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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 10 May 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Hindu girls abductions: India urges Pakistan to protect minorities rights

New Age Islam News Bureau

10 May 2012 


 Egypt's Lost Daughters; the Abduction of Christian Girls

 Depriving women of inheritance violates Islam: Egyptian cleric

 Afghan girls’ schools shut down, Taleban blamed

 Female Circumcision Still Prevalent Among Some Kurdish Communities'

 A First Since Hamas Rule: Gaza Has A Waitress

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Hindu girls' abduction: India urges Pakistan to protect minorities' rights





Hindu girls' abductions: India urges Pakistan to protect minorities’ rights

May 10, 2012

NEW DELHI: As incidents of alleged persecution and intimidation of Hindus in Pakistan rise, India on Wednesday appealed to Islamabad to take all possible steps to protect the constitutional rights of its minorities by ensuring their safety and security. Recently, in separate incidents, three Hindu girls in Sindh province have reportedly been abducted and married against their wishes to Muslim men after being forcefully converted to Islam.

Foreign minister SM Krishna said in Lok Sabha this is a matter of concern and is being taken up appropriately with the Pakistani government. "It is the responsibility of the Pakistani government to discharge its constitutional obligations towards its citizens, including those from the minority community," said Krishna.

He was responding to the issue of treatment of minorities in Pakistan raised by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi last week.

Krishna said India had taken up "appropriately" with the Pakistani authorities on abduction, forceful marriage and conversion to Islam of three Hindu girls in Sindh province.

"The Pakistani government stated that it was fully cognizant of the situation and looked after the welfare of all its citizens, particularly the minority community," he said.

Krishna also referred to press release issued by the Pakistani government stating that the Pakistani President had taken note of the reports of kidnapping of a Hindu girl from Mirpur Mathelo in Sindh and allegedly being forced to convert by some influential people of the area.

Krishna pointed out that the Simla Agreement of 1972 between India and Pakistan specifically provides for non-interference in each other's internal affairs.



Egypt's Lost Daughters; the Abduction of Christian Girls

 May 10, 2012

Washington -- "We don't know if our daughter is still alive," Magda told ICC during a recent visit to Egypt. "We haven't seen or heard from her in five years… Her kidnapper called us and said she was dead and buried."

Mary disappeared in June 2007, but to her mother, Magda, it feels like only yesterday that she was sleeping peacefully in her own bed under the loving care of her parents. For those who lose a child, as Magda had, the pain never goes away.

"There were no warning signs. There was nothing we could do, but the guilt doesn't go away. If only we could have known [what would happen]," Magda explained while fighting back tears.

The abduction took place on an ordinary Thursday evening. After school, Mary went out with friends for pizza and a movie. While sipping cocoa at a restaurant, Mary began to feel dizzy and sick. "You go ahead and go home," said Nahla, a Muslim girl. "The rest of us want to go to the cinema." Nahla was new to Mary's group of friends; they had only known her a few weeks.

Mary left the group to catch a bus home alone. This was the last time her friends would see her. No one knows what happened next, but Mary was gone.

Mary's friends and parents believe Nahla had something to do with it; perhaps she was an accomplice to Mary's abductors who put drugs in Mary's drink. Although this suspicion has yet to be confirmed, after Mary's disappearance, Nahla was nowhere to be found.

Mary's parents stayed up throughout the night waiting anxiously for their daughter's return. Mary's father filed a report at the police station the next morning. He stayed at the station the entire day, determined to see that an investigation was being carried out. Late that afternoon, the police told him they had found his daughter.

Mary was escorted along with several other women into the station by four men in Islamic dress with long beards. The men were Salafis, a group that follows the strict doctrine of Wahhabi Islam from Saudi Arabia. Mary was covered head to toe in a burka. "[My husband] recognized her by her shoes," Magda told ICC.

Two armed policemen stood by, watching the father's every move. When he called Mary by name, a Muslim man hit her in the face. There was no answer.

Then he tried to grab his daughter, but she was quickly taken away by the police. The father yelled after her while struggling desperately to free himself from the grip of the police officers who were holding him down. It was no use. Mary was forced in the back of a van and driven away.

"I went back to the police station that night with my son," Magda said. "They cursed us and humiliated us. They treated us very badly."

The parents soon began receiving threatening e-mails and phone calls. "Become a Muslim and we'll spare your life," one caller said. "Pay a £6,000 ransom or your daughter is dead," said another. One caller told Magda that Mary had been killed and buried.

"Look at me. I'm dying inside," Mary's father told BBC. "Jesus Christ gave me my daughter. He gave her to me, not to them."

Two months later, several police officers showed up at the parents' house. "They demanded that we sign documents that said Mary had changed her religion to Islam," Magda said. The parents refused. Months later, however, they learned that a birth certificate had been forged stating that Mary was now a Muslim.

Still, the family would not give up. They hired a renowned Christian lawyer who demanded to see Mary. Agreeing to meet at a neutral location -- Mary's former university -- Magda saw her daughter one last time. There she sat, fully covered on the sofa in the dean's office. "My dear, are you OK?" Magda asked. There was no response. "Mary, can you hear me?"

Mary seemingly did not understand or was not coherent enough to respond. "She is a Muslim now. What right do you have to see her?" questioned the security officers, who were growing increasingly angry during the meeting. The meeting lasted ten minutes, but not a sound was uttered from Mary's lips.

Magda's lawyer regrettably said there was nothing more he could do. "There was no case, he said, because Mary's birth certificate had been forged and she is Muslim now," explained Magda.

On a dreary February afternoon, the parents sat in a Cairo office, trying to understand a world where Mary did not exist. "We don't even know if she's still alive," Magda told ICC.

Abductions of Christian girls are nothing new in Egypt. Records exist of cases that were filed as early as the 1970s. However, kidnappings have increased significantly since Egypt's revolution last year. It is often the police -- the very people that are trusted to uphold the law -- who are responsible.

"I have proof there are corrupt police officers," said Coptic lawyer Karam Gabriel, who had worked months to find 15-year-old Nabila Sedky, a Christian girl who was abducted in Cairo on April 5, 2011. "I gave the investigators tips where to look, information we got through three months of hard work, and instead they were [investigating] at a Coptic [Christian] with an alibi."

Mary is only one among hundreds of Christian girls who have been abducted, forced to convert to Islam, and forced into marriage in Egypt. These incidents are often accompanied by acts of violence, including rape, beatings, and other forms of physical and mental abuse.

When Magda looks at the bed where Mary once slept, tears cloud her eyes. She says a silent prayer for her daughter and continues on with her day, believing that someday God will reunite them.



Depriving women of inheritance violates Islam: Egyptian cleric


 May 10, 2012

An official of the esteemed al-Azhar university in Minya governorate in Upper Egypt, Sheikh Mahmoud Abd al-Hafeeth, said that depriving women of their inheritance violates all principles of Islam, reported a website on Saturday.

Hafeeth said that denying women their legitimate right was against the religion and reflected pre-Islamic values known as al-Jahiliya (ignorance) which suppressed women, Sada al-Balad reported on Saturday.

The cleric also said “whoever commits such sin will be gravely punished by God,” adding that such “practice will lead to the proliferation of bigotry, envy and hate between one solid family unit.”

In related news, the Egyptian Fatwa House warned of delaying the granting of women’s rights in inheritance saying that the practice was in violation of Islam, Egypt Independent online reported the group as saying last week.

Depriving women of their rights in inheritance is common in villages or in the Upper Egypt region where most people depend on farming for their livelihood.

Many believed that after the popular revolt which saw the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in January last year, Egypt would challenge its old ways, and address issues like women’s entitlement to inheritance, especially as there are calls for Islamic laws to govern the country.



Afghan girls’ schools shut down, Taleban blamed

 May 10, 2012

GHAZNI/KABUL, Afghanistan: Headmaster Abdul Rahman was heading to work when a man he believes was a member of the Taleban accosted him and warned him to shut his high school in eastern Afghanistan or face the consequences.

Rahman agreed and his school, which teaches girls and boys, became one of more than 100 mixed or girls’ schools that have closed in Ghazni province in recent weeks, in what the Ministry of Education says is a Taleban campaign against educating girls.

Rahman has since re-opened his school, just south of provincial capital Ghazni, but is having difficulty in persuading students to return.

“We now have to prove to families that nothing bad will happen to their children,” Rahman told Reuters at the one-story, bright yellow school building, built three years ago by foreign troops.

Afghan girls were banned from receiving an education and women were not allowed to work or vote under the five-year rule of the hard-line Islamist Taleban.

Since the group was toppled by US-backed Afghan forces in 2001, women have won back those rights. But the situation remains precarious and the future uncertain as the Afghan government and US officials try to negotiate with the Taleban for a peaceful settlement to the end of the increasingly unpopular war, which just entered its 11th year.

The Ministry of Education says 550 schools in 11 provinces where the Taleban enjoy popular support have been shut recently.

“Most of these are girls’ schools and it is obvious that the Taleban are responsible for the threats against them,” ministry spokesman Amanullah Iman said. The Taleban denied involvement.

Earlier this week unknown attackers burned down a large girls’ school in Khogiani district in Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan. Five more girls’ schools in that district have since shut, said regional education spokesman Asif Shinwari.

Also this week, a roadside bomb in eastern Paktika province targeted the vehicle of five education department workers but missed. They were later gunned down in a firefight, local officials said.

Hardline ideologies

In southern Helmand province, a bastion of the Taleban, education official Mohammad Sarhadi said they have managed to reopen only 100 of the 170 that were forced to shut in recent months.

President Hamid Karzai, who has taken to calling the Taleban “brothers” in recent speeches, urged the group to stop their campaign against education. “I call on the Taleban elders to avoid this and let our children get educated,” he said in a radio address last week.

The Taleban blamed the government for the schools’ closure. “The enemy is stirring propaganda against us,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Mujahid said the Taleban deemed education “a necessity,” and added that their children attended schools in rural areas.

Senior Afghan peace negotiators say the Taleban are willing to soften their hard-line ideologies in an attempt to regain a share of power, and the group has said it is open to domestic business and wants to treat all ethnic groups equally.

But when asked if the Taleban now supported girls’ education, Mujahid said: “It is too early to discuss this.”

Parents are terrified of sending daughters to school even in the capital Kabul, where the Afghan government and a heavy NATO and foreign diplomatic presence maintain security.

“I am scared my daughters will get poisoned or killed while going to school, ” said father Abdul Satar, from the north of the city.

Last year girls at a school near Kabul survived a poisoning attack, similar to that last month in northern Takhar province, where 150 girls became ill after drinking contaminated water in what officials said was an attack by conservative radicals.



Female Circumcision Still Prevalent Among Some Kurdish Communities'

 May 10, 2012

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -- Around 34 percent of women in the ethnically diverse city of Kirkuk have been circumcised and most of them are Kurdish, according to a new joint survey by the German WADI organization and the Iraqi Pana Center.

The survey on female genital mutilation found that the practice has declined in Kirkuk; however, 15 percent of girls in the community under 20 have been circumcised.

Awezan Nuri, a women’s activist from Kirkuk, says, “There are people in Kirkuk who still believe in female genital mutilation.” Most girls from Kirkuk were circumcised at the age of 5, according to Nuri.

Female genital mutilation is a common practice in many countries, especially among African and Middle Eastern nations. It has been estimated that between 100 and 140 million women around the world have been circumcised, with approximately 3 million girls undergoing the procedure every year.

WADI, which supports programs of development, gender mainstreaming and conflict resolution in Kurdistan, has been working to curb the practice here since 2005. The organization has prepared several reports on the issue, some of which have faced criticism from other organizations.

The survey, which includes 61 questions, was completed by more than 1,200 women under the age of 14.

Full report at:



A First Since Hamas Rule: Gaza Has A Waitress

Anav Silverman

May 10th, 2012

For the first time in Gaza, since Hamas seized control in 2007, a woman has been allowed to work as a waitress in a restaurant, serving men food and drinks. Ranad al-Ghozz, 24, from Gaza City recently made local media headlines in Gaza, when she began working at the coastal A-Salam restaurant last month.

The majority of Gaza women cannot be found in the workplace as traditional norms are against women working out of the house. If women do work, it is in the public sector specializing in education and health fields.

Hamas, the religious Palestinian Sunni Islamic political party rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, basing its governance upon Islamic fundamentalism, has passed laws that curb women’s status and rights since its takeover of Gaza. Women are not allowed to ride motor scooters and hairdressers for women are banned in Gaza.

Twenty-year-old Asmahan Nasser also works as a waitress at the upscale Al-Deira hotel, where she must wear a hijab uniform. According to a report in Haaretz, Nasser says she must deal not only with disapproving male patrons, but also disapproving women as well. In one incident, a woman patron left in protest of the hotel’s employment of a waitress and refused to allow Nasser to bring her coffee.

Full report at: