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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 14 May 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Iran Bans Men from Looking At Women during Ramadan

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 May 2019

Women were warned to 'respect the hijab' more than ever during Ramadan



 Sisters in Islam Urge Kelantan Religious Authorities to Stop Policing the Way Women Dress

 Muslim Women Accuse Amazon of ‘Harassing and Hostile’ Work Conditions

 Jakarta Muslim Women Concerned Over Growing Antifeminist Movement

 11 Chinese Nationals Sent To Jail in Fake Marriages with Pakistani Women and Forcing Them into Prostitution after Taking Them to China

 Students Clash over Hijab at Tehran University

 Democratic Leaders Back Muslim Lawmaker after Holocaust Comments

 The Women Defying Menace and Mistrust to Rid Pakistan Of Polio

 Iranian Students Protest Mandatory Headscarf Rule

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Iran Bans Men from Looking At Women during Ramadan

MAY 13, 2019

Iran has ordered its men to stop looking at women during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Along with banning men from looking at women, the Iranian government also announced bans on eating in public, and playing music in cars, as part of a new social crackdown, The Telegraph reported Saturday.

“My personal advice to women is to respect the hijab even more than before and gentlemen must avoid looking directly at female passersby,” Gholam- Hossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesperson said.

“Anyone ignoring these instructions during the Ramadan will be committing an offense and should expect some punishment from the law enforcement units.”

Those who break the rules will be punished, from fines to arrest and imprisonment, depending on the crime.

The strict new rules are said to be a product of Iran’s increasing civil unrest, allowing the government to maintain some semblance of control over its discontent people.

Iranian authorities are also investigating viral videos of Iranian schoolgirls and some teachers smiling while dancing to a pop song by U.S.-Iranian rapper Sassy. Officials have deployed specialist teams to determine the source of the video.

“The enemy is trying different ways to create anxiety among the people including by spreading these disturbing videos,” Iran’s Education minister Mohammad Bathaei said, according to The Daily Mail. “I’m certain there’s some kind of political plot behind the publication of these devious clips in schools.”

Iran’s Guardian Councilmember Ayatollah Abbas Ka’bi called the videos fuel for “the enemy’s cultural war” against Iran.

Iran’s society has felt the pressure from the collapsed currency, the rial, which has nearly collapsed while inflation has risen to nearly 40 percent.

Other civil unrest has taken place in the form of protests and strikes, as labor and civil service strikes have been underway, along with women’s rights demonstrations.

Recently, Iranian male and female students have been protesting Iran’s mandatory headscarf law.

Since 1980 Iranian women have been required to wear a headscarf in public at all times while in Iran, and if found violating those rules, they are subject to two months in prison or a $25 fine, the Associated Press reported.

As protests against headscarves have intensified since 2017, Iranian law enforcement have toughened their stance against dissidents. One such example is human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoude, who received a seven-year prison sentence just for defending women’s rights activists.



Sisters in Islam Urge Kelantan Religious Authorities to Stop Policing the Way Women Dress

13 May 2019


KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 — Muslim women’s rights group Sisters in Islam today demanded that Kelantan’s Islamic Affairs and Religious Department (JAHEAIK) to stop policing women for their clothing choices after 39 women were slapped with notices for dressing sexily and behaving indecently in public during the fasting month.

“The obsession to control what women wear needs to stop.

“Not only does this practice humiliate and degrade the value of women, but the compulsive need to control what women wear also implies that she is mentally, physically and spiritually defective and a danger to the moral order of society,” SIS said in a statement.

The group also said they were concerned that the operation carried out in Kota Baru unfairly targeted Muslim women as no summons were issued to men who fail to guard their modesty by lowering their gaze as commanded by Islam.

“This discrimination unfairly suggests that women are exclusively to be blamed for social and moral ills within the community.

SIS said that JAHAEIK should make the effort to understand the realities of the community which they serve, as well as the systemic causes of social ills, which does not stem from how women choose to dress.

During the operation yesterday, JAHEAIK assistant chief director (Shariah law division) Mohd Fadzuli Mohd Zain told reporters that the women were slapped with the notices during a nine-hour operation.

He said 70 enforcement officers from several agencies such as JAHEAIK, Kota Baru Municipal Council (MPKB), state Welfare Department and the police took part in the operation which ended about 7pm last night.

39 women were slapped with the notices and need to attend counselling sessions in stages as set by the department while eight others were given a warning not to repeat their act.

He said the eight women were also warned not to wear sexy attires in public.

Fadzuli said during the operation two men were caught at a restaurant for not fasting.

He said the department would continue to carry out similar operations from time to time to nab those who breached provisions in the Shariah law.



Muslim Women Accuse Amazon of ‘Harassing and Hostile’ Work Conditions

By Abha Bhattarai

May 13, 2019

Amazon is being accused of religious discrimination and retaliation by three Muslim workers in Minnesota who say the tech giant denied them time and space to pray and routinely assigned them less favorable work than their white counterparts, according to a federal complaint filed last week.

The workers, all black women from Somalia, say Amazon created a hostile environment for Muslim workers at its warehouse in Shakopee, Minn. They also allege that Somali and East African workers were denied promotions and training that went to white workers and were relegated to more difficult tasks, like packing heavy items.

“Amazon is one of the largest employers in Minnesota and it relies on these workers to make billions, but it is withholding these basic accommodations as required by law,” said Nabihah Maqbool, an attorney for Muslim Advocates, a nonprofit organization that is representing the women. “Our clients are being monitored in their warehouses in such a way that they fear each day that they will be fired when they go to work.”

She added that many of the facility’s workers are from East Africa, while the “vast majority” of managers are white.

Seattle-based Amazon has repeatedly come under fire for its treatment of workers, particularly at its 110 warehouse facilities, where physical demands can be grueling.

Last year, it raised starting wages to $15 an hour following criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and others that too many of its workers were relying on food stamps, Medicaid and other government programs to make ends meet. Amazon has more than 250,000 hourly workers at its U.S. warehouses, making it one of the country’s largest employers. (Amazon’s founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.)

The complaint in Minnesota comes on the heels of another recent report that at least seven women have filed lawsuits against Amazon accusing the company of pregnancy discrimination and retaliation. The workers allege that Amazon did not make accommodations for requests such as longer bathroom breaks and fewer continuous hours on their feet, according to CNET, which reviewed the lawsuits. All seven women were also fired after informing managers about their pregnancies, CNET said.

Amazon has disputed those claims: “It is absolutely not true that Amazon would fire any employee for being pregnant,” a spokeswoman told CNET. “We are an equal opportunity employer.”

In Minnesota, workers say they worried about taking breaks to pray or go to the bathroom because they were under pressure to meet certain quotas. Failing to make those “rates,” they said in their complaint, could result in a written warning that could eventually lead to their firing. The women also said the lack of air conditioning at the warehouse made it difficult to fast during Ramadan.

Two of the three women who filed the claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission continue to work at Amazon; one was “constructively discharged” at the end of December.

“The heavy items make it so difficult to make the rate,” one of the women said in an email. She spoke on the condition of anonymity because she still works at the company and fears reprisal. “I don’t have even a second to speak with the associate next to me, or take a break, or drink water. When I go to pray I worry what will happen with the rate.”

Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Robinson said prayer breaks shorter than 20 minutes are paid, as required by law, and that employees can request longer unpaid prayer breaks “for which productivity expectations would be adjusted."

The workers also accuse Amazon of illegally retaliating against them after they participated in a December event protesting discrimination at the warehouse. All three women said they “noticed a campaign of retaliatory harassment” that included more difficult assignments and increased surveillance. One worker said supervisors began recording her day-to-day conversations on video.

“Amazon’s message to Somali workers has been clear: Since they protested Amazon’s discriminatory actions, Amazon management would now create an environment so harassing and hostile that they would be forced to quit,” Muslim Advocates wrote in a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“These women are not alone,” the letter continued. “The conditions described in their charges reflect a broader pattern and practice of unlawful employment discrimination against Muslim, Somali, and East African workers at Amazon.”



Jakarta Muslim Women Concerned Over Growing Antifeminist Movement

May 14, 2019

The rise of a religiously conservative women’s movement has raised concerns among a few prominent Muslims who believe that feminist principles do not contradict Islamic values. A relatively new campaign, which called itself the Indonesia Without Feminists movement, has recently been rolled out, promoting illiberal messages to challenge budding feminist thoughts in the predominantly Muslim nation. The movement's members generally promote the belief that feminism is a Western ideal that is not compatible with Islamic values. Renowned feminist Muslims were quick to refute this notion, arguing that Islam is actually a "feminist religion" that endorses gender equality. Muslim intellectual and women’s rights activist Musdah Mulia explained in a discussion recently that Islam strongly promoted gender equality as Prophet Muhammad once fought for equal treatment...



11 Chinese Nationals Sent To Jail in Fake Marriages with Pakistani Women and Forcing Them into Prostitution after Taking Them to China

May 14, 2019

LAHORE: A judicial magistrate on Monday sent 11 Chinese citizens to jail on judicial remand and directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to submit a charge-sheet against them.

The suspects are allegedly involved in contracting fake marriages with Pakistani women and forcing them into prostitution after taking them to China.

The investigating officer (IO) produced the Chinese nationals before the court on expiry of their two-day physical remand and stated that further custody of the suspects was not required.

He said there was no possibility of more disclosures or recovery by the suspects.

At this, magistrate Amir Raza Bittu sent the suspects to jail on judicial remand for 14 days directing the IO to ensure submission of the challan within the stipulated time.

The suspects include Hongfa Yang, Libing Liu, Bo Wang, Chuanjia Liu, Gongze He, Tianyyi Liu, Feng Xnu Yang, Chan yen, Song Guoqian, Liu and Wei Linping.

The FIA accused the suspects of contracting fake marriages with Pakistani women with the help of local facilitators and then forcing them into prostitution after reaching China. The agency also accused the suspects of using them for organ trade.

Meanwhile, Lu Yaff and some other Chinese nationals approached the Lahore High Court against the alleged harassment caused by FIA and police.

Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem took up the petition where their counsel argued that his clients arrived in Pakistan on valid business visas.

He claimed the petitioners were being harassed by the FIA and the police since the scam of fake marriages had surfaced. He said the law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) also interrogated the petitioners and confiscated their passports and mobile phones.

He asked the court to restrain the LEAs from harassing the petitioners.

A law officer opposed the petition and stated that the law of the land was equal for local and foreign nationals.

He assured the court that the Chinese nationals were not being harassed and the LEAs had been taking actions strictly under the law.

The judge disposed of the petition with an instruction to LEAs to act in accordance with law.

Hearing another petition filed by a Lahore woman, Justice Shahid Karim sought replies from the federal government and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) about non-issuance of the identity card with the name of her Chinese husband who converted to Islam.

Asifa Shahzadi pleaded through her counsel that she married Chinese citizen Wang Fai and her husband was given an Islamic name, Abdul Rasheed.

Ms Shahzadi said she applied to Nadra for issuance of a fresh CNIC with fresh marital status and name of her husband. However, she said Nadra denied her new card putting objection to the documents of her husband.



Students Clash over Hijab at Tehran University

13 May 2019

Clashes erupted between Iranian students at Tehran University on Monday during a demonstration against the enforcement of wearing hijab or Islamic veil, media reports said.

“A number of students gathered... claiming that morality police and security forces had entered the university” to warn students against failing to observe compulsory hijab laws, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

The agency reported that a vice president in charge of cultural affairs at the university had attempted to speak to the students but was “physically prevented” from doing so.

The vice president, Majid Sarsangi, denied any police or security forces had entered the university grounds.

However, he said, “two groups of students with opposing thoughts and ideals unfortunately clashed with each other while we tried to calm down the enraged students.”

ISNA published parts of a statement issued by the students protesting enforcement methods that said female students faced “severe checks when entering the university”.

“The imposition of one type of attire on students... is a direct violation of their human rights,” it added.

Fars news agency, said scuffles broke out between the protesters and other students who supported the enforcement of hijab when demonstrators began marching in the grounds and shouting what it called “law-breaking slogans”.

They “were shouting slogans against attire laws and observance of hijab,” Ali Tolouie, the head of Tehran University Student Basij Organization, told Fars, adding the protesters' statement “shows they are against Islam itself”.

There were no reports of any casualties or arrests.



Democratic Leaders Back Muslim Lawmaker after Holocaust Comments

MAY 14, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic leaders on Monday rallied behind a freshman lawmaker on Monday after President Donald Trump and other Republicans attacked her over comments about the Holocaust and Palestinians.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer both issued statements on Twitter saying Trump and other Republicans should apologize to Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American from Michigan and one of two Muslim women in Congress. Presidential candidate and senator Bernie Sanders also weighed in.

On the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery” last week, Tlaib was asked about her support for a one-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.

In a rambling answer, she said: “There’s kind of a calming feeling I always tell folks when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors, Palestinians, who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports.

“I mean, just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time, and I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right, and it was forced on them,” she said.

Congressional Republicans attacked Tlaib over the weekend, with House Republican Whip Steve Scalise labeling her comments anti-Semitic. “More than six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust; there is nothing ‘calming’ about that fact,” Scalise said.

Trump joined them on Monday with a tweet calling Tlaib’s remarks “horrible and highly insensitive.”

“She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people,” the president said.

Pelosi and Hoyer said Trump and House Republicans had taken Tlaib’s words out of context. They “should apologize to Rep. Tlaib & the American people for their gross misrepresentations,” Pelosi wrote on Twitter.

Their swift defense contrasted with the Democratic party’s internal wrangling earlier this year over whether to rebuke another Muslim lawmaker, Representative Ilhan Omar, for remarks that were also seen as anti-Semitic by some when she suggested that Israel’s supporters have an “allegiance to a foreign country”.

At that time some Democrats warned that party leaders were playing into Republicans’ hands. In the end, the Democratic-run House approved a broad resolution condemning anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination and other forms of bigotry.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, on Monday called Tlaib’s comments “grossly #antiSemitic and ignorant.”

“You should take some time to learn the history before trying to rewrite it,” he said on Twitter.



The Women Defying Menace and Mistrust to Rid Pakistan Of Polio

14 May 2019

It began with a rumour, a breathless video circulating on Facebook saying children in Peshawar had been taken ill after being vaccinated for polio.

Within hours, a second video emerged showing the same children being instructed to lie down and feign illness. But it was too late. The latest attempt to derail Pakistan’s formidable drive to eradicate polio had already taken hold, leaving thousands of parents panic-stricken and a government health facility partially burned down.

The man who orchestrated the alarmist video was arrested, but Babar Bin Atta, the prime minister’s focal person on polio eradication, was plainly exasperated.

“The man is a trouble-maker caught red-handed on video telling children to act as though they are ill,” he said. “The real enemy is social media.”

With three days to reach more than 9,000 children in the Mustafabad district of Karachi, workers going door to door are frustrated at having to deal with yet another swirl of misinformation. Yet, armed with essential vaccine drops and children’s vitamins – not to mention facts, smartphone videos and the endorsements from doctors, clerics and celebrities that have become an essential part of attempts to eradicate the centuries-old disease in Pakistan – they remain resolute.

Nationwide, a quarter of a million frontline workers are involved in efforts to vaccinate the 40 million children in the country under the age of five. Zahoor Jah, 55, a grandfather who lives locally, says the repeated drives can be tedious, especially in areas that aren’t well served by health clinics. But he hopes polio will go the way of smallpox.

“It’s a lack of education that leads to these things,” he says of the Peshawar videos. “But these women are doing a fantastic job of convincing almost everyone. Being local makes a big difference. Everyone recognises them and trusts them.”

Across town, Syeeda Bahuu, 40, is engaged in vaccination efforts at Karachi Cantonment, the city’s main railway station. Originally from Quetta, she moved south to Karachi following “some troubles”. Two of her own children have been affected by polio. A typical shift brings in 700 rupees (£7.61) a day.

While most children will be vaccinated at home, the team’s presence here, and at tollgates into the city, reflects how mobile people’s lives can be, from seasonal workers to those visiting family. In three hours, Bahuu has converted 16 refusals into successful vaccinations, using her personal experience and videos from the city’s emergency operating centre. In all, 418 children have been inoculated here this morning.

Polio is now endemic in just three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Pakistan is tantalisingly close to eradication. The number of cases here has dropped from 306 in 2014 to 13 so far this year, but environmental tests show the virus is still present in the country.

Naeemjan Barki was devastated when his young son was diagnosed with polio. Now 11, Naseebullah likes to go out with his father to support vaccination teams in volatile Gulshan Town. He loves cricket, but says not everyone will play with him. Naseebullah seizes the opportunity to go into bat with Jim Bailey, who is visiting Karachi with the One Last Push campaign.

At 62, Bailey is a member of the last British generation living with the long-term effects of polio. A former taxi driver from Belfast’s Falls Road, he now teaches IT skills to school leavers.

He’s here in Karachi to see ‘“how they are dealing with what we left in the past”. Bailey is struck by the resilience of those affected.

“It’s a massive programme going on here,” he says. “I suppose I thought: ‘I have polio, that’s it, done and dusted, I don’t have to be worried about it any more.’ But polio can come back. It can affect my kids, my grandkids, unless it is eradicated. It’s amazing, the effort the vaccinators have to go to here. They cannot fail.”

Gulnaz Shirazi, 35, ensures every child entering the social security hospital in the industrial Landhi area of the city is vaccinated. Her deft checks are fuelled by personal involvement. In 2012, as she wrapped up for the day, she heard the shots that killed her sister-in-law and niece, both polio prevention workers, a few streets away. “I decided I couldn’t let their lives go to waste. It just made my resolve stronger.”

Khalida Nasareen, 61, first got involved 22 years ago, when she was a local councillor in Orangi Town, in the city’s north. She has been instrumental in recruiting women from the community who have the right skills, education, trust and access. Two health workers were killed in the area in 2012, and it wasn’t easy to persuade parents to allow their daughters to vaccinate street to street for 7,500 rupees.

“There was a lot of fear, but that has got better since the community-based approach took off,” she says.

“We build up a relationship with families through hearing their problems, knowing them. We can spot the extra pair of shoes by the doorstep that belong to a visiting child.”

Now 61, she has taken to getting around by quad bike so that she can quickly be on site if one of her team calls in with problems. Her diabetes means she has numbness in one foot, but nothing will stop her. “You cannot shut the programme until polio is eradicated,” she says. “No young child should get the virus these days.”



Iranian Students Protest Mandatory Headscarf Rule

May 13, 2019


Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency says university students have held a campus protest against authorities' increasing pressure on women to wear mandatory headscarves in public.

The report says the students — both men and women — briefly scuffled with another group of Tehran University students who support the country's conservative dress code.

The headscarf, or hijab, is required in public for all women in Iran. Those who violate the rules are usually sentenced to two months in prison or less and fined around $25.

ISNA reported in May that a prominent human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was sentenced to seven years in prison after defending anti-hijab protesters.

Iranian authorities have adopted a tougher approach toward such protests since 2017, after dozens of women publicly took off their headscarves.




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