Zamzam Ibrahim studied at Salford and lived in Bolton because a maintenance loan would not cover her living costs. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian
Muslim Women ‘Sterilised’ In China Detention Camps, Say Former Detainees
Kazakhstan Welcomes Women Back From the Islamic State, Warily
New NUS President, Zamzam Ibrahim: I Will Always Be Racially Profiled
Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau
Hajj: Nigerian Woman Dies In Attempt To 'Stone The Devil' In Mecca
AUG 13, 2019
The number of Nigerian pilgrims that died while performing the 2019 Hajj in Saudi Arabia has risen to nine, the Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria(NAHCON), Dr. Ibrahim Kana, has announced.
Kana made the announcement in Muna while briefing journalists on activities of the medical team of NAHCON for the pilgrims.
”The deceased, a Lagos State pilgrim, collapsed at Jamrat and brought to the hospital in Muna but died. She was hypertensive,” Kana said.
Speaking with News Agency of Nigeria in Muna, the Lagos State Amir Hajj, Alhaji AbdulLateef Abdulkarim, identified the deceased as Alhaja Folashade Lawal.
According to him, the late Lawal hailed from Oshodi Local Government Area of the state, adding that she slumped at 3 am while heading to Jamrat to throw a stone at the devil.
Throwing stone at the three devils is one of the Islamic rites towards acceptable hajj.
The chairman of the team said that the commission opened 21 field offices in Muna with adequate drugs and ambulances.
Pilgrims who spent three days to accomplish religious rites in Muna were expected to move to the Grand Mosque, Makkah on Tuesday to complete the remaining rites to ensure an acceptable hajj.
According to sources from NAHCON, Aug. 17 has been fixed as the kick-off for the flight of Nigerian pilgrims back home.
Muslim women ‘sterilised’ in China detention camps, say former detainees
Uighur Muslim women are being sterilised at internment camps for ethnic and religious minorities in China, according to former detainees.
“They injected us from time to time,” claimed Gulbahar Jalilova, who was held for more than a year in government “re-education centres” in the far-west Xinjiang region.
“We had to stick our arms out through a small opening in the door,” the 54-year-old told France24. ”We soon realised that after our injections that we didn’t get our periods any more.”
Most of her time was spent with up to 50 people packed into a cell measuring just 10ft by 20ft. “It’s like we were just piece of meat,” she added.
A similar account was given by 30-year-old Mehrigul Tursun during a video call to an Amnesty International event in Tokyo, as reported by the Nikkei Asian Review.
Ms Tursun, who now lives in exile in the US, told of being given unknown drugs and injections while detained at an internment camp in 2017.
She said she felt “tired for about a week, lost my memories and felt depressed” and was released four months later after being diagnosed as being mentally ill.
Doctors in the US later told her that she had been sterilised, she said
Up to one million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities have been arbitrarily detained in internment camps, according the UN and human rights groups.
Researchers have claimed the facilities are being run like “wartime concentration camps” as part of a “systematic campaign of social re-engineering and cultural genocide”.
The Chinese government however has described them as “boarding schools” offering vocational training and rejected allegations of torture and other abuses as “fake news”.
Former detainees have previously told of torture, beatings and electrocution as well as being forced to eat pork, attend political re-education lessons and sing political songs.
The global outcry over China’s treatment of minority groups has had little effect, however. Last week it was reported that China is building even more secret camps.
Kazakhstan Welcomes Women Back From the Islamic State, Warily
By Andrew E. Kramer
Aug. 10, 2019
AKTAU, Kazakhstan — The young woman said she thought she was going on vacation in Turkey, but instead found herself in Syria, tricked, she said, by her husband, who joined the Islamic State. She herself, she said, never subscribed to ISIS teaching.
But back in Kazakhstan, government psychologists are taking no chances. They have heard that story before. They have enrolled the young woman, Aida Sarina — and scores of others who were once residents of the Islamic State — in a program to treat Islamist extremism.
“They want to know if we are dangerous,” said Ms. Sarina, who is 25 and has a young son.
Unlike virtually every Western country and most of the rest of the world, Kazakhstan is welcoming home women like Ms. Sarina — albeit warily and despite the lack of proof that deradicalization programs work — rather than arresting them if they dare show up.
Men are allowed back, too, in Kazakhstan, though they face immediate arrest and the prospect of a 10-year prison term. Only a few have taken up the offer.
At the treatment site, the Rehabilitation Center of Good Intentions, the women are provided nannies to look after their children, fed hot meals and treated by doctors and psychologists, testing the soft-touch approach to people affiliated with a terrorist group.
For Ms. Sarina, it is a far cry from her previous life in a fetid refugee camp in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria, a human refuse heap of thousands of former Islamic State residents despised by most of the world.
Having somebody now ask how she felt was amazing, she said. “It was like your mother forgot to pick you up from kindergarten, but then remembered and came back for you,” she said.
Rather than treating the women as criminals, the professionals at the rehabilitation center encourage the women to talk about their experiences.
“We teach them to listen to the negative feelings inside,” Lyazzat Nadirshina, one psychologist, said of the method. “Why is that negative feeling bubbling up?’” she said she asks her patients. “Most often, it is the feeling of a little girl angry at her mother.”
Set up in January to quickly process scores of women whose radical ideas might only ossify if they were thrown in prison for long spells, the center’s services are not so much for the benefit of the women as the society they will soon rejoin, organizers say.
The Islamic State recruited more than 40,000 foreign fighters and their families from 80 countries over its quick arc from expansion to collapse, from 2014 until this year. American-backed Kurdish militias in Syria still hold at least 13,000 foreign ISIS followers in overflowing camps, including at least 13 Americans.
American diplomats have been pressuring countries to repatriate their citizens, though with not much success.
“Governments are not big fans of experimenting with this group because the risks are too high,” said Liesbeth van der Heide, an expert on Islamic radicalization at the International Center for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague.
What’s more, she said, studies of deradicalization programs going back decades have failed to show clear benefits.
Governments have tried it on neo-Nazis, members of the Red Brigades and IRA militants, among others, with mixed results. “Does it really matter if you go through a rehab program?” she said. “We don’t know.”
Yekaterina Sokirianskaya, the director of the Conflict Analysis and Prevention Center, said deradicalization programs offer no guarantees but are an alternative to indefinite incarceration or capital punishment.
Western governments show little sympathy. Female suicide bombers are hardly a rarity. Britain and Australia have revoked the citizenship of nationals who joined the Islamic State. France allows its citizens be tried in Iraqi courts, where hundreds of people have been sentenced to death in trials that last just a few minutes.
Kazakhstan has sought a larger role in international diplomacy with a variety of initiatives to solve global problems, including once offering to dispose of other countries’ nuclear waste on its territory. And to date, it is the only country with a large contingent of citizens in Syria to agree to repatriate all of them — a total of 548, so far.
The program lasts about a month. The women meet individually and in small groups with psychologists. They undergo art therapy and watch plays put on by local actors that teach morality lessons on the pitfalls of radicalization.
“It’s a success when they accept guilt, when they promise to relate to nonbelievers with respect and when they promise to continue studying,” said Alim Shaumetov, the director of a nongovernmental group that helped design the curriculum.
“We don’t offer 100 percent guarantees,” he added. “If we manage to achieve 80 percent success, that is still success.”
The everyday horror of life in the Islamic State soured some women on radicalism, Ms. Nadirshina, the psychologist, said. The very insecurity of their lives in recent years and months can be put to use in the deradicalization process, she said, by offering the women a safe and secure environment.
Conversely, she said, any threat from the government during this delicate period, like stern interrogations by police, would work at cross-purposes. The male soldiers on guard, for example, are under strict orders not to intimidate the women.
Still, most analysts of radicalism reject the view of ISIS brides as merely browbeaten young women under the thumb of terrorist husbands. Some fought, while others at the least nurtured their zealot spouses. Handling the women has become a puzzle as they lie on a scale someplace between victims and perpetrators.
Ms. Sarina said she was cured. She said that soon after they arrived in Syria, her husband died and she vanished into a so-called house of widows in Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State. Fighters regularly stopped by to pick out new brides, she said, but Ms. Sarina did not remarry.
As the fighting intensified, the ISIS official in charge of evacuating widows instead abandoned them in the desert, she said. They survived by eating grass. Some children froze to death on cold nights.
Now, Ms. Sarina said she was a mentor for other returning women in Kazakhstan, telling them ISIS failed to protect them so they should now trust the government. “I want the world to know it’s wholly realistic to rehabilitate us,” she said.
Still, Kenshilik Tyshkhan, a professor of religion who tries to persuade women in the program to adopt a moderate form of Islam, said in an interview that some women “express these ideas that a nonbeliever can be killed.” And many show little remorse, he said.
“Everybody has a right to make a mistake,” Gulpari Farziyeva, 31, said of her journey to Syria, and marriages over six years to a succession of Islamic State militants. Even three weeks into treatment, she seemed remarkably untroubled by the militant group’s ways.
One day in Syria, she recalled, she was host at a dinner party at her apartment. While cooking dumplings and baking a cake, she dashed out to the market for a tablecloth she had forgotten to buy on an earlier trip.
At the market she saw a ghoulish scene, “five or six headless bodies,” on the ground along with “a lot of blood.” A public execution had taken place between her two trips. She averted her eyes, she said.
Nonetheless, she said, she bought the tablecloth and said the dinner party went swimmingly, with all the guests having a good time.
At another point, Ms. Farziyeva said, a militant living across the street was presented with an enslaved Yazidi concubine as a gift. “I was sorry for her,” she said. “She was a woman, too.” But as a non-Muslim, she said, the woman could not be taken in as a wife, with such rights as that entailed.
In the end though, Ms. Farziyeva expressed repentance. “I haven’t met any sister with some ideology left inside her,” she said. “We understand we were wrong.”
New NUS President, Zamzam Ibrahim: I Will Always Be Racially Profiled
Sun 11 Aug 2019
The new president of the National Union of Students (NUS) has called for the government’s Prevent anti-radicalisation strategy to be scrapped and has urged universities to do more to tackle the black attainment gap and racism on campus.
In her first interview since taking up office last month, Zamzam Ibrahim said she had seen the impact of Prevent in universities first-hand, with events being cancelled and students being referred because of membership of the Palestinian or Islamic societies.
She said her overarching aim as NUS president was to campaign for a fully funded, fully accessible education system that is seen as a public and social good. “That’s not an education system that includes surveillance of a particular minority group,” she said.
Ibrahim, who was previously president of the students’ union at the University of Salford, was elected at NUS annual conference in Glasgow in April and took up office last month. “I’ve dealt with many cases of Prevent when I was president of my students’ union and when I came into NUS.
“There were one too many cases where they were referred because they were a member of a society. It’s usually the Palestine society, or the Islamic society, and I think that’s a clear route of allowing discrimination in our education system.”
The government has agreed to an independent review of Prevent, in response to widespread concern that it fosters discrimination against people of Muslim faith or background and inhibits legitimate expression. “The Prevent agenda does not need a review,” said Ibrahim, “it needs to be scrapped”.
Ibrahim, who was born in Sweden and is the daughter of Somali refugees who fled civil war, has previously spoken out against the media for portraying her as a “fanatical Muslim and a threat to British society” on the basis of comments she wrote on social media as a 16-year-old.
In one she joked that if she was president she’d oppress white people “to give them a taste of what they put us through”. In another she said everyone should read the Qur’an. The backlash was devastating. “I suddenly felt unsafe in my own campus, in my own space,” she said.
Ibrahim, who came to the UK at the age of 10 and was brought up in Bolton, said her adolescent comments were twisted to make them seem more sinister than they were ever intended to be, and in no way represented her views today.
She said: “It was something that was blown out of proportion. I think people know and understand I’m a completely different person from the 16-year-old child that I was, who had no political training and no political education at all at that time.”
Ibrahim said her experience was common among young people from Muslim backgrounds or people of colour who dared to step into the public sphere. “To me, what’s been the most upsetting thing is to see young people who would be incredible in these roles to not even think of running because of the backlash that I faced. If it had been any of my white peers or colleagues they would never have experienced that.”
Ibrahim said she worried about putting herself forward as a candidate to lead the NUS after witnessing the experience of Malia Bouattia, the first Muslim NUS president, who was subjected to Islamophobic attacks and hate-filled trolling on social media during her tenure.
She said: “When I was thinking about running, it was the biggest factor that was putting me off – the backlash and the vilification and all the horrors that would come with it.
“But at the same time I recognise it’s not something I should be afraid to do and I want to be able to encourage young people – especially young girls that look like myself – to be able to come into these spaces and make decisions for the institutions they represent and be unapologetic for who they are.”
Meanwhile, the Islamophobia directed at young women like Ibrahim continues. On Wednesday, she tweeted: “It doesn’t matter how frequent it happens, what the context is, where it happens or who the perpetrators are, I will always be racially profiled and discriminated against. Who you are, what you’ve achieved and what you do will never matter.”
Ibrahim takes over the leadership of the NUS at a difficult time for the union, which has has been forced to undergo a radical overhaul because of a £3m deficit. It has been slashing staff numbers, cutting officer roles and selling off its London headquarters in Gray’s Inn Road in order to avoid financial collapse.
The union’s considerably more modest new home is in a corner of Hackney community college. Despite the scaled-down nature of the organisation, Ibrahim is enthusiastic about campaigning for a fully funded education system that is accessible to all.
She said: “I want to change the narrative of the way we talk about education and for people to understand education is for the public good. I’ve been in the sector for years and seen the mess that it has got into, and the mess it’s heading towards. Free education is not about me. I’ve got my degree. It’s about future generations that are going to come after me.”
• This article was amended on 12 August 2019 because Zamzam Ibrahim was previously president of the students’ union at the University of Salford, not at the University of Bradford as an earlier version said. This has been corrected.
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