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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 16 Oct 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Liberated From ISIS Suppression, Women of Manbij Join Security Forces

New Age Islam News Bureau

16 Oct 2016

 Photo: Zainab Ali, first Arab woman to join the Asayish forces in Manbij after its liberation from ISIS


 Another Woman Accuses Trump of Sexual Misconduct

 Jordan’s Ayat Amer Becomes First Arab Woman to Win NASA Competition

 Arab Women Empowerment to Be In Focus at Sharjah-UN Conference

 Israel’s “50 Most Influential Women”—Not a Single Arab

 The Political Power of Muslim Women in the Time of Trump

 Katsina Emirate Denies Alleged Abduction, Forceful Marriage of 14-Yrs-Old Habiba

 Sharjah Meet Seeks to Topline Arab Women’s Issues

 Islamophobic 'Feminism' Doesn't Help Muslim Women

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Liberated from ISIS suppression, women of Manbij join security forces

October 13, 2016

Manbij – Zainab Ali was the first Arab woman to join the Asayish police in Syria’s northern Manbij city. Her unprecedented step is considered revolutionary in this conservative community.

Ali says she joined the Asayish forces to fight local Arab traditions, which she believes would confine her to a single role: a wife kept indoors.

“I was proud to join the Asayish forces, especially after suffering a lot of oppression in my private life. Being a part of those forces gives me the opportunity to protect other women in my society and fight for their rights,” Ali told ARA News.

“Before the liberation of Manbij, women were extremely oppressed. However, now women’s rights are a priority for the local administration,” Ali added.

More than 50 women have joined the recently established Manbij Asayish. The Asayish police were first established in the canton administrations which constitute Northern Syria – Rojava (NSR).

Interest in the new police force is increasing. Arab women in Manbij view the Kurdish women fighting for the NSR as deeply symbolic.

“Now we have more equality between men and women. This was our main demand,” Fatima Khalaf, a member of the Manbij Traffic Police, told ARA News.

When ARA News visited the local Asayish precinct, women were performing different functions in various positions. Some were conducting investigations while others were dismantling explosives left behind by the Islamic State (ISIS). Several held supervisory roles.

When ISIS was in control of Manbij, their jihadists developed an infamous reputation for the brutal and degrading way they interacted with local women. In reaction, dozens of women rushed out of their homes to greet advancing Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in August.

Many of those women and now involved in day-to-day running of the city. Women now have the opportunity to defend and administer their city, working side by side with men.

“Under ISIS, women in Manbij have suffered a lot. We had no basic rights. Women had to stay indoors. Now the situation is completely different. Every woman has the right to criticise and actively participate in the society,” Fatima told ARA News. “I feel free of all the traditional constraints now.”



Another Woman Accuses Trump of Sexual Misconduct


Another woman came forward today accusing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump of sexual misconduct today, adding to a growing list of women who have come forward with similar stories.

Cathy Heller, 63, alleges that Trump accosted her at a Mother's Day Event at Mar-A-Lago in the late 1990s, while she was with her family and her in-laws, according to a story first reported in The Guardian newspaper. The allegation has been denied by Trump campaign.

She told ABC News today that she was having brunch with her family at Mar-a-Lago on Mother's Day, sometime between 1996 and 2000, when Trump came to the table and was being introduced.

She said that when she put her hand out to say hello, he grabbed her unexpectedly and started to kiss her on the lips. She said she pulled away, but he grabbed her again and got her near her lips.

The incident happened in front of her family, and she yelled at her husband afterwards because he didn't do anything, she said.

She has told family and friends over the years, but didn't go public until now "because it wasn't newsworthy then," she said.

A friend's daughter who works for The Guardian approached her months ago asking if she would come forward, but Heller says she said no because she didn't think it was important then, but she feels it is now.

According to The Guardian, Heller's family is in a dispute with Mar-A-Lago regarding their efforts to get refunds of dues, and Cathy Heller is a Hillary Clinton supporter who donated the personal maximum of $2,700 to the Clinton campaign.

Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller issued a statement today denying the accusation.

"The media has gone too far in making this false accusation. There is no way that something like this would have happened in a public place on Mother’s Day at Mr. Trump’s resort. It would have been the talk of Palm Beach for the past two decades. The reality is this: for the media to wheel out a politically motivated Democratic activist with a legal dispute against this same resort owned by Mr. Trump does a disservice to the public, and anyone covering this story should be embarrassed for elevating this bogus claim," the statement said.

Heller is the third woman in the past two days to come forward with new allegations against Trump.

Meanwhile, Kristin Anderson spoke to The Washington Post, alleging that Trump put his hand up her skirt all the way to her underwear in the early 1990s.

Neither Zervos nor Anderson reported the alleged incidents to authorities.

Trump has repeatedly denied the mounting allegations against him. On Friday, while speaking at a rally in North Carolina, Trump said that his advisers had urged him to move on from the accusations, but said he wanted to defend himself.

"I feel I have to talk about it," Trump said. "I have no idea who these women are."

Zervos said that she is a Republican, while Anderson told The Post that she isn’t a supporter of Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. ABC News confirmed that Zervos is registered as a Republican in California.

Trump said today that no witnesses have come forward to back up the claims of his sexual accusers; however, Allred claimed at Zervos' press conference to have two witnesses. "Donald Trump thinks he can do and say whatever he wants," she said.

Anderson, for her part, told The Post that she decided to come forward after hearing Trump's comment that he grabbed women "by the p----" in a recording from 2005 first published last Friday by The Post.

Trump apologized for the comment in his second debate with Hillary Clinton, describing the words he used as "locker room talk."

Anderson said the language Trump used as transcended "locker room talk" and veered into the arena of sexual assault.

"It's a sexual assault issue, and it's something that I've kept quiet on my own," she told The Post.

Anderson urged women who have been touched inappropriately to come forward and speak up about it.

Anderson declined to speak to an ABC News reporter today, but after the story’s publication, ABC News spoke to a friend of Anderson's, Brad Trent, who confirmed what he told The Post about hearing the story from Anderson in 2007. He said that he was at dinner with Anderson and a group of friends in 2007 when he first heard the story. Trent said Anderson said that she was sitting next to Trump at the China Club and Trump slid his hand up her thigh and "grabbed her p----." Most people at the dinner already knew the story but Trent said he had not heard it yet. The story came up because they were at a restaurant that reminded them of the China Club, Trent said.

“Mr. Trump strongly denies this phony allegation by someone looking to get some free publicity. It is totally ridiculous,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said regarding Anderson's accusation in a statement included in The Post story.

In a statement, Trump said of Zervos' accusation: "I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on 'The Apprentice' over the years. To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago. That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life. In fact, Ms. Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14th of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California.

"Beyond that, the media is now creating a theater of absurdity that threatens to tear our democratic process apart and poison the minds of the American public. When Gloria Allred is given the same weighting on national television as the President of the United States, and unfounded accusations are treated as fact, with reporters throwing due diligence and fact-finding to the side in a rush to file their stories first, it’s evident that we truly are living in a broken system.

"Hillary Clinton can spend all of her time and money pushing complete lies against our campaign, but I refuse to fall victim to this vicious cycle of personal attacks. In the coming days I plan on addressing our nation in a more personal way to present my vision for how together we fight to bring back American jobs and defend our country against radical Islamic terrorism. I will take my message directly to the American people and bypass the unethical press that wants to see their candidate elected. Together, we will make America great again."

Trump echoed the aforementioned sentiments in a tweet early Saturday morning, writing, "100% fabricated and made-up charges, pushed strongly by the media and the Clinton Campaign, may poison the minds of the American Voter. FIX!"

Late Friday night the Trump campaign issued a statement from a man named John Barry, whom the campaign says is Zervos's first cousin. According to the statement, Barry says he is "shocked and bewildered" by what Zervos said at Friday's press conference. Barry says, according to the campaign statement, that since Zervos was a contestant on "The Apprentice," she had "nothing but glowing things to say about Mr. Trump."

ABC News has not yet reached Barry to verify his relationship to Zervos or the statements attributed to him by the campaign.

ABC News reached out to Zervos but did not immediately receive a response. ABC News reached Zervos' father, who would not talk to ABC News other than to say that he’d provided an affidavit to Allred, who declined to provide a copy to ABC News.




Jordan’s Ayat Amer becomes first Arab woman to win NASA competition

Published October 16th, 2016


Ayat Amer, a NASA internship winner, poses for a group photo at the UN headquarters in September. (Courtesy of Ayat Amer)Ayat Amer, a NASA internship winner, poses for a group photo at the UN headquarters in September. (Courtesy of Ayat Amer)

Follow > AMMAN, Ayat Amer, Harvard University, Hashemite University, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of ..., Microsoft, National Aeronautics and S ..., Stanford University, United Nations

Hard work and determination led Jordanian Ayat Amer to become the first Arab woman to win a NASA competition, only at 22 years old.

"Being accepted to NASA's training programme is indeed a huge step in my life… It is a dream that’s come true," said Amer, at the Women’s Economic Participation Conference in Amman last week.

Amer was accepted by NASA six months ago, but has only recently passed the intense security checks required.

The fourth year computer engineering student at the Hashemite University applied to the competition for a six-month training programme while studying at Stanford University on a scholarship from Microsoft.

During her year abroad, she also took courses at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She received the scholarship to study in the US and Germany after winning first place in the Arab world in a Microsoft programming competition when she was 19.

Often the youngest participant in international competitions, Amer has at times been held back by assumptions that programming is “not for girls”, she said.

Recalling another setback, she said her father refused to let her travel alone to Germany to receive her award from Microsoft.

Luckily, after she wrote to Microsoft to apologize for not attending, the tech company paid for her father to accompany her to Europe. 

In 2015, she was the youngest speaker at a conference on leadership and women in the Silicon Valley, and later this year, she will judge a competition organized by Microsoft in Jordan.

Amer, who studied at public schools in Jordan, has been selected as the Kingdom’s youth delegate at the United Nations Human Rights Summit for 2016.

While her accomplishments in science are rewarding, she said humanitarian causes were the closest to her heart.

A descendent of Palestinian refugees, Amer advocates for children’s rights, education and gender quality.

“To parents: give a chance to your children, and to children: prove to your families that you are hard workers,” she advised.



Arab women empowerment to be in focus at Sharjah-UN conference

October 16th, 2016

The second 'Investing in the Future' (IIFMENA) conference will be held on October 19-20 under the theme 'Building the Resilience of Women and Girls in the Arab Region'.

Hosted by Sharjah for the second time, the UN conference aims to highlight the need to incorporate women and young girls into decision-making and planning for economic empowerment; paying attention to their specific needs in education, skills-training and employment.

Participants will discuss effective means to ensure their access to resources, particularly for female-headed households in view of the socio-economic restrictions placed on women in many countries.

The two-day conference will bring together government officials, representatives of international organisations and non-governmental organisations, advocates of gender equality, academics and a number of experts and media personalities from the region and beyond.

"We are delighted to open registration for participation in the second edition of the IIFMENA conference, which will offer a platform for participants to forge new partnerships, share successful practices and develop innovative methods for gender equality.

Through our work, we aspire to realise the vision of Shaikha Jawaher, which aims to empower and protect women and girls, with a special focus on refugees and displaced persons.

We are committed to a programme of activities and practical solutions that honour the needs and rights of women and girls," said Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of Salam Ya Seghar, an initiative by The Big Heart Foundation.

Al Hammadi called on those interested in participating in the conference to visit its website and complete an online application, stating that all institutions, organisations and individuals are welcome. She highlighted that the website provides all details related to the conference as well as hosts information about The Big Heart Foundation and its programmes.

The IIFMENA strives to coordinate efforts in planning for peace-building and development, with gender equality and the empowerment of women and young girls as an integral part of its overall plans, policies and programmes.

The conference aims to support all woman, including refugees and displaced persons, by working to ensure full rights and justice for them.

Organised by The Big Heart Foundation and held in partnership with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the IIFMENA is taking place under the patronage of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Shaikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Big Heart Foundation.

Issues that will be tackled at the forum

> Highlight the need to incorporate women and young girls into decision-making and planning for economic empowerment

> Paying attention to their specific needs in education, skills-training and employment

> Participants will discuss effective means to ensure their access to resources, particularly for female-headed households in view of the socio-economic restrictions placed on women in many countries

 How to register

Participants interested in registering for the second Investing in the Future conference should submit their applications via before mid-October.



Israel’s “50 Most Influential Women”—Not a Single Arab

October 16th, 2016

Last week the Israeli magazine Lady Globes (put out by business daily Globes) published its list of Israel’s 50 most influential women for 2016. Although it remains unclear what it takes for a woman to make the list — not to mention who came up with the criteria — I decided to use the list to analyze Israeli society from the eyes of a Palestinian. I wanted to learn who these women are, and why they are so influential.

The list includes truly impressive women, who at first glance seem to come from the world of business, economics, finance, banking, etc. For a moment I thought Globes was looking for women with money, but the list also includes Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), and a few spots after her is Culture Minister Miri Regev.

I continued thumbing through the pages and found President of Israel’s Supreme Court Miriam Naor, as well as a number of high-ranking members of various government ministries. The vast majority of the women on the list, however, were completely unknown to me. For a moment I felt as if I had failed a general knowledge test when I understood that I did not recognize at least 50 percent of the names. But thanks to some friends I realized I was not alone, and that there is good reason for my ignorance — I am an Arab woman, and this list isn’t intended for me. After all, what are the chances an Arab woman, enlightened though she may be, will read Lady Globes?

So, dear editors of Lady Globes, next time before you include MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) in your list of Israel’s most influential women — despite the fact that most of the struggles she has spearheaded have not really succeeded — perhaps you should pick up the phone and call MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), the first Arab woman to head the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, and who has a positive influence on many aspects of women’s lives here, be they Arab or Jewish.

I suggest you also meet Attorney Mariam Kabha, the highest-ranking Arab woman in public service, who was appointed national commissioner for equal employment opportunities within the Economy Ministry. Perhaps you should weigh looking through the list of inspiring Arab women on the website “A-List”; you’d be surprised to discover researchers and executive directors at start-ups in Arab society. You will find, among others, the “pioneer of the hi-tech sector,” Reem Younis, who heads Alpha Omega.

You don’t want Arabs on your list of good Jewish women? No problem, what about the head of the New Israel Fund? She is known for her support for the social and political struggles of the weaker segments of Israeli society, the ones who are not subscribed toGlobes, yet certainly change the face of this country. Perhaps you could have made room for the executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel — an issue that absolutely influences the citizens of this country? Or perhaps the founders of “Women Make Peace,” or one of the young Ethiopian-Israeli women who head the struggle against police brutality? What about leading female artists, director, or authors?

There was no need for you to travel the world in order to complete this difficult assignment. All you had to do was get away from the whiteness of central Israel. If only you did that, you would be able to find incredible, inspirational women in every city, town, or village. You would find empowering Arab and Jewish women, Mizrahiot and Ashkenaziot, who are involved and are influential in various fields. Your list wouldn’t have brought them honor — in fact the opposite is true.

Two more notes:

Not every successful list of women must emphasize the woman’s familial status (despite the fact that the majority are married and have children). The time has come to separate the woman’s career from her family life, unless she says otherwise and views her family as an integral part of her professional life. Gone are the days in which it was insinuated that women manage to rise in the workplace despite everything.

Also, why not let women’s natural beauty shine? That way you can save hours of unnecessary Photoshop work. These women are supposed to feel beautiful with what they have been able to do over the course of their lives, not because of the effects you apply to their faces.

Photo: Aida Touma-Sliman. This article is reprinted, with permission, from Local Call and its English-language sister site, +972 Magazine.

Samah Salaime founded and runs the NGO, Arab Women in the Center.



The Political Power of Muslim Women in the Time of Trump

October 16th, 2016

Ghazala Khan is slated to stand with the recently-formed American Muslim Women political action committee when it endorses Hillary Clinton.

When Ghazala Khan, the mother of slain U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, spoke out against Donald Trump, her words set off a chain reaction.

After the Republican nominee wrongly suggested she had not been permitted to speak when she stood beside her husband at the Democratic convention, Khan explained she had been struck silent by grief at the memory of her son. Muslim women rushed to show support for Khan on social media, but her decision to stand up to Trump did more than just that.

Donald Trump's Cynical Exploitation of Rape Culture

Mirriam Seddiq, a lawyer and a Muslim woman, was moved to action. “She took a hit for all of us, and that was part of what led me to decide I wanted to help other women speak out,” Seddiq said in an interview.  “I hadn’t realized that people thought those things about Muslim women before this election,” she added, recalling how disturbing it has been to see Trump demonize Muslims during his presidential campaign.

Seddiq recently started the American Muslim Women political-action committee to strengthen the political power of American Muslim women and help make their voices heard. The group is working to register as many Muslim women to vote as possible ahead of the election. On Tuesday, it will announce its first-ever endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president at a press conference in Washington, D.C. Ghazala Khan is slated to appear at the event as a special guest.

For her part, Khan won’t take credit for inspiring American Muslim women to become more deeply involved in politics. “In my eyes, I haven’t done anything that any Muslim woman would not have done. I mean, I haven’t done anything special,” Khan told me in an interview on Friday.

“The women are stronger than men sometimes.”

But the Gold Star mother sounded hopeful that if more Muslim women start speaking out it will help dispel negative stereotypes and myths. “We have all type of activities that we participate in, why not in politics now?,” Khan said. “Our power has been challenged, that Muslim women are behind, or Muslim women don’t talk, or they don’t do anything. Really we are a very strong pillar of the community,” she added. “The women are stronger than men sometimes.”

Trump’s presidential campaign has been rife with islamophobia and misogyny. He famously called for “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S. during the GOP primary. He rates women based on their appearance, has no problem with hearing other people refer to his own daughter as a “piece of ass,” and a 2005 recording recently surfaced where he brags about using his celebrity status to force himself on them. Those ugly strains of prejudice intertwined when Trump singled out Khan to suggest she had been silenced by her religion.

“We all feel that we are not safe,” Khan said, reflecting on the 2016 election. “Why they say ‘we will throw you out’? Why they say this type of stupid things.” She added: “We have equal rights. It doesn’t matter if you became a citizen today or a hundred years ago, we are all equal … We are all equal in the eyes of God, in the eyes of law.”

Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric may already be causing serious damage. A report released by California State University-San Bernardino’s non-partisan Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism recently found that Trump’s call for a Muslim ban may have contributed to a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes after the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack. The report showed that anti-Muslim hate crimes have reached an all-time high since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

An inadvertent consequence of Trump’s decision to scapegoat Muslims is that his actions may ultimately strengthen the political power of American Muslims by motivating them to get more involved in politics. Backlash against his candidacy could lead to record American-Muslim voter turnout in the election.

Heightened political visibility for Muslim women could have far-reaching consequences of its own. Research suggests that women have higher expectations about what they can achieve when they see other women succeeding in leadership positions. If more American Muslim women speak out in politics, it may encourage others to do the same.

“It’s difficult growing up in a world where nobody in power looks like you or dresses like you or has a name like yours,” Seddiq said. “We have to change that. There is no way you think you can do something unless you think that somebody has done it before.” Currently, there are only two Muslim members of Congress: Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, who are both men.

For now, political rhetoric often threatens to intensify anti-Muslim sentiment. At the second presidential debate on Sunday, Trump wrongly implied that Muslims are not reporting terrorist plots, repeating a false story suggesting that Muslims failed to tip off authorities to the San Bernadino attack. Clinton, in contrast, stated unequivocally that “we are not at war with Islam,” insisting that she wants to live in a country where Muslim Americans “are just as welcome as anyone else.”

But Clinton also noted that “we need American Muslims to be part of our eyes and ears on our front lines,” a comment that critics on social media felt unfairly reduced American Muslims to tools in the fight against terrorism. 

Seddiq hopes that her political-action committee will help Muslim women have more of a voice in conversations like the one that unfolded at the debate. “If we aren’t part of the solution and aren’t at the table, they will continue to discuss us as if we are the ‘other’,” she said, though she added that she believes Clinton “truly does want to include Muslims in the conversation.”

Islamophobia won’t go away if Trump loses the election. But in time, Muslim Americans may be able to re-write the harmful narratives that some political leaders currently give voice to.



Katsina Emirate denies alleged abduction, forceful marriage of 14-yrs-old Habiba

October 16th, 2016

The Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabiru Usman, has denied the alleged abduction and forceful marriage of 17-year-old Habiba Isyaku.

Kabir made the denial during a meeting with the Katsina branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Thursday in Katsina.

Kabir, represented by one of the king makers, Alhaji Nuhu Abdulkadir, the ‘Kauran-Katsina’, said that it was the Commissioner of Police who sent the matter to the palace for resolution.

He said that the girl embraced Islam on her own volition.

According to him, the father of the girl, Isyaku Tanko, had petitioned the police that one Jamilu had abducted his daughter, converted her to Islam and married her without their consent.

The Emir said that during investigation, the palace discovered that Habiba embraced Islam on her own volition.

He said that the girl had indicated her interest in marrying Jamilu, who is from the same area with her, and that the Emirate Council married her to her heartthrob, who paid N50,000 as her dowry.

He said that the palace had interviewed the girl to ascertain if she was forced to accept Islam, and she said no, and declined following her father home.

The Emir further said that the father of the girl had written an apology to the palace after discovering that he had made wrong accusations to council, and showed the letter to journalists present.

In his remarks, the Katsina State CAN Chairman, Rev. Nelson Onyekachukwu, said that the palace should always contact CAN in the state on such matters.

‘’We should be given time to go home and discuss with the parents and Kankara CAN branch on the matter and report back to the palace,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Tanko had told a news conference organised by Stefanos Foundation in Abuja on Wednesday that Jamilu had admitted to abducting his daughter.

He said that his daughter would be 15 years old on Saturday, and that she was kidnapped from school, Government Senior Secondary School, Kudun Kankara, Kastina State by one Jamilu Lawal.

He also said that she had been forcefully converted to Islam and married off by the Emir without her parents’ consent.

“My little girl was abducted on the 16th of August, 2016, from her school. After my investigations, I discovered that Jamilu Lawal, who lives in the same community, was responsible for my daughters’ disappearance.’’

He said that he had lodged a formal complaint with the Commissioner of Police in Kastina, and that he had also gone to the palace to retrieve his daughter but his mission was unsuccessful.

“On arrival at the Palace, the Emir informed me that my daughter has been converted from Christianity to Islam henceforth.

“There is no longer any relationship between me and my daughter and we can no longer inherit each other. He further informed me that he has received the sum of N50, 000 as dowry from Jamilu Ibrahim for my daughter.

“Therefore, he will give her out in marriage in accordance with Islamic rites and injunctions.

“He accused me of defaming him at the Police Station and I was threatened, intimidated and coerced to sign an apology drafted on my behalf in his Palace.

He appealed to well-meaning Nigerians and those in authority to help assist him to secure the release of his daughter.

On his part, Mr Mark Lipdo, the Programme Coordinator for Stafanos Foundation, an NGO, said that the organisation intervened in conflicts.

“We have been trying to intervene in the conflicts going on in Nigeria; we believe in the human rights of all citizens and encourage that fundamental rights be upheld at all times to maintain a sane society.

He noted that Habiba, who had just completed her Junior Secondary school with very good grades, had much prospects.

He said that the foundation had petitioned the Inspector General of Police with a view to securing the girls” release but had yet to get a response.

“The girl is a minor and things like this have to stop happening in this country because if it continues, people are going to resort to self-help,’’ Lipdo said.



Iran's Fatemeh Moqimi nominated for Asia-Pacific Women Entrepreneur Award

October 16th, 2016

Seyedeh Fatemeh Moghimi was born in 1958 in Tehran into a family of educators. Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, she graduated in civil engineering in England and then went on to complete a PhD in development management. Moghimi is now the CEO of Sadid Bar International Transport.

Women's Entrepreneurship in Iran: Role Models of Growth-Oriented Iranian Women Entrepreneurs (by Leyla Sarfaraz)

Although she now has over 30 years of experience in the transportation and trucking industry, she started out as a translator for an international transportation company in 1979. Just four years later, she decided to start her own transportation company.

Initially lacking funds, she was forced to start out her business in a little room at her husband’s company, where she also took care of her baby. She was the company’s sole employee for some time.

“My education in civil engineering is far from the job I was going to end up in but I thought it better to start there,” Seyedeh explains. “After four years I tried to get permission to establish a transportation company by myself. But my application was refused by officials as they said it was impossible for a woman to do this type of profession. I wanted to prove that I could. After I approached them many times, they gave me a temporary permit. I passed so many exams and went to so many classes just to show that I could do it. That’s how I started up a business.”

Moghimi was so successful in her endeavor that her company is now one of the leading transportation companies in Iran. In 2003, the Iranian Terminal Organization awarded her the honor “Model Manager of the Year.” Then, in 2006, Labor Cultural Center voted her in as “Model Job Creator.” A year later, as she turned 50, the Transportation Ministry selected her as a “Pioneer for Transportation.”

“I was manager for the first four years that I was at this job,” Moghini explains. “It was then that I started to show that I had the ability to influence the people I work with. Fortunately, all of the people that worked with me during those four years - the drivers, clients, and merchants - said they’d like to be in business with me. During the first year of my business, I already had over 200 drivers. I showed them that I was capable of succeeding in this industry.”

For 13 years, she was also the head of dispute management at the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, during which she founded the National Society of Woman Job Creators. Then in 2012, the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank nominated her as the 2012 “Job Creator of the Islamic World.”

Moghimi travels a lot, organizing workshops in a range of countries including Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam. A number of Iranian universities have acknowledged her success by teaching about it to their students.

But she has stressed that success did not come easily. In an interview in 2011, she was asked about the obstacles she faced.

“The government and the rules didn’t hinder me but peoples’ attitudes did,” she said. “They couldn’t accept that a woman worked in this type of job, one that was traditionally done by men. It’s not just Iran though. Transportation all over the world fails to accept that a woman is capable of doing this job. If somebody wants to do something, it depends on their mentality, not their gender.”



Islamophobic 'feminism' doesn't help Muslim women

October 16th, 2016

Time and tired time again, we have seen how the claim of standing up for Muslim women has served as a pretext for singling out Islam and Muslims for excoriation. This was the case in the recent furor over Toronto’s Valley Park Middle School providing space for Muslim students to pray (in which girls and boys sat separately), and in the previous federal government’s efforts to prohibit women in niqabs from becoming Canadian citizens.

The castigation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for attending an Ottawa mosque on Eid ul-Adha is the latest in this string of manufactured controversies. Trudeau’s recent visit to the mosque, where men and women pray in separate areas (but are mixed during other events), has been condemned as a betrayal of “feminism” and collusion with patriarchy.

Never mind that some of Canada’s most élite educational institutions also practise the apparently cardinal sin of gender separation, in the form of single-sex schools. And never mind that former prime minister Stephen Harper also visited religious spaces where men and women are separated, including the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2014.

It is high time we saw through the pretence that these campaigns against Muslim “misogyny” have anything to do with the well-being of Muslim women.

If they did, one would expect them to be more concerned with accuracy than with sensationalism. For example, one commentator’s assertion that a female prime minister would not have been allowed to address the Ottawa mosque from the front is contradicted by the fact that several women, including Ottawa West-Nepean MP Anita Vandenbeld and Islamic Studies Prof. Ingrid Mattson, have done precisely that.

And one would expect them to pay some attention to the actual voices, experiences and perspectives of the women whose rights and interests are at stake, instead of completely ignoring most except for the few who represent Islam as the entire cause of Muslim women’s suffering.

This is not solidarity with Muslim women, but racism thinly veiled in the language of “feminism.”

While the demonization of Islam and Muslims as exceptionally oppressive certainly advances the cause of racist stereotyping, it does little to benefit the women in whose interests these sometime champions for equality claim to speak. On the contrary, Muslim women bear a heavy part of the burden of violence and hatred generated by these stereotypes.

According to Statistics Canada, “from 2010 to 2013, Muslim populations had the highest percentage of hate crime victims who were female (47 per cent).” Women wearing the hijab and the niqab have been physically attacked in cities across Canada and the United States. A few weeks ago, two Muslim women were assaulted while strolling their babies in Brooklyn; their assailant punched one of the women in the face, tried to rip off their headscarves, and yelled “Get the f— out of America, b—–s.” In June, a Muslim woman was punched, spat on and had her hijab pulled while shopping with her four-month-old son in London, Ont.

The critics who are so incensed by the subjugation of Muslim women tend to be conspicuously silent when the agents of violence are non-Muslims, motivated by the Islamophobic narratives that they have helped perpetuate. So much for a principled stand against gendered violence and inequality.

In Canada, Muslim women have been at the forefront of vital struggles for justice, equality, and freedom: Monia Mazigh, who advocated for the liberation of her husband, Maher Arar, when he was secretly imprisoned and tortured in Syria with Canadian complicity; Zunera Ishaq, who successfully challenged the government’s discriminatory ban on face-veils at citizenship ceremonies; Yusra Khogali, who is an organizer with Black Lives Matter Toronto; Rania El-Alloul, who is asking the Quebec government to assure Quebecers they have a right to wear their religious clothing in the province’s courtrooms; and far too many others to list them all by name.

We are fighting the struggles that need to be fought on several fronts: against sexism, against racism, against Islamophobia. We do not need to be told what to wear on our faces and on our heads and on our bodies, or where to sit when we pray. And we definitely do not need to be “saved” by ideologues who are only interested in Islam to prove its supposed inferiority, or as a proxy for attacking a political party. It is an insult to Muslim women’s agency and intelligence to be rendered silent puppets in a stale supremacist script.

This column was submitted by 20 prominent Muslim-Canadian women:

Shireen Ahmed: Writer

Natasha Bakht: Associate Professor of Law, University of Ottawa

Rima Berns-McGown, PhD: Lecturer, University of Toronto

Katherine Bullock, PhD: Writer and Lecturer

Amira Elghawaby: Communications Director, National Council of Canadian Muslims

Idil Issa: Writer

Samira Kanji: President, Noor Cultural Centre

Azeezah Kanji: Writer

Sheema Khan: Writer

Rabia Khedr: Activist; Trainer and Consultant, diversityworX

Ingrid Mattson, PhD: London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies, Huron University College

Minelle Mahtani, PhD: Associate Professor, University of Toronto

Monia Mazigh, PhD: Academic, Author, and Human Rights Activist

Zarqa Nawaz: Creator, Little Mosque on the Prairie; Director, Me and the Mosque

Idrisa Pandit, PhD: Director and Associate Professor, Studies in Islam, Renison University College

Nevin Reda, PhD: Assistant Professor of Muslim Studies, Emmanuel College, University of Toronto

Shahina Siddiqui: President, Islamic Social Services Association

Itrath Syed: PhD Candidate, Simon Fraser University

Sunera Thobani, PhD: Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

Jasmin Zine, PhD: Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University

*Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.




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