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Hijab Is As Modern As Any Other Attire, Says Woman Who Was Denied Job over Hijab

New Age Islam News Bureau

25 Nov 2017

Maimona Afzal Berta is photographed in her classroom at Fischer Middle School in San Jose, California, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. Berta says there have been about 15 anti-Muslim incidents at Fischer this year. Berta and the Alum Rock Educators Association have filed a formal complaint against the school district. (Gary Reyes/ Bay Area News Group)



 Bill Banning Triple Talaq Would Free Muslim Women: Shiv Sena

 Muslim Teacher Wearing Head Scarf in San Jose Repeatedly Bullied By Students

 Pakistani Men Pledge To Make Their Districts ‘Violence-Free Zones’ For Women

 OIC Calls On Member States to Address Violence against Women

 Iran: Women Actively Partake In Protest in Kerman

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Hijab Is As Modern As Any Other Attire, Says Woman Who Was Denied Job over Hijab

Published at: Nov 25, 2017

New Delhi, Nov 24: A 27-year-old Muslim woman, who holds a Masters degree from the prestigious TISS, has been rejected for a job at an orphanage in South Delhi due to her ‘Hijab’ that “‘will make her look like a Muslim from even a distance of a kilometre”.

As if the several incidents around the world involving Islamophobia weren’t enough, in this latest episode back home in the national capital, the recruiter at the orphanage in Kotla Mubarakpur also told Nedal Zoya that he was “shocked to know that conservative Islam is your priority, not humanity” and that her “higher education has gone down the drain”.

The recruiter, who goes by the name of Verma, told her in an email that the orphanage’s premises are “religion-free” and her head-scarf “will make her look like a Muslim from even a distance of a kilometre”.

Zoya, a postgraduate of Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai and an alumnus of Jamia Millia Islamia, had recently applied for a job at the orphanage and came to know about the rejection via the mail.

Verma wrote: “You are highly sensitive, intelligent, educated and experienced lady. My English is not up to your level that is the reason I am searching for an excellent writer, Please do not mind my words and just go through the message I want to convey.”

Zoya replied to the mail, saying “she is a Muslim woman who covers her head and that it was a “priority” for her. To this, Verma replied: “I was shocked to know that conservative Islam is your priority, not humanity.” “Your higher education has gone down the drain,” he added, in a clearly unprofessional tone.

Verma went on to mention in the mail that he has “finalized a Muslim girl (MSW from Delhi University) and that girl has more modern thoughts despite the fact that she hails from Batla House, New Delhi.”

Speaking to, Zoya, who was born and brought up in Patna, Bihar and is now settled in New Delhi, said such rejections based on religious identity, notwithstanding the educational qualifications are discrimination of a different kind and people need to highlight such issues.

“I don’t consider myself as a victim nor do I want to attack anyone’s reputation here but my aim is to raise and create awareness (about such incidents), so that in future other women like me would not face a similar discrimination because of their choice of attire and a particular identity. We are living in a multicultural state, and our constitution has guaranteed us certain fundamental rights included the right to practice one’s religion,” she said.

This was not the first time Zoya was rejected for a job due to her hijab. She had faced similar discrimination when she applied for a job in a reputed private school in Patna where the school management asked her to join only if she agrees to remove her hijab.

Zoya had turned down the offer.

“During my school and college days, I used to read about incidents of discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed, and sex. But in reality, I never faced any of it until I started applying for jobs. I started wearing hijab in 2014 and I strongly believe that it is as modern as any other attire. If women are allowed to wear jeans and they are being considered as liberal for following the dress code of their own choice, then why is one seen as regressive to wear a head scarf,” she wondered. (Courtesy: Muslim Mirror)



Bill Banning Triple Talaq Would Free Muslim Women: Shiv Sena

November 24, 2017

The Shiv Sena on Friday said if the government decided to introduce a legislation for a ban on triple Talaq it would permanently free Muslim women, reports news agency PTI.

The demand comes at a time when the Centre is mulling bringing in a legislation in the Winter Session of Parliament to put an end to instantaneous triple talaq which is still in practice despite the Supreme Court striking it down.

A ministerial committee has been set up to propose a suitable legislation or amend the existing penal provisions, which would make instantaneous triple talaq an offence.

“It would a good step if the Union government introduces a bill on triple talaq as it would permanently free Muslim women. The tradition should be banned completely and its exercise should be considered as a crime,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.

“Earlier, the voice of Shah Bano was suppressed. But through the case of Shayara Bano, it would be the dawn of Muslim women’s freedom,” the party claimed.

In the editorial, the party took potshots at its senior partner by raising its long-standing promises of constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya, implementing uniform civil code and repealing Article 370 which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“The way the Union government is following directives of the Supreme Court on triple talaq, it should do the same with the Uniform Civil Code. The Supreme Court had given directives to the Centre thrice over the UCC but still the government did not take any steps for it,” the party claimed.

“The issue of Article 370 can be solved but it is always opposed by Kashmiri leaders,” it said.

“And for Ram temple, the BJP has sufficient political power at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh. If the government takes it seriously, it can complete the promises it made to the people,” the party added.



Muslim teacher wearing head scarf in San Jose repeatedly bullied by students

Nov 25, 2017

SAN JOSE: Eagerly anticipating her English students delving into “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Maimona Afzal Berta arrived early to school September 11. Her classroom walls at Fischer Middle School depicted a London skyline; soon the room would also include the famous Platform 9¾, a Hogwarts sorting hat and hanging replicas of floating lanterns.

But on walking up she was stunned by a hateful reality. Anti-Muslim slurs and obscenities were scrawled on her classroom’s windows and door. Spray-painted graffiti also defaced other rooms and rooftop air-conditioning units at the San Jose campus.

“It was devastating,” the special-education teacher said. “I felt completely targeted, and not even safe in a place I consider home.”

The attacks came after multiple instances of harassment during the spring semester, aimed at her, a classroom aide and an after-school supervisor, all women who wear a hijab, the Muslim headscarf. By Berta’s count, there have been 15 incidents from January to November.  The other two women could not be reached for comment.

The district reported the graffiti and another later harassment incident to police. Some students have been disciplined, but no suspects have been arrested for the graffiti. Fischer does not have surveillance cameras.

“At the Alum Rock Union School District, we will never tolerate any behaviour that makes either our students or team members feel marginalised,” Superintendent Hilaria Bauer wrote Monday in a statement. She and other officials have expressed sympathy for Berta and outrage at the harassment.

The unceasing bullying reflects the challenge facing campuses, even those run by well-meaning adults. Fischer’s walls feature images and quotes from a panoply of civil-rights leaders, from Filipino founders of the United Farm Workers Union, to Pakistani girls’ advocate Malala Yousafzai to author and activist Maya Angelou. Administrators have spent hours investigating, counselling and discussing standards of behaviour.

Yet Berta, who grew up in East San Jose, now feels so insecure that her husband, also a Fischer teacher, must escort her to class every morning.

Throughout the country, harassment of Muslims, South Asians and Middle Easterners reportedly has been on the rise since the nation’s presidential campaign. Educators and civil rights-advocates say young people take their cue from a president who has been quick to deride critics, ridicule opponents and blame Muslims and immigrants.

Berta, 23, has taught for five years — she graduated from college at age 18 — but the harassment didn’t start until January. The White House example “creates a lot of chaos that is unnecessary,” said Fischer Principal Imee Almazan, “when you have a leader of the country who is saying what he is saying.”

Students have kicked Berta’s classroom door and yelled “shoot her,” labelled her a terrorist, accused her of working with ISIS and shouted to others that she was going to “kill us all.”  Almazan said that two other victims, who no longer work at Fischer, confirmed they also had been bullied but had not reported it at the time.

In response, Fischer has held assemblies on bullying, workshops on stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslims, and exercises in character-building. The school plans to train teachers next week in an interactive curriculum offered by the Islamic Network Group.

But the school also has lagged in responding to incidents.

Berta was incensed that after an October 2 incident — when she heard banging on her door and windows and someone yelled “shoot her” — one student was given lunch detention, then 10 days later another was suspended for two days. The incident was reported to police and the vice principal spent more than a day investigating, Almazan said.

“Students will get lunch detention for wearing coloured shirts or not wearing their lanyard,” Berta said. “To put saying ‘shoot her’ in the same category as a dress code violation didn’t make any sense to me.”

As for the delay in dealing with harassers, Almazan said investigation takes time. After the spring incidents, the staff decided to craft some lesson plans to promote tolerance, but had to hold off because of state testing. In October, some response lagged because top Alum Rock district administrators were attending a labour-negotiations training in Massachusetts.

But delayed response is not considered best practice in dealing with bullying.

“If a kid doesn’t get pulled out immediately for egregious behaviour, word gets out fast,” said Randy Barber, a Fischer music teacher and union representative.

He blames large class sizes, up to 37 students in some cases, that allows behaviour to get out of hand. “You literally don’t have a ratio of enough grownups to kids to keep a steady handle” on campus, Barber said.

Almazan said she’s been working on improving school culture. But that, she said, takes time.

Establishing a norm that doesn’t tolerate harassment is key, said Anne Ehresman, executive director of Project Cornerstone, a YMCA programme that helps support students to live healthily and behave responsibly. With effective training, kids reinforce the culture and don’t remain bystanders to bullying.

This month, a student across the quad repeatedly gestured as if he were shooting a gun at Berta. In response, the district transferred him to another school and notified police, but somehow any follow-up fell through.

Berta has filed a grievance and a formal complaint against the district.

“I’m tired of the lip service. You can’t keep telling people that you care and want to stop hate,” Berta said, “and yet you don’t follow through with actions.”

She has turned down district offers to transfer her to another school.

“That’s not solving the problem,” she said. “I feel personally responsible so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else. No one should have to experience this. It’s been terrible to go through, the level of anxiety I get walking onto campus.”



Pakistani men pledge to make their districts ‘violence-free zones’ for women

Nov 25, 2017

ISLAMABAD: In a mobilisation event organised by White Ribbon Pakistan in Islamabad, men and young boys belonging to more than 70 districts of Pakistan, pledged to make their districts ‘violence-free zones’ for women and minor girls.

The event was organised by White Ribbon Pakistan in collaboration with United Nations (UN) Women Pakistan, National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR).

During the unique event, thousands of men and boys from across the country poured out into the streets in solidarity with the opposite gender and called for an end to crimes against women and girls.

Congregating outside local press clubs in their respective areas, male participants vowed to “leave no woman or girl behind” by prioritising their dignity and calling for their protection against violence.

Talking at the main event, White Ribbon CEO Omer Aftab said, “Violence against women is a global phenomenon that affects 1 in 3 women, and Pakistan is no exception. As the world observes November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, this day also marks the start of the ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence’ lasting until Human Rights Day on December10.

He further said that, “In collaboration with MoHR, NCSW and UN-Women, the campaign has been launched in 70 districts across the country. Additionally, we have mobilised 14 District Commision on the Status of Women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, nine divisional commissioners in Punjab, as well as 70 colleges. We have also engaged more than 300 corporate organisations to support our cause.”

Speaking on the occasion, NCSW Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said that, “Violence affected the lives of women across all classes and regions of Pakistan. We need to get rid of this scourge and expel it from our society for good. This can be made possible if women and men collectively pledge to do so and commit to the ideals of equality and dignity.”

Addressing participants, MoHR Secretary Rabiya Javeri Agha said, “Pakistan has a strong legislative framework for the protection and enforcement of human rights. Despite many government initiatives, forces of patriarchy continue to hamper efforts for inclusion of women in different walks of life. We cannot leave it to women to fight their battles alone. Men must come forward as agents of change. A society of open-minded and enlightened men is essential to ensure the promotion of human rights and the protection of women along with other vulnerable groups in our country”

UN Women Pakistan Deputy Representative Sangeeta Thapa said, “We want to see elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls so that they are not discriminated against, and are able to live a life of dignity and respect, without the fear of violence. UN Women acknowledges the important role held by Pakistani men in taking a unified stand against violence against women and minor girls.”

The day concluded with a firm commitment by male parliamentarians, ministers, and notable personalities from the civil society and media organisations. The participants unanimously rejected violence against women in all its forms, and reaffirmed their resolve to take personal action to strengthen the government mechanisms to address discrimination/violence against women with greater involvement of all stakeholders.



OIC Calls On Member States to Address Violence Against Women

24 November 2017

RIYADH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has taken up the cause for women on the occasion of the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women” on Nov. 25.

OIC Secretary-General Yusuf A. Al-Othaimeen said the occasion constitutes an opportunity to evaluate the achievements and obligations toward eliminating violence against women in all its forms.

In a statement, he called on OIC member states to address violence against women since this is not in accordance with the principles of Islam, adding that member states should adhere to relevant international conventions.

He added: “OIC organizations and institutions should also support workers in this field in member states and build the capacities of religious scholars to play an effective role in the elimination of violence against women.”

Al-Othaimeen pointed out that OIC’s efforts “aim at the advancement and empowerment of women, especially those living under occupation and in situations of armed conflicts.”

He added that the OIC focuses on efforts toward the elimination of all forms of violence against women and the protection of their rights, poverty eradication, promotion and women participation in decision making.

Through historic royal decrees, women members on the Shoura Council are among those who advise to King Salman on policies and legislation.

Plans are also afoot for the Kingdom to empower women scholars to play a greater role in the Islamic ruling process, with the Shoura Council planning to authorize them to issue fatwas and pave the way for them to contribute to Islamic research rulings.

Al-Othaimeen also stressed the need for OIC member states to develop comprehensive plans to overcome the challenges and difficulties facing women in achieving sustainable development

He added that this is within the framework of partnership between women and men in the process of building and achieving the well-being of society.



Iran: Women Actively Partake In Protest In Kerman

24 November 2017

A significant number of residents of the New Terminal District of the southern Iranian city of Kerman staged a protest outside the Governor’s Office on Thursday, November 23, 2017. They announced that they will continue their protest until their problem is resolved.

The protesters complained that they had been informed 20 years after the construction of their houses that the municipality would not give them services because they are living off limits. 

“We built these houses 20 years ago with lots of problems and by getting loans. Many nights, we slept hungry and thirsty until we managed to build these houses. Recently, our district’s electrical power has become very weak. Frequent power outages are damaging our electric appliances,” said a woman taking part in the protest.




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