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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 1 Oct 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Iran's ‘Hanging Machine’ to Execute Reyhaneh Jabbari

New Age Islam News Bureau

1 Oct 2014

A campaign calling for a halt to the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari was launched on Facebook on Monday


 Poster Girls for Jihad: Young Women Raised In West Joining Militants

 Better To Be Prostitute, Says Blogger of Muslim Woman Joining DAP

 Heroism of Indian Muslim Woman in World War II Inspires Today

 Hijab Selfies Fad Takes Off As Australians Show Solidarity with Muslim Women

 Pakistan: Police Foil Marriage of Two Underage Girls

 Armed Woman Arrested Outside Lahore High Court

 An Unfortunate Name: Family Concern over Daughter Named ‘Isis’

 Muslim Women Break Their Silence on Life under Honour Culture

 Pakistan Empowering Women: ‘Minimum Age for Marriage Should Be Fixed At 18’

 Missing Bristol Girl Feared To Be Heading For Syria to Join ISIS - Police

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Iran's ‘Hanging Machine’ to Execute Reyhaneh Jabbari

01 Oct, 2014

Reyhaneh Jabbari has been transferred to Rajai-Shahr Prison to be hanged — while the world parties at the UN and gets ready to permit Iran nuclear capability.

While the West is focused on an Iran nuclear deal and defeating ISIS terrorists, the executioner-regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues violating human rights.

The regime has just transferred Reyhaneh Jabbari to Rajai-Shahr Prison in Tehran and, as she is transferred to be executed, told her to say goodbye to her mother and family.

The Petition to Save Reyhaneh Jabbari from being hanged has been signed by over 188,000 people, but as usual has been ignored by the Iranian regime.

Reyhaneh Jabbari's execution may carried out by tomorrow.



Poster Girls for Jihad: Young Women Raised In West Joining Militants

01 Oct, 2014

Hundreds of young women and girls are leaving their homes in Western countries to join Islamic fighters in the Middle East, causing increasing concern among counterterrorism investigators.

Girls as young as 14 or 15 are travelling mainly to Syria to marry jihadis, bear their children and join communities of fighters, with a small number taking up arms. Many are recruited on social media. Women and girls appear to account for about 10 per cent of those leaving Europe, North America and Australia to link up with jihadist groups, including Islamic State (IS).

France has the highest number of female recruits, with 63 in the region, which is about 25 per cent of the total, and at least another 60 believed to be considering the move.

In most cases they appear to have left home to marry jihadis, drawn to the idea of supporting "brother fighters" and having "jihadist children to continue the spread of Islam", said Louis Caprioli, former head of the French security agency Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire. "If their husband dies, they will be given adulation as the wife of a martyr."

Five people, including a sister and brother, were arrested in France this month on suspicion of belonging to a ring in central France that specialised in recruiting young French women, according to Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister.

Counterterrorism experts in Britain believe about 50 British girls and women have joined IS, with some known to have travelled to Syria to fight. Many are believed to be based in Raqqa, the eastern Syrian city that has become an Isis stronghold.

Twin sisters Zahra and Salma Halane, 16, left their home in Chorlton, Manchester, in July without their parents' knowledge to follow their brother to Syria.

The girls, whose parents fled to Britain as refugees from Somalia, left home in the middle of the night and were reported missing by their parents. Now both are reportedly married to IS fighters. Another woman from Britain, Aqsa Mahmood, wrote in a blog post last month: "Most sisters I have come across have been in university studying courses with many promising paths, with big, happy families and friends, and everything in the Dunyah [material world] to persuade one to stay behind and enjoy the luxury … that's not what we want."

In Austria, the case of two teenage friends, Samra Kesinovic, 16, and Sabina Selimovic, 15, who ran away from their homes in Vienna to join jihadis in Syria, may be "only the tip of the iceberg", said Heinz Gartner, director of the Austrian Institute for International Politics.

An estimated 14 women and girls are known to have left Austria to fight in the Middle East, according to the interior ministry.

Karim Pakzad, of the French Institute of International and Strategic Relations, said some young women had "an almost romantic idea of war and warriors. It's an adventure."

Mia Bloom, a security studies professor at Massachusetts University in the United States, said recruiters painted a "Disney-like" picture of life in the caliphate. Some young women were offered financial incentives, such as travel expenses or compensation for bearing children. But the reality was different, she said.

Bloom and Rolf Tophoven, of Germany's Institute for Terrorism Research and Security Policy, said reports indicated women had been raped, sold into slavery or forced to marry.

Bedroom radicals who went to Syria to marry Islamist fighters

France: When Nora el-Bathy, 15, left her family home in Avignon last January with her school bag, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. But she did not return. Instead, she took a train to Paris, withdrew €550 (HK$5,400) from her savings and changed her mobile phone. She flew to Istanbul, and took a flight to the Syrian border.

Later, her parents - practising but not strict Muslims - discovered that she had opened a Facebook account to contact "jihad recruiters". In one picture, a veiled woman brandishing Kalashnikovs appeared with the caption: "Yes, kill! In the name of Allah."

Nora's eldest brother, Fouad, a former French soldier, was devastated.

The family received two calls: one from a man speaking Arabic and a second from a man speaking French. The caller asked for permission for Nora to marry. Her parents refused.

Fouad eventually succeeded in getting to Syria to see Nora. He said she told him: "'I've made the biggest mistake of my life.'

"She was thin and sick. She never sees any light. She has to look after young children, orphans, but she lives surrounded by armed men."

Britain: Aqsa Mahmood, also known as Umm Layth, left Glasgow for Syria last November and has married an Isis fighter. She is a prolific social-media user and writes a blog in which she advises other women on the best way to travel to Syria and marry a fighter.

Mahmood, 20, has described the difficulty of phoning her parents to tell them she wanted to become a martyr.

In her blog she wrote: "How does a parent who has little Islamic knowledge and understanding comprehend why their son or daughter has left their well-off life, education and a bright future behind, to go live in a war-torn country."

This month her parents, Muzaffar and Khalida Mahmood, publicly appealed for their daughter, who was privately educated and went to university, to return home. Her father said: "If our daughter, who had all the chances and freedom in life, could become a bedroom radical then it's possible for this to happen to any family."

Austria: Samra Kesinovic, 16, and her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15, whose families emigrated to Austria from Bosnia, ran away from their Vienna homes in April, telling their families in a note: "Don't look for us. We will serve Allah - and will die for him."

It is thought the girls were radicalised after attending a local mosque. Police believe both girls married Chechen fighters in Syria and it is suspected that they are both pregnant, as their names on social media have changed to include the Arabic word for "mother" (Umm).

They have been described as "jihad poster girls" whose story is inspiring other young women to join the holy war. Earlier in September the government said two other young girls had been stopped from leaving the country to fight.



Better To Be Prostitute, Says Blogger of Muslim Woman Joining DAP

01 Oct, 2014

A blogger has attacked the actions of a Purdah-wearing Malay woman in joining the DAP, saying she should have become a prostitute instead.

The writer, who calls himself "KuntaKinte Malaysia", slammed the woman, who is known as Melati, claiming that her decision to become a DAP member was akin to selling herself and her religion just for the riches offered.

In a posting entitled "Melati, Lebih Baik Jadi Pelacur Dari Sertai DAP”, the writer said the actions of Muslim girls or any Muslim youth in joining the DAP was actually strengthening the party's efforts to weaken the role and position of Islam in the country.

"A prostitute who sells herself would not decay the position of Islam in the country, but those who join the DAP are helping them destroy Islam in Malaysia.

"The reality is, it is more noble to be a prostitute who sells herself for a mouth of rice, than being those in tudung and purdah who 'sell themselves' to the DAP for the riches of the world until it weakens Islam', he said in a website,

Melati, whose real name is Jamila Rahim, is a UniSel graduate and has written a novel titled, "Pelacur Kelas Pertama”.

The 22-year-old's decision to join the DAP shocked many, especially since she dons the purdah.

While he said he would be praying that Melati and other Muslim girls in DAP, including the party's candidate for the Teluk Intan by-election Dyana Sofea Mohd Daud, would return to the right path, KuntaKinte also flayed Johor PAS Youth for its support for Melati.

Sheikh Omar Ali, a Johor PAS Youth member, who is also an assistant to Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong from DAP, had written in a blog calling Melati's decision, the "Melati Move".

He said that her joining the DAP would somewhat serve as an example to young Malaysians who dared to go against the flow.

"It is a signal that the Y-generation do not hold any racist sentiments as a basis for them to be part of a process in building the future of the country to be more fair and democratic," he said.

KuntaKinte claimed that Omar's reaction proved that the involvement of young Muslims in DAP was only for money.

"Omar's statement and justification only confirms the thousand-year-old theory that riches and property are everything in a human world," he added.

He also questioned PAS which, he said, used to be a party that went all out to reject non-Muslim votes.

"It is extraordinary, they who once thought that voting for a non-Muslim as a representative was prohibited, today justifies the involvement of Muslim youth into a party with a majority of non-Muslim leaders who want to weaken Islam in the country," he said.

In an interview with Malaysiakini today, Melati revealed her reasons for joining a party whose detractors never tire of branding as a threat to the position of Malays and Islam.

“If you look at the DAP constitution, it places humanism and human rights as its main thrusts.

“In Islam, humanism is one of the core factors. So DAP is closer to the concept of justice as prescribed by Islam. And Islam is my main principle in life,” she was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.

Melati stressed that the humanism agenda pushed forth by DAP was crucial in dealing with people of various races and faiths.

She also disagreed with critics who claimed that DAP is a "Chinese, anti-Islam party".

Malaysiakini also reported that previously, Melati was an activist and had worked with soup kitchens around Kuala Lumpur and with orphanages.

The proceeds from her book, Pelacur Kelas Pertama, will go to an orphanage in Teluk Intan, Perak.



Heroism Of Indian Muslim Woman In World War II Inspires Today

The Florida Times-Union

01 Oct, 2014

The quiet, unwavering heroism of a young Indian Muslim woman who sacrificed her life to fight against Nazi domination during World War II offers lessons of faith; courage and inspiration as relevant now as it was back then, say those who heard her story Sunday.

“It really makes you think. What would I do in a situation like that? … I hope I would have had her courage,” said K.C. Emerson of Jacksonville, who decided at the last minute Sunday afternoon to attend the screening of “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story” followed by a panel discussion at the University of North Florida’s Andrew A. Robinson Jr. Theatre.

The film is the true story of Khan, who sacrificed her life to fight against Nazi domination during World War II. The daughter of an American mother and Indian Muslim father, Khan grew up in a home that nurtured interfaith dialogue and cooperation at a Sufi centre of learning in Paris.

In early 1943, she was recruited as a covert operative into Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive. By then Khan had trained as a wireless operator in Britain’s Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. As a covert agent, Khan was instrumental to the French Underground’s direct attack on Nazi units in preparation for the Allies’ D-Day invasions.

In August 1943, Khan was the last surviving clandestine radio operator in Paris and signalled London for additional weapons and explosives for the French underground. Khan ultimately was captured and executed at Dachau, the Nazi concentration camp in Germany.

On Sunday, Emerson was among Northeast Florida residents as well as UNF students nearly filling the theater for the screening and panel discussion, part of the 2014 Distinguished Voices Lecture Series. The program co-hosted by UNF and Better Together at UNF, a student organization composed of religiously diverse students with a mission of mobilizing their peers to voice their values, engage with others, and act together to make the world a better place.

“It’s an exploration into meaning and purpose of life, and what values might be worth risking it,” Tarah Trueblood, director of UNF Interfaith Center, said of the program.

Such dialogue, she said, is especially crucial now, given the conflict in the Middle East and fear generated by ISIS and other terrorist groups.

“Peace happens one relationship at a time. And getting to know your neighbor can be that one big step you take today,” said Trueblood, adding sometimes that can take a lot of courage to reach out to our neighbors if they are different from us.

“We want our politicians to make peace or somebody else to make peace. But making peace takes us going over to our neighbors and getting to know them,” Trueblood said.

The panelists included Alex Kronemer, one of the film’s producers, UNF Interfaith students, Cheryl Tupper of the OneJax Institute at UNF and vice president of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation and Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner of the Jacksonville Jewish Center. UNF President John Delaney facilitated the discussion.

Kronemer is co-founder and executive producer for Unity Productions Foundation. A Muslim, he has delivered talks on religious diversity and Islam for the U.S. departments of Justice and State, FBI and other organizations.

Refusing an order to return to England, Khan stayed in Paris and continued radioing information to the Allies after all her comrades were captured by the Nazis.

“In her case, she just had the determination. She had come with these people, bonded with these people and they had all been captured, but she didn’t want their sacrifice to be meaningless. In retrospect, it was a giant decision to make because it led to her ultimately being killed. But at the time, it was a small decision of heroism,” Kronemer said. “That’s really where I think heroes are made. … Today, what are the small decisions of heroism that we’re making?”

Parvez Ahmed, a faculty mentor and UNF professor, encouraged the audience to continue the conversation sparked Sunday through the program.

“I want us to draw upon the inspiration that Noor gave us through our life and our sacrifices. It would be nice if we could all go beyond the lip service that we often give such inspiration and do something that is actually long-lasting and sustainable,” Ahmed said.

To that end, Ahmed said the UNF Interfaith Center is instituting a service award to be presented annually to one or more deserving students. In the form of a scholarship, it will be the Noor Inayat Khan Interfaith Service Award, he said.

Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross, the highest civilian medal for bravery and sacrifice in Great Britain. The French awarded her the Croix de Guerre with Gold Star. A plaque bearing her name hangs at Dachau, and a memorial statue of her was erected in London’s Gordon Square in 2012.



Hijab Selfies Fad Takes Off As Australians Show Solidarity with Muslim Women

01 Oct, 2014

AUSTRALIAN women are being encouraged to post “Hijab Selfies” as a sign of solidarity with their Muslim sisters in a new social media campaign aimed at de-stigmatising traditional Muslim dress.

As debates flares in Canberra with calls to ban religious garments, Australian women of all faiths are donning headdresses and proudly posting their pictures online joining the campaign started by lawyer and activist Mariam Veiszadeh.

Studio 10 presenters Jessica Rowe, comic Meshel Laurie and Labor MP Julie Owens are among high profile woman who have joined the Women in Solidarity with Hijabis (#WISH) campaign that aims to “counter anti-Muslim sentiments”.

The Facebook group, which has attracted 14,000 followers since starting only last week, asks women to “stand in solidarity with Australian Muslims by posting photos of themselves on social media, donning the Hijab”.

The campaign has grown from Ms Veiszadeh’s Facebook initiative, the Islamophobic Register, aimed at addressing a surge in incidents targeting Muslim women.

“I’d been hearing about absolutely horrific examples of Muslim women being abused on the streets, mothers who’ve had their prams kicked, friends who are too fearful to leave their homes,” she tells

“Once these incidents were brought to people’s attention through that group, the response was just overwhelming and it came largely from Australian women wanting to help.”

One of these women, a follower named Ruth, asked Ms Veiszadeh if it “wouldn’t be offensive” to put on a Hijab herself and post that online as a show of solidarity, and the #WISH movement was born.

Though the response has been mostly positive, some women who have posted their pictures have been subject to abuse, and questions over whether what they are doing is offensive to Muslims.

“Women can post these pictures saying they’ve got the endorsement of an Australian Muslim woman,” Ms Veiszadeh says.

“The fact that the social media campaign exists says it’s not offensive, it has been started by Muslim women.”

Another criticism that the campaign has faced, like other social media based campaigns before it, is that it’s not inciting any real change, and could be labelled “clicktivism” or “slacktivism”.

But psychologist Jocelyn Brewer, who specialises in social media, society and behaviour, says this campaign is different.

“WISH is a bit more action based (than other campaigns)”, she tells

“It requires women to take a bunch of steps and it’s much more personal that just liking or sharing something pre-existing.”

The call for women to don the religious garment as a show of solidarity coincides with calls to ban another Muslim garment, the Burqa.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott today said he found the garment “confronting” and he wished “it wasn’t worn”.

“Frankly, I wish it was not worn but we are a free country, we are a free society and it is not the business of Government to tell people what they should and shouldn’t wear,” the PM said.

When asked specifically whether the garment should be worn in Parliament House, he said: “It should be governed by the rules that are appropriate for a secure building and obviously people need to be identifiable in a secure building such as this.”

Ms Veiszadeh said she “fully supports” the discussion over whether the concealing garment should be removed when it is a security issue, and that the very few women who wore the garment would likely comply if asked to identify themselves or if they were refused entry to a “secure building”.

“Part of the Muslim faith is to follow the laws and regulations of the country that you live in,” she said.

“But when it comes to banning a garment, that’s just ridiculous. The irony is people are concerned men are controlling women over how they should dress when it should be up to the individual, but by banning a garment, that's just another group of men telling women what they’re not allowed to wear.

“This campaign is partly about building up that understanding that Muslim women are not oppressed, they’re wearing the Hijab or whatever they choose to wear because they choose to, and to have so many Australian women sharing that message is heartening.”



Pakistan: Police foil marriage of two underage girls

01 Oct, 2014

GHOTKI: The Ghotki police on Monday foiled a bid to marry underage girls as settlement of a dispute on the orders of a council of local elders (panchayat) in Kot Sabzal near the Sindh-Punjab border. According to the police, they raided the village on a tip-off and rescued 6-year-old Farzana and 8-year-old Aamna. The police also arrested Nikah registrar and elders of the village who gave the orders besides seizing Nikah register. The suspects were produced before area magistrate, who remanded them into police custody.



Armed woman arrested outside Lahore High Court

01 Oct, 2014

LAHORE: Police on Monday arrested a woman soon after the security staff recovered a loaded-pistol and two magazines with bullets from her handbag at the checkpoint when she tried to enter the Lahore High Court (LHC) premises.

The woman, later identified as Abida Bibi, was handed over to the Old Anarkali police for further investigations. A case was also registered against the lady.

Police sources said the resident of Shadbagh, Abida, had come to the court along with her husband in connection with the love-marriage case of her niece. Police are investigating why the woman tried to enter the high court premises with a loaded-pistol.

Investigators say they believe the possibility of gun attack to target the girl for contracting love marriage could not be ruled out.

First, the woman argued with the policemen deployed at the main gate to skip physical search. But the policewomen searched her handbag and recovered a 30-bore pistol and two magazines with bullets. Abida claimed she had a license for the weapon and she was carrying the pistol for her safety. She said that she did not know that it was against the law to bring a gun to the court.

Police security and checking of the visitors has been intensified outside the Lahore High Court to avoid any untoward incident.

In June 2013, two accused in a murder case were shot dead in the Sessions’ Court premises while two others wounded by their opponents.

A 25-year-old woman was stoned to death by her father and two brothers outside the LHC for contracting love-marriage in May.



An unfortunate name: Family concern over daughter named ‘Isis’

01 Oct, 2014

A Sydney-family is calling the public and media to stop referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militant group as ISIS, an acronym synonymous with their eight-year-old daughter’s name.

The Leskiens called their daughter after Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess of magic and life, the Daily Mail reported.

The name spells and sounds like the acronym used to describe the notorious militant group that has been accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity in addition to displacing thousands in Iraq and Syria.

The concerned parents hope to end the association between the extremist group and their daughter’s name, in effort of barring harm from coming to one of the 'tens of thousands' of women who share the same name.

“It's a beautiful name we spent so long choosing it. [The Egyptian goddess] Isis is a nurturer and someone who cares. People used to say to us: ‘What a beautiful name’,” Isis’ father, Frank Leskien told the Daily Mail Australia.

“This is hurting my little family and we've lost family because they're scared and don't want anything to do with's soul-destroying,” he said, adding that people are distancing themselves from his family out of fear.

“I have been calling her Isis for eight years, if not longer, because I was calling her Isis while she was in the womb…do we have to wait until something that happens to one of them before [someone listens]?” he said.

The Mail said that the family asserted that their calls had nothing to do with race or religion, but only revolved around the safety of their daughter.

“I just want her name to be safe and be what it's meant to be,' the father said.

“All I really want is to go back to my quiet simple life. We’re just simple people,” adding it his duty to “try as hard as I can as a father to protect my daughter.”

Maximus, Isis’ 13-year-old brother, told his father that he was put in a situation where he had to defend his sister’s name at school.

“We go to soccer and I call out ‘Isis’ and people look at me,” he was quoted as saying.

“People are scared associated with us.”

The Leskiens are not alone in their plight, as a U.S. woman recently started a petition demanding news outlets to stop calling the group ISIS. But the Leskiens are not the only one taking up the fight to reclaim the name, Isis.

“You can help save the name of #ThousandsofWomenNamedIsis and save us from the backlash of being associated with this horrific terrorist group of monsters,' Isis Martinez, who started the petition, wrote.

“Little girls, especially in the United States, named Isis have reported bullying while women with the name are facing negative associations through their employment and in public places like airports, airplanes even at times being called terrorists themselves,” she said.



Muslim Women Break Their Silence On Life Under Honour Culture

01 Oct, 2014

Every day, women around the world are at risk of female genital mutilation, forced marriage and violence, all in the name of "honour".

But now, grassroots documentary 'Honor Diaries' aims to shatter the silence surrounding these sexist practices by exposing the truth about honour-based societies.

"In many honour-based societies women are not viewed as equal to men," Paula Kweskin, the film's producer, tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle. "Their voices, bodies and lives are not seen to be as valuable."

The documentary follows the lives of nine brave women who have been affected by honour-based practices.

"I grew up in a country where women are meant to be seen and not heard – it truly is a patriarchal society," says Raheel Raza, one of the film's stars.

Raheel is a Muslim journalist who was born in Pakistan, but now lives in Canada. The 64-year-old has dedicated her entire adult life to campaigning for women's rights because of what she witnessed as a child.

Although Raheel says she didn't suffer any direct abuse and describes her father as a feminist, she admits to being treated differently to her brother - he was sent to school in America on a scholarship, but the same education was denied of her.

"There are double standards for boys and girls in honour cultures - they are not given the same opportunities," she says.

Some of the women in the film were victims of honour culture themselves, having been forced into marriage at a young age or denied education. Others witnessed friends and family suffering from oppressive practices, and now campaign for change.

Both Paula and Raheel are hoping the film will raise awareness about the inequality women face in honour cultures. They believe the silence surrounding honour crimes has enabled them to be committed without consequence for so long.

The UK Government reports estimate that approximately 60,000 girls aged 0 to 14 years old were born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM. In 2013, the Home Office Forced Marriage Unit found 1,302 cases in the UK, although many others almost certainly went undetected.

"I feel that the reason the statistics are so high for forced marriage, FGM and violence is because we do not speak about them – these issues have been around for a long time but they’ve always been off limits to talk about," Raheel says. "If there isn’t awareness, we cannot begin to work towards a solution."

Paula adds: "Unfortunately these issues are so entrenched in society that they’re not spoken about enough.

"The film is all about shattering the silence so people feel comfortable speaking about these issues – then hopefully we’ll see further action taking place."

Paula's passion for women's rights stems from her full time occupation as a human rights lawyer. 'Honor Diaries' is the her first film, she decided to create the documentary after working with women during the Arab Spring uprising.

The work has steadily received acclaim and praise from international media and has recently been made available to view on Netflix.

Those involved with making the film are hoping more people in the Western world will now watch it since it's now available to Netflix's 13.8 million subscribers. The hope is that women who are "free" will feel compelled to help those in honour cultures while recognising that violence against women is not restricted to the Middle East.

Although we still have a long way to go, there does seem to be some movement towards tackling these crimes already.

With Egypt and Kenya increasing the amount of FGM trials they hold and David Cameron holding the UK's first Girl Summit in March, it seems the world may finally be starting to pay attention to violence against women.

"The issues have been buried because it’s considered taboo to even talk about these things - those who think it’s taboo have managed to hide behind the message that ‘this is culture , this is tradition’ – but it’s not in anyone’s culture to be abused.

"But the conversation has flourished over the last couple of years, and I think that's because of social media.

"Women in Kenya and women in the UK are able to connect and draw strength from each other, which empowers them and enables then to speak up," Paula says.

'Honor Diaries' aims to keep this burgeoning conversation alive and inspire change, so what can viewers in the West do to help women in honour cultures?

Paula says helping to promote the film and its message is a start.

"People in the UK can tell their friends to watch it, tweet it, put it on their Facebook page or even host a screening," she says.

"We also have a global coalition of women’s rights activists that are listed on our website, so anyone who feels moved by the film can check those out and maybe volunteer."

And Raheel echoes Emma Watson's UN speech by saying that it's not just women who need to speak up for women's rights - but men as well.

"This is not a anti-men movement, it is very a pro-men movement," she says. "We need to involve the men to move towards change. Men are an essential component when it comes to woman’s rights in the Muslim world."



Pakistan Empowering women: ‘Minimum age for marriage should be fixed at 18’

01 Oct, 2014

LAHORE: Participants of a two-day youth conference demanded legislature set the minimum age for marriage at 18 years for both boys and girls and urged the government to stop child marriages.

Shirkat Gah – a women’s resource centre – had organised the National Youth Convention on Peace, Pluralism and Democratic Norms.

The objectives of the event were: advancing women’s participation in public and political arenas for strengthening democratising processes; building women’s leadership, especially amongst youth, to resist the undermining of societal pluralism; advocacy for women’s inclusion in all public forums; and promoting the accountability of government officials.

The participants came up with a charter of demands and presented it to the parliamentarians.

“In order to stop child marriages, governments in the Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan must pass legislations that set 18 years as the legal age for marriage for both girls and boys,” the first demand read.

The participants welcomed the recent legislation and guidelines on child marriage, domestic violence and Darul Aman in Sindh and demanded strict implementation of the legislations. They demanded that other provinces follow Sindh’s lead.

“Governments in all four provinces are asked to recruit women police officers. So that common women are not reluctant to approach police,” the second demand read.

The convention demanded immediate implementation of Article 25(A) of the 18th Amendment. “Free education should be provided to all children aged between 5 and 16 years. In addition, vocational training institutes should be developed so that unemployment and poverty was reduced,” the charter said.

“The provincial governments are asked to review curricula at private schools and madrassahs. Any curriculum promoting hatred, violence or prejudice should be banned.”

The participants said that peace committees in all provinces should be made functional and women’s and minorities’ participation in these should be ensured.

The youth asked the provincial governments to hold local elections and to ensure at least 50 per cent women’s representation. “Out of these 50 per cent seats, 10 per cent should be reserved for women from minority communities. Ten per cent of the seats should be reserved for male representatives of minority communities,” the charter said.

The youth demanded that women be given the legal right to choices regarding reproductive health.

Minister for Planning, National Reforms and Development Ahsan Iqbal said that Pakistan’s progress could not be ensured without the participation of women in all fields of life. “Women in Pakistan face restrictions in the name of culture. Despite the odds, they are growing stronger and are more committed to their cause today,” he said.

Awami National Party leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been hit the hardest by terrorism and other non-state actors. “Our province has faced the brunt of war on terror. In order to achieve true empowerment, it is extremely important to first ensure peace,” he said.

Senator Saeed Ghani said that the Pakistan Peoples Party had always supported women empowerment. “I am a senator today because my grandmother wanted her children to be educated and become productive citizens,” he said.

Senator Rubina Khalid, MNA Shaista Pervaiz Malik and Bushra Gohar too attended the event.



Missing Bristol girl feared to be heading for Syria to join ISIS - police

01 Oct, 2014

A missing 15-year-old British girl is believed to have fled the UK to go to Syria to join Islamist fighters after becoming radicalized, police have said.

The girl left her family’s house in Bristol in the morning to go to school, but was not there when her father came to pick her up in the afternoon.

The Daily Mail identified the girl as Yusra Hussien, who was reported missing by her parents last Wednesday in Bristol.

Instead, she is believed to have traveled to London, where she met another 17-year-old girl from South London, before they boarded a plane from London Heathrow Airport to Istanbul. Officers are now trying to find her before she crosses the border into Syria.

Police fear that the girl, of Somali origin, may have been radicalized and that she traveled to Syria via Turkey in the hope of fighting with Islamic extremists.

Louisa Rolfe, Avon and Somerset’s assistant chief constable, said “We can confirm that a 15-year-old student from Bristol has traveled to Turkey and we understand she may be attempting to make her way to Syria.

“Since she was reported missing by her parents we’ve carried out extensive work to trace her footsteps from the time she left home to her arrival in Istanbul, Turkey.

“There are indications she may have been radicalized, but at the moment our priority is to find her before she crosses the border to Syria and make sure she is safe. We must all be vigilant and ready to spot the signs of radicalization.”

The family of the missing Bristol teen urged her to come home. A spokeswoman, Hibaq Jama, read this statement on behalf of the family: “Please come back, we miss you very much. You are not in any trouble. We just want you to be safe and to come home as soon as possible.”

Jama added, “What we know about her is that she is an incredibly bright, incredibly articulate, popular, gifted young lady who was admired by, and very much looked up to, by her peers.

“She was very aspirational, wanting to go on and become a dentist, so it has come as a complete shock to the parents.”

An expert said the schoolgirl will probably "become a jihadi bride.”

Haras Rafiq from the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank, told Good Morning Britain, "It's more than likely that she will actually go and become a jihadi bride. She at the age of 15 will marry somebody who she considers to be a holy warrior and that's how she will play a part in the jihad.”

In June this year, 16-year-old twins Zahra and Salma Halane from Greater Manchester left the UK to join ISIS fighters in Syria. The girls were stellar students, with 28 GCSEs between them, and were planning to become doctors.

Around 500 Britons are believed to have gone to Syria and Iraq to join extremists.