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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 16 Jul 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Iranian Soccer Star’s Sister Wants Women to Be Allowed at His Matches

New Age Islam News Bureau

16 Jul 2019

Rep Ilhan Omar speaks at a news conference after Democrats in the U.S. Congress moved to formally condemn President Donald Trump's attacks on the four minority congresswomen on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 15, 2019.


 ‘Believe All Women’ Makes the ‘Pence Rule’ Just Common Sense

 Two British Women Refuse to Board Plane with Muslim Passengers, Get Kicked Off

 President Trump Falsely Claims Rep. Omar Praised Al Qaeda

 American Mother Loses Saudi Arabian Custody Battle for Her Daughter

 About 450 Foreign Women Drivers Hired By March-End

 Women Seek Clarity on New Sponsorship Rule in UAE

 Egypt’s National Council for Women Visit Women’s Prisons to Ensure Quality of Care

 Saudi Women Rev Up Volkswagen Sales in the Kingdom after a Year on the Road

 What's Behind Quebec's Ban on Religious Symbols?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Iranian Soccer Star’s Sister Wants Women to Be Allowed at His Matches

By Tariq Panja

July 15, 2019

Iran is the highest-ranked soccer team in Asia, a position that underlines the Middle Eastern country’s status as a regional favourite to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, to be held in nearby Qatar.

Thousands of Iranians are expected to make the short journey to cheer on their team, just as they did when the tournament was held in Brazil in 2014, and in Russia last year. Many were women who live in Iran, yet are prohibited from attending men’s soccer matches in their home country.

Iran’s biggest obstacle to qualifying for the World Cup may be off the field, because a campaign to change that prohibition is getting louder. The campaign’s leaders, including the sister of Iran’s team captain, are asking FIFA to ban Iran from World Cup qualifying unless the country changes the law.

The women leading the movement say they share the same passion as male fans for Team Melli, as the men’s national team is known, yet believe only a serious threat of exclusion from the World Cup by FIFA will lead to the end of a prohibition that has lasted for four decades.

Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, wrote a letter last month to Mehdi Taj, the president of Iran’s soccer federation, asking him to provide an answer no later than July 15 about what “concrete steps” the federation would take to ensure that Iranian women could attend World Cup qualification games, which start in September. The deadline passed Monday without a response.

“I ask FIFA to put more pressure, and by pressure it means sanctions, right?” said Maryam Shojaei, who has campaigned the past five years by brandishing banners protesting the men-only rule when Iran plays outside the country, including at the World Cup in Russia last summer. “There has to be a consequence for the Iranian federation, that could be suspension of Iranian football.”

So far, FIFA has shown little appetite for penalizing Iran for a violation the organization describes as against its “most basic principles.” Should it finally act, the consequences could be personal for Shojaei. Her brother Masoud Soleimani Shojaei is the team’s captain, a national hero who has appeared in three World Cup tournaments for Iran.

Maryam Shojaei, center, wore sunglasses and a hat while demonstrating at the World Cup last year.

Identifying herself publicly for the first time as the Iranian captain’s sister, Shojaei, a Canadian citizen, said she began her campaign after she saw the popularity of the Iranian national team among women at the 2014 World Cup. She said her protests have nothing to do with her brother. She did not tell him that she had traveled to Russia, where she protested at the 2018 World Cup as the founder of My Fundamental Right. Separately, Masoud Shojaei has spoken out about the issue at home.

Resistance to the ban comes at a time when the Women’s World Cup has given soccer a worldwide spotlight for players, fans and others to speak out about several gender issues, including pay equity and investments in women’s teams by national federations. (Iran has a women’s national team, which plays its games in head scarves and in front of only female fans when at home, with male fans prohibited from attending.)

The lack of progress is embarrassing for Infantino, who attended a game in Tehran in November 2018 with senior Iranian officials. For that game, Iran lifted the prohibition, allowing a few hundred women to attend. Infantino described the event as a momentous sign of progress, while activists described it as a stunt, no more than an exercise designed to fool a credulous foreign dignitary.

Shojaei said she told FIFA’s secretary general, Fatma Samoura, ahead of the game that the Iranians would use Infantino’s appearance at the game at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium to put on a “show.” She also presented Samoura with a petition that had more than 200,000 signatures.

“Without getting guarantees that women could buy tickets and by sitting there with women who were placed there for him to see, he took part in a charade that was a terrible betrayal of Iranian women who have been begging him in writing for years to act,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “Every Iranian woman knew that this was a charade and they wouldn’t be allowed in.”

FIFA declined to comment.

Infantino’s letter expressed alarm at incidents surrounding an exhibition game between Iran and Syria on June 6, just a day before the start of the Women’s World Cup. Women trying to attend the game were detained by security for several hours, including some who claimed they were beaten.

Other campaigns to lift the ban on women predate the efforts by Shojaei, who in April put her name to a complaint against the Iranian federation that was submitted to FIFA’s ethics committee. The committee is notorious for operating with little transparency.

Another longtime campaigner, who has fought against the restrictions on women for 15 years, managed to watch Iran for the first time by traveling to the World Cup in Russia. The woman, who uses the name Sara to conceal her real identity for fear of arrest, said she, too, believed FIFA must act decisively rather than merely speak out.

Masoud Shojaei, center, training at the World Cup last year. His sister has brandished banners protesting the men-only rule at overseas stadiums where Iran’s team plays.

Of the more than 20 women who started the campaign, now called Open Stadiums, Sara is the only one to remain in Iran. The rest, she said, fled the country.

“It should be based on statute that they suspend the federation,” Sara said.

Last March, while Infantino was in the company of Iranian officials, Sara protested with three dozen female soccer fans and activists by trying to enter the Azadi — some while dressed as men — for the biggest match in the country, a showdown between the clubs Persepolis and Esteghlal that was watched by as many as 100,000 men. The protesters were arrested and detained for several hours.

The movement to lift the stadium ban has gained a nationwide following, becoming part of the larger conversation about women’s rights in the conservative Muslim country. In its earliest days, even many Iranian feminists dismissed the movement.

“If someone asked me, ‘What’s your biggest achievement, what gives you the most satisfaction?’ I would say this: ‘The ayatollahs when they’re talking about women’s rights, they are always talking about women attending stadiums,’” Sara said.

Shojaei, who moved to Canada in 2007 and became a citizen in 2012, has had her banners confiscated while overseas, including in Russia, where FIFA, which has adopted a new human rights guidelines, had provided express permission for her to attend with its delegation.

“I talked to two well-respected clergy, and they said it’s nothing to do with Islam,” she said.

The ban, which has been extended to volleyball and basketball, provides a stark contrast with other cultural arenas in Iran, including theaters, where people of different genders freely mix.

But in a country hobbled by sanctions, the successful soccer team has unmatched popularity, with millions of fans tuning in when Team Melli takes the field.

That popularity, said Shojaei, means the threat of a ban from World Cup qualifiers would most likely lead to the lifting of a ban that went into effect not long after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

“Forty million Iranian women are fans, and they’ve been banned for four decades. If the football team is banned for one World Cup, I think that’s worth it,” she said. “I’m sure at the end — in 10 years, 20 years — people will appreciate it.”



‘Believe All Women’ Makes the ‘Pence Rule’ Just Common Sense

By Karol Markowicz

July 14, 2019

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, is it crazy that men would try to avoid being alone with women they don’t know?

Robert Foster, a state representative in Mississippi who is running for governor, got into hot water last week after he denied journalist Larrison Campbell’s request for a 15-hour “ride along” with his campaign.

Foster was blunt about his reasoning. He tweeted: “Before our decision to run, my wife and I made a commitment to follow the ‘Billy Graham Rule,’ which is to avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of our marriage. I am sorry Ms. Campbell doesn’t share these views, but my decision was out of respect of my wife.”

Foster isn’t alone in following such guidelines. The media made hay of Vice President Mike Pence’s admission that he doesn’t dine alone with women other than his wife.

In the Washington Post, writer Monica Hesse went after Foster’s marriage, positing that his “marriage vows are so flimsy” that he couldn’t be “trusted to uphold them unless a babysitter monitors” the lawmaker. Hesse continued that the rule “keeps women out of the room” and asked her readers: “Can you imagine if a Muslim male candidate refused to be shadowed by a female reporter?”

That’s actually easy to imagine, and the fact that we only hear about this in relation to white, Christian men is telling. Orthodox Judaism has similar rules. An Orthodox Jewish man may refuse to shake hands with a woman, and the same rule holds for Orthodox women. And neither is permitted to spend extended time alone with members of the opposite sex.

The Muslim faith likewise tightly regulates relations between the sexes, and its norms and requirements extend far beyond the workplace.

In 2010, the New York Times reported on the “dilemmas confronting health-care workers in hospitals serving observant Muslim patients,” since female Muslim patients refuse to be seen by male doctors, even in emergency situations.

The Times interviewed a University of Chicago physician, Dr. Aasim Padela, author of a paper titled “Muslim patients and cross-gender interactions in medicine: an Islamic bioethical perspective.” He told the Times: “People who are non-mahram” — that is, unrelated — “adults of the opposite sex are prohibited from being alone together in a closed place where sexual intercourse could occur or where even such an accusation could be made.”

According to tradition, the Prophet Muhammad taught that when a non-mahram woman and man are alone together, Satan is the “third among them.” Thus, Padela notes, Islamic law prohibits not only adultery but “proximity to adultery.”

No one “canceled” Padela for asserting his religious beliefs. There isn’t a movement to force faithful Muslim women to spend time alone with strange men, even though their religion prohibits it.

More important, no one is asking observant Jews or Muslims in government what they would do in Foster’s situation.

Beyond the religious-liberty implications, men’s reticence about being alone with women shouldn’t surprise anyone. The #MeToo movement of the last few years has brought a chorus of voices urging us to “Believe all women” making assault or harassment allegations.

When “Believe all women” is the party line, it’s only prudent for men to take themselves out of situations where they risk being accused of anything. #MeToo began with a serious mission of exposing powerful men who had sexually harassed, and in some cases assaulted, women and gotten away with it.

But thanks to “Believe all women,” it spiraled to a place where accusations went unchecked and were instantly believed. Some websites maintain running lists of accused men, even if accusations are anonymous and/or largely uncorroborated.

In some cases, the accusation didn’t even make any sense. The comedian Aziz Ansari is clawing his way out of a reputational black hole after a woman accused him of being a bad date. He didn’t harass or assault anyone; he was simply bad at hooking up, and his date wrote a scathing piece about it.

Men have seen that they are guilty until proved innocent, and sometimes not even then. They have now — wisely — retreated from women.

Are men afraid to be alone with women? Of course they are. Robert Foster is just one of the few to admit it.



Two British Women Refuse to Board Plane with Muslim Passengers, Get Kicked Off

By Juliette Owen-Jones

Jul 15, 2019

Rabat – On Friday, July 12, two British women were removed by police from a Thomas Cook flight from Turkey to London’s Gatwick Airport after they had a racist meltdown.

The two women were objecting to three Muslim men wearing traditional white robes being on board. The women called the Muslim passengers “terrorists“, “disgusting,” and a “threat” to the plane, according to other passengers.

One passenger, Mario Van Poppel, said all the passengers were “united in anger against this crazy racist woman.”

Mario Van Poppel


a passenger on our Thomas Cook flight #MT105 from Dalaman to Gatwick refuses to board the plane because three bearded men in white prayer robes are on board. All passengers are united in anger against this crazy #racist woman. It's 2am #fedup


04:38 - 12 juil. 2019

Informations sur les Publicités Twitter et confidentialité

83 personnes parlent à ce sujet

“What she was saying was appalling. She was screaming saying they were a ‘threat.’ Kids were crying. An elderly woman behind me was reduced to tears. The Muslim men were offended but they kept their cool,” Van Poppel later said.

Another passenger, Shanea Kerry, said when she leapt to the defense of the three men, the woman called her “a fat bitch.”




So today my flight was delayed 2/3 hours cause 2 racist white women refused to fly with 3 Asian Muslim men.  When confronted for their disgusting behaviour 1 went on to scream abuse & call me a ‘fat bitch’

a thread&footage is coming

twitter get ready to do your thing🤬


15:24 - 12 juil. 2019

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2237 personnes parlent à ce sujet

“I called her out for her racism & highlighted her stupidity in flying to a country rooted in Islamic values then discriminating against Muslims. She then responded with verbal abuse? calling me a ‘fat bitch‘ as mentioned above,” Kerry said on Twitter.

Kerry also complained of Thomas Cook’s handling of the situation, saying the three men who were subjected to racial abuse were not given enough support by the airline.



• 12 juil. 2019

En réponse à @shaneakerry

she then responded with verbal abuse ? calling me a ‘ fat bitch ‘ as mentioned above, when I tried to respond to this I was told by the cabin crew to calm down loool sorry???



once they left the plane or were apparently removed, @TCAirlinesUK apologised only for the delay of the flight & the ‘ scene ‘ & failed to apologise to the victims of the racist abuse.


18:14 - 12 juil. 2019

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72 personnes parlent à ce sujet



 • 12 juil. 2019

En réponse à @shaneakerry

once they left the plane or were apparently removed, @TCAirlinesUK apologised only for the delay of the flight & the ‘ scene ‘ & failed to apologise to the victims of the racist abuse.



I don’t believe there was any support offered to the distressed victims of her racist abuse or any sanctions given to her. One air hostess was even laughing & joking about the situation.


18:19 - 12 juil. 2019

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89 personnes parlent à ce sujet

The plane was reportedly delayed for 70 minutes before the women were escorted off the plane. The moment was captured on film by a passenger, who uploaded it to YouTube.

The video shows one of the women removing her bags from overhead lockers while swearing and calling staff “disgusting,” before being taken off the plane by Turkish police.

In a statement to British paper the Daily Mirror, a Thomas Cook spokesperson said: “Two passengers on flight MT105 from Dalaman to London Gatwick were removed from the aircraft by police following offensive behavior onboard.”

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our first priority and we do not accept this kind of behavior on our aircraft. We are sorry to our customers for the delay this caused to their flight,” the statement added.



President Trump Falsely Claims Rep. Omar Praised Al Qaeda


Jul 15, 2019

President Donald Trump on Monday continued taking aim at a group of House Democratic lawmakers of color after his incendiary tweets telling them to "go back" to their countries over the weekend, falsely accusing Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., of praising terrorist group al Qaeda.

Trump, who was misrepresenting comments Omar made in a 2013 interview, has repeatedly criticized Omar, one of two Muslim women serving in Congress, and used her words to attack her and other Democrats.

Here’s the context around his comments today, and what the Minnesota Democrat has said in the past.

Terrorist organizations

WHAT TRUMP SAID: On Monday, Trump continued to criticize Omar and the other Democratic congresswomen.

"I look at Omar. I don't know, I never met her. I hear the way she talks about al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has killed many Americans. She said you can hold your chest out, you can, 'when I think of al Qaeda I can hold my chest out.'

WHAT REP. OMAR SAID ABOUT AL QAEDA: In 2013, Omar, then a political activist, appeared on a local Twin Cities current affairs program, "BelAhdan," after the bombing of a Kenyan shopping mall by terror group al-Shabab.

In conversations about how American Muslim communities navigate responding to terror attacks committed by Muslim extremists, the host, Ahmed Tharwat, noted how Arabic names for groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah and al-Shabab are commonly used in the U.S.

"It's very interesting that we keep the Arabic name to such a violent, or negative entity," he said.

"They don't mean anything evil," Omar replied, calling their usage "a product of the sensationalized media"

"You have these soundbites and you have these words and everybody says it with such intensity that it must hold meaning," she said.

As an example, she described how one of her professors in a college course on terrorism used to pronounce al Qaeda.

"The interesting thing about the class was that every time the professor said 'al Qaeda,' his shoulders went up," she said.

A clip of Omar's comments has circulated on conservative media and social media, which likely prompted the president's comments.

Asked to respond to Trump’s comments about her previous remarks on Monday, Omar said it was "beyond time to ask Muslims to condemn terrorists."

The Sept. 11 attacks

WHAT TRUMP SAID: Trump also took aim at comments Omar made earlier this year about the September 11th attacks.

"When she talked about the World Trade Center being knocked down, 'some people,' you remember the famous 'some people.' These are people who in my opinion hate our country," Trump said.

WHAT OMAR SAID ABOUT 9/11: Speaking at a Council on American-Islamic Relations event in March, Omar said the advocacy group "was founded after 9/11, because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."

The president and Republicans have accused her of trivializing the Sept. 11 attacks with her remarks. Omar has said she was taken out of context.

In her speech after the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, Omar urged Muslims to stand up for themselves and advocate for their rights as the advocacy group has done.

"Many people expect our community to feel like it needs to hide every time something happens," she said in the speech. "But repeatedly, we have shown them that we are not to be bullied, not to be threatened, we are not to be terrorized, we are strong and resilient, and we will always show up to be ourselves because we know we have a right to a dignified existence and a dignified life."

Attacks on Israel

WHAT TRUMP SAID: On Monday, Trump also said Omar "says horrible things about Israel, hates Israel, hates Jews, it's very simple."

Omar, along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the only other Muslim woman in Congress, have been criticized by Republicans and Democrats for comments about the Israeli government and the influence of pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington, and accused them of evoking anti-Semitic tropes.

Trump has used their comments to claim that Democrats hate Jews, a conflation critics and some Democrats consider to be anti-Semitic, given that American Jews have increasingly criticized the Israeli government in recent years.

Omar has apologized for some of her comments, but defended her criticism of the Israeli government.

WHAT OMAR SAID: In January, Omar was criticized for a (deleted) 2012 tweet where she said Israel "has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel," after the 2012 conflict with Hamas in Gaza. She defended the comments, saying she was criticizing the military action by Israel.

In February, Omar responded on Twitter to a report that Republicans wanted her punished for criticism of Israel, tweeting "It's all about the Benjamin's baby," appearing to be using a common way of referring to $100 bills – which feature Benjamin Franklin – or even playing off a line from “It’s All About the Benjamins,” a 1997 song from rapper Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs that critics said also evoked stereotypes about Jews and money.

Omar followed up with another tweet mentioned the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the prominent pro-Israel advocacy group that wields significant influence in Washington among both political parties.

She eventually apologized for touching on the "painful history of anti-Semitic tropes."

A few weeks later, Omar was at a progressive event in Washington where she said pro-Israel activists pushed "allegiance to a foreign country," in an effort to clarify her initial comments.

"I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country," Omar said, immediately prompting criticism that she was evoking stereotypes about "dual loyalty," a trope seen as anti-Semitic but also associated historically with other immigrant groups.

In March, the House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry in response to Omar's comments, though some Democrats were angry that it didn't mention the congresswoman by name.



American Mother Loses Saudi Arabian Custody Battle for Her Daughter

July 15, 2019

An American woman living in Saudi Arabia lost custody of her four-year-old daughter after a judge ruled that the mother was “new to Islam” and might expose the daughter to foreign traditions.

Bethany Vierra asked her ex-husband for a divorce in 2017, describing him as abusive. But when she attempted to secure custody of her four-year-old daughter, Zeina, the Saudi government ultimately gave custody of Zeina to the child’s grandmother — Vierra’s ex-husband’s mother, according to the New York Times.

“Since the mother is new to Islam and a foreigner in this country and embraces customs and traditions in the way she was raised, we must avoid exposing Zeina to these traditions,” the judge wrote in his ruling. The New York Times reported that he decided the custody decision Sunday.

The judge also cited reasons supplied by Vierra’s ex-husband, such as the fact that she was not suitable to raise Zeina because she is a Westerner and teaches yoga, which her ex-husband reportedly said did not leave her time to care for Zeina.

Vierra’s ex-husband also gave the court pictures of Vierra in a bikini, in yoga pants, and with her hair uncovered, all of which are forbidden in Saudi Arabia. (RELATED: ISIS Bride Spills Info In Murder Case Of 5-Year-Old Girl To Undercover Security Services Driver, Prosecutors Say)

“It’s like 10,000 times worse here because so much is at risk for women when they go to court,” the almost tearful Vierra said in a Sunday interview, according to the Times. “I genuinely thought that there would still be justice served here, and I kind of put everything on that.”

Vierra also supplied the courts with video evidence of her husband using drugs and verbally abusing her in front of Zeina. Vierra’s ex-husband claims, however, that she gave him the drugs and that she forced him to say that he was an atheist. Vierra denied both of these claims.

The court, which accepted her husband’s evidence, found her evidence “legally worthless” unless she could bring forth male witnesses to corroborate her statements.

“It’s videos versus male witnesses,” Vierra said. “They wouldn’t in some cases even look at the evidence that I had. It was just completely disregarded because he ‘swore to God.’ It’s all been infuriating.”

Vierra said that Zeina was both confused and scared at the decision and that Vierra promised Zeina she would fight the decision.

Vierra also worries about the fate of her daughter in the hands of her ex-mother-in-law, saying that her ex-husband’s sister told Vierra that her mother verbally and emotionally abused Vierra’s ex-husband and ex-husband’s sister when they were children.

Saudi law usually allows mothers to have “day-to-day” custody of sons until they turn nine and daughters until they turn seven, according to the Times. Fathers are considered legal guardians past these ages, and Vierra’s ex-husband is legally both her and Zeina’s guardian.

Saudi Arabia announced only last year that mothers can keep custody of their children after a divorce and that mothers would not have to file a lawsuit unless the father contested custody.



About 450 Foreign Women Drivers Hired By March-End

July 15, 2019

DAMMAM — Though women were allowed to drive since June 2018, several Saudi families have recruited as many as 459 foreign women drivers during the first quarter of the year, Makkah daily said on Monday quoting a report by the General Authority for Statistics (GaStat).

According to the report, by the end of March 2019, there were 1.54 million foreign home drivers compared to 1.36 million in 2018 with a rise of 12.8 percent.

Instructors at women schools to teach driving believe that some Saudi families prefer women drivers over men out of fear that male drivers may harass and ill-treat their children.

They also said the families opt for recruiting women drivers because they can do more than one job such as doing grocery, cleaning the house and ironing clothes.

The instructors said even when a Saudi woman obtains a driving license, this is not a guarantee that she will drive her children to the school.

They said over the years, when women become expert drivers, there will be a drop in the recruitment of foreign drivers.

Some local recruitment offices said many Saudi families were asking for housemaids with driving licenses so that they can do home chores and at the same time drive their children to schools.

They said this is not possible because the housemaids are recruited only to perform home chores not to drive cars.



Women Seek Clarity on New Sponsorship Rule in UAE

July 16, 2019

Female residents who are planning to sponsor their family said Amer centres seem unaware of the new rule.

Some female residents who are planning to sponsor their husbands have expressed confusion following the federal government's announcement on Sunday that salary and not job title will be used as the basis for residence visa applications. They said Amer centres seem unaware of the new rule.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on Monday, Indian expat Nitasha PK said she was initially elated after reading the report that any "UAE resident, male or female, can sponsor family members (spouse, under-18 sons and unmarried daughters), provided he/she earns a monthly salary of Dh4,000 or at least Dh3,000 plus accommodation from the company".

The Khaleej Times report was based on an announcement by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) on July 14.

The FAIC announced that it is adopting Cabinet Resolution No.30 for 2019 changing the main condition of acquiring residency from employment to income.

Major General Saeed Al Rashidi, director-general of foreigners affairs and ports at the FAIC, explained in a Press release: "The sponsor, whether male or female, must present a certified marriage certificate and their children's birth certificates translated into Arabic, as well as proof of their monthly income. A wife wishing to sponsor their children must attach a certified written agreement from her husband."

After reading the news, Nitasha called an Amer call centre, a one-stop facility for visa and immigration-related services in Dubai, on Monday to inquire about sponsoring her husband, who recently lost his job.

Nitasha said an Amer agent explained that she cannot sponsor her husband because her monthly income is less than the required amount. It was explained to Nitasha, who works as a communications specialist, that a female resident can sponsor her husband and children if she holds a residence permit and her monthly salary is Dh10,000 or Dh9,000 plus free accommodation.

The Amer agent added that only an engineer, teacher, doctor, nurse or any other profession related to the medical sector can sponsor a family member even though her salary is Dh4,000 or at least Dh3,000 plus accommodation provided by the company.

Nitasha, who is now the sole bread winner in a family of four, earns around Dh8,500, inclusive of transportation and housing allowances. She said the visa of her husband and two children will expire next month.

Filipina expat Maureen Arevalo, a Dubai resident of eight years who works as an accountant at a trading firm, said there has to be some exemptions.

"I'm earning a little less than Dh10,000 a month but I think I can make both ends meet to support my kids and allow them to live with me here in Dubai," said Arevalo, adding: "In the past eight years, I only see my kids once every year when I go on a my month-long holiday.

"They have grown big now and I miss those years that they were not with me. I hope someday I can bring them here," she added.

Khaleej Times is awaiting response from the FAIC for clarifications it has sought in this regard.



Egypt’s National Council for Women Visit Women’s Prisons to Ensure Quality of Care

JULY 15, 2019

In an effort to strengthen its collaboration with Egypt’s Ministry of Interior, a delegation from the National Council for Women (NCW) in Egypt visited women’s prisons in Al Qanater in the presence of Dr. Ahlam Hanafi, a member of the Council, and a group of human rights officers, according to a statement by the National Council for Women.

In a statement, NCW said that Dr. Ahlam Hanafi provided important advice on the significance of treating women with care and taking into account the social, humanitarian and health factors, ensuring that the women will be rehabilitated to return back to society as healthy citizens.

The delegation also observed the various aspects of care provided to the women in prisons, as NCW noted in the statement.

World Health Organization (WHO) published a report in 2009 on women’s health in prison, which raised issues of gender inequality and insensitivity towards the treatment of women in prisons, and its general neglect by the public.

Since their foundation, prisons were built to cope with the needs of the male majority, yet with the recent rise of women in prisons, there has been lack of attention to the more complex health needs of women at key moments of their lives. For instance, WHO reports that many women in prisons suffer more from mental health problems to a higher degree than male prisoners, with a higher percentage of self harm, depression and suicide,

Moreover, many imprisoned women are mothers and the primary or sole carers for their children, meaning that an imprisoned mother often leads to family break up, resulting in many children ending up homeless with no sufficient care provided to them.

Nazra for Feminist Studies in Egypt published a paper in 2017 on the situation of women prisoners in Egypt, highlighting the violence, discrimination and exploitation they face and the stigmatization they suffer from inside and outside prison, even by their own families.

Lobna Darwish, who heads the gender and women’s rights department at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and is a researcher for the campaign ‘Periods in Prison’ told Mada Masr that “although the menstrual cycle is a normal part of women’s health, there are no preparations for this inside prison.”

The campaign is calling for changes in the law that would recognize the needs of women’s bodies, and calls on the Interior Ministry to “disburse female sanitary pads to last an average period length of seven days, on a monthly basis.”



Saudi Women Rev Up Volkswagen Sales in the Kingdom after a Year on the Road

Deena Kamel

July 15, 2019

Women have accounted for a quarter of total Volkswagen sales in Saudi Arabia so far this year and are driving up sales, according to the exclusive dealer of the German car brand in the country, one year after the kingdom lifted its ban on female drivers.

Samaco Automotive Company, the exclusive dealer for Volkswagen in Saudi Arabia, said it saw a boost in sales to women following the first anniversary of women driving in the Kingdom.

“We are hugely proud to be a part of this exciting time for women across the country," Mohammed Moussa, general manager for Volkswagen at Samaco, said. "Our increase in sales speak for themselves and we are honoured to be the preferred choice for so many women and their families."

Ending the ban on women driving a year ago was a historic milestone for the kingdom and was one of the major social reforms introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Allowing women to drive is expected to unlock vast business opportunities for the kingdom, adding as much as $90 billion to economic output by 2030, with the benefits extending beyond that date, according to Bloomberg Economics.

With almost 50,000 driver licences issued so far, the German car dealer said catering to female drivers resulted in an increase in sales specifically to women, accounting for 25 per cent of total sales so far for 2019.

The Volkswagen Tiguan was the top choice for women, followed by the 7-seater Teramont family car, the dealer said.

The kingdom’s decision to overturn a ban on female motorists in June 2018 follows a target to increase women’s participation in the labour force from 22 per cent to 30 per cent over the next 12 years, as part of the Vision 2030.

Giving women driving licenses and better access into the workforce will improve mobility and unlock an underutilised resource: more women will work, thereby spurring productivity, incomes and economic growth.

Engaging women is expected to also help tackle the problem of youth unemployment rate of 31 per cent, of which young women account for 58 per cent.

The rise in female Volkswagen owners in the Kingdom resulted in the first female car club forming earlier this year. Central to the creation of the club, is Ammal Farhat.

Being able to drive has transformed Ms Farahat’s career: she is Saudi’s first female ­Careem captain and is also the creator of one of the kingdom’s first women’s car clubs. In the space of a year, she has completed 100 Careem rides, and organised plenty of car-­related catch-ups.

“We were given the opportunity to drive a year ago and what a difference that year has made for thousands of women across Saudi Arabia," Ms Farahat said.

"Now that we can get behind the wheel, we feel more empowered and have a greater sense of independence and control over our own lives."



What's Behind Quebec's Ban on Religious Symbols?

July 16, 2019

MONTREAL—When Sarah Abou Bakr was in elementary school, an elderly woman mocked her mother’s head scarf and shouted insults at her in a busy mall here. Abou Bakr shouted right back. Her mother, who had moved to Quebec from her native Egypt and didn’t know enough French to defend herself, pulled her away. The bystanders did little to help. “That marks you,” Abou Bakr told me in a recent interview. “You don’t forget it.”

Now Abou Bakr is 21, and that memory is more relevant than ever: Quebec, where she was born and raised, and where she still lives, has become the first state or province in North America to ban Muslim head scarves and other religious symbols, including Jewish kippahs, Sikh turbans, and Christian crosses.

Bill 21, or its official name, “An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State,” was passed last month, after Quebec’s center-right government held a marathon parliamentary session—and curbed debate in the face of staunch opposition. Yet polls nevertheless show the legislation is popular—63 percent of Quebecers support a ban on judges, police officers, and prison guards wearing religious symbols; 59 percent back such a restriction on teachers, too. The legislation, which applies only to new hires or those who change jobs within an organization, means workers in positions of authority in public schools, courtrooms, law enforcement agencies and other places can no longer wear such symbols.

While the law is specific to Quebec, it comes amid arguments elsewhere in the world around restricting the display of religious symbols—though in most cases, Muslim women are bearing the brunt. In 2011, France banned full-face veils, such as the burka or niqab, in public, and has sought to restrict full-body swimsuits (“burkinis”) on beaches as well. A ban of full-face veils is also on the books in Belgium, Austria, and Denmark, while similar measures are being considered by other European countries, or are being adopted on a more local scale.

“It is quite similar to what we have in Belgium, in France, in Germany,” Quebec Premier François Legault told CBC, the Canadian broadcaster, in defense of the new law. “So when I hear some people saying that Quebec becomes racist, do they mean that Germany, France, and Belgium are racist?”

That this debate is happening in Quebec is no surprise, given its history and how it views itself compared with the rest of Canada. Some Quebecers fear that the broader Canadian policy of multiculturalism will erase their “distinct identity” as a French-speaking province. These concerns have translated into efforts such as Bill 21.

The law is a decade in the making; for years, lawmakers discussed legislating secularism and tried to ban religious symbols in public. The Catholic Church has long held sway here, which has left many Quebecers with the view that state secularism should come above all else. Bill 21 states it clearly: “It is important that the paramountcy of State laicity be enshrined in Québec’s legal order.” The province’s version of laicity is not quite the laïcité most commonly associated with France, which has a complete separation of religion from the public space, but it’s not too far off either.

The law’s supporters present the measure as being intrinsically part of the province’s identity. Being a Quebecer, they say, means believing that religious symbols might be fine in private, but that public servants shouldn’t be allowed to wear them, lest they impede their decision making at work. This view has some contradictions, most notably the fact that a large cross hung on the wall of the provincial Parliament in Quebec City for decades. The government initially argued that the cross was cultural, not religious, but finally took it down this month, in an attempt to show that Bill 21 applies equally to all religions.

Still, civil-liberties groups say the law is an example of rising xenophobia in Quebec. They argue that people who wear symbols of their religion in public already feel ostracized in Quebec; the new law makes it legal to deny them government jobs. The state’s job is to protect minority rights, not curb them—and Bill 21 is doing precisely that, they contend.

But the government has presented the law as striking a delicate balance between personal and collective freedoms. “I think it’s important for social coherence, for better living together that after 11 years we move on to other things,” Premier Legault said earlier this year, referring to the 2008 government-appointed commission that called for “reasonable accommodation” as a way to better integrate immigrants into Quebec. In other words, with a majority in Quebec’s Parliament to push the law through, the province can finally close this chapter once and for all.

For Abou Bakr, who works with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, an advocacy group, and recently graduated from Montreal’s Concordia University with a degree in political science, Bill 21’s passage is not the end of the story. She said it has ushered in a bigger fight against a measure she said is akin to “making Islamophobia legal”—something that she, a black Muslim woman who wears a head scarf, knows the impact of firsthand.

Abou Bakr listed recent incidents in which Muslim Quebecers say they have been victims of racially motivated harassment and violence: an elderly Muslim couple heckled by a neighbor; a family’s home, brightly decorated for the Eid holiday, fired at with a BB gun; a passerby trying to yank a Muslim woman’s niqab off in broad daylight; a woman denied a job by a private company because she wears a hijab. Documenting all these wrongs can seem daunting, especially because their frequency has been increasing over the past several years. In the most serious of these, a gunman opened fire inside a Quebec City mosque in January 2017, killing six people and wounding 19 others.

Abou Bakr said she gets a report about a new Islamophobic incident every few days— and she has encouraged, as well as accompanied, Muslim women to file harassment reports with the police. Sitting in a café in a large, multicultural borough of Montreal only days before Bill 21 was passed, she acknowledged that the debate around the law had been painful. She fears it gives a green light to people to publicly voice their anti-Muslim views, or worse.

“If I just stay silent to any kind of oppression, big or small … it’s as if I’m saying it’s okay,” she told me. “And it’s not okay.”

Less than 24 hours after Bill 21 officially became law, NCCM and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed a lawsuit against its application. On July 9, a lawyer for the groups argued that the government is “legislating the practice of religion.” The organizations are seeking a court injunction to keep the province from applying the law; a judge is expected to rule on the stay application this month. But Quebec has invoked a clause of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms that bars anyone from challenging the law on constitutional grounds for five years. The room for legal maneuvers is slim, and several questions around Bill 21 remain unanswered, such as how Quebec intends to enforce the legislation and whether the national government in Ottawa may step in.

That hasn’t stopped people from voicing their anger. On June 17, hundreds rallied in front of Legault’s Montreal office, the first major protest since the bill had been signed, a day earlier. i teach i do not convert read one sign. this is not my country read another. The mood was somber, as speaker after speaker described how the law makes them feel not quite Canadian, or Quebecer, enough. They vowed to keep fighting against the legislation.

Abou Bakr, too, said it’s not time to give up.

“Tears are okay. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad. But when you’re being oppressed and you actually live in a country where you get to speak up, being sad and crying is not enough,” she said. “Even if you’re alone, you’ve still got to do it. No one’s going to do it for you.”




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