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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 6 Aug 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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How Muslim Girls Fence Helps Girls Put Stereotypes to the Sword


New Age Islam News Bureau

6 Aug 2016

Photo: A Muslim Girls Fence practice session in London.


 ‘Women, Children Being Used In Crime’: Pakistan

 Community Voices: Muslim Women Show More Similarities than Differences

 UK Woman 'Fired For Wearing Hijab' As Boss Tells Her to 'Keep Religion Out Of the Office'

 UK Muslim Woman Detained For ‘Suspicious Behaviour’ While Reading Book about Syria during Flight

 Yazidi Survivor Nadia Murad: We Want a Muslim Stand Against ISIS

 'Zaria Massacre' Nigerian Army's Violence against Women

 Hijabi Woman Complains Of Discrimination at Nordstrom Rack

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





How Muslim Girls Fence Helps Girls Put Stereotypes to the Sword

AUG 6 2016

LONDON — A gaggle of London adolescent girls watches with awe at each forceful move and nimble footstep of fencing coach Linda Strachan. And then it's their turn.

Their tentative steps are soon transformed into confident swoops of the sword and cathartic shouts as they lunge toward their opponents.

The first-time fencers are taking part in an open house aimed at extending the reach of a project working to skewer misconceptions about Muslim women.

Muslim Girls Fence, a joint initiative between British Fencing and the Maslaha charity, uses the sport to try and instill self-confidence in young Muslim women and present an alternative picture of them to the world. While the program focuses on young Muslim tweens, non-Muslim girls can also participate.

The club is turning heads.


For the potential new recruits, Strachan's dexterous moves are mesmerizing. The day is a fusion of activity and theory — fencing sessions followed up with classroom discussions by Maslaha about Muslim identity, assimilation and stereotypes.

"Being someone who wears a headscarf, many stereotypes are thrown towards me," explains Sarah Saeed, 13, a talented athlete who is on the school basketball team.

"When I was in primary school, my PE teacher was handing out letters for [soccer] club and I asked him why he hadn't given me one and he said that he knew my parents would say no anyway because I was a Muslim and they were too strict to let me come to practice."

Latifa Akay, project manager of Muslim Girls Fence, says such experiences are common.

"The images we see every day of Muslim women in the press, in the media, it's a one-dimensional image," Akay said. "It's one kind of vision of what a Muslim is, what a Muslim woman can be."

One of the participants in the Muslim Girls Fence project. Rehmat Rayatt

She added: "In order to shift public imagination and to shift the narratives around Muslim communities, you need to do something radical or unusual to do that and you also need to hear Muslim communities speaking on their own terms, so in the fencing project that's really evident. We're using fencing and that's something unusual."

But it isn't only misconceptions about Muslim women that are prevalent.

Discussion classes that are part of the program also seek to redress common myths about fencing. For Seher Chohan, 13, fencing was a sport that she previously viewed as inaccessible to someone like her.

"Before I started fencing I thought fencing was an elite sport only for white men," she says.

The example of the American Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad has been a source of inspiration for the young aspiring fencers. Muhammad, who will be representing the U.S. in this year's Rio Olympics, will be the first hijab-wearing athlete to be part of a U.S. Olympic team.

Her testimony about how fencing is accommodating to Muslim females and those who wear the hijab — a head covering many Muslim women wear — resonated with many of the girls. It is also the confidence-building and team engagement aspect the sport that struck a chord with the collaborators of the project, British Fencing and Maslaha.

Akay said that the impact of the project is already evident with the girls who took part in the original 10-week course.

According to teachers, it has also helped some of the girls who behaved badly in class, she said.

"By the end they were much more engaged than they would usually be," Akay added.

Muslim Girls Fence now has global aspirations. Inquiries from Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt for the project to be brought overseas have led Maslaha to consider scaling up the project.

For now, though, the organization plans to extend the project across London and gradually to other British cities.

This swashbuckling squad of young fencers ultimately has aspirations that go beyond becoming budding athletes. Instead they're aiming to be a fighting force that provides a positive picture of modern Muslim girls.



‘Women, children being used in crime’

August 6th, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Criminals always use women and children to carry out their activities knowing that the law is soft for women and juveniles. There is a need to address this issue.

This was stated by Ashraf Nizamani, the deputy inspector general (jails) Karachi, at a meeting of the National Committee on Jail Reforms convened by the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat here on Friday.

Mr Nizamani said the elements who used women and juveniles for crime also tried to get them bailed out after their arrest because they needed to use them again.

“It is a fact that those who spend time in jail face problems in restarting their normal life after completion of their imprisonment.” So, it has been decided not to mention the name of the jail on the mark sheets or certificates of those who pass any exams or complete computer or other courses from a prison,” he said.

Police officer says those who use women, juveniles for crime bail them out after their arrest

He said police always tried to play its role in making prisoners beneficial members of society. There should be a better mechanism to bring the prisoners back to a normal life, he said.

Human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir told mediapersons on the occasion that stakeholders from all over the country had gathered to discuss the issues of prisoners.

“Though jails are crowded, instead of making new prisons the government should devise policies aimed at minimising the chances of citizens going to jail. Those who go to jail should be released in a minimum possible time and steps should be taken to integrate them in society after the completion of their punishment. The system needs to be changed to reduce the crime rate,” she said.

When reminded of a former interior minister’s statement that women prisoners faced sexual exploitations in jails, Ms Jahangir said the minister should have taken notice of the issue during his tenure.

“There was sexual exploitation in the 70s and 80s but now such incidents have reduced, if not ended completely. However, it is a fact that there is an issue of attitude such as that of an employer with their employees or that of a senior lawyer with their juniors,” she said.

When asked why prime ministers who spent time in jails did nothing for jail reforms, Ms Jahangir said whenever politicians spent time in a jail, the environment of the prison improved.

Earlier, the meeting discussed the progress on the implementation of the recommendations made in the report presented to the chief justice of Pakistan by Federal Ombudsman M. Salman Faruqui.

The committee visited jails in far-flung areas to examine the problems being faced by women and children. The committee in its report suggested short, medium and long-term reforms. It also suggested that laws relating to the criminal justice system and prisons should be revisited.

The committee also reported the shortage of staff, lack of space, sanitation and health facilities in jails, violence on prisoners, particularly women and children, lack of proper food, external oversight mechanism and non-production of under-trial prisoners in courts.

Ms Jahangir proposed that the posts of magistrate and law officer be created in jails to monitor the violations of the law. She said juveniles involved in petty crimes needed not to be sent to jails.

The committee was informed that at present about 3,700 women and children were in jails.



Community Voices: Muslim women show more similarities than differences

Aug. 6, 2016

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The conversation began when I asked the young woman helping me with my groceries if I could assume from her headscarf she is Muslim. Caution flitted across her face as I continued, “Does it offend you that my hair is uncovered?” The look of relief on her face was palpable, “Not at all. I used to dress exactly like you.”

That brief encounter made me realize I had more questions, probably uninformed white suburban, yet feminist, mom questions.

My search for answers led me to Masjid Omar bin Abdul Aziz, a mosque and Islamic school, in Lilburn. There I met Maryam Jaber and Casey Stockbridge. I also engaged in a conversation with my daughter’s college friend, Madeline. The young woman asked that I not use her last name because she’s been harassed in the past. She doesn’t mind lending her voice, however, because she really believes that if more people understood her faith, they’d realize we’re more alike than different.

Community Voices: Muslim women show more similarities than differences photo

Gwinnett Muslim women are shown here wearing a hijab, a headscarf covering their hair and chest, with the additional niqab, a veil that hides all but the eyes. Photo by Karen Huppertz for the AJC

Each woman has a different story. Madeline wore a hijab until about a year ago. She decided to do so while attending an Islamic private school as a child. It has always been her choice. Her parents, her school, not even her mosque required the head covering. In fact, her father was initially opposed.

Casey chose to wear a headscarf when she converted to Islam about two years ago. Maryam, born to parents from Pakistan who immigrated to California, has worn a hijab since third grade.

Collectively, these women wear a hijab as a form of personal modesty and as a symbol and reminder of their Islamic faith. I can equate their modesty with my own choice to wear skirts long enough to avoid putting myself at risk of unwanted attention. My symbol of faith is a cross I wear around my neck.

Each woman was friendly, unguarded and eager to answer my questions. Casey spoke of a feeling of vulnerability without a hijab. She said without it she fears unwanted attention that could distract her from concentrating on more important matters than her appearance.

Frankly, their attire seems to be liberating to them in some ways. Because their clothing covers them loosely from head to toe, they don’t worry if every hair is in place, if a bulge is visible, or their skirt long enough. There was never a suggestion they wear this clothing as a political statement.

We went on to cover some general questions of independence. These Muslim women are encouraged to have an education and work outside the home if they choose. Of course they drive. Divorce is a right and women can initiate a divorce if all efforts to resolve conflict cannot be resolved. As U.S. citizens they will vote in this next election.

Just as with my own faith, children are considered a blessing from God and are highly cherished. Birth control is allowed if a woman’s health is at risk.

Each woman had essentially the same response when asked what she wants non-Muslims to know about her. “I’m not oppressed. I’m not forced to dress this way and I’m happily married. Don’t think of me as a scary person. Come talk to me and get to know me,” Maryam said.

I would encourage others to reach out past their fear and ask questions, even the stereotypical or prejudicial ones, with an open heart and willingness to learn and share. Otherwise, how will we ever truly understand each other?



UK Woman 'Fired For Wearing Hijab' As Boss Tells Her to 'Keep Religion Out Of the Office'

On the third day at her new job at the Fair Oaks Dental Care clinic in Viriginia Najaf Khan decided to go into work wearing her head scarf.

She claimed her boss immediately took her aside and told her to remove it to keep a “neutral environment” and said that the dress item would offend patients.

She was allegedly told she would have to remove her hijab otherwise she would lose her job, and she refused.

Ms Khan said she was excited to begin work at the Fairfax-based clinic and that she wanted to become a dentist.

“I was astonished because he had been saying I was doing so well,” she told Fox News.

“I received an email the Friday morning saying how much positive enthusiasm I was bringing to the dental office.”

The countries with anti-women laws

“I didn’t think it was going to be a big issue. I was completely aware he might ask me, but I didn’t know it would come down to the fact that if I wear it, I can’t work there.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling for the dental clinic to reinstate Ms Khan, and to compensate her for economic and emotional suffering.

“No employee should face termination because of his or her faith or religious practices,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “We call on Fair Oaks Dental Care to reinstate the Muslim employee and to offer her reasonable religious accommodation as mandated by law.”

The Fair Oaks Dental Care clinic could not be immediately reached for comment.

She said she did not wear the headscarf during the job interview as she did not wear it on a regular basis and simply decided to put it on after the weekend at her third day at work.

The case comes one year after the US supreme court signaled its support for a young Muslim woman called Samantha Elauf who was not hired at Abercrombie & Fitch in 2008 because she wore a headscarf.

The company said it violated the Oklahoma store’s “look policy” for sales staff.

She argued that the company had violated her civil rights and she won her case in June 2015.



UK Muslim Woman Detained For ‘Suspicious Behaviour’ While Reading Book about Syria during Flight

August 06, 2016

Faizah Shaheen, a British Muslim woman, was detained by airport security while returning to England from her honeymoon in Turkey after a flight attendant reported her for “suspicious behaviour” while reading a book about Syria.

The Independent reports that Shaheen, an employee with UK’s National Health Service, was questioned for 15 minutes by authorities at Doncaster Sheffield Airport in South Yorkshire who were using their powers under the UK’s Terrorism Act.

Shaheen said while being questioned, officers told her a Thomson Airways flight attendant had reported her for “suspicious behaviour” during a flight. The incident occurred on July 25, according to South Yorkshire Police.

“I asked what was going on and they said I had been reported due to a book I was reading and was to be questioned under the Terrorism Act,” Shaheen told The Independent. “I became very angry and upset. I couldn’t understand how reading a book could cause people to suspect me like this. I told the police that I didn’t think it was right or acceptable.”

The book in question, titled Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, is a collection of essays, short stories, poems, cartoons and photographs from over 50 Syrian authors and artists “who are challenging the culture of violence in Syria.”

Shaheen works with teens with mental illness and also helps to prevent teens from becoming radicalized.

“Ironically, a part of my job role is working on anti-radicalisation and assessing vulnerable young people with mental health problems who are at risk of being radicalised,” she said.

In a statement to British media outlets Thomson Airways said it recognizes that “in this instance Ms. Shaheen may have felt that over caution had been exercised over caution However, like all airlines, our crew are trained to report and concerns they may have as a precaution.”

Incidents occurring in the U.S.

In a separate incident in the U.S, two Muslim women were removed from an American Airlines flight earlier this week after an airline attendant said they made him feel “threatened” and “unsafe.”

Niala Mohammad, a multimedia journalist with the government-funded news outlet Voice of America and her friend, who works for the U.S. government and does not want to be identified, stated they were thrown off the plane because they were Muslim.

In a Facebook post, Mohammad wrote that the plane travelling from Miami to Washington D.C. on August 2 had been delayed for five hours.  She said her friend started talking about the delay and the lack of customer service with another passenger when the male flight attendant allegedly singled her out saying: “If you have a problem, you can get off the plane.”

Mohammad and her friend then tried to take a photo of the flight attendant who was not wearing a name tag so they could file a complaint.

A federal agent later escorted Mohammad and her companion from the plane because they were told the flight attendant had complained, saying he “felt threatened” by the pair.

The two women were offered seats on the next available flight and received a $200 credit voucher and $24 food voucher.

We were removed from #AmericanAir flight 2239 traveling from MIA-DCA bcuz the airline attendant felt "unsafe" us!

A spokesperson for American Airlines said the male flight attendant observed the passenger taking pictures and asked her to stop. When she did not, the attendant had her removed from the plane.

“The passenger was not removed for taking the picture,” said spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello, told Voice of America. “The passenger was removed because she did not comply with the request from the flight attendant.”

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it is seeing more and more reports of discrimination against Muslims across the U.S., including a Muslim couple in Ohio who were allegedly removed from a Delta Airline flight.

“We are seeing a significant increase in discrimination against Muslims across the country these days,” Karen Dabdoub, executive director of CAIR’s Cincinnati Office, told Global News.

“Historically we see this happen during presidential election season. And this particular presidential season has been one of the most vitriolic in regards to Muslims.”

CAIR-Cincinnati has filed a complaint against Delta with the U.S. Department of Transportation on behalf of the couple who were removed from a flight.

“As far as we were able to determine the couple was kicked off the flight because the flight attendant did not feel comfortable having them on the flight,” said Dabdoub.



Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad: We want a Muslim stand against ISIS

August 06, 2016

In early 2016, the Iraqi government nominated Nadia Murad (pictured) for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for her activism. (Al Arabiya)

Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishSaturday, 6 August 2016 Text size A A A

Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi woman who escaped a gruesome ordeal after she was kidnapped by ISIS to be a sex slave like thousands of other women from her minority ethnic group, tells Al Arabiya News Channel in an interview aired Friday that her people “want a stronger stand from Muslims against” the militant group.

“ISIS says that they represent Muslims, but Muslims must give a stronger stand against such claim,” she said, explaining that ISIS does not represent Islam.

Murad explained that such “stand” would deter “people as young as 12” from joining ISIS.

Yazidis, who practice an ancient religion, are considered “devil worshippers” by ISIS supporters.

The 22-year-old became an international icon for the plight of the Yazidi people after she begged the UN Security Council in late 2015 to help with the tragic fallout when ISIS militants seized the Yazidis’ territories in northern Iraq, kidnapping more than 5,000 women, including herself.

Kidnapped by ISIS in August 2014, Murad risked execution when she escaped after three months.

After her escape, she turned into an activist, visiting different countries in the region to raise awareness over ISIS atrocities and garner further support to help other Yazidi women under ISIS captivity.

“I met with many leaders, MPs and regular people,” she said. “I wanted to describe the crimes I saw committed against me and thousands of other girls.”

Asked if she was able to deliver her message in light of what some activists describe as inaction by the international community to help Yazidi women escape, she said: “I believe I did deliver the message, the rest is up to their conscious.”

Yazidis also demand that they administer their territories in Iraq away from the central government of Baghdad and the autonomous government of Kurdistan in Erbil after what they described as the two failing them.

“We do not care which side Baghdad or Erbil to take, but we need to administer our region,” she said, stating that having an international protection by the UN would be a welcomed decision and that it is their “right.”

The Yazidis are also waiting from Erbil to open a probe over why the peshmerga Kurdish forces abandoned their posts in Sinjar city where Yazidis were mostly concentrated following the ISIS offensive in August 2014.

The Yazidis also want the international community to recognize what they went through as a “genocide” committed against them, but both Baghdad and Erbil made no advances to pursue such claim.

“It is true nothing had happened after the meetings [abroad], but I was happy that they opened their doors for me, these leaders, MPs,” she said. “That was important for me because ISIS did not believe we could do this.”

So far 60 percent of Iraq’s northern city of Sinjar – where Yazidis have long lived, is liberated, said Murad but not many Yazidi families have returned.

“Some families from the northern parts returned, but we cannot return that easily because we have lost our trust,” she said. “We were not protected.”

She also dubbed the liberation of the area as “political.”

“I did not feel the liberation was done because girls like me were taken as slaves,” she said. “Many Yazidis feel it was not for us.”

After the liberation of Sinjar in November last year, different groups including Yazidis, peshmergas and Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) clashed in separate incidents, highlighting political competition and lack of a coherent national strategy to fight ISIS.

On top of their abandonment by the peshmerga forces in 2014, they feel betrayed by the Arabs.

“We have Arab Muslim neighbors, whom we used to know who joined ISIS, and had their women celebrating when ISIS took us Yazidi women as slaves,” she said.

While she lamented the series of betrayals, she also recounted how a Muslim Arab family from Mosul helped her escape.

“The family man, until now I remember what he said, when he apologized that his family could not feed me better because they were poor,” she said with tears in her eyes.

Murad also gained a new view after trips to Arab states.

“When I went to Egypt and Kuwait, I realized there is a difference between ISIS and Islam,” she said. “There are Muslims who have risked with their lives to save the captive Yazidi girls,” she added, giving hope for an already divided region.



'Zaria Massacre' Nigerian Army's violence against Women

August 6, 2016

The worst of all is that the Army removed their Hijab, tightened them and pulled them on ground before taking them to the Army barracks.

AhlulBayt News Agency - On Saturday, 12th of December, 2015, a massacre against defenceless women and children began around 12pm, Nigerian time, by the Nigerian Army. The massacre began with a replanted attack at Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah Zaria, were some Men of the Nigerian Army appeared fully armed with dangerous weapons and bullet reload boxes for contingency.

As usual, Brothers and sisters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria were preparing for the flag hoisting ceremony to welcome the month of Rabi'ul Auwal, the Birth month of the holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (S), while some children were in an extra moral lesson organized by Mu'assatu AbulFadl Abbas (A), then comes the Men of the Nigerian Army. They positioned them selves around Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah with much concentration opposite the Hussainiyyah gate. Some brothers went to inquire about the reason behind the unusual appearance, they said that they were there to protect their Chief against possible attack as they are holding a passing out parade at DepotNA.

The brothers told them that "we don't have any plan to attack anyone as we have never been engaged in such acts, we are always at the receiving end of attacks". The Army refused to relocate from that area, so brothers had to insist because, IMN have being victimized by many attacks from the Nigerian Army. When the brothers insisted, the Army started taking shooting positions around the area living the brothers with only one option which is calling for Allah's protection. The brothers started chanting takbeerats while the Army were shooting in the air and later on started shooting on the brothers. The Army pulled back for some mitres and later came back with the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, claiming that they want to pass. They encountered some youths protesting for the killing of their brothers and sisters. The Chief of Army Staff convoy shoot through the protesters and passed successfully thereby killing more people. Later, another set of the Nigerian Army came back in order to accomplish the plan, that is when the real violence began.

At around 4pm, brothers and sisters were crying and mourning for the murder of their loved ones, then comes another attack. This time around, it was hundreds of mainly women and children standing helpless. The Army heavier armed that before appeared again, this time around including tanks, grenades, Rocket Propelled Grenades Launchers and other explosives. They siege the building of Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah and kept waiting for command until night, they started invading the building by using everything at their disposal. They were shooting so barbaric, women were howling and bowling out of fear. Women of IMN were exposed to seeing their love ones die one after the other with no help from anyone. Women at Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah lived in fear and expectation of gun shot or explosion on them.

Many of them were killed by gun shots and grenade explosion. I don't wantbto remember seeing them going down one after the other, Fatima M Lawan was shot on her forehead by those bunch of cowards, What tribulates me the most is that Fatima did not die instantly, she suffered a lot before dying and there was nothing we could do, in fact, no body can tell whether Fatima is alive or not, because up to the time of Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah invasion, she was alive. Before dawn, some of the females were able to cross to a neighboring house in other to seek for refuge, but when the Army successfully invaded Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, they went ahead to cross into those houses and only God knows what happened there, they killed as much as they could and arrested many of them with various degrees of gunshot injuries.

After arresting them, they beat them severely, most of them were blood but the coward Army continued beating them. The worst of all is that the Army removed their Hijab, tightened them and pulled them on ground before taking them to the Army barracks.

On the other hand, the attack was extended to Gyallesu, were the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria reside and that is where the worst of all took place. In Gyallesu, after killing as much as they could, they burnt women and children to death. They raped many women, shot them in their private parts and watch them dying one after the other. They set fire on women and children and watched them burning to death. One of the victims from Gyallesu was shot in her private part and God in his infinite mercy, delivered her to tell her story and experience about the massacre, she is just 13 but her life was ruined.

Aisha Zaki, Fatima Abubakar Zaki, Mujahidah Abubakar Zaki and Batool Bukhari Jega are members of the same family, Batool is a daughter to Aisha while Fatima and Mujahidah are cousin sisters to Aisha. Bukhari Jega is the father of Batool and the husband of Aisha, it may sound odd and confusing, but all of them were killed by the Nigerian Army.

Fatima Ahmad, Nusaiba Yakubu, Nusaiba Shafiu, Fatima Yakubu, Khadija Yakubu, Maimuna Shehu, Fatima Ali Muhammad, Sumayyah Isa Hassan and many more were arrested and kept under detention to date, it is getting to 8 months but the Nigerian Army or the Nigerian Government is yet to say  about them. All of them are students of different higher Institutions across Nigeria, they have lost a complete session in their schools.

Some weeks ago, the Commission of inquiry tasked to investigate the unfortunate incident, indicted some of the officers of the Nigerian Army for killing innocent people, but we are yet to see the Government's decision over the report.



Hijabi woman complains of discrimination at Nordstrom Rack

August 6, 2016

PHEONIX, ARIZONA: A Muslim woman in hijab complained of an employee at Nordstrom Rack in Chandler, Ariz. exhibiting bigoted behavior towards her.

Menna Aboueleid, an Arab-American, explained the incident that occurred July 3 in a public post on Facebook.

She wanted to get her dress altered and asked the tailor at the store to take her measurements in the “women’s fitting room”.

However, the tailor’s reply to Aboueleid’s request “left [her] speechless”, she says in the post.

According to Aboueleid, the tailor said, “This is America. You shouldn’t be wearing that (the hijab) here. Wear it back home.”

“She then refused to serve me,” Aboueleid said of the tailor.

Citing the incident, Imraan Siddiqi, executive director at Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Arizona, took to Twitter and urged Nordstrom Rack to investigate the issue.

He said Aboueleid is an American citizen and a “respected member of the community.”

Muslim women undergo harassment like this on a daily basis - many don't report it, because they feel no one will listen.

The fashion retailer responded to the tweet, saying it is investigating the claims and that it does not condone such behavior.




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