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Love Story That Has Left Behind Even Heer-Ranjha: A 16-Year-Old Girl Fighting To Uphold Her ‘Marriage’ All The Way Up To the Supreme Court

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 Oct 2019

The village dominated by upper-caste Muslims, mostly Sheikhs and Pathans, agrees that under the Shariah law that allows marriage on attaining puberty, their wedding is valid, but adds that it is the first such case in their memory. (Representational Image)


Iranian Beauty Queen Seeks Asylum In Philippines

Her ‘Marriage’ All The Way Up To the Supreme Court

All-Female Saudi Tourist Group Explores Wonders Of Tabuk

Women Seek Further Gains in Post-Revolution Sudan

Desperate Pleas to Free Women and Children from ISIS Camps in Syria

Saudi Women Bowlers Ready to Strike In Kuwait Games

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Love Story That Has Left Behind Even Heer-Ranjha: A 16-Year-Old Girl Fighting To Uphold Her ‘Marriage’ All The Way Up To the Supreme Court

By Maulshree Seth

October 20, 2019

About 200 km from Lucknow, in a remote village in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, villagers talk about “a bhayanak (scary) love story that has left behind even Heer-Ranjha”. What has them stunned is that the one taking the lead in this tale is a 16-year-old girl — fighting to uphold her “marriage” to a 20-year-old against their families, village, and the government, all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Three months after the girl and the 20-year-old got married in the verandah of his house, the youth says he has left everything up to her. “She is adamant and I trust and believe that she will not change her statement. We have married as per Islam and in front of elders. The rest is on Allah.”

The village dominated by upper-caste Muslims, mostly Sheikhs and Pathans, agrees that under the Shariah law that allows marriage on attaining puberty, their wedding is valid, but adds that it is the first such case in their memory.

On June 22, around 11 pm, the couple are said to have summoned a maulvi from a neighbouring village to conduct the nikah. The maulvi was known to them as he held classes in the village. The next day, the girl’s father lodged an FIR against the 20-year-old, his father and their neighbours, under IPC sections covering kidnapping and inducement of a woman to compel marriage.

Sub-Inspector Shailendra Yadav, the Investigating Officer in the case, says, “We produced the girl before a magistrate. She refused to go back to her family and, since she was a minor, she was sent to the Nari Niketan on July 3 on the orders of the magistrate.”

The youth went to the high court, alleging that the girl was being detained against her will. “After the court rejected their plea saying the girl is a minor, they approached the Supreme Court,” the S-I says. As per general law, a girl has to be at least 18 and the groom 21 to be eligible for marriage.

Senior advocate and All India Muslim Personal Law Board secretary Zafaryab Jilani says, “If a girl and boy are minors, then the consent of parents is required. But if they are major, then they can decide to continue or end their marriage. However, the definition of ‘major’ or being ‘baalig’ is different here (in Muslim law) as it is linked to puberty.”

Cases like these arise when a marriage takes place without the consent of parents, Jilani says, adding that whenever these have been taken to court, it has generally ruled in favour of the girl.

In tears, the girl’s mother accuses her of bringing “bad name” to the family and leaving her father in shock. “How can a young girl like her decide her future? Don’t we have a say?” says the 45-year-old, who also has two sons, both elder to the 16-year-old. “They (the youth’s family) have brainwashed my daughter and that is why she is speaking their language.”

But, in the village, they talk of a girl, barely literate, who knew her mind.

The villagers say that after she came to the house of the youth in June and the two expressed their intention to get married, they tried to send her back to her family twice to avoid any tension, but she threatened to poison herself. Adds the father of the 20-year-old, “She claimed her family would marry her to an elderly person who already had children or kill her, if she was sent back.” He says she bore injury marks indicating she had been beaten up.

Villagers also admit that apart from the question of “honour”, the two families have a land dispute going back a decade. The youth’s family says the other side is lashing back as it had lost the land. Denying this, her uncle says, “It was years back, there is no such issue now. It is just that we do not want our girl to go to that house.”

Listening impassively to the conversation as he sits outside his un-plastered house, the youth, his hair dyed red, says he and the girl met about two years back. Having studied up to Class 9 in a local private school, the youth helps out his father in farming. “Her house is opposite my maternal grandmother’s. We exchanged mobile numbers and started having long conversations,” he says. Eyes glued to his mehndi-coloured hands, with English letters of her name hidden in the design, as a groom would do at a wedding, he says he put the henna on for “good luck”.

The girl’s father is also a farmer, while her elder brothers work as labourers in Mumbai and Delhi. The family denies her claim that they were trying to marry her off, adding that she made that up under duress and asking why the nikah was held at 11 in the night without any witnesses from their side. The village pradhan says, “We had informed the family members of the girl. Pathans and Sheikhs marry into each other’s families and most of us are related. But none from the girl’s side came.”

The girl’s mother adds that she doesn’t understand why the 20-year-old is at home while the girl has been taken away. “Last we heard she was at a Nari Niketan in some other district… Why is she being punished? She does not understand what is good for her, and wants law to do justice for her.”

The girl’s cousin, who lives nearby, says, “It is true that Shariah law allows one to marry after puberty, but we live in this country and the country’s law also matters.”

The family adds that whatever the outcome, she should have security if she returns. “What if she does something untoward?” says the girl’s uncle.

In this, the youth’s family agrees with them. Says the 20-year-old’s father, “We are ready to keep her, but fear that her family might do something. She should be guarded.”



Iranian Beauty Queen Seeks Asylum In Philippines


October 21, 2019

MANILA/AMMAN: An Iranian beauty queen is seeking asylum in the Philippines because she fears for her life in Tehran.

Bahareh Zare Bahari, who was Iran's entry at the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018, is in the custody of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration after she was intercepted at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport last week.

The bureau said she was barred from entering the Philippines because of an Interpol red notice due to an assault and battery case filed against her by a fellow Iranian. The incident is alleged to have happened in the Philippines.

Bahari denies any wrongdoing, saying the case against her was fake. She added that Tehran was targeting her for supporting an opposition politician, violating traditional values by taking part in beauty pageants and speaking for women’s rights.

In January she appeared at a pageant carrying a picture of Reza Pahlavi, an Iranian opposition leader and founder of the National Council of Iran.

“I used his photo in a beauty pageant and they are angry with me,” Bahari told Arab News during a phone interview. “If they (Philippines) deport me, they (Iran) will give me at least 25 years in jail, if they do not kill me.”

Bahari said she had travelled to the Philippines after a two-week vacation to Dubai, where she did not encounter any problems with immigration authorities. She was surprised when she was intercepted at the airport in Manila and informed that she was on an Interpol list.

Her lawyer had checked all records in the Philippines and with Interpol but there was no record against her, she added.

The beauty queen denied committing any crimes in Iran, or in the Philippines where she has been studying dentistry since 2014.

Media reports said Bahari was due to be deported to Iran on Monday but a Department of Justice official, Mark Perete, said she remained in the bureau’s custody and “could not be sent back to Iran because she has filed an application for asylum.”

The department would resolve her asylum application “in due time," he added.



All-Female Saudi Tourist Group Explores Wonders Of Tabuk


October 21, 2019

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s first all-female tourist group has explored the environmental and archaeological wonders of Tabuk in the northwest of the Kingdom.

About 20 women from different parts of the Kingdom took part in the sightseeing trip to the province bordering the Red Sea.

“They were astonished to see such sights in their country, especially the area of Ras Al-Sheikh Humaid,” said Heba Al-Aidai, a tour guide in Tabuk who organized the trip.

“They did not expect to see such a place in Saudi Arabia. They looked speechless while standing close to the turquoise water of the sea. It is a truly breathtaking view.”

Al-Aidai and her colleague Nafla Al-Anazi promoted the trip on social media and attracted a group of homemakers, teachers and staff workers from all over the Kingdom, aged from 22 to over 50.

The tour was educational, too, and the women were told about the history of the places they visited. “They were taken to the Caves of Shuaib (Magha’er Shuaib), the place where Prophet Moses fled after leaving Egypt, and where he got married to one of the daughters of Prophet Shuaib, according to some historians. It was really a positive experience,” Al-Aidai said.

The visitors also explored Tayeb Ism, a small town in northwestern Tabuk, where there is a well-known gap in the towering mountains through which water runs throughout the year.

Al-Aidai said such trips aim to encourage tourism in Tabuk, and introduce Saudi tourists and other visitors to the landmarks of the region.



Women Seek Further Gains in Post-Revolution Sudan

Hamza Hendawi

Oct 20, 2019

A woman chief justice; four in the Cabinet, including the foreign minister; two sitting with army generals on a body that functions as Sudan’s collective presidency; and, the icing on the cake, a women’s football league whose games are open to female as well as male fans.

It is just six months since Sudan was ruled by a corrupt Islamist government that went out of its way to disenfranchise women and banish them from public life. They were jailed or flogged for violations of the strict dress code prescribed by radical clerics, such as wearing pants or exposing hair, and chastised for standing up to abusive spouses. Women athletes in shorts playing in public was simply unthinkable.

But the elevated standing of Sudanese women today is not a concession from a society immersed in patriarchy and religious piety. It is anything but.

Sudanese women surprised the world during the four-month popular uprising that led to the fall of Omar Al Bashir, the country’s Islamist ruler of 29 years who is now in jail while on trial on corruption charges. They often outnumbered men in the street protests that the president’s security forces tried to violently suppress.

After the military removed Mr Al Bashir on April 11, women took the lead in the sit-in outside the armed forces headquarters to demand the generals hand over power to civilians. They organised food and water and free medical care for the tens of thousands who took part. Women also participated in the tortuous negotiations between the pro-democracy movement and the military that led to a power-sharing deal on August 17.

“The Al Bashir regime really went after women and their response to that was emphatically manifested in the revolution.” Shady Lewis Botros, a London-based political analyst and author, told The National.

But there is further to go, say some of the women whose street activism contributed to the seismic societal change in Sudan. They complain that the selection of the women now in the Cabinet and the Sovereignty Council was not transparent enough and was influenced by male-dominated traditional parties.

“It’s certainly much better than in the past, but I am not fully satisfied,” said activist Hager Sayed. “The nominations were made behind closed doors inside the Forces of Freedom and Change. They should have gone for technocrats who are independent. Our expectations were much higher than this,” she told The National.

The Forces of Freedom and Change is a loose alliance of political parties, rebel groups and trade unions that led the uprising against Mr Al Bashir and negotiated the power-sharing deal with the generals who succeeded him.

However, Ms Hager and other women say they are watching with deep interest how trade unions and political parties are preparing the women they intend to nominate to a proposed parliament in which women will hold 40 per cent of the seats.

The transitional chamber, which will sit until free elections are held in 2022, will be formed once peace agreements are reached with anti-government rebel groups in three regions west and south of the capital, Khartoum. The August 17 pact gives the two sides six months to reach an agreement. The talks are being held in Juba, South Sudan.

“But for now, the challenge is to bolster the capabilities and efficiency of women selected to senior government positions and to defend them against bullying by men,” said Sulaima Ishaq Sharif, a women’s rights activist who lectures in psychology at a private Khartoum university.

“The representation of women in the government and their active participation in public life is a war that’s much fiercer than the classical man vs woman gender war,” she said, explaining that political parties that put women forward for government positions did so grudgingly and against strong opposition from their male counterparts.

Mrs Sharif said another obstacle to fair representation for women was the entrenchment in state institutions of men who do not believe in gender equality, mostly Islamists loyal to Mr Al Bashir.

“Satisfaction about the representation of women will not come from the size of their representation. It will come when the selection process does not entail the exclusion of other women,” she said.

“The whole thing about women’s representation has just not risen to the level of the revolution and women’s role in it.”

But some of the wins to date are truly impressive.

Chief Justice Neemat Abdullah Kheir, for example, was the choice of the pro-democracy movement. Her nomination to the post was rejected by the generals, but they gave in after street protests backing her appointment. She is the first woman to hold this position in the entire Arab world.

The pro-democracy movement has consistently maintained that only someone like Mrs Kheir could ensure that criminals from Mr Al Bashir’s regime would be brought to justice and that state institutions were purged of the former president’s supporters.

The launch of a women’s football league is no less important. The 21-club league ushers in an important facet of gender equality in a deeply conservative but football mad society. Significantly, the first fixture, played in Khartoum’s oldest stadium, was officiated by three women.

“There is now the political will to make women’s sports one of the pillars of the country’s development and we will work to provide the infrastructure,” Youth and Sports Minister Walaa El Boushi, one of the four women in the Cabinet, said at the inaugural match.



Desperate Pleas to Free Women and Children from ISIS Camps in Syria

By Livia Albeck-Ripka

Oct. 21, 2019

CANBERRA, Australia — When Kamalle Dabboussy learned this month that President Trump was removing troops from northeastern Syria, he pulled over in his car and wept.

For months, Mr. Dabboussy has been lobbying the Australian government to remove his daughter and three grandchildren from a detention camp for relatives of Islamic State fighters. Now, he believes, the window to save them is closing.

“It’s tough; it’s scary,” he told his daughter, Mariam, during a recent phone call. Mr. Dabboussy tried to comfort her. “We’re still pushing,” he said.

The fate of tens of thousands of women and children in Kurdish-run detainee camps in Syria has posed a challenge for governments around the world since the Islamic State lost its last territory there earlier this year. But the chaos and violence that have followed the American pullback have intensified questions about what duty nations have to citizens detained abroad, even those affiliated with a brutal terrorist group.

Mr. Dabboussy has been leading a contingent of about a dozen Australian families seeking the return of more than 65 relatives, most of them children. He has traveled to the Al-Hol camp, where his daughter is being held in what he describes as unbearable conditions. He has spent months writing letters, calling politicians and uniting families who had kept the dark secret of their missing loved ones.

The women and children at Al-Hol, from about 50 countries, have been largely shunned by their home governments. In Australia, top leaders have cited a long list of reasons they cannot be repatriated, including security concerns.

Even if a cease-fire announced late last week holds, the Australian government has said, it is still far too risky to consider extracting the detainees. Officials said they would not put other lives in danger to save the women and children.

“Parents, mothers and fathers, have made a decision to take children into a theater of war,” the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, told reporters in Canberra, the capital, on Friday. “We’ve been very clear we’re not going to put Australian defense, foreign affairs or home affairs personnel or other agency staff at risk.” He added, “They’ve been fighting in the name of an evil organization, and there are consequences.”

The Australian government has maintained that at least some of the women joined the Islamic State willingly, and could pose a threat to national security. In some cases, it has even canceled the citizenship of fighters and family members it has deemed to be radicalized.

While many women from around the world joined the terrorist group of their own accord, the families of all the Australian women in Al-Hol say they were coerced by husbands and other family members. Many say they are related by blood or marriage to Muhammad Zahab, a Sydney teacher turned Islamic State fighter, who they say delivered them to Syria.

Mr. Dabboussy says that his 28-year-old daughter, while on a vacation in Turkey, was tricked by her husband into going to the border with Syria. She was then forced to cross at gunpoint.

He and other family members of those inside Al-Hol have become increasingly desperate to free them as fears have grown that Syrian government forces could displace the Kurds and take over the camp.

“That is a horrendous thought,” Mr. Dabboussy said. “Death might be the more merciful option.”

Conditions inside the camp were already miserable, with hundreds of children dying from disease and malnutrition, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Some women deemed apostates by more radicalized women have reported beatings and mutilation.

The Australian families argue that there are legal mechanisms to deal with the women, if necessary, after they return home. “We understand the rule of law,” Mr. Dabboussy said.

Lawyers representing the women argue that Australia has a constitutional duty to repatriate citizens and apply due process. These legal obligations include a duty to investigate crimes of an international nature, and to protect Australian citizens who are detained overseas, said Sarah Condon, one of the lawyers, who is based in Melbourne.

Policy experts also say that in some cases in which mothers are deemed to be radicalized, the state has a duty to take their children into its custody. Others argue that the government has a moral obligation to extract children who had no say in their parents’ journey to Islamic State territory.

Some who study terrorism warn of the risks of leaving the women to potentially escape the camp amid the disarray. That, they argue, could help lead to a resurgence of the Islamic State.

“There are certainly threats and risks when you repatriate people, but there’s also risks to not addressing this issue,” said Lydia Khalil, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney who specializes in the Middle East and international terrorism. She said the camp and other detention sites were “already hotbeds of further radicalization.”

United Nations Security Council resolutions mandate that countries take action to have their citizens who joined the Islamic State brought before the law.

But while “every government calls for other countries to repatriate their citizens,” said David Malet, a political scientist at American University in Washington, “most do what they can to avoid repatriating their own.”

Both President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have urged other countries to take back their citizens. As of July, a handful had been repatriated to the United States, according to a report by the Rojava Information Center, a group that does research on the Kurdish areas of Syria.

Some countries with sizable Muslim populations have repatriated large numbers of detainees, and European countries have reportedly been looking at using the cease-fire to return women and children.

But Australia has brought home fewer than 10 children since the camp opened, mostly orphans.

While Mr. Dutton, the conservative home affairs minister, has maintained that returning those in the camp “would be very dangerous,” his counterpart in the opposition Labor Party, Kristina Keneally, has said that information from the authorities indicates that some of the women are genuine victims.

Ms. Keneally said that “the government has a full tool kit” to be able to “detain and prosecute and control people who would seek to do us harm.” She noted a bill passed in July that enables the government both to delay the return of foreign fighters and their families, and to impose conditions on them once they have done so.

Mr. Dabboussy said Kurdish contacts had assured him that safe routes to remove the women and children remained open.

All last week, messages and calls from the Al-Hol camp streamed to Mr. Dabboussy’s phone.

“This is not what we deserve,” one woman said in a voice message sent from Al-Hol. She added: “We’re scared, we need help, we really need urgent help. Please help us.”

Follow Livia Albeck-Ripka on Twitter: @livia_ar.

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Saudi Women Bowlers Ready to Strike In Kuwait Games

October 21, 2019

JEDDAH: Four of Saudi Arabia’s top women bowlers will compete in the sixth GCC Women’s Games, which began in Kuwait on Sunday.

Mashael Al-Abdulwahid, Ghada Nimir, Amani Al-Ghamdi and Hadeel Tarmeen are joined by coach Mohammed Al-Najrani, team administrator Walid Al-Dosari and manager Razan Baker, all members of the Saudi Bowling Federation (SBF).

The women bowlers are part of a Saudi team of 62 female athletes — the Kingdom’s largest-ever women’s sports delegation — taking part in the Kuwait games.

All four competitors took part in an intensive training camp led by British coach Mario Joseph before the tournament, which will continue until Oct. 30.

The GCC Women’s Games will be the third international tournament in which Saudi women bowlers have competed. Previously they took part in the Arab Bowling Championship in Cairo in February and the women’s world titles in Las Vegas in August.

Al-Abdulwahid said that the GCC tournament is part of a qualification program for the World Cup contest to be held in Indonesia.

The four Saudi women bowlers also competed in five local tournaments in Riyadh, Alkhobar and Jeddah this year. Local contests are used by the SBF to promote the game and give bowlers experience against leading competitors.

Al-Ghamdi won a bronze medal at the tournament in Alkhobar earlier this month.

Teams from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE are competing in the GCC Women’s Games in addition to the host country, Kuwait.

SBF Chairman Badr bin Abdullah Al-Asheikh said that a men’s team from the Kingdom is competing in the Asian Tenpin Bowling Championships at the same time as the Kuwait games.

Adel Al-Barqi, Prince Mohammed bin Sultan, Sari Al-Jazaeri, Abdullah Al-Dulaijan, Abdulrahman Al-Khelaiwi and Bandar Al-Yabah are taking part under the supervision of coach Mario Joseph.

Al-Asheikh said that the women’s team “reflects women’s empowerment in Saudi Arabia,” while the men’s team highlights the achievements of the SBF.

Eleven sports will be represented at the GCC Women’s Games, including fencing, handball, basketball, bowling, archery, volleyball and athletics.




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