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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 6 Jul 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Libyan Women May Have Lost Ground in Post-Gaddafi Libya

New Age Islam News Bureau

6 Jul 2012 

 Emiratis Want Crackdown on Women's Skimpy Dress

 New Egyptian TV Channel to Feature Only Fully Face-Veiled Women

 Uganda Appeals to Muslims to Allow Girl Education

 Two Women Injured In Acid Attacks in Pakistan

 Woman hurt as shell hits her house in Jammu & Kashmir

 PPP’s Shazia Marri takes oath as MNA

 Delhi HC's Ruling On Muslim Girls' Marriage Sparks Debate In the Community

 The battle for women’s equality in Egypt 

 Fifa lifts ban on Muslim headscraves for competitions

 Fashion as Resistance: The Case of Mali

 Dallas: Muslim Women Show Flair for Their Fashion

 Saudi Women’s Right to Kick Balls

 If there are no women on Saudi Olympic plane, the IOC should send it back home

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Emiratis Want Crackdown on Women's Skimpy Dress




Libyan Women May Have Lost Ground in Post-Gaddafi Libya

Jul 5, 2012

In a post-Gaddafi Libya, women have made superficial advances but many fear the clock has been turned back on acceptance won during the revolution and the small gains already made under Gaddafi, writes Jamie Dettmer.

At times there are two competing realities in post-Gaddafi Libya. For most ordinary Libyan women, there’s domestic drudgery and subordination to their men. For the more educated, drawn from higher ranks and involved in newly minted nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), there’s hope of change and greater opportunities.

The two realities seldom meet. As Libyans head to the polls this weekend to vote in their first national elections in nearly 50 years, there are two fundamental questions to ask about the prospects for women in post-Gaddafi Libya. Will those two realities ever start overlapping? And will the space that elite women have opened up since Gaddafi’s fall be reduced?

Listening to NGO women at conferences held at Tripoli’s smarter hotels, it is hard not to get swept along. The women spearheading the NGOs and standing as candidates are highly capable and determined to secure great change, despite the conservatism of this North African country. They’ve been emboldened by exile or study overseas or draw confidence from roles in the ouster of Gaddafi.

They say they will not be content to remain passive spectators in a male-dominated society where outside Tripoli wedding parties, public gatherings, and even restaurants are usually segregated, and where walking outside without a headscarf invites trouble.

Fowzia Shweigi, a 42-year-old widow with six children, has no intention of being sidelined. A burka-wearing candidate for a small party, she has been campaigning assertively in Tripoli, including hustling for support in male preserves such as coffee shops. “You want a free society, don’t you?” she demands of startled hookah-smoking patrons. “I hope that women will occupy a strong place in the new Libya,” she says, explaining that women should be able to choose what they wear. She believes that men have “changed their minds about women because of the good things they did in the revolution.”

Overshadowing the tussle over women’s rights is how post-Gaddafi Libya will handle the widespread sexual violence and rapes that occurred during the uprising.

But while women like Shweigi are determined not to be window-dressing, that’s what they were at the July 3 launch of the elections media center at the Tripoli International Convention Center in the compound of the luxurious Rixos Hotel. The televised event attracted the diplomatic corps, U.N. staff, and the country’s transitional leaders. In the foyer there were a series of huge posters, a stirring one depicted women with the caption “Rebelling to be heard.” Alas, no women were heard from the rostrum–just five men, including Libya’s prime minister and the chief election commissioner. But then there are no women on the election commission, only one on a national transitional council numbering 102 and two women ministers.

U.N. envoy Ian Martin praised the election process, noting that for years only one face was displayed publicly but now with campaign posters thousands of faces are. That is indeed heartening, but he didn’t note that in recent days vandals have been defacing posters of female candidates by scratching out or inking over their faces.

For Ahlam Abdulnasfer-ben-Tabun, who works for the Foundation for the Future, a domestic NGO, the lack of women in political office is cause for alarm. She’s the epitome of a young woman whose life has been altered dramatically by the uprising. The 26-year-old was the manager of a Tripoli clothes store before Benghazi revolted and she joined an underground group who smuggled arms and essential medicines to the rebels. “No, I wasn’t afraid, but thought I would get caught eventually,” she says. “Friends of mine were and some were killed.”

A political-science graduate, she spurned during the Gaddafi era what she could have had: a government job. She didn’t want to be associated with a regime she despised. Many young Libyan women graduates did the same. “The general feeling among women here is that they are trapped by culture and religion and they can’t make decisions for themselves. The state doesn’t protect us and doesn’t secure our freedom,” she says. Even now she fears the future. “The politicians pay lip service to our views; they’re not really listening.”

Others remain more optimistic, drawing comfort from the fact that 625 women are standing in the elections for the National Congress, 540 of whom are party candidates and 85 running as independent candidates.

But how comforting is that figure? There are 1,206 party candidates in the elections and the parties were required to offer an equal number of men and women, something not quite achieved. More disappointing is the tiny percentage of female candidates running as independents–in all there are 2,501 independent candidates. Women make up less than 3.5 percent.

Thanks to the party lists, it is theoretically possible that women could make up 20 percent of the National Congress. But some activists fear that even if that happens, Libya will mirror neighboring Tunisia, where 49 women were elected, 42 from the same Islamist party Ennahda. Their voices have been subsumed by the louder collective voice of the party.

Some women worry the clock could even be turned back. “Compared to Libya’s neighboring countries, at least on the books, women under Gaddafi were in a better position in Libya,” says Samer Muscati, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. Gaddafi improved women’s legal status and access to education and social benefits. They had better rights in marriage, divorce, and child custody than elsewhere in North Africa.

But only a small elite benefited from Gaddafi’s “state feminism.” Women-friendly laws, especially in the family or sexual realms, were sidestepped by Islamic tradition and custom. Most working women remained locked in low-paid, insecure jobs. And for most women life, then as now, revolved around a home ruled by husbands and punctuated by births.

The biggest fights ahead for Libyan women will be to ensure that they influence the writing of a new constitution. And here there’s the worry that if the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties dominate the new Congress, then Sharia (Muslim religious law) will form the basis of the new constitution.

Another fight will be over changing the judicial code. Currently, there’s no such crime as spousal rape. Activists want to see that changed and want to see the banning of rape victims being prosecuted for adultery or judges coercing rape victims and rapists to marry in order to restore “family honor,” something that condemns a woman to a life of injustice.

Overshadowing the tussle over women’s rights is how post-Gaddafi Libya will handle the widespread sexual violence and rapes that occurred during the uprising, crimes that on the whole were only allowed to speak their names when it served the rebels’ propaganda purposes. According to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Gaddafi “decided to punish, using rape” and there’s evidence suggesting hundreds were raped. Because the stigma of sexual assault runs very deep in Libyan culture, foreign journalists and human-rights organizations have struggled to document cases, having either to rely on the testimony of medical staff or confessions of soldiers who raped under orders.

The raped are silent--they and their families terrified of being shamed. The women suffer without official support or care. A double taboo is to even hint at rapes committed by rebels. But women activists say it did happen, although to a lesser degree. It was mainly committed against women from pro-Gaddafi tribes, especially darker-skinned tribes of the south, they say.

A handful of groups have taken up the cause, which they see as key to the development of women’s rights, by mounting periodic protests, demanding that the interim authorities take seriously the issues thrown up by sexual violence. At their protests they depict the plight of victims by taping over their mouths.



Emiratis Want Crackdown on Women's Skimpy Dress


 July 6, 2012

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — With the number of foreigners dwarfing that of locals in her hometown of Abu Dhabi, Asma al-Muhairi has become increasingly anxious at the prospect of her younger nieces abandoning their full-length black robes in favour of Western attire that seems to be everywhere she goes.

But it wasn't until the 23-year-old marketing worker came face to face with two scantily-clad female foreigners at one of the many luxury shopping malls in the United Arab Emirates that she decided to take action.

"While going to a mall, I saw two ladies wearing ... I can't say even shorts. It was underwear," said al-Muhairi, whose black abaya — a long garment worn by conservative Gulf women — is offset by gold Versace watch and egg-shell blue handbag.

"Really, they were not shorts," she said. "I was standing and thinking: 'Why is this continuing? Why is it in the mall? I see families. I see kids around.'"

Failing to persuade the mall to intervene, al-Muhairi and another Emirati woman, Hanan al-Rayes, took to twitter to air their concerns in May.

They were inundated with responses that prompted them to launch a Twitter campaign dubbed (at)UAE Dress Code that aims to explore ways to combat the growing number of shoppers in low-cut dresses and hot pants.

As the campaign picked up steam, it also has served to symbolize the growing concerns among Emiratis, a tiny minority in their own country.

Emirati citizens account for a little more than 10 percent of the 8 million people living in the Gulf nation. Most of the population is made up of Asian, African and Middle Eastern guest workers, as well as Western expatriates living here temporarily.

The overall population more than doubled over the past decade as the country embarked on a building boom that transformed Dubai, up the coast from Abu Dhabi, into the Arabian Gulf's financial hub and a popular tourist draw.

"I think in an increasingly tumultuous region and in an era of powerful and often intrusive globalizing forces, citizens of the UAE are increasingly concerned that their traditions and core values are being eroded," said Christopher Davidson, an expert on Gulf affairs at Britain's Durham University.

"In some senses, it is a grassroots reaction to authorities and leaders that have for many years done little to check this erosion," he added. "We've seen reactions to alcohol, so now we are seeing a reaction to immodest dress."

Jalal Bin Thaneya, an Emirati activist who has embraced the dress code campaign, said it is a way for Emiratis to show they are concerned about the loss of traditions.

"If we were the majority and had the same make up, things would be different," Bin Thaneya said. "You wouldn't need anything. You would see Emiratis everywhere and you would be afraid of offending them ... Now, we're a minority so you feel the need to reach out to an authority."

As the number of foreigners has increased, so have the stories of them violating the UAE's strict indecency code, which limits drinking to bars and nightclubs and bans public displays of affection. A drunken couple was caught having sex on the beach and another allegedly having sex in a taxi. A Pakistani was deported for flipping the middle finger at a motorist, and the courts are filled with cases of foreigners having sex out of wedlock.

Most Emiratis rarely come face-to-face with misbehaving foreigners.

The malls, however, are a different story.

They are one of the few places where everyone comes together to escape the brutal summer heat. The cultural clash is hard to ignore, as families of traditionally dressed Emiratis shop and relax in cafes alongside foreign women wearing tank tops, shorts and even transparent gowns over bikinis.

Most malls have policies in place that require "conservative" dress and encourage shoppers to avoid showing shoulders and knees, but few publicize them or enforce them. Police in Dubai, where the mall that al-Muhairi visited was located, didn't respond to a request for comment. They told the Gulf News newspaper there is nothing they can do since there are no specific laws against immodest dress.

"People were seeing it for a long time but they didn't say anything," Bin Thaneya said. "You can't go to the police for such stuff. There is no one to go to. You can't go to the mall management. The mall security guard gets paid less than someone at McDonald's. He isn't going to do anything."

Al-Muhairi's campaign is just one of several over the years led by Emirati women who have tried in vain to enforce the dress code — handing out brochures, confronting foreigners. But hers has benefited from the growing popularity of social media as well as the Arab Spring popular uprisings, which has given Emiratis a sense they can speak out on some social issues.

The UAE Dress Code feed has more than 3,300 followers with a lively discussion that includes plenty of support for a code but also concerns that it would unfairly target foreigners or create divisions between locals and foreigners. Unlike similar campaigns in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, the impetus for a code has not come from Islamic hard-liners, but from moderate locals like al-Muhairi who love their Starbucks and Western movies but just want foreigners to respect local customs.

"We are not asking others to cover up like us. We are giving them freedom based on their beliefs and religion," al-Muhairi said. "We are not judging and saying this shows she has other interests. We never want to judge. Do whatever you want and wear what you want but with limits. Just respect the public here."

The campaign has caught the attention of the Federal National Council, which pledged last month to push for stronger measures to enforce the dress codes. That came after the country's culture minister, Abdurrahman al-Owais, supported efforts to emphasize the conservative traditions of the UAE.

Members of a half-elected, half-appointed council have suggested a law could include warnings and fines but not jail time for offenders. But the FNC has no law-making powers, so any decision now rests with the UAE government.

"If there is a law, the behaviour will be different," said Hamad al-Rahoomi, an FNC member who compared a UAE dress code to laws in France that bans the niqab, in which a veil has only a slit exposing a woman's eyes, or the new dress code at Royal Ascot in Britain that aims to limit provocative outfits.

"We don't want to catch people. We just want people to think of the other parties," al-Rahoomi said. "What I want is to go with my family in my country and not see something that is harming me."

The Abu Dhabi police issued this week a booklet on dos and don'ts for tourists that will be available at the Abu Dhabi International Airport and hotels, according to The National newspaper. It advises tourists that public displays of affection including kissing are considered indecent and that they should wear "modest" clothing.

Tourists — some in skimpy summer dresses, others in shorts and T-shirts — defended their right to wear what they want, either because it is fashionable or keeps them cool in the summer heat. None of the 10 people interviewed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi knew about a mall dress code, nor were they advised their outfits violated it. Several said a dress code law would go too far.

"I think it's ridiculous because most of the people in Dubai are tourists," said Sarah, a 21-year-old tourist from Kenya wearing a short dress exposing her shoulders and legs. "I want to go somewhere where I would be comfortable in my own skin as a travel destination. I feel comfortable like this and this is how I will dress."



New Egyptian TV Channel to Feature Only Fully Face-Veiled Women

5 Jul 2012

The first niqabi-only TV channel will be launched on the first day of Ramadan; eyebrows raised in media circles

The first Egyptian satellite channel completely operated by women wearing the full face veil (niqab) is set to be launched 20 July, which will coincide with the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

The channel will be named "Mariya" after one of Prophet Mohamed's wives, who were a Coptic Egyptian freed slave.  A full niqabi film crew will manage and operate the channel, including TV presenters, producers, directors and correspondents.

The channel will air its programmes through the ultra-conservative Islamic Ummah Channel for six hours every day. The majority of the programming will focus on the niqab and married life.

The channel will be exclusively managed by women. Men will be prohibited from working in or appearing on Mariya, and even participating in phone-ins during live programmes.

El-Sheikha Safaa Refai, a preacher who will head the channel, said that Mariya programmes aim to educate Muslim women about their religion.

"Our message will be directed at Muslim women, to teach them the Sunna (practices) of the Prophet Mohamed," Refai told Al-Ahram Arabic news portal Thursday.

Refai pointed out that this is not the first time niqabi women work in the media, adding that they have already been working as presenters in several religious channels over the past few years.

She insisted that the niqab is the proper Muslim attire as stipulated by Islamic Sharia law.

Refai went on to label any woman who does not wear the full face veil as "uncovered," stressing that the niqab is a "red line" that cannot be crossed.

She indicated that Mariya plans to feature only niqabi pundits. However, if the channel airs a programme about an issue and cannot find a niqabi expert, they will host a non-niqabi and give them two options: either to wear the niqab temporarily during the programme, or have their faces blurred out while the programme is being broadcast.

However, Refai added that this does not mean that they will be "excluding anyone" explaining that Mariya aims to bring back the dignity of niqabi women who were oppressed and fired from their jobs over the past few decades.

Among the programmes that will be featured on Mariya is "Memoires of a woman," which will discuss marital infidelity, with the focus on women cheating on their husbands.

The channel currently has 30 niqabi TV presenters. They also have a temporary male director, Mohamed Dunia, who will be replaced with a niqabi woman soon, according to Refai. Similarly, the "uncovered" camerawomen Mariya has hired for the time being will also soon be replaced.

The head cover (hijab), the more common Islamic attire in Egypt, was banned on Egyptian TV channels during the Mubarak era. It was, however, common in a variety of religious satellite channels.

News about Mariya caused shockwaves across the Egyptian media sector.

Al-Jazeera TV anchor Mona Salman, who is also Egyptian, says that facial expressions are an important tool used by TV presenters when programmes are being aired.

"They are vital tools in connecting with your audience, including eye contact," Salman said.

She added that Mariya's concept seems more appropriate for radio.

"There are certain types of programmes in which the TV presenter does not appear. These include documentaries or other programmes where the presenter is not on camera." Salman explains. "However, once the presenter is in front of the camera, then yes, facial expressions become very important."

According to Refai, the idea of the channel was presented in 2005 by El-Sheikh Abu Islam Ahmed Abdallah, the owner of the Ummah Channel. Abdallah began by producing several niqabi only programmes on his channel, before coming up with the idea of creating a channel exclusively for niqabi women.

Refai refused to reveal who is funding the channel.

Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, Egypt has witnessed an ongoing Islamist ascendency. During the Mubarak regime there were heavy crackdowns on Islamists, with the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group, officially banned, though tolerated.

Members of the Brotherhood were routinely detained, their properties regularly confiscated, and they were often banned from running for political office. This situation changed after the 25 January 2011 uprising, with the Brotherhood launching the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Islamists have since enjoyed a predominant presence in the political sphere, with the Brotherhood and the Safafist El-Nour Party winning 47 and 23 per cent of parliament seats respectively.

The presidential race also saw several Islamist candidates vying for the top post, including Salafist Hazem Abu Ismail, Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh and the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, who went on to win the elections and become Egypt's first Islamist president.



Uganda Appeals to Muslims to Allow Girl Education

July 4, 2012

Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) recently appealed to the Muslim community to educate girls. The president of UPC, Dr. Olara Otunnu, has called for support of girls’ education.

Otunnu’s words came during a fundraiser for Tawheed Islamic School at Muktar Mosque in Arua town. The fundraiser, initiated the previous year, is to support Islamic development projects through local funds. This would reduce dependency on Arab nations.

The Tawheed Islamic School opened in 2009 as a nursery. Now it’s expanding to a model primary school. It would combine its regular curriculum with Islamic teachings. In this aspect, the UPC urged the school to include Muslim girls.

Otunnu said: “Please don’t confine girls to the kitchen. We want them to be doctors, lawyers and professors.” He used Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Turkey as examples that showed the benefits of an educated women community. He also used the example of how some women rose to be prime ministers in their country.



Two Women Injured In Acid Attacks in Pakistan

Jul 06 2012

Lahore: Two women suffered serious injuries when two men stormed into their house and threw acid on them in this eastern Pakistani city, officials said today.

The state-run Rescue 1122 service responded to an emergency call and took Zahida (39) and Shamim (41) to Mayo Hospital after they were attacked in their residence in Ichhra area yesterday.

They sustained burns on the chest and arms, officials said.

Shamim told police that their neighbour Muhammad Amir and his accomplice entered their home and threw acid on them following a minor dispute.

Ichhra police station Chief Ahsan Ashraf, however, said the women were engaged in a dispute with Amir and wanted to settle a score.

He said both sides had lodged a few cases against each other in the past.

Ashraf said a case would be registered only after receiving medical reports which established that the women had suffered acid burns.

According to police records, as many as nine women have been victims of acid attacks in different parts Lahore in the first six months of this year. One of the women died.



Woman hurt as shell hits her house in Jammu & Kashmir

Jul 6, 2012

SRINAGAR: A woman was injured after a shell from an Army firing range reportedly hit her house at Chillbrass in central Kashmir's Budgam district on Thursday.

Defence spokesman Lt Col J S Barar said the shell did not hit the house but exploded in the air. ``...the woman sustained minor injuries due to the impact of the explosion after the roof of the house suffered some damage,'' he said.

The incident triggered protests in the area as local residents blocked the main road leading to the firing range adjoining an Army camp at Toshi Mandan.

Top police and civil officials rushed to the area to pacify the angry residents. Reports said local tehsildar suffered minor injuries in the scuffle that broke out at the spot.

Budgam SSP Uttam Chand said the police have registered a case and started investigations into the matter.

The incident comes three days after soldiers of 21 Rashtriya Rifles fired at a vehicle and injured 22-year-old Bilal Ahmad Magray in north Kashmir's Handwara area. The vehicle was reportedly fired at after Magray's cousin, who was driving it did not stop when the soldiers asked him to do so.

An attempt to murder case has been registered against the soldiers.



PPP’s Shazia Marri takes oath as MNA

Jul 6, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Newly nominated member of Pakistan People’s Party Shazia Marri on Friday took oath as Member National Assembly.

Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza administered the oath. Later, the member also signed the roll of members.

Shazia Marri had been nominated by the PPP for a seat reserved for women. The seat had fallen vacant due to the demise of senior PPP leader Fauzia Wahab.



Delhi HC's Ruling On Muslim Girls' Marriage Sparks Debate In the Community

Marya Shakil

 Jun 06, 2012

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court's recent ruling that a Muslim girl can marry at the age of 15 has sparked off a debate in the community. Young Muslims feel that the law of the land should prevail when it comes to the age of marriage. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has, however, welcomed the judgment.

"At 17 you complete school; at 18 you get voting rights. In case of marriage, irrespective of the religion, the law of the land should prevail. A minor is a minor at 15," says 26-year-old Islamic Studies student Sadia Khan.

Full report at:



The battle for women’s equality in Egypt 



 Jun 06, 2012

When the Egyptian revolution erupted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, women stood shoulder to shoulder with men, demanding democracy, freedom, and equality. Since then, events have taken a dismal turn for the women who wanted to become equal players in a modern Egypt.

The situation has become so worrisome that dozens of Egyptian women’s groups and human rights organizations have issued a call on newly elected President Mohammed Morsi to take a stand and launch an investigation of violent sexual attacks against women and of a disturbing new trend, noticeable since the Muslim Brotherhood candidate took over the presidency, of harassment against women who do not wear the hijab, the Islamic head cover.

Egyptian women are no shrinking violets. Among them are some of the steeliest, sharpest advocates anywhere, working for secularism and equality. They are organizing a number of protests, and some plan to start spray-painting men who assault women. But activists face some tough adversaries.

Full report at:



Fifa lifts ban on Muslim headscraves for competitions

6th July 2012

Football's rule makers have agreed to allow Muslim women to wear headscarves when they're playing.

The decision reverses a ban on the Islamic hijab that was introduced for Fifa competitions five years ago.

Headscarves had not been allowed due to safety concerns and because they was not recognised in the laws of the game.

But that has now all changed after International Football Association Board decided to change the rules.



Fashion as Resistance: The Case of Mali

July 4, 2012 by eren

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post discussing the attempt among Muslim leaders in Russia to prove that Russian Muslim women are modern and fashionable, unlike Muslims elsewhere. Soon after, fashion made headlines again, this time in the case of Mali, with Yahoo! News reporting on Darkar Fashion Week 2012.

The event, which takes place in Senegal, has been attracting designers from all over Africa for the past ten years. The event has been reported to attempt to bring Africa forward in the fashion world, and to counter Western fashion houses stealing African aesthetics and motifs.

Nonetheless, the Yahoo! News article focuses on Malian designers and the fact that fashion seems to be too colourful and perhaps too showy for the Islamists. Mali, a country that is rarely featured in the fashion section of the news, went through a coup d’état earlier this year, and now the northern region is under the control of Ansar Dine, a group commonly identify in the Western media as Islamist rebels, who have also recently attacked Timbuktu.

The article suggests that fashion is too “cool” for these Islamists, as they have taken the conservative approach in endorsing hijab and banning trousers for women. To some degree, the article portrays angry Islamists getting back at fashion designers and perhaps even women. Nonetheless, the issue may be a bit more complex than Yahoo! News analysis. The issue with fashion may be not its colors and uncovered arms, but what it represents. In an interview, designer Sidahmed Seidnaly, aka Alphadi and also known as the Magician of the Desert, expresses his discomfort with the situation in Mali and the push for Shari’ah law in the northern region. Similarly, designer Mariah Bocoum made her five-piece collection to represent the struggle of Malian people and as a way to resist the restrictions now imposed in Mali’s north.

Full report at:



Dallas: Muslim Women Show Flair for Their Fashion

July 1, 2012

DALLAS (DMN) — At a sleek venue in Dallas’ Design District, Ndaa Hassan burst through the curtain and rushed backstage. The fashion show was about to start. She was a flurry of nerves, wrapped in light pink from head to toe. “Ladies, it’s a full house!” she shouted.

The 30 or so models wore vibrant eye shadow, bejewelled dresses and high heels. But in this case, the stilettos didn’t lead up to bare, twiggy legs. In fact, they led no further than the hems of loose-fitting dresses that revealed almost no skin.

This was fashion, all right, but with a Muslim influence.

Hassan and her friend Zeena Alkurdi were presenting their first fashion show to about 150 people, spotlighting stylish but modest clothing — including some of their own designs. As entrepreneurs, Hassan and Alkurdi, both 22, design and sew hijabs whose chic styles range from tie-dye and sequins to cheetah print and vintage floral.

Each has launched an online boutique to bridge the gap between the Middle Eastern traditions of their parents and the American culture they grew up in. A stylish hijab, they say, empowers Muslim girls to feel more confident and find common ground with non-Muslim peers.

Full report at:



Saudi Women’s Right to Kick Balls

July 5, 2012

 By sana Leave a Comment

With the summer Olympics fast approaching (and truly, what place says summer better than London), it was only natural that a bit of controversy would have to preface an event upon which the integrity of your otherwise boring country lies.

And who better to offer this controversy than Saudi Arabia?

Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch launched a campaign “Let Them Play” aimed to pressure the Kingdom into allowing female athletic participation in the upcoming Olympics. The campaign led to a bit of a media frenzy and even solicited a response from the Head of the Saudi Olympic Committee, Prince Nawaf Bin Faisal. According to a report made first by Al-Watan in April of this past year, Prince Nawaf made it clear that in accordance with (the Saudi government’s understanding of) shari’a and with respect to the sensibilities of Saudis around the world, women would not be allowed to participate in any official capacity in the Olympics. They could, however, participate unofficially.  This came after the International Olympic Committee’s own assertion, in March, that it believed women would be allowed to participate at the games in London, which was based on Saudi presentation of the names of possible female athletes who could represent at the summer games.

Unsurprisingly, Saudi’s official decision of “unofficiality” only yielded more criticisms for the government, which remained the last country to bar female Olympic participation. Qatar and Brunei, two other countries on that list, have prepared their first-ever female delegations for this year’s event.

Full report at:



If there are no women on Saudi Olympic plane, the IOC should send it back home


July 5, 2012 -

"The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit ..."

Those are the International Olympics Committee's own words, spelled out at the very beginning of its charter, right after the preamble, under a section known as "Fundamental Principles of Olympism."

It's time for the IOC to live up to them.

If Saudi Arabia won't allow women to compete at the London Games, tell the guys who run the oil-rich kingdom they can keep the rest of their team — the men — at home, too.

No more negotiations. No more sorting out the details. This is a major issue, no less important than a stand taken by the IOC nearly a half-century ago when faced with the issue of apartheid in South Africa.

Less than a month before the 1964 Olympics — roughly the same amount of time that we stand away from the start of the London Games — the organization banned South Africa from sending a team to Tokyo because of its policy of racial discrimination. Never mind that South Africa tried to buy itself some time by offering to send a team with seven nonwhites among its 62 athletes.

Full report at: