New Age Islam News Bureau
29 Jul 2014
Niaz (in yellow), one of BMMA’s founders, with other members at their office in Mumbai Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
• Three Female Suicide Bombers Kill Several in Nigeria
• Islamic State Opens ‘Marriage Bureau’ For Its Jihadist Fighters
• Women should not laugh in public, Turkish deputy PM says
• Taliban and ISIS: Passing the Baton of Women’s Oppression
• Trinidad and Tobago: Welcome, Malala; Eid Mubarak to All
• Kering Foundation Supports “Bring Back Our Girls” Campaign
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
India’s Progressive Muslim Women’s Organizations Help Women Solve Problems within the Code of Islamic Law
29 July, 2014
Mumbai: The women in the airy, well-lit room could be women anywhere talking of things that women often talk about. An adult son who won’t contribute to the household expenses. A daughter who is finding it difficult to adjust to married life. A husband who threatens to get a second wife. Seated in a circle at the office of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) in Mumbai, the women are looking for solutions to their problems and they are seeking them within the code of Islamic law. “Most come from poor backgrounds and do not have access to the legal system,” says Khatoon Shaikh, one of the mediators of BMMA’s Shariah Adalat that meets four days a week. “We try to solve their problems in a manner that is fair, just and in accordance with the Quran.” A young organization with a loud voice, BMMA is one of the increasingly vocal Muslim women’s rights groups that have sprung up in recent years seeking to give space to the specific problems of women. They aim to redefine the rules of marriage, divorce and other issues in what they see as the true spirit of Islamic gender equality. “Women have enormous rights in the Quran,” says Jaibu Nisha Reyaz Babu, chairperson of the Dindigul (Tamil Nadu)-based Manitham Trust that, like BMMA, helps resolve disputes. “But unfortunately, they are not aware of these rights.” Equally unfortunate, she says, is the clergy’s attitude. “For them, women are just second class citizens.” Muslims in India are governed by the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937. But since the Shariah law is not codified, it is open to interpretation by local clergy. Worse, says Noorjehan Safia Niaz, one of BMMA’s founding members, Shariah courts are steeped in patriarchy. “The clergy is on the side of the men. The social and legal system takes its cues from them to perpetrate and worsen the situation,” she says. Muslim women, for instance, are vulnerable to being divorced for the flimsiest reasons. With 45,000 members across 15 states, BMMA mediates in nearly 150 cases a year, says Shaikh, and has in the past counselled a woman who was divorced because her waist was too thin and another because she attended a funeral at her mother’s house without seeking her husband’s permission. In Lucknow, a group of women set up their own law board in 2005 after an Islamic court (Darul Quaza) and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board refused to intervene in a particularly heinous case of incest. “It was strange that these men were so willing to grant unilateral divorce but so reluctant to intercede in a case that was crying for justice,” says Shaista Amber, one of the founders of the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board. In the years since, the Muslim women’s law board has evolved a model Shariah Nikaahnama that gives equal rights to men and women. It also gives the wife the right to divorce if her husband has an illicit relationship or forces her to have unnatural sex. It entitles women to a separation should her husband refuse her a divorce. These are provisions, says Amber, granted by Islam. “The Muslim Personal Law Board has no standing in the community and has allowed itself to become a vote bank for politicians,” says Amber. “They have done nothing for the upliftment of Muslims.” The existence of progressive Muslim women’s organizations gains currency at a time when questions are being raised on the need for a uniform civil code (UCC)—a move that finds support from two disparate constituencies, the Hindu right and feminist groups. While the Hindu right wants a UCC on grounds of national integration and one law for all citizens, feminist groups argue that all personal laws discriminate against women, with women from minority communities being the worst off. But BMMA’s Niaz says a UCC brought about by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance government will not inspire confidence amongst minorities. “If the BJP wants to bring a UCC, it will have to do away with all personal laws. Right now, we object to it because the Muslim community is completely under siege with (the) youth being harassed and stereotyping rife.” “What we need is codification, not a UCC,” agrees advocate Bader Sayeed, a former chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Minorities Commission and the first woman head of the state Waqf Board. Sayeed, who filed a public interest litigation last year against triple Talaq in the Madras high court, says she welcomes the recent Supreme Court observation against Fatwas that trample upon the rights of individuals as well as its refusal to issue a blanket ban on parallel courts. “This is a landmark judgement that will put an end to all Fatwas while recognizing the right to arbitration by parties,” she says. Minority appeasement that fuels orthodox elements within the community at the cost of gender justice has roiled politics since Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress government diluted a Supreme Court ruling on maintenance for Shah Bano by introducing the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act in 1986. From Kerala to West Bengal, women’s groups protested the move to take away their rights, but were ignored. Ever since, the plight of Muslim women has been played out with male-dominated conservative Muslim groups claiming to speak on behalf of women. Awaaz-e-Niswaan, the oldest feminist Muslim organization, traces its origins to the Shah Bano protests, but unlike BMMA and other organizations, is opposed to the idea of codification. “There are instances when the court has ruled that a second Hindu wife is not a wife at all and, therefore, has no rights to maintenance,” says Hasina Khan of the Muslim Women’s Rights Network, a group of nearly 15 organizations initiated by the Awaaz-e-Niswaan. “Under the guise of codification, Muslim women should not be subject to the same plight as Hindu second wives.” Yet, regardless of their individual differences, the newly emergent Muslim women’s rights groups fight many of the stereotypes about oppressed Muslim women as they assert their right to speak for themselves. Articulate and engaged, they are fighting for reform from within the community. With a PhD in sociology, Niaz sees no incongruity in either being Muslim or a feminist. “My Constitution allows me to practice my religion and maintain my religious identity. And Islam demands that I behave like a responsible citizen of my country. There is no contradiction,” she says. Reform will come from within the community, adds Amber: “In one hand I hold the Constitution of India and in the other I hold the Quran.” And in both lie the conviction of belief and the hope for change.
Three Female Suicide Bombers Kill Several in Nigeria
29 July, 2014
KANO, Nigeria (AP) — A woman blew herself up at a petrol station in northern Nigeria, killing three people in one of three suicide bombings by females in Kano in two days, police said.
The woman was in line with other women, all wearing traditional northern Nigerian dresses and long Muslim headscarves, waiting to buy kerosene for cooking when she set off the bomb, said Tijjani Isa, an attendant at the station.
"I was nearby the queue when I heard a heavy loud (noise)," he said. "And immediately saw people running while others went down."
The suicide bombing was one of five attacks in Kano in two days, said police spokesman Musa Magaji Majia.
Another female suicide bomber exploded her device across from a Shoprite supermarket Monday, killing herself but not injuring anyone else, said police.
On Sunday, a 15-year-old girl detonated a bomb near a temporary university site, killing only herself, said Kano State Police Commissioner Aderenle Shinaba. Five others were killed in a church bombing the same day, he said, and a third bomb was discovered near a mosque but it did not explode or harm anyone.
Three suspected Boko Haram militants were arrested immediately after the church bombing, Shinaba said.
Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in five years of their insurgency. Previously female suicide bombers have been rare in Nigeria, but women appear to be playing a larger role in the conflict after more than 200 teenage girls were kidnapped in April.
The city of Kano has banned all public worship and celebrations over the holiday marking the end of Ramadan that is currently underway. Other northern Nigerian cities have banned the use of personal vehicles, fearing intensified violence over the holidays.
Kano is outside the region of northern Nigeria that has been under emergency rule for more than a year, but it is a frequent target of Boko Haram attacks. The extremist group says it wants to impose its version of Islamic Shariah law in Nigeria and it often attacks moderate Muslim mosques, clerics and civilians.
Islamic State Opens ‘Marriage Bureau’ For Its Jihadist Fighters
29 July, 2014
BEIRUT: The Islamic State, which advocates public stoning for adultery, has opened a "marriage bureau" for women who want to wed its fighters in territory they control in Syria and Iraq.
The jihadist group's office is operating from Al-Bab, a town in Aleppo province of northern Syria, for "single women and widows who would like to marry IS fighters", said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based monitoring group, citing residents, said interested parties were being asked to provide their names and addresses, "and IS fighters will come knocking at their door and officially ask for marriage".
The IS has also expanded into tourism, taking jihadists on honeymoons and civilians to visit other parts of its "caliphate".
Running twice-weekly tours from Syria's Raqa to Iraq's Anbar, IS buses fly the group's black flag and play jihadist songs throughout the journey.
IS proclaimed a "caliphate" last month straddling the two neighbouring Arab states.
It firmly controls large swathes of northern and eastern Syria, the Iraq-Syria border, and parts of northern and western Iraq.
The group has been accused of responsibility for a number of atrocities, including mass kidnappings and killings, stonings and crucifixions.
IS has its roots in Iraq, but spread into Syria in late spring 2013. In June, IS spearheaded a lightning offensive in Iraq that saw large swathes of the country fall from Iraqi government hands.
Rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime since March 2011 accuse IS, which has attracted thousands of foreign jihadists, of having "hijacked" their uprising.
Women should not laugh in public, Turkish deputy PM says
July 29, 2014
Women should not laugh out loud in public, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has said while complaining about “moral corruption” in Turkey.
Speaking during an Eid el-Fitr meeting on July 28, Arınç described his ideal of the chaste man or woman, saying they should both have a sense of shame and honor.
“Chastity is so important. It is not only a name. It is an ornament for both women and men. [She] will have chasteness. Man will have it, too. He will not be a womanizer. He will be bound to his wife. He will love his children. [The woman] will know what is haram and not haram. She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness,” Arınç said, adding that people had abandoned their values today.
People needs to discover the Quran once again, Arınç said, adding that there had been a regression on moral grounds.
“Where are our girls, who slightly blush, lower their heads and turn their eyes away when we look at their face, becoming the symbol of chastity?” he said.
He said some TV series geared toward young people had because teenagers to grow up only as “sex addicts,” accusing those who abuse the excitement of youths with publications on TV, the web, newspapers, or in educational places, especially in universities.
Arınç also complained about high consumption, referring to the number of cars and mobile phones that individuals have.
Targeting women once more, Arınç said women talk about unnecessary things on the phone.
“Women give each other meal recipes while speaking on the mobile phone. ‘What else is going on?’ ‘What happened to Ayşe’s daughter?’ ‘When is the wedding?’ Talk about this face to face,” he said.
People should not use their personal cars unnecessarily, he also said, adding that even if the Nile River was full of oil, there would not be enough fuel to power cars.
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, who is running for the presidency against Arınç’s boss, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, commented on Arınç’s statement via Twitter, saying Turkey needed women to laugh, as well as to hear everybody’s happy laughter more than anything.
Taliban and ISIS: Passing the Baton of Women’s Oppression
By Adrianne Hill
29 July, 2014
Taliban militants, although they have called for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) to tone down their extreme views and agenda, are looking to create a council that could potentially be a mere passing of the baton of women’s oppression in Iraq . Although they have been disbanded and removed from power in Afghanistan, they are re-emerging in the region and are gaining ground in Pakistan once again. This terror group wielded power and influence in Afghanistan in the first decade of the 21st century, and may seize control of the country once again.
The Taliban hold women in no regard, viewing them as temptations that are held accountable for the Taliban rule, and denying women education and social freedoms while advocating child marriage. Young brides often end up in hospitals after their wedding night, traumatized and injured by their new husbands. These young brides have no authority in the families they marry into, often being mistreated by family members and their new husbands, and they have no real protections in court, with women’s’ testimonies being regarded as having half the importance of the man.
During Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, women had to go in public completely covered. The Taliban were even going as far as to demand women to cover their eyes. Women in professional positions lost their livelihoods, and had to beg for money or go into prostitution, which could have potentially gotten them executed during this time. Although Afghanistan’s new government has given women more political power and positions in government.
President Karzai, who is often viewed as a political puppet of the U.S., signed a law in 2009 which affects Shi’a women in the nation negatively. The law legalized marital rape, denied women of the right to leave their homes unless their reasons are considered “legitimate”, and stripped women of custodial rights to their children if they get a divorce. Although Shi’a women are less than 20% of the population, this law shows how easily women’s rights can be taken away. Women are allowed to work, although they are passed over for employment of men. The legal age of marriage for women has been raised by only a year, from 16 to 17, yet many men simply forgo a licensed marriage and marry young girls anyway. The laws are symbolic only, with no real enforcement, and with the rise of ISIS, Taliban militants could potentially pass the baton of religious rule and continued discrimination and oppression of women, not just in Afghanistan, but in Iraq, Syria and neighboring countries that ISIS is planning to occupy. This is happening due to the Taliban’s call to create a Jihadist council, and as ISIS is a radical remnant of Taliban affiliate al-Qaeda, there will be a melding of policies and mandates that could potentially wipe out even more, if not all rights for women.
Women who run away from home are imprisoned. Women who are simply accused of immorality are imprisoned or killed and with U.S. troop pullout scheduled for this year, women are in jeopardy of once again losing what little rights that they have. Humanitarian organizations have stepped in and tried to alleviate the plight of women in Afghanistan, but the U.S. government’s apathy toward women’s rights has many of these organizations deeply concerned about the fallout from this removal. Afghanistan also has peace negotiations with the Taliban in the works, where women may be used as a bargaining chip once again.
In Iraq, ISIS is gaining ground quickly, and Iraq’s Ministry of Rights reports rising violations and abuse toward women by ISIS, ranging from murder to kidnapping and rape. Mosul, which is under ISIS’s control, is experiencing bans of women’s stores selling modern clothing, and closing of hair salons, due to religious reasons. Leaflets have been disseminated that encourage sex with ISIS militants, and an Islamic cleric issued a religious order mandating rape and forced marriage of women to the militants. ISIS also has been raping women in front of their husbands, as well as raping children in front of their parents. Taliban members, although they have issued a call for more integrity and morality in ISIS, still have an agenda. Hopefully, this agenda will bring some degree of peace and safety to ISIS, instead of passing the baton of oppression toward women in Iraq.
Trinidad and Tobago: Welcome, Malala; Eid Mubarak to All
29 July, 2014
Separate and consequential events, coincidentally marking the national calendar, together underscore today’s observance of Eid-ul-Fitr. This year’s celebratory annual finale of Islam’s month of Ramadan, a T&T public holiday, will also go down as the occasion on which this country welcomed Malala Yousafzai. She is the Pakistani teenager who became a universal celebrity upon survival of an assassination attempt by the Taliban.
Well before their gunmen had shot Malala in the head, the Taliban had gained world notoriety as the fearsome proponents of a version of Islam that justifies promotion of their faith literally by any means necessary. Malala had stood in the path of such fundamentalist advancement, by performing as a role model for education, in Islamic-dominated societies, of girls and women.
According to the Taliban and related religious and political forces, Malala had to die. Defying such fate, and remaining an undefeated symbol of progress, Malala has retained a high-profile recognition as defender of the rights of women and children.
Her arrival coincides with the 24th anniversary of the coup attempted by home-grown Islamic Jamaat al Muslimeen. The coup attempt was beaten back, on the ground, by the security forces, and also by public opinion, including mainstream Islamic opinion.
The 2014 Eid-ul-Fitr celebration coincides not only with the visit by Malala but also with the headline emergence of a Muslimeen spin-off in Carapo. Police investigation into the activities of this Carapo group, leading to the temporary detention of associates, provoked threatening outbursts by Yasin Abu Bakr, leading figure in the July 27, 1990 day of infamy.
At this moment, too, a group of radical T&T Muslims remain in detention in Venezuela. Authorities in the neighbouring republic apparently pursue questions about the bona fides as tourists of those T&T Muslims, and speculation about their status as birds of passage.
As T&T formally embraces Islam in the name of Eid-ul-Fitr, stirrings of movements and forces in Africa and in the Middle East remind the world of concerns about the variety of activities and causes claiming Islamic inspiration. In Nigeria, Boko Haram, violently espousing its own reading of the Qur’an, to condemn “Western” education of girls, has kidnapped from school, and kept sequestered, hundreds of would-be Malalas.
In Syria and Iraq, fighters declaring for a new Muslim “caliphate”, are apparently in the process of imposing extreme Sharia law over its conquered territories.
Mixed feelings over resurgent Islam in T&T and the world should not, however, diminish well-meaning reverence toward, support and respect for Eid-ul-Fitr. Applying an international standard, it is Malala Yousafzai, among us in T&T for the occasion, who exemplifies the expression of the religion that peoples of this country endorse and uphold.
Welcome, Malala. Eid Mubarak to all.
Kering Foundation Supports “Bring Back Our Girls” Campaign
29 July, 2014
JOINING THE CAUSE: Valérie Trierweiler and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo joined forces to inaugurate a “Bring Back Our Girls” exhibit in Paris. The initiative is designed to raise awareness to call for the release of the 210 abducted Nigerian schoolgirls still being held by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.
The exhibit on Place de la République consists of silhouettes, each with the name of a kidnapped girl, connected by chains. Supported by the Kering Foundation, it will stay in Paris for a month and “hopefully travel to other capitals,” said Trierweiler, a journalist (and former first girlfriend of French President François Hollande).
"The strength of mobilization of public opinion is very crucial not to forget the girls. I want to say to them they aren’t only in our hearts but also in the heart of Paris,” said Hidalgo.
Trierweiler, wearing the T-shirt emblazoned with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls that she had sported during Paris Couture Week, said she has been trying to obtain a visa "as a journalist" to go Nigeria for a month but she hasn’t succeeded so far. The T-shirt was manufactured by contemporary label Paul & Joe.
The Kering Foundation, created in 2009, combats violence against women. “It is important to take part in this initiative, to raise awareness,” Kering chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs Marie-Claire Daveu told WWD, noting that one in three women around the world is beaten or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
Salma Hayek, who sits on the Kering Foundation’s board, held the sign printed with "#Bring Back Our Girls" on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
Elle Foundation, dedicated to women’s education, also gave its support. “Schools must be sanctuaries,” said Karine Guldemann, general delegate of the Elle Foundation. Denis Olivennes, chairman and chief executive officer of the magazine’s parent company Lagardère Active, also attended the rally.