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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 6 Aug 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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How ISIS Attracts Women from Europe with False Offer of 'Empowerment'

New Age Islam News Bureau

6 Aug 2017

Photo: Women are joining ISIS after being seduced by the offer of a twisted version of “empowerment” for Muslims.


 Pakistani Taliban’s Magazine Gives Weapons Training to Women

 Women as ‘Collateral’ In Pakistan Village Justice

 Arab Sensation Balqees Delights Fans at Mall of the Emirates Concert

 UN Women meets with Women Leaders and Civil Society Organizations in Baghdad

 Islamic State: Indonesian Maids in Hong Kong Backing Terrorists, Investigation Finds

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



How ISIS attracts women from Europe with false offer of 'empowerment'

Lizzie Dearden | The Independent | Aug 6, 2017

Women and girls are joining ISIS after being seduced by the terrorist group's offer of a twisted version of "empowerment" for Muslims, a new report has found.

The research, by the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), said the reasons that drove hundreds of women to journey from Europe to ISIS territories were "complex".

Emily Winterbotham, the report's co-author, said the use of the term "jihadi bride" to describe all female ISIS members was reductive. "Our research shows that narrative has influenced people's perceptions of female radicalisation," she told The Independent.

"Most people we interviewed believed women had been lured over to ISIS by men, social media and marriage, with the men being the bad ones. There's an implied rationality around male radicalisation and passivity around women ... but the decision-making process of these individuals isn't only about being manipulated and brainwashed — there's a clear rationale."

Possible draws were found to include "a rejection of Western feminism, online contact with recruiters who offer marriage and adventure, peer or family influence, adherence to ISIS ideology, naivety and romantic optimism, and the chance to be part of something new, exciting and illicit".

Winterbotham, a senior research fellow at RUSI, and co-author Elizabeth Pearson, a RUSI associate fellow and a PhD candidate in war studies at King's College London, conducted their research in the UK, Canada, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

After speaking to men and women who knew female ISIS supporters or worked in de-radicalisation programmes, they found that some women saw the so-called Islamic State as a source of "empowerment" despite its subjugation of women, violent enforcement of its interpretation of Sharia law and genocide against the Yazidis.

Some respondents told researchers women who joined ISIS were "deliberately seeking to challenge both traditional and Western-imposed gender norms, by seeking a new identity for themselves". Communities said the urge was partly being driven by "exclusion from wider society", particularly in countries with burqa bans, such as the Netherlands and France, where they felt they could not express their religion how they wished.

Like recent research focused on returned male foreign fighters, the report found that radicalisation was also driven by grievances including Islamophobic attacks, economic disadvantage, a perceived lack of belonging and failed integration.

A lack of acceptance from within Muslim communities, particularly divides with family members not thought to be pious enough, was also believed to "enable women to find a sense of belonging and empowerment with Daesh (ISIS)."

Winterbotham said that those living in highly conservative religious families could also be made vulnerable to ISIS propaganda by having less freedom to travel outside and spending more time with radical influences online.

"We talked to women who hadn't been radicalised but could understand why some of these girls might have gone to Syria and Iraq so they could live as 'good Muslims'," she said. "ISIS has been successful at selling that image to women. It's not just about the naive vulnerable jihadi bride, it's women saying: 'This is in line with my religion, my political beliefs, the fact I want to live how I want'."

The author said the concept of "empowerment" differed from what would be shared by most non-Muslim Western women, being seen through a dominantly religious lens. "Women are saying 'this is empowering for me' but the irony is that's not going to happen once they get there," she added.

ISIS has directly targeted female recruits to migrate to its territories as part of its aspiration to build a functioning "caliphate" needing wives and mothers to bear children trained to become the "next generation" of terrorists. Women have been stoned, whipped and murdered for offences under Sharia law, while at least one jihadi bride — Austrian teenager SamraKesinovic — is known to have been beaten to death while trying to escape.

While the role of women is strictly restricted in ISIS territories, with dress, movement and marriage all strictly controlled, fanaticism is rewarded with limited freedoms such as being allowed into female-only Sharia police forces or permitted to go online to bring "sisters" back home into the fold.

British women are among some of the most prominent online radicalisers and propagandists, including the "White Widow" Sally Jones, who is reportedly attempting to flee Raqqa, Khadijah Dare Aqsa Mahmood, a former Scottish university student, who has been put under international sanctions for her role as an online recruiter.

Under the online pseudonym Umm Layth, she operated now-deleted social media accounts and blogs calling for terror attacks, romanticising life under ISIS and issuing detailed instructions for women wishing to travel to its territories.

"We are created to be mothers and wives - as much as the western society has warped your views on this with a hidden feminist mentality," she wrote. The narrative is typical of ISIS' own propaganda, which portrays women as valued supporters with agency within their families, who gain status from their husbands' perceived glory.

A recent article instructing women to "Be a Supporter, Not a Demoraliser" as the group's territory wanes, concluded: "Such is the condition of the believing wife with her husband, and such is the condition of the believing mother with her son, letting him go forth on his way to wage jihad against the enemies of Allah, doing what Allah commanded him to do, and by Allah's permission, she will receive a portion of his deed."

The number of foreign women living in the so-called Islamic State is uncertain. A 2014 report estimated that 18 per cent all European ISIS members were female and the total number is now believed to be more than 550.

The Metropolitan Police suggested that more than 56 women and girls had travelled to Iraq and Syria from the UK by early 2015 and the number is believed to have risen considerably since. A global crackdown on travel to ISIS territory and increasing preventative arrests have brought the exodus to a halt but a growing number of women are becoming involved in terror plots on home soil.

A 17-year-old girl from London who attempted to travel to Syria has been charged with colluding with ISIS to plan an atrocity in the UK. After she was prevented from reaching Syria in August last year, she allegedly "married" an ISIS fighter in the country over the online messaging service Skype and arranged to receive weapons training, hand grenades and a gun for the attack.

RUSI's report noted that women were involved in ISIS' Paris attacks in 2016 and a number of recently disrupted plots, warning that assumptions about women's "passivity in radicalisation" could be making the process more difficult to spot.

Among the signs seen in the report were changes to clothing and appearance, relationships, hobbies, a fresh interest in politics and foreign affairs, justifying ISIS and attempts to "convert" relatives or censor them for "un-Islamic behaviour".

"ISIS has Muslim heritage communities in its sights," the report warned. "The findings from the research clearly show the significance of gender in radicalisation, and the dangers in arguing that everything is equal between men and women."



Pakistani Taliban’s magazine gives weapons training to women

August 7, 2017

Not noted for a commitment to gender equality, the Pakistani Taliban have launched a women’s magazine to convince readers to join them.

Published by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan one of the most ­notorious Islamist groups, the first edition of Sunnat E Khaula (The Way OfKhaula) was ­released last week with a veiled women on the cover. One story features the wife of the leader ­FazlullahKhorasani, who married him at 14, making the case for child marriage and another is about shunning Western-style education for Islam.

In its editorial, the group said the 45-page, English-language publication, whose title refers to a female follower of the prophet Muhammad, aims to “provoke women of Islam to come forward and join the ranks of the Mujaheddin (holy warriors) of Islam”.

TTP has been behind many of the country’s worst terrorist ­attacks, including the Peshawar school massacre in 2014 when gunmen killed 150 people, most of them children. The attack led to a crackdown by the military on Islamist groups sheltering in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt.

But the group has continued to carry out assaults, including a suicide bomb at a playground in Lahore last year in which more than 70 people, including many children, were killed.

Amid competition from ­Islamic State, the Taliban are trying to broaden their appeal. To that end, an advice column in the magazine urges women to begin weapons training.



Women as ‘collateral’ in Pakistan village justice

AFP | Published — Sunday 6 August 2017

In this photo taken on July 27, 2017, Pakistani policemen escort the arrested members of a village council, who ordered the rape of a teenage girl as punishment for a rape committed by her brother, at a local court in Raja Ram village on the outskirts of Multan. The rape of a teenage girl in revenge for a crime committed by her brother has left residents of Raja Ram in central Pakistan shaken and questioning a deeply entrenched system of village justice. Last month, a council of village elders ordered the rape of the 16-year-old victim after her brother was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. - TO GO WITH Pakistan-Justice-Rights-Social, FOCUS by SHAZIA BHATTI / AFP / SS MIRZA / TO GO WITH Pakistan-Justice-Rights-Social, FOCUS by SHAZIA BHATTI

PAKISTAN: The rape of a teenage girl in revenge for a crime committed by her brother has left residents of Raja Ram in central Pakistan shaken and questioning a deeply entrenched system of village justice.

Last month, a council of village elders ordered the rape of the 16-year-old victim after her brother was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl.

The ruling highlighted the role such councils — known as panchayats, or jirgas — play in the lives of many rural Pakistanis, who see the country’s courtrooms as a distant presence.

The councils have traditionally enjoyed broad support, thanks to their ability to offer immediate justice, compared to courts that can take years to settle a criminal case, and as much as a decade to resolve a civil dispute.

But the recent ruling, which allowed a rape victim’s brother to sexually assault another innocent girl, has unsettled Raja Ram, home to some 3,000 people.

“May God have mercy, it was such a strange day and it was such a big injustice,” said villager Amina Bibi.

“In our area there is neither a school nor a hospital, and poverty and ignorance rules here... This incident is a mark of this ignorance,” said 46-year-old ImtiazMatila.

“It’s a stain on the name of the panchayat,” agreed another villager, 65-year-old Manzoor Hussain.

The girls have since been taken to a women’s shelter in conservative Multan, Pakistan’s fifth-largest city.

Raja Ram is just a few kilometers down the road, but feels a world away away from urban life.

Men sit around on charpoys, sheltering from the blistering heat, while women are conspicuous only by their absence, shielded from view behind the rough stone walls that surround each of the crudely built, single-story houses.

Central Punjab is also home to one of Pakistan’s most prominent advocates for women’s rights — Mukhtar Mai, whose own story offers a window into jirga justice and its brutal mistreatment of women.

In 2002, a jirga ordered Mai to be gang-raped after her brother was falsely accused of rape.

Mai, who lives a few hours north of Multan, made the unusual decision to defy her rapists and take them to court.

But in one of South Asia’s most infamous miscarriages of justice, her attackers walked free, and people continued to rely on panchayats, even as she went on to become a high-profile activist.

“It’s an honor-based system and there’s nothing more dishonorable than the rape of a woman within your family,” explained women’s rights activist Aisha Sarwari.

The men of the aggressor’s family must be shamed through the loss of their women’s dignity, Sarwari explained.

“That’s the balance of power in these communities, which makes sure that women are some kind of collateral.”

The Supreme Court, trying to bring jirgas to heel, declared them illegal in 2006.

But in an apparent backtrack this year aimed at unclogging the slow-moving court system, the government passed a new law that promotes village councils as an alternative solution to small civil disputes.

The decision, dubbed the “Jirga Law” by activists, has raised concerns about women’s rights, given the precedents set by the panchayats.

“The decisions of the jirgas have always had a negative impact on the lives of women,” said women’s rights activist Samar Minallah.

The new law does not suggest penalties for decisions like the one made by the council in Raja Ram, added Minallah, who brought the original 2006 anti-jirga petition to the Supreme Court.

But the uproar surrounding the rapes at Raja Ram has spurred the court to demand a full investigation.

Despite her concerns, Minallah is confident that the court will “step in at one stage or another to remind the state that these jirgas are against the constitution and humanity.”

Whatever the court decides, for some in Raja Ram at least, faith in the traditional system has been shaken.

“There used to be wise people in the old days who were making good panchayat decisions,” recalled resident Matila.

“They used to know the realities of the village... but now, these are the panchayat,” he said, dismissively.



Arab sensation Balqees delights fans at Mall of the Emirates concert

Filed on August 6, 2017

The concert was part of Dubai Summer Surprises programming at the mall.

Balqees, the Arab world's rising star, entertained visitors to Mall of the Emirates with her latest hits last weekend.

Mall of the Emirates hosted the award-winning Emirati singer at a public concert where she delighted the crowd with her chart-topping numbers. The concert was part of Dubai Summer Surprises programming at the mall. Fans from across the country gathered to cheer their favourite star whose playlist included the famous tunes 'Majnoon' and 'Arahenkom'

The 28-year-old soprano and social media sensation, who was appointed the first UN Women's Planet 50-50 ambassador for the Arab States Region, a role that aids Arab women and girls to reach their full potential, made her debut with the album 'Majnoun' in 2013 and went on to release her record-breaking second studio album 'Zai Ma Ana' in 2015 and more recently the album 'Arahenkom'.

Majid Al Futtaim's shopping malls have been delivering great moments in music hosting a total of ten international and regional stars from the likes of the formidable Jessie J, global superstar Omi and regional popstars Nancy Ajram, Elissa, Zendaya, NajwaKaram, Meriam Fares, Fayez Al Saeed, Diana Haddad, RamyAyach and SaadLamjarred. The malls were the first in the region to launch the 'fashiontainment' concept which combines fashion and music with stars performing their most famous tracks on the catwalk.



UN Women meets with Women Leaders and Civil Society Organizations in Baghdad [EN/AR/KU]


Baghdad, 2 August 2017 - UN Women Office in Iraq held a consultation meeting with women leaders and civil society organizations on August 2, 2017. The meeting was chaired by UN Women Regional Director for Arab States, Mr. Mohammad Naciri, who is currently visiting Iraq. The consultation meeting was an opportunity to discuss the current challenges facing women and girls in Iraq to better inform the development of the ‘UN Women Iraq Strategic Plan’. The UN Women Representative in Iraq, Ms. Dina Zorba, reiterated the important role of civil society organizations in voicing the challenges facing women, particularly the most vulnerable groups.

“UN Women is committed to supporting women’s rights in Iraq and will continue to work on the ground for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls; empowerment of women; and achievement of gender equality,” said Naciri in his opening statement, highlighting the importance of partnering with civil society organizations to accomplish these goals.

Representatives of 14 organizations took part in the consultation and shared their vision of priorities to be addressed for enhancing gender equality and support the fulfilment of women’s rights.

During the meeting participants highlighted the important role UN Women has played in empowering women through capacity building and strategic support to women’s organizations to enhance women’s political participation and leadership, support women economic empowerment, address all forms of violence against women and promote women’s rights and sustainable peace in Iraq. UN Women, on the other hand, reassured participants that the support to civil society will continue to remain at the core of the work the organization undertakes.



Islamic State: Indonesian maids in Hong Kong backing terrorists, investigation finds


More than 150,000 Indonesians currently live in Hong Kong, most of whom are women working as maids

A tiny cell of about 50 radicalised Indonesian maids live in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore

Indonesian women in foreign countries appear to be radicalised more quickly, possibly due to their isolation

Like thousands of poor Indonesian women, Ayu, whose name has been changed, left home to work overseas as a domestic maid.

In 2003 she moved to Hong Kong after abandoning her husband and daughter.

But after losing two jobs she found herself on the street where she sought refuge in alcohol and drugs.

By 2011, Ayu had hit rock bottom and turned to Facebook for guidance.

She joined Islamist forums and before long met her second husband, Abu, an Indonesian jihadi. They married in 2013 but Ayu stayed in Hong Kong.

As she became increasingly radicalised she befriended other Indonesian extremists online and in Hong Kong.

By 2014 she was raising funds for the IS group and providing money and assistance to Indonesian jihadists wanting to fight with IS in Syria.

Ayu is today one of more than 150,000 Indonesians living in Hong Kong. The vast majority are women who work as maids, domestic workers, nannies and elderly carers.

Why do women join Islamic State?

Despite misconceptions that they're being tricked or coerced, the growing number of women joining Islamic State are doing so for the same political ends as men, writes Sara Mahmood.

But an investigation by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict has uncovered a tiny cell of about 50 radicalised Indonesian maids in Asia with 43 living in Hong Kong, three in Taiwan and four in Singapore.

"Some of these women were drawn in by jihadi boyfriends they met online," said Nava Nuraniyah, an IPAC researcher based in Jakarta.

"But some joined IS as a path to empowerment."

The IPAC investigation has found the number of Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong has risen exponentially from just 1,000 in 1990 to more than 153,000 today.

Indonesian women are often seen as cheaper and more pliant employees than the better-trained Philippine maids.

Although the IPAC report says their exploitation and underpayment is not a direct factor in their radicalisation.

"The search for a sense of community in an unfamiliar environment may have been more important," the report said.

"The growth of the Muslim community was accompanied by a rise in religious outreach [dakwah] activities by Indonesian clerics, starting with moderates but gradually coming to include the full ideological spectrum including Salafi and jihadi.

"Indonesian women found friends in these dakwah groups that often acted as surrogate families. When one was drawn into a radical circle, others followed."

A girl wearing a hijab waits to cross the road in Melbourne.

For example, on Sundays when most Indonesian maids have the day off, numerous Islamic study circles have popped up in public places like Hong Kong's famous Victoria Park.

The demand for Islamic teachers has become so high that many Indonesians turn to the internet and social media for religious guidance, leading many to come into contact with extremist preachers.

In some cases, personal troubles led to a search for rebirth and renewal through "pure" Islam.

But IPAC says it was the war in Syria that has brought support for violent extremism to Hong Kong.

"Muslims were interested in the conflict, and jihadi social media had some of the most detailed news," the report said.

"They saw fighters as heroes and were eager to offer logistical and financial support."

Many women have developed personal relationships online with would-be IS fighters and then helped them travel to Syria or even travelled with them.

Other women were exploited by online boyfriends who saw the Indonesian maids as a ready source of funds.

"Often though Indonesian women extremists working abroad are not simply the victims of unscrupulous men," the report stated.

"Some have reached out to men only after they have become interested in the jihadi cause themselves."

The report also highlights the important role social media has played in the women's radicalisation.

"Smartphones ensure that products, preachers and trends that become popular in Indonesia immediately find their way to Hong Kong," it said.

Ms Nuraniyah says Indonesian women in Asia appear to undergo radicalisation at a higher rate than Indonesians in the Middle East, perhaps because they face both a geographic and religious isolation in say Hong Kong.

"Only about a dozen radical maids in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are active on social media, for example," she wrote in the New York Times.

"None is reported to have joined jihadis in Syria."

In June this year, IPAC said four Indonesian women had joined IS in Syria while about 16 had returned home and mostly married jihadis. Another eight were deported from their host countries, or from Turkey as they tried to cross into Syria.

Last December, Indonesian police arrested two women — both former overseas workers turned would-be suicide bombers.

One woman, IkaPuspitasari, had also undergone a radicalisation while living in Hong Kong.

Like Ayu, she too had met her jihadist husband online and had allegedly volunteered to carry out a suicide bombing in Bali.

Her husband was connected to another Indonesian jihadist who joined the Islamist Maute group fighting in Marawi in the Philippines.

As of last month he was on the Philippine police's most wanted list.

IPAC says the arrest of the two women underlines the vulnerability of Indonesian migrants to extremist recruitment.

The organisation has urged Indonesian authorities to work more closely with overseas agencies to offer training and more awareness to women leaving to work overseas.

Specifically it recommends training modules that alert Indonesian women to the risk of exploitation by extremist men, and the support of Muslim leaders in Hong Kong, as well as Hong Kong authorities, to ban extremist clerics from the country.