Photo: Transport for London last month axed images of a four-year-old Muslim girl used in its £2million campaign for schools and nurseries (pictured)
The Palestinian Female Director Who Was Issued a Fatwa for Her First Film
This Book Is Changing the Way People Look at Muslim Women
Two women and a child Killed in Saudi-led airstrike in NW Yemen
Who Is Shayara Bano, the Triple Talaq Crusader
Is The Court Right To Annul This Marriage Between A Muslim Man And Hindu Woman?
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Girls As Young As Five Are Allowed To Wear Hijabs as Part of Approved Primary School Uniforms in UK
3 September 2017
Girls as young as five are allowed to wear hijabs as part of approved primary school uniforms, it has been revealed.
This is despite the fact a hijab is usually only worn by young women after puberty and in front of men for modesty reasons - not by primary school children.
Campaigners have said it should be 'fiercely resisted' and claimed it could 'sexualise' young children.
A survey by The Sunday Times found a fifth [18 per cent] of 800 primary schools, including Church of England primaries, now list the hijab in their uniform policy.
Across England's 17,000 primary schools the figure is likely to run into thousands.
In Birmingham 46 per cent of 72 primary schools whose websites were checked had the hijab in their written online uniform policy.
In Tower Hamlets 34 per cent of 68 primaries had an online headscarf policy and in Luton the figure was 36 per cent.
Campaigners have warned against the rising trend of young children wearing the hijab.
Gina Khan, a children's rights campaigner in Birmingham, told the newspaper: 'Schools are allowing it because they are afraid of being called Islamophobic and they have been told that this is a religious garment - but they need to support Muslim girls to have free choices, not to be set apart from other children.'
Amina Lone, a Muslim former Labour parliamentary candidate, said: 'In an Islamic context, the hijab is commonly understood as being for females after they reach the age of puberty. There are very few Muslims who would say a child should be covered.'
Shaista Gohir, of the Muslim Women's Network, has previously said making young children wear the headscarf was as bad as children having spray tans and pole dancing lessons.
Ms Gohir said the hijab was designed to discourage sexual advances from men and enforcing it on young children could 'sexualise' them.
'We challenge parents who spray tan or give pole dancing classes to seven-year-olds, so we should be challenging Muslim parents who make young children wear the hijab,' she said.
Ofsted, the schools watchdog, has said it is investigating whether there is evidence schools are facing external pressure to adapt their policies.
Last month Transport for London axed images of a four-year-old Muslim girl used in its £2million campaign for schools and nurseries after religious groups said they were 'sexualising four-year-olds'.
More than 65,000 'Little Londoners' joined TfL's young Traffic Club but its key cartoon character Razmi caused controversy because she always wears a headscarf.
Campaigner Aisha Ali-Khan said: 'If you are a Muslim girl and look at these images and see this girl is Muslim and she is wearing a hijab and you aren't, you will think there's something wrong with you. It is far too young. You are a child. What are you being modest for?'
The Palestinian Female Director Who Was Issued A Fatwa For Her First Film
3 September 2017
When 35-year-old Maysaloun Hamoud, a Palestinian director, said she wanted to "stir things up" with her movies - she achieved it.
Her first feature film, In Between, has resulted with her being issued with a fatwa (Islamic religious ruling), as well as death threats.
The movie, which is released in the UK this month, is about three young Arab women sharing an apartment in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
Away from the traditions of their families, they find themselves "in between" the free lives they're aspiring to lead and the restrictions still imposed on them.
"It's naive to say, 'no I didn't expect any comeback' when I wrote it," says Hamoud, "but I didn't know how big it would be.
Still from the film In BetweenImage copyrightYANIV BERMAN
Scenes in the film feature nightclubs, drug-taking and homosexuality
"I knew when I started to write these characters that it could not be passed by, but I did not expect the extent of the reaction."
Her characters are: Nour, who seems to be heading for a respectable marriage, but her fiance is exposed as a religious hypocrite; Salma, who dreams of being a DJ and is unable to tell her family she is gay; and Laila, a successful lawyer, who hopes for a partner who is as liberal and independent as her, and is disappointed.
The film is also set within the Palestinian underground scene (a group of young Palestinians living in Israel who are using music to forge a new cultural identity for themselves) and features an electronic soundtrack from local DJs.
With scenes featuring nightclubs, drug-taking and homosexuality, the director admits that "characters like this haven't appeared in Palestinian cinema before," adding that while initially frightened by the level of violence threatened against her and her actresses from ultra conservatives, she stands by her film.
"I wanted to take provocative action, we need to shake things up and see different things on screen. If we keep making things that people think they want to see then it's not art, it's not cinema.
"I think I have a job to develop my society and that means changing reality. The essence of an artist is to bring change."
Maysaloun Hamoud has the name of her film in English and Arabic tattooed on her arm
Hamoud was born to Palestinian parents in Budapest in Hungary, but is now a resident of Jaffa in Israel. Her first short film, Sense of Morning, was set in the Beirut war of 1982, but believes In Between "is every bit as much a political film".
'Ashamed of it'
That would appear to be borne out by the reaction, particularly in the conservative Arab town of Umm-al-Fahm in northern Israel, where one of the characters, Nour, comes from. According to Hamoud, it was the mayor here who first declared her film "haram", or forbidden.
"Palestine has a young cinema and there are not a lot of genres here yet," she explains. "I think there was actually a lot of confusion here when the film first appeared as to whether it was a documentary or a fiction film.
"I think some people watching it actually thought it was real life, and this is when the local leaders said they were ashamed of it, and started to go against the movie, and started talking about closing the cinemas down where it was playing.
"So my film was declared "haram", the fatwa issued, and we started getting death threats. There was a very violent atmosphere for a couple of weeks that was pretty scary.
"But you know, there is no such thing as bad publicity," she adds. "More people started coming to see the film to see what all the fuss was about, and it ended up playing at cinemas for months. I've had great reaction from both men and women."
Sana Jammalieh, who plays Salma, is Palestine's first female DJImage copyrightYANIV BERMAN
Sana Jammalieh, who plays Salma, is Palestine's first female DJ
In Between has since been nominated for 12 Ophir Awards - Israel's version of the Oscars, while Hamoud was given the best young talent award by the Women in Motion movement at the Cannes Film Festival this year, with Isabelle Huppert calling the three women characters of the film "heroines of our time."
Maysaloun Hamoud says that while the three women she wrote weren't necessarily representative of her or her own friends, "they do represent the things that we have never talked about in our society before.
"All three characters represent huge amounts of invisible women, women who have never had their voices raised before in cinema from this part of the world. Finally, the film has made people talk about it and I'm glad."
In Between is released in the UK on 22 September 2017.
This Book Is Changing the Way People Look At Muslim Women
September 3, 2017
The author says, many people have reached out to her to say that the book was "transformative in terms of their understanding of Muslims/Islam."
When Randa Abdel-Fattah wrote the first draft of Does My Head Look Big in This? (Scholastic; `350), she was still a teenager, and the times were tumultuous. "I was 'coming of age' during the first Gulf War, at a time when suddenly being Muslim and Arab was no longer an identity description but now an accusation," she says. As a young Australian Muslim of Palestinian and Egyptian parentage, she found the sudden change to be quite jarring.
She adds, "Not only was I dealing with the demonisation in the media and political discourse of my Muslim and Arab heritage, but I was also dealing with gendered stereotypes which reduced Muslim women to oppressed and passive victims of faith and culture. That made me want to speak back, and for me writing has always been craft and activism. I returned to the manuscript post 9/11, and I realised that the story was even more urgent. So, I rewrote the first draft."
Also Read: This exhibition will give you an insight into the history of Egyptian political unrest
The draft eventually became what is now today Does My Head Look Big in This?. It tells the story of a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl (Amal) who decides to wear the hijab permanently. Like many authors, the characters and events in Abdel-Fattah's book takes inspiration from her own life as well. But that doesn't tone down its universality. In fact, the author says, many people have reached out to her to say that the book was "transformative in terms of their understanding of Muslims/Islam."
Two women and a child Killed in Saudi-led airstrike in NW Yemen
Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-03
SANAA, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Two women and a child were killed and six others wounded when a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a family's home in Yemen's northwestern province of Hajjah early on Sunday, a local security official said.
The targeted house in Washahah district is few meters away from a security checkpoint run by Shiite Houthi rebels.
This is the latest airstrike targeting civilians in the war-torn Arab country.
Last week, the coalition fighter jets hit three houses in Faj Attan quarter in the capital Sanaa, killing 14 people, including six children.
In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict to back internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against Iranian-backed Houthis, who invaded the capital Sanaa militarily and seized most of the country's northern provinces.
More than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the war that also displaced over 3 million, according to UN agencies.
The country has also been hit by a deadly cholera outbreak and is on the edge of famine.
Who is Shayara Bano, the triple talaq crusader
SEPTEMBER 02, 2017
Shayara Bano, a 35-year-old woman from Uttarakhand, emerged as the defining persona in the legal battle against the patriarchal custom.
The fight against triple talaq, though supported by a number of women’s rights activists and constant media attention, was led by the victims themselves.
Shayara Bano, a 35-year-old woman from Uttarakhand, emerged as the defining persona in the legal battle against the patriarchal custom that, though not as commonly followed, was judged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court recently.
Why this fight?
Ms. Bano was the original petitioner in the case after she approached the court in 2016 demanding that the talaq-e-biddat pronounced by her husband be declared as void. She also contended that such unilateral, abrupt and irrevocable form of divorce be declared unconstitutional, arguing that the practice of triple talaq violated the fundamental rights of Muslim women.
“Since my student life, I didn’t like the anti-women social traditions like triple talaq and halala. But when it happened to me... it [the dislike] grew. Normally, these things do not happen, but when it hits you, you realise how bad this practice really is,” says Ms. Bano
What happened to her?
Her battle against triple talaq was spurred by her own experience. She was a victim of the custom. Married in April 2001 to the Allahabad-based property dealer Rizwan Ahmed, she endured domestic violence and physical torture at the hands of her husband and in-laws, who allegedly demanded additional dowry and a car from her parents. Her father, a low-earning government employee, had made special efforts to arrange her marriage beyond his capacity.
As per her claim, she was often beaten and kept hungry in a closed room for days. The final cut came in October 2015, when her husband sent her a divorce note by speed post. The letter contained a pronouncement of instant triple talaq. The custody of her two children, 11 and 13, was kept by the husband. When something “so wrong” happened, she thought that there must be a law to prevent this.
Did she face challenges?
It was never going to be easy for Ms. Bano and the other women to garner support from the community as they were seen challenging the male dominance of Shariat laws, and was suspected by a section of anti-BJP groups and male Muslim intelligentsia of playing into the saffron party’s strategy to communalise the discourse ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Ms. Bano says she faced several challenges during the course of her fight. The biggest came in the form of mental harassment. A member of the AIMPLB asked her to withdraw her case, saying she was going against Islam.
Did she think of quitting?
Though she felt discouraged, the thought of giving up the fight didn’t occur to her even once. Ms. Bano is thankful to the women activists who supported the cause, her lawyers and the media for highlighting her experience. However, the biggest source of support came from her family, especially her father and brother.
Her legal battle received more coverage after other victims of triple talaq also approached the court, though she was the first petitioner.
Ms. Bano, who completed her M.A. before marriage, is now pursuing an MBA, for which she regularly attends classes. She hopes to get employed some day.
What does it mean to women?
Described as historic, women activists believe it is a step forward in the empowerment of Muslim women in India.
Ms. Bano says that though the ruling will be beneficial to Muslim women and help them avail themselves of maintenance, the real change will come only when a law is enacted making arbitrary talaq illegal.
Ms. Bano says her fight is against the social customs that give men power to abandon women on a whim, sometimes through a flimsy text message or a phone call. Women who received triple talaq lived worse than dogs and without maintenance, she points out.
She has appealed to the BJP government not to take undue credit for the decision or politicise it. “It was a social fight, not a political one. It should not be made into a political agenda,” Ms. Bano insists.
Is The Court Right To Annul This Marriage Between A Muslim Man And Hindu Woman?
02 SEP 2017
The Supreme Court has ordered the India’s National Investigation Agency to probe the marriage between Akhila Ashokan and Shafin Jahan that was annulled by the Kerala high court in May before they make the final verdict. This move has shocked many activists because initially, the court had ruled against honor killings and other customs that do not allow women to exercise their right of choice, hence supporting the Indian woman's rights. Is the Court Right to Annul This Marriage Between a Muslim Man and Hindu Woman? TWEET THIS This marriage, which is now seen as a “love jihad” started when 24-year-old Indian woman, Akhila, who prefers the name Hadiya, fell in love with a Muslim man Shafin in 2016 and got married in December under the Muslim laws. Hadiya was studying medicine in Coimbatore in Tamil Nau, and she had already converted to Islam. There were many objections from their parents about the difference in their religious background, but they held on to their love affair. The marriage forced her father to go to Kerala high court so that he could have his daughter returned to his custody. The Kerala court annulled the marriage in May and forcibly sent Hadiya back to her parents’ home in Kottayam. It was said that Hadiya was ‘weak and vulnerable,’ she was capable of being exploited in many ways and the marriage which was an important decision in her life had to be done with her parent’s active involvement. Shafin’s lawyer tried to plead with the court to allow Hadiya to ascertain her facts but the court refused. Since then, she has no contact with anyone outside the home, has no internet or phone access, and the police always guards the home. A police officer is quoted saying that this has made Hadiya depressed. In a recent video clip taken by a social activist, she asks her mother, "Is this how I should live? Is this my life?” Jahan went to the Supreme Court to petition the validity of the ruling made by the Kerala court to annul their marriage, and he said that the order was an “insult to the independence of women in India as it completely takes away their right to think for themselves.” On August 16, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled at NIA should investigate whether Hadiya freely converted to Muslim or it was part of a “love jihad,” a term used to allege Hindu women are being forced into marriage by Muslim men. The Supreme Court is waiting for the NIA to submit its report before setting a date for the next case hearing. Meanwhile, Hadiya’s parents have now accepted their daughter can practice any religion she wants, although they don’t want her to leave them.
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