Iranian police officers detain a woman for not adhering to the dress code in Tehran back in 2007 [File: The Associated Press]
Travelling With Female Friends Becoming a Trend for Saudi Women
Afghan Woman Lashed For Unknown Reasons after Kangaroo Court Verdict
Female Students at Saudi University ‘Do Not Need Parental Consent When Exiting Campus’
Zuraida: Having More Women in Govt Could Prevent Indira Gandhi’s Plight
How to Deal With International Driving Licenses for Women in Saudi Arabia
UK-Based Imam Strikes Burqa-Clad Woman with Table during Muslim Exorcism
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Iran arrests 29 women as headscarf protests intensify
February 02, 2018
Tehran police have arrested 29 women for appearing in public without a headscarf as protests against the dress code in force since the Islamic revolution of 1979 intensify, Iranian media reported Friday.
Those arrested were accused of public order offences and referred to the state prosecutor's office, the Fars, ILNA and Tasnim news agencies reported without elaborating.
Chief prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri had played down the escalating protests on Wednesday, saying they were "trivial" and "childish" moves possibly incited by foreigners.
He had been asked about a woman detained earlier this week for standing on a pillar box in a busy street without the mandatory headscarf .
Unprecedented images of at least 11 women protesting the same way had been widely shared on social media.
A prominent human rights lawyer told AFP on Tuesday that one of the detained women had her bail set at more than $100,000 (80,000 euros).
Montazeri said those flouting "hijab" rules -- which require headscarves and modest clothing -- must have been encouraged by outsiders.
But even religiously conservative Iranians have voiced support for the protests, with many saying that religious rules should be a personal choice.
At least two photos shared on Twitter on Wednesday showed women in traditional black chador robes, standing on pillar box with signs supporting freedom of choice for women .
One held a sign reading: "I love my hijab but I'm against compulsory hijab."
Female activist Azar Mansouri, a member of the reformist Union of Islamic Iranian People party, said attempts to control female clothing had failed over many decades.
"Women show their opposition to such forceful approaches by their very clothing, from resisting covering their hair to wearing long boots and leggings," she wrote in a series of tweets this week.
Women have increasingly flouted the Islamic republic's clothing rules in recent years and often let their headscarves fall around their necks.
Morality police once rigidly enforced the rules, but are a much less common sight since President Hassan Rouhani came to power in 2013, promising greater civil liberties.
The protests appear to mirror that of a woman who stood in Tehran's busy Enghelab (Revolution) Street in December without a headscarf and waving a white scarf on a stick.
She was reportedly kept in detention for nearly a month and has since kept a low profile.
Travelling With Female Friends Becoming a Trend for Saudi Women
3 February 2018
With many changes taking place in the customs and habits of Saudi society, a new trend has appeared, which is grandstanding. People travel abroad with the sole objective of swaggering around snapping selfies simply to show off, even if it is at the expense of essential needs of the individual or family.
Young women have become an inseparable part of any family trip nowadays. And often they are the ones who plan, lead and even finance the trip, according to a report published by Al-Riyadh newspaper recently.
This new concept of travel led young women to think of further deepening their independence away from the family. With the newfound financial freedom that came along with more employment opportunities, young women no longer feel forced to travel with a man, whether father, husband or brother.
Women tourist groups
They join women-only tourist groups or travel with their female friends or relatives, especially since social media have greatly consolidated this new method of travel. Thus a new travel culture has come into existence with many reports of female friends and relatives traveling in groups without any male companion.
Maha, Hadeel and Sarah are bank employees. They decided to take a break from their jobs and household routines for a short trip. It took them four months to plan for the journey.
“Traveling with my female friends is mentally very relaxing and it dispels boredom. It is an opportunity one should not miss to get to understand more of different cultures and enrich one’s knowledge. I prefer to travel with my female friends, as we enjoy the trip greatly. As I am still unmarried, I cannot find anyone in my family who is ready to travel with me,” said Hadeel.
Hadeel’s friend Sarah agreed. “This trip was not our first. We made several trips with the same group in the past. After every trip, I return to my work greatly refreshed. I come to my family and shoulder my household responsibilities with renewed energy,” said Sarah.
“As to the advantages of these trips with a group of female friends, they have taught us to be completely self-reliant with regard to planning for our accommodation, period of stay, mode of transport and how to control our travel budget. During the trip, we try to prevent anyone or anything from spoiling its beauty and fun. We switch off our mobile phones and do not accept any calls. As to documenting the trip, we use professional cameras to take pictures of anything that attracts our attention, including beautiful sceneries or moments to remember with our group of friends,” added Maha.
A chance to meet
Noorah Al-Duwaish and her sisters Moudhi and Muneera, who have become dispersed to different cities after getting married, use every school break to meet in one of the Kingdom’s tourist cities like Jeddah or Taif, accompanied by their children. This gives the trip a different flavor.
Apart from recreation and change from the routine, this provided the sisters an opportunity to get together along with their children since their father’s death.
“Aside from being a recreation, the trips help bring the family members together and enable them to talk about each other’s life and problems. This is greatly encouraged by Islam,” said Al-Duwaish, a schoolteacher.
She insisted that the trips helped her family members keep in touch with one another.
“Of course, there is a difference between travel within the Kingdom and in a foreign country. We feel more comfortable and have greater peace of mind when traveling inside the Kingdom,” she said.
“With the frequent trips, we have accrued considerable experience in managing matters independently. We rely on ourselves for everything without the need for assistance from anyone else. This includes budgeting, booking accommodation, renting a car and even distributing the daily meals among children,” said Al-Duwaish.
Noorah’s sister Moudhi, who is a bank employee, wished she could travel abroad with her sisters for a change.
“My sisters and I have never tried to travel outside the Kingdom. I wish we could. But fear is what prevents us. We feel that we are incapable of relying on ourselves in a foreign country,” Moudhi said.
Women traveling without male relatives accompanying them has been a controversial matter for long. There are those who say women cannot handle unexpected problems that might occur during travel.
Manal Al-Muhaissin, a retired teacher, is of the view. Al-Riyadh met her at a travel agency while making booking for herself and her children to attend her niece’s wedding.
“Women since olden times got used to traveling with their husbands, brothers or sons, who will be in charge of all matters on their journey. This includes making flight bookings and accommodation. If a woman travels alone, her trip might turn into a risky adventure that she cannot deal with in situations like a change of flight schedule, complications with the bookings or an accident, God forbid,” she said.
Al-Muhaissin cited her sister’s experience for an example. An accident occurred when her sister was on a trip in an Asian country with her husband and daughters two years ago.
“My sister’s husband sustained serious injuries in a traffic accident and had to be hospitalized for several days. My sister became so confused, she did not know what to do. She eventually called our brother requesting help. Our brother had to travel to that country to bring them back,” Al-Muhaissin said.
“He approached the Saudi Embassy in that country to make arrangements for the transfer of our brother-in-law to Al-Shumaisy Hospital in Riyadh.”
Rania Al-Sharqawi, a tourist consultant who holds a master’s degree in Business Administration, said women are now the decision-makers when it comes to tourism, whether for themselves or the family.
Choice of destination
“It is the woman in the family who chooses the travel destination, specifies the period of stay and coordinates with the reservation offices. In the majority of cases, it is she who bears the expenses as well,” she said.
As to specifics of tourism activities, Al-Sharqawi said this is determined by the age and interests of the group members and the nature of the journey, whether a family trip, honeymoon, or simply adventure travel.
“Tourist groups exclusively for women have become widely available these days. Many women prefer them to spend some time away from the routine. These trips are described as safe. They guarantee privacy, while having companions during the trip. Some of these trips have been used as self-development programs,” Al-Sharqawi explained.
“When a woman becomes experienced in matters of travel, she can deal with all matters concerning her trip, especially if she is traveling with her female friends or relatives. If a woman abides by the customs and traditions in her own country, then it is not difficult for her to conform outside the borders of her nation,” said Huda Al-Ghareeb, a family consultant.
“Traveling with female friends is the ideal solution for unmarried women who do not find a male relative to accompany them. In the case of married women, their husbands too might be preoccupied with their work, preventing them from joining their wives on their trips. I believe the time when women used to fear traveling alone is past. Now we live in an age of easy communications with a lot of safety means.”
Afghan woman lashed for unknown reasons after Kangaroo Court verdict
February 03, 2018
A woman was publicly lashed many times by forces of a local commander in a village in Takhar province, in the northeast of Afghanistan, after a verdict by a kangaroo court in the province for ‘an unknown reason’, local officials and residents confirmed, reported Tolo News.
The incident took place in Chah-e-Aab district – a remote region in Takhar. The district is under government’s control but reportedly with the dominance of local commanders.
A video on social media shows at least five men lashing the 22-year-old woman in a public place while others shout at her and treat her with bad words.
Takhar officials confirmed the incident, but said it took place at least 45 days ago.
“We will act according to the law and arrest the people involved in the incident and will hand them to judicial institutions,” Sunnatullah Timor, Takhar governor spokesman, told TOLOnews.
The silence of government on the matter during this time is questioned by women’s rights groups.
Beating of a woman in an area under government’s control is worrying, said Bilal Sediqi, spokesman for Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
“This happened under government-controlled area. We ask government to arrest the perpetrators of this incident and bring them to justice,” said Sidiqqi.
Women’s rights activists and religious scholars said such violent incident “is a shame for government”.
“Lashing and holding a kangaroo court for a woman in the area where government has control is concerning,” women’s rights activist Laila Ali said.
“Islam has allowed no one to do such an act,” religious scholar Baz Mohammad Rahmani said.
The AIHRC statistics show that in the last 10 months, six kangaroo court incidents against women and girls have been registered in the commission which have taken place in different parts of the country.
Female students at Saudi university ‘do not need parental consent when exiting campus’
3 February 2018
JEDDAH: Female students will no longer need parental consent to leave the university campus, according to a statement issued by Taif University on Wednesday.
The university explained on it official Twitter account that the decision resulted from royal decree No. 33323, which asked government agencies not to require women to obtain the consent of a guardian when providing services to them “unless there is a legal basis for this request,” the statement said.
The university administration said that it was a public facility like other public facilities that provided services to citizens, stressing that it was neither valid nor within its authority to restrict people’s movement or freedom at the university.
The university’s rector said a unified policy would be applied to male and female students alike.
Nujood Al-Qasem, a Saudi lawyer, told Arab News: “I think this decision is a bold step, and can have a positive impact by spreading a spirit of confidence and freedom and self-reliance among female students. It will facilitate their lives and they will be able to easily practice their other duties and not worry about attending their lectures when there are other necessary commitments in their lives.”
“On the other hand, it also may result in a negative feedback, and cultural, moral and religious awareness is needed so this step is not going to be used in the wrong way,” she said.
Al-Qasem added: “I believe what has delayed the issuance of such decisions until now is the fear of experimenting with new changes, especially when there’s no clear binding law to be implemented, also the fear of it not being applied or exploited in the best way.”
The decision was welcomed on the university’s Twitter account. “A great initiative and an unprecedented distinction thanks to the godfather of development Dr. Husam Zaman. Taif University is taking developmental and educational steps,” said Abdulrahman Al-Harbi, commenting on the university’s tweet.
“Women were not allowed to leave the university before 10am-11am,” said a Twitter user.
Zuraida: Having More Women In Govt Could Prevent Indira Gandhi’s Plight
February 3, 2018
PETALING JAYA: Zuraida Kamaruddin sees the promise by Dr Mahathir Mohamad to prioritise the role of women in government if Pakatan Harapan comes to power as the best thing for women in the country.
According to the PKR Wanita chief, such a scenario would place greater emphasis on women’s rights and help in cases such as the unilateral conversion and custody battles experienced by M Indira Gandhi and S Deepa.
“If more women were policymakers, the cases involving Indira Gandhi and Deepa, pertaining to their children’s unilateral conversion, would not have happened.
“Also, having more women leaders will help lead our society towards a ‘No Child Marriages’ and ‘No Domestic Violence’ environment,” she said.
She added that this would be the outcome with having the input and feedback from women leaders on important issues, in order for decisions to be made with greater consideration towards women.
The Ampang MP said Mahathir’s views also differ with how the Barisan Nasional-led government had no political will to share power with women over the past 60 years.
She was referring to the talk given by the PPBM chairman via Facebook on Thursday.
It was part of the “Policy Talks” by the former prime minister on the social media platform in the lead up to the 14th general election (GE14) which is just months, if not weeks, away.
He blamed Prime Minister Najib Razak for failing to appoint more women to his cabinet.
“Even if there are women in Najib’s cabinet, they are not given important roles.
“They are responsible for small problems, nothing to do with the country’s economy, economic growth, trade growth, like Rafidah Aziz,” Mahathir said, referring to the former Wanita Umno chief who served in his cabinet.
Rafidah was international trade and industry minister between 1987 and 2008, serving under Mahathir and his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Zuraida said she agreed with Mahathir’s views expressed in his policy talks.
“We concur with Mahathir that there is a deficit in the trust on women’s capabilities even when women form the majority of university graduates every year.
“But I am more pleased with Mahathir’s proposal to allocate more than 30% women in decision-making roles in any future administration under the Pakatan Harapan (PH),” she said.
She added that this easily makes the opposition coalition the best choice for the country, as more women would have access to better roles as policymakers.
“With more women helming important positions, especially as ministers or senators, women can be assured that their needs will be taken care of.”
She added that in line with this policy, PH will be fielding even more women candidates in GE14.
“If Pakatan Harapan manages to win this election, a lot more women will be appointed to share power to govern our country.
“The political will of Pakatan Harapan to field at least 30% women candidates for GE14 is a move that will surely be well received by everyone and in particular, women voters.”
How to deal with international driving licenses for women in Saudi Arabia
2 February 2018
The General Directorate of Traffic in Saudi Arabia has explained that work was under way to equip centers for the replacement of internationally recognized women’s driving licenses.
The official account of the directorate on Twitter, said in response to a question from a Saudi woman, that the announcement of the locations for the replacement of international licenses of women, will take place before the scheduled date to apply the decision to allow women to drive the car in sufficient time.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had issued a historic royal decree granting driving licenses for women in the kingdom as of June this year.
The royal decree also ordered the establishment of a high-level committee of involving the ministries of internal affairs, finance, labor and social development. They will be tasked with studying the arrangements of the decree and to ensure the full implementation of the order by June 2018.
Some 70 percent of women in Saudi Arabia are likely to drive once they are allowed to take the wheel, according to a study.
The recent study by Ipsos showed that the most prominent methods of transportation for women in the Kingdom are either to be driven by a male member of the family or through the use of ride-hailing apps.
At least one in five households also have a hired household driver.
UK-Based Imam Strikes Burqa-Clad Woman with Table During Muslim Exorcism
2 Feb 2018
An imam in Sheffield, Yorkshire, has allowed himself to be filmed performing an Islamic ‘ruqyah’ exorcism at his mosque.
The video published by the Metro shows Imam Ayoub Sayed chanting at a Bradford woman, covered from head to toe, through a microphone, as she screams and writhes hysterically.
At one point she lifts a small coffee table above her head, which the imam wrestles from her before appearing to strike her with it, causing her to slump to the floor.
The Metro notes that Sayed has performs “thousands” of these rituals in Britain every year, with “patients” coming from Germany, Norway, Sweden, and even countries as far afield as the U.S. and Iraq.
“She has black magic and the jinni that brought the magic is also in love with her,” explains the imam, referring to the Islamic fire spirits which were often called “genies” by Westerners in earlier times.
“But this is not real love as love does not cause pain and this Jinn has caused many ailments.
“The information about the magic was given by the Jinni when I was speaking to it but it did not say who caused the magic,” he added.
“We only operate in the healing and helping to cure them from these evil practices – but magic practising is widespread.
“A simple Google search would reveal how easy it is to buy or find a spell.”
While they may seem bizarre, Sayed’s beliefs are commonplace in the Middle East, where he is originally from.
In countries such as Saudi Arabia, magic is an accepted fact, and people — often women — are regularly executed for “witchcraft and sorcery”, by methods including public beheading, stoning, and crucifixion.
Sayed drew similarities between his rituals and modern medicine, saying: “We use a diagnosis in a way similar to what you may find at a doctor’s surgery. We list listing common symptoms in either jinn possession or magic and through those answers we can diagnose the problem by Allah’s will.”
He said his “powers” come from his strong Islamic faith and praying five times a day, noting that “Jinn like to incite fear in humans but they cannot attack me because I am not scared of them and God is on my side”.
The imam charges £60 per exorcism, claiming that the money is used to fund the mosque.
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