present on the occasion.



Salon, Vox, Media Elitists, Endorse Global Human Rights Abuses Against Women And Girls

23 October 2015

Numerous examples abound of media elitists opining in defense of Islam. Not only do they defend and advocate in favor of Islam, they refer to anyone who discusses what the Qur’an teaches in derogatory terms, most often describing them as “Islamaphobic” and bigoted.

Recently, announced that the totalitarian political ideology of Islam provides women equal rights that women in America do not have under the U.S. Constitution.


Salon-Islam also suggests that most Americans fear Muslims because “overt islamophobia on american tv news is out of control.” Furthermore, any American who suggests “the idea that all 1.6 billion Muslims are somehow responsible for the actions of a handful of extremists whom they abhor, and the implicit call to collectively punish all Muslims in retaliation for a few bad apples” is a bigot.

Yet, neither news aggregator site actually reports the fact that the majority of Islamic controlled countries implement brutal human rights abuses specifically against women and girls.



Transgender Muslim Woman Says Arizona Civil Rights Group Discriminated Against Her


OCTOBER 21, 2015

Local Muslim woman Sumayyah Dawud says a civil rights organization defending her in a religious-discrimination case against the Phoenix Police Department dropped her as a client after learning she's transgender.

The Council on American and Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country, offered to represent Dawud after she said a Phoenix police officer who arrested her had, despite her protests, removed the head and face coverings she wears for religious reasons.

Dawud first told CAIR-AZ about the incident in February 2015 and had been working with one of the group's local attorneys, Liban Yousuf, until he sent her a letter recently saying CAIR was severing the relationship.

His reason: She failed to disclose an important material fact about her case.

Yousuf, who declined to discuss Dawud's case for this article, never specified what the material fact was, but Dawud maintains that it's because she never told him she's transgender — a detail, she says, that has nothing to do with her religious-discrimination case against the PPD.

Dawud was born male but legally became female in 2011: Her driver's license and passport list her as a woman. And after converting to Islam in 2013, she began covering her head and face in public. She reports having no significant problems with her gender transformation or her religious conversion until she was arrested with other social-justice activists in October 2014.

Transgender Muslim Woman Says Arizona Civil Rights Group Discriminated Against Her

Courtesy of Sumayyah Dawud

According to a notice of claim filed as a precursor to a possible lawsuit against the PPD, her arrest unfolded as such:

As Phoenix cops were making arrests, she and her friends heard one of the officers yelling: "Where's burka? Where's burka?”

Upon spotting Dawud, a Phoenix officer “yanked [her] niqab off without asking [and] then began undoing [her] hijab.”

Dawud repeatedly asked him to stop, explaining that she wears the garments for religious reasons, to which he replied: "There's no religion where you're going."

Though no serious legal problems resulted from the arrests of the activists, local news outlets reported the story and published their mugshots. Dawud, embarrassed that a photograph showing her without her hijab and niqab was circulating around the Internet, approached CAIR to see if the organization's lawyers could help get the photos taken down.

She says lawyers from CAIR suggested that she file a lawsuit against the PPD for religious discrimination, and even though this wasn't her original intention, she agreed to do it with CAIR's help.

On April 23, 2015, the PPD was sent the official notice of claim signed by Yousuf and Raeesabbas Mohamed, an attorney with Kelly Warner Law (a local firm that periodically represents CAIR).

As far as Dawud knew, the case was proceeding normally – until July 7.

This was when Dawud was contacted by Nedal Fayad, chairman of the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, who called her into his office to question her about being transgender because, he maintained, people at the mosque were complaining about her ambiguous identity.

Earlier this summer, New Times wrote about Dawud's struggle with ICC leadership after she was told that if she wanted to continue praying with women at the mosque, she needed to provide medical documentation showing she was “biologically female.”

Dawud says Fayad told her in a July 7 meeting that multiple community members had approached him to say they were upset that she was dressed as a female and praying with women. Dawud thinks, however, that his concerns stemmed from her potential religious-discrimination lawsuit.

“During that July meeting, Nedal Fayad told me that he had done a private background check on me, and he admitted that he had spoken with [Phoenix police Detective] Mustafa Masad, and that my name had come up,” Dawud says. She says that while Fayad didn't elaborate on what he and Masad spoke about, she considers it odd that he mentioned this detail during a meeting that purportedly was about her being transgender.

She says this detail made her uneasy for weeks but that it wasn't until CAIR's severance letter arrived that she began piecing together what she believes happened. Dawud now is convinced that Masad “outed” her as transgender to Fayad in “an attempt to sabotage any potential lawsuit against the police” and that Fayad, who knew nothing about the incident in which her head coverings were removed, “fell right into their trap” by outing her to CAIR because he wasn't sure how to handle the situation.

Fayad tells New Times that he knows Masad but does not remember meeting with him about Dawud. And Masad, who leads the Arab Advisory Board for the PPD, did not get back to New Times by publication time for this article, despite multiple requests.

As New Times reported in late August, it also was during the July 7 meeting that Fayad asked Dawud for medical documentation "proving” she was female, and recently, Fayad — who did not respond to requests for comment in August — recounted his side of story:

“The first time I sat down with her, I asked, 'Are you male? Are you female? What's the story?' . . . She said she could provide medical proof that she's female, and I said, 'Beautiful. If you can prove you're female, I'll have your back.'"

Fayad claims that if she had provided the proper paperwork, he would have defended her right to pray with the women, but the problem was that the papers only said she had “completed a gender transformation" and that he needed proof she had completed "a sexual transformation [through surgery].”

As far as Dawud knew, her conversations with Fayad were confidential, but she soon learned that he had told others in the community that she was born male and that he had shared copies of her personal medical documents with the mosque's board of directors.

When asked about this, Fayad says he and Dawud never agreed that the documents were confidential.

During Friday prayers on August 21, Dawud says, a woman from the mosque rebuked her for being a man and praying with women. The woman said Dawud's identity had been the topic of a recent community meeting — a meeting Dawud says she was not invited to attend.

Right after this confrontation, Dawud says, she went to Fayad's office, and it was during this encounter that he told her he had consulted with lawyers to discuss the situation and that the ICC had developed a transgender policy that she was now required to follow.

Fayad confirms to New Times that he set the following boundaries for her participation in prayers as a female at the mosque: She couldn’t use the woman’s bathroom, only a private office bathroom; she couldn't pray in the center of the room with the women but must stay off  to the side; and she couldn't touch or hug anyone in the mosque, even when greeting close female friends.

Dawud was furious about the restrictions and thought about telling Liban Yousuf of CAIR. Coincidentally, she had a meeting scheduled with him to discuss her potential lawsuit against the PPD the following day.

She says she never talked to Yousuf about being transgender because it had nothing to do with the religious-discrimination case he was helping her with, but as she sat in the meeting, weighing whether to tell him this fact about herself and about the new ICC transgender policy, he beat her to it. Yousuf, she says, told her that Fayad had told him she is transgender.

When New Times wrote the first article about Dawud in August, she didn't mention the potential lawsuit, she says, for fear of revealing sensitive legal material, but after recent events, she no longer hesitates to give her account of what happened behind closed doors.

Dawud says Yousuf told her that he actually had learned she was transgender in July because he was the lawyer Fayad had consulted about the matter.

“Liban [Yousuf] also told me that Nedal [Fayad] told him that he had met with Mustafa Masad [of the PPD] and that Masad had given him documents about me,” Dawud says. “Documents that had my personal information on them.”

While Yousuf declined to discuss the case for this story, he did say that as an organization, CAIR doesn't discriminate based on sex, gender, race, religion, orientation, or anything else.

She claims Yousuf also told her that he thought news about her being transgender could create “community controversy” that wouldn't help her potential suit. She says he didn't say at this time that CAIR wanted to deop the case, but he did suggest that an organization like the ACLU might be better suited to litigate on her behalf.

Six days later, on August 28, the New Times article about her struggles with the ICC leadership was published, and CAIR promptly stopped returning her phone calls and e-mails, she says.

The story was picked up by other news outlets, and according to Dawud, journalists told her that Fayad had given them her male birth name.

Fayad responds that he did not specifically mention her name to reporters but told them they could discover it through a Google search. He maintains that a friend of Dawud's at the mosque originally told him the name but that he was able to find it online, too. He denies that the PPD's Masad revealed it, which is what Dawud believes happened.

Dawud says she never has disclosed the name to any of her friends in the Muslim community and never would.

Angry about Fayad's allegedly sharing her birth name and about CAIR's allegedly refusing to return her phone calls, Dawud filed an official complaint against CAIR with the Arizona Bar Association on October 15, claiming that CAIR discriminated against her based on her sex and that the organization created a conflict of interest by talking about her with Fayad.

On the evening after she filed her complaint, she says, she received the e-mail from Yousuf terminating CAIR’s representation of her:

"The relationship was severed because you failed to disclose a material fact that will adversely [affect the] the outcome of your case, causing your case to become significantly more difficult and resource costly,” Yousuf wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by New Times.

Though Yousuf does not specifically say what the "material fact" was in the letter — he repeatedly declined to tell New Times, too — Dawud thinks it only can be that she's transgender.

"What material fact was it if it wasn't that?" she says. "If it was some other reason, why wouldn't he have had a meeting with me to discuss the issue?



Refugee-tripping camerawoman to sue Facebook, move to Russia

22 October 2015

A Hungarian camerawoman, who lost her job after assaulting refugees in September, is going to sue Facebook for fueling hate and bias towards her. Moreover, she is considering to move to Russia.

Hungarian N1TV's Petra Laszlo was caught on camera on Hungary-Serbia border while kicking refugee girl and then tripping a refugee with a child in his hands. Later she apologized, saying she only did that because she was afraid.

In her recent interview, Laszlo clarified that she was only “trying to help police,” as the refugee had not obeyed orders.

"I pushed him only because I was afraid. I did not see that there was a child. I’m sorry that it turned out this way," she told the paper.

Laszlo says her life has never been the same since the incident. She has been dubbed a "heartless, racist, children-kicking camerawoman," fired from her job, and threated by haters following the scandal.

"I can definitely say that my life is ruined. It's unlikely that I will be able to find a job and do what I like the most," she told the paper.

The camerawoman said that at least 10 fake "Petra Laszlo" accounts containing improper contents have appeared on Facebook and some people have offered some $20,000 for her murder via these groups.

One such group still exists under the name "Petra Laszlo," which boasts more than 10,000 likes on Facebook.

Laszlo told Izvestia that she asked Facebook's management to delete these groups, but claims her letters and complaints to Facebook have been left unattended and that, instead, the social network has intentionally deleted groups supporting her.

She told the paper she plans to sue Facebook for its prejudice. According to the paper, she also wants to prove that the asylum seeker she tripped had been untruthful, because the man has changed his testimony in court. She said that he had initially blamed a police officer for the incident, but later began accusing her.

"Once the court is over, we're going to move to another country," said Petra Laszlo, mentioning Russia as a likely destination for immigration.

"We consider starting to learn Russian. It is important for us to leave Hungary. We'll make the decision once the trial is over," she said.



This 22-year-old is building a Go-Jek competitor exclusively for women

Oct 22, 2015

A few months ago, 22-year-old Brian Mulyadi wrapped up his college degree at Boston University and returned to his home country, Indonesia, with a business idea. Things have moved fast since then.

Brian launched a company called LadyJek – it’s an idea so absurd that I thought it was a joke when I first heard about it. Of course, Brian is serious.

LadyJek is a motorcycle ride-hailing service exclusive to women. If you’re female, you can order a motorcycle ride through the app, and the rider arriving to pick you up will also be female.

Yes, LadyJek is very similar to its bigger brothers, Go-Jek and GrabBike – both of which have become popular in Indonesia. Hitching a ride on the back of someone else’s motorcycle is a common form of transportation here. But for a bootstrapped startup to take it up with two well-established players sounds like an impossible battle. Or is it?

Brandishing pink logos, stylish striped jackets, and pink helmets, LadyJek thinks it can fill a gap the two other services aren’t addressing, which is to make motorcycle rides a viable option for women.


Motorcycle riding is men’s work

“I feel that there is [something women] haven’t found in current solutions,” Brian says. “They don’t have the feeling of security and comfort they expect.”

It goes for both riders and passengers. Female motorcycle riders may feel intrigued to participate in the opportunity to earn extra income by taking on passengers, but haven’t felt comfortable joining GrabBike or Go-Jek. Generally, motorcycle riding is considered men’s work. Female riders for these services have been spotted, but they are in a clear minority. Some have, probably unwillingly, turned into social media sensations – just google Gojek driver cewek (woman Gojek driver) to get an idea. Not every woman would feel comfortable with that.

On the passenger’s side, female passengers may want to hire a motorcycle ride because it’s fast and convenient, but haven’t considered it much so far, because hopping onto the back of another man’s bike is deemed inappropriate and dangerous.

LadyJek is thus not necessarily competing with Go-Jek and GrabBike, but trying to expand the market to include a group of potential riders and passengers who would have otherwise stayed away from it.

This, Brian says, is also a reason why he thinks it’s not too big a deal that LadyJek can’t keep up with the highly subsidised fares GrabBike and Go-Jek currently offer, as both compete fiercely for market leadership in the archipelago.

“We can not compete in price, but we can offer better customer service, and a secure environment for female riders and passengers,” Brian says.

Three registration offices in two weeks

It looks like he has a point. Ever since LadyJek’s launch two weeks ago, the fledgling company claims to have already signed up 1,500 female riders. The LadyJek team, which started with Brian as a single founder and his laptop, has grown to more than 40 people in a period of just a few weeks. The majority of those people handle LadyJek’s registration process for new riders, across three offices, one in West Jakarta and one each in adjacent satellite towns Bekasi and Tanggerang.

The number of rides booked is something Brian is keeping to himself for now. “We’re still observing,” he says. He does reveal  that the app counts 15,000 active users, which means users having downloaded the app and created an account, including those that tried to order.


So, while we can’t yet judge how interesting the offer is from the passenger’s point of view, there’s an obvious demand from female riders. 1,500 riders in two weeks is remarkable, considering it took Go-Jek several months to get to 2,500 riders. That’s the figure the company floated in June, about half-a-year after it launched its app.

The women’s interest may have been sparked by media reports about the decent money Go-Jek and GrabBike riders can earn. According to Go-Jek co-founder Michelangelo Moran, a rider’s income averages IDR 4 million [US$290] a month, but can be much higher. That women are excluded from this opportunity irked Brian. “LadyJek offers an equal opportunity for women to earn that extra income,” he says. “I didn’t know the response would be this big.”

A network of women on wheels

Go-Jek has recently expanded beyond personal transportation, and is now offering a range of services like logistics, shopping, and even ordering a masseuse or manicurist to the house.

LadyJek too is thinking of quick expansion across different service sectors. “We’re not going to launch another food delivery or courier service,” Brian assures. “We’ll focus on our strength – we’ll know exactly what women want, and turn those into services,” he explains. However, he’s not yet ready to reveal what they might be.

Curiously, LadyJek is not the only alternative two-wheel ride-hailing app to launch in recent weeks. There’s Blu-Jek, which seems to want to compete head-on with Go-Jek and GrabBike as a general motorcycle ride service, and Ojesy, a service that claims to be Sharia-compliant and targets muslim women. With competitors seeking to carve out their niche, has Nadiem Makarim, the co-founder and CEO of Go-Jek, tried to get in touch with the LadyJek team? “No, not as far as I know,” says Brian, chuckling.

Do you think LadyJak stands a chance at owning the niche of women riding motorcycles? Is that niche large enough to sustain a business?


Maryam Nawaz Thanks Obama, Michelle for Hospitality

October 22, 2015

WASHINGTON: Leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and daughter of incumbent Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz took to the social networking site Twitter and thanked President of United States Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their fabulous hospitality.

Maryam Nawaz, who is accompanying PM Nawaz and Begum Kulsoom Nawaz on a crucial visit to US, had also posted a picture of welcome letter received from Michelle Obama.

On the other hand, the Pakistani delegation would also surprise president Obama by presenting him his mother Ann Dunham’s pictures which were gathered from Interior Ministry.

Mrs Ann Dunham lived in Pakistan for five years during 1980s and served her duties at Asian Development Bank.

Apart from Maryam Nawaz, federal ministers including Nisar Ali Khan, Khawaja Asif and Prime Minister’s special advisers Tariq Fatemi and Sartaj Aziz are also in the delegation