New Age Islam News Bureau
23 Feb 2019
Hoda Muthana, a US-born former Islamic State propagandist, who is being barred from returning to the US (Screen capture/ABC News)
• Lawyer for US-Born Islamic State Woman: She Should Return To US
• Saudi Sisters Trapped In Hong Kong Fear Death Penalty If Deported
• ‘Identify Roadblocks in Economically Empowering Women’
• Syria Force Evacuates Women, Children from ISIS Holdout
• Married Couples, Women Happier According To Life Satisfaction Survey
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Masjid In UP Allows Women to Offer ‘Individual Namaz’ At A Separate Section
February 23rd, 2019
Normally, women are barred from entering Masjid and perform Namaz in India. However, amid rising demands by Muslim women to allow them to enter and offer prayers in mosques across the country, a Masjid in Amroha district in Uttar Pradesh has made special arrangements for the fairer sex to offer ‘individual Namaz’ at a separate section in the Mosque.
In the Masjid, women are allowed to perform Namaz at least five times a day. Such an arrangement has been made so that Muslim women do not miss out on Namaz because they are outdoors or busy in work.
“Now, when women are outside, doing some work, and there is a risk of Namaz being missed, then they can offer prayers here after the males finish their prayer. A place has been designated for it where they can come and pray individually.
Namaz is a right of every follower of Islam, whether male or female. Countries like Iran, Iraq and Africa allow women to perform Namaz.
Earlier, a group of Muslim women had moved the Supreme Court demanding entry into all mosques in the country. The petition by the Muslim women reportedly asks that every mosque that receives monetary aid from the government be prohibited from discriminating against women.
Lawyer for US-Born Islamic State Woman: She Should Return To US
February 22, 2019
A lawyer for an American-born woman who defected to the Islamic State says his client should be allowed to return the United States because she was born here, and he also argued that her child should be considered an American citizen.
The citizenship of Hoda Muthana has come into question after she requested to return to the United States from Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contended Thursday that Muthana is not a U.S. citizen because her father was a Yemeni diplomat.
“She may have been born here,” Pompeo told NBC’s “Today” show. “She is not a U.S. citizen, nor is she entitled to U.S. citizenship.”
President Donald Trump said he ordered Pompeo to not allow Muthana return to the United States.
Attorney: Banishment not constitutional
Muthana’s lawyer, Charles Swift, the director of the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, told VOA’s Urdu Service Friday that Muthana was born in New Jersey nearly two months after her father left his position as a diplomat in 1994, thus making her a U.S. citizen.
Swift says Muthana, now 24 and with a child, is willing to face U.S. prosecution that she willingly went to Syria and used social media to praise the killings of Westerners.
Swift argues that Muthana’s child, born in a relationship with one of her three jihadist husbands, should also be considered an American citizen.
“He would be a U.S. citizen by virtue of the fact under statute that he was born to an American U.S. citizen mother who had resided in the country for at least five years prior to his birth,” he said.
He says because the child was born in Syria, and because there was no U.S. Embassy in Syria, there would have been no way for Muthana to register the birth and receive a U.S. passport for her son.
Swift says he understands that is tempting to banish Muthana because she traveled to Syria to join Islamic State, but that would not be legal.
“Banishment is a very old punishment, except it’s not constitutional. The Supreme Court has only permitted the loss of citizenship in extraordinarily limited circumstances that aren’t really present here,” he told VOA.
He said the United States cannot “just unilaterally revoke someone’s citizenship” that they previously recognized. “The constitution exists to protect the unpopular,” he said.
Return, face punishment
Muthana has previously posted on Twitter a picture of herself and three other women appearing to burn their Western passports, including an American one.
Now, however, with territory held by IS dwindling fast, Muthana has renounced extremism and wants to return home to confront any criminal charges that could be lodged against her.
“To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family, and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly,” she said in a handwritten note to her lawyers.
Standing in the way is Trump.
“I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” he said Wednesday on Twitter.
Taking back IS prisoners
Trump has attacked European allies that have not taken back hundreds of IS prisoners caught in Syria, where Trump plans to withdraw U.S. troops. By comparison, relatively few Americans have embraced radical Islam.
The Counter Extremism Project at George Washington University has identified 64 Americans who joined IS in Syria or Iraq.
Europe is debating the nationality of some extremists. Britain recently revoked the citizenship of Shamina Begum, who like Muthana traveled to Syria and now wants to return to her country of birth.
London asserted that because of her heritage she was entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship, but the Dhaka government Wednesday denied that she was eligible, leaving her effectively stateless.
Saudi Sisters Trapped In Hong Kong Fear Death Penalty If Deported
23 Feb 2019
Two Saudi sisters trapped in Hong Kong say chronic physical abuse by male family members prompted them to flee the kingdom, where they fear they will be forcibly returned.
The two are the latest example of Saudi women trying to escape from the ultra-conservative kingdom who find themselves dodging officials and angry family.
The women, aged 20 and 18, were marooned after Saudi consular officials allegedly intercepted them during a stopover at Hong Kong’s airport and revoked their passports.
They have adopted the aliases Reem and Rawan, and have described an unhappy upbringing in a middle-class Riyadh household.
They said they were beaten by their father when they were young and by their brothers when they got older for things such as waking up late for prayer.
“They started to beat me ... My father didn’t really stop them. He thinks that this is what makes them men,” Reem said.
Even their 10-year-old brother participated and began to police the way they dressed, they said.
The sisters decided to escape during a family holiday in Sri Lanka in September, when their passports would be kept in their parents’ bag instead of a safe – and when they would not need permission from a male guardian to travel abroad.
They started planning two years ago to coincide with Rawan’s 18th birthday so she could apply for a visitor’s visa to Australia on her own.
The sisters got their passports while their parents were sleeping and flew from Colombo to Hong Kong but said they were stopped by several unknown men at the airport.
Their flight booking to Melbourne had been cancelled and they later learned one of the men was Saudi Arabia’s consul general in Hong Kong.
Fearing they were about to be forcibly abducted, the sisters entered Hong Kong as visitors and have lived in hiding for nearly six months. They have changed locations 13 times.
They said police tried to take them to meet male relatives and Saudi officials.
Hong Kong’s security minister, John Lee, said on Friday that “police have received two separate reports, one regarding missing person[s] and one regarding request for investigation”. He did not elaborate.
Immigration authorities said they would not comment on individual cases.
The Saudi consulate in Hong Kong did not respond to requests for comment.
The sisters have been told by their lawyer that their passports had been revoked in November, leaving them stateless.
They are fearful of being returned to Saudi Arabia and facing their family’s wrath.
“Either we will be killed because they want to clear [the] shame we brought as women who left by their own, or they will force us to marry ... our cousins,” said Reem.
They have renounced Islam and fear the death penalty if they return home.
Apostasy or blasphemy is punishable with jail or death sentences in some Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia.
One month ago an 18-year-old Saudi woman, Rahaf Mohammed, drew global attention with her dramatic escape from an allegedly abusive family. She was given refugee status in Canada.
Michael Vidler, a lawyer for the pair, said Hong Kong immigration authorities had indicated they would be “tolerated” until 28 February but could then be deported. They now hope to be granted asylum in a third country.
‘Identify Roadblocks in Economically Empowering Women’
February 23, 2019
Even though many talk about it, there is no clear idea on what exactly involves women’s economic empowerment, and more importantly, what hinders it.
This was stated by Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Secretary General and former Senator Farhatullah Babar during a public-private dialogue on gender-focused economic reforms at the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in Islamabad on Friday.
“The more you do, the more you achieve, the more you achieve, the more you understand what more needs to be done,” Babar said, adding that the issue of women’s economic participation was inseparable from their other issues.
“We all know that women are subjected to violence, discrimination of identity, and inequality before the law and it is a proven fact that a large number of women are disenfranchised. The society refuses to give them their due right to work; discouraging them to collectively voice their concerns,” he said.
There is no recognition of their domestic work and their economic contribution in the informal sector. Even if recognized, they face issues like non-payment and under-payment, he said.
In 1950, the provisions of ‘equal pay for women’ and ‘anti-torture law’ were enshrined in the first annexe that would pave a path to the drafting of the Constitution in 1956, Babar said. However, the 1956 constitution and all the others and amendments which came after that were silent on the subject.
He suggested that the informal sector – which comprises nearly 8.5 million workers with a significant percentage of woman – needs to be recognised and regulated. In this regard, he said that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention also recognises the domestic work of women.
“Only by identifying roadblocks, can women be economically empowered. Pakistan is an overly legislated country; it just faces severe implementation challenges,” he said, adding that the flawed and discriminatory criminal justice system along with women’s limited knowledge and access of and to their rights and legal processes respectively, adds fuel to the fire.
He suggested poverty alleviation programmes where women should be the primary beneficiaries for economic relief.
“The existing structures for the status of women including the provincial and federal commissions need to be strengthened. “
Senior PPP leader Dr Nafisa Shah said that the recent gender gap ranking of Pakistan was quite alarming. The poor economic participation of women is one of the major reasons that contribute to Pakistan’s socio-economic and political issues.
Women, she said, are explicitly excluded from the economic sector. However, it must be realized that the economic exclusion of women is as bad as discrimination against women.
Formal banking, she said, remains a ‘no-go’ area for a majority of rural women. Hence, the microfinancing facilities offered to women entrepreneurs should be cognizant of their needs such as low-interest loans facilities and minimum capital requirement.
“Higher interest rates and inadequate microfinancing equate to financial discrimination.”
The participants concurred that a whole-of-society approach is needed to bring about change.
Syria Force Evacuates Women, Children from ISIS Holdout
February 22, 2019
US-backed fighters trucked out civilians from the last speck of the Islamic State group’s dying “caliphate” in Syria on Friday, eager to press on with the battle to crush the jihadists.
More than four years after IS overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq, and declared a “caliphate”, they have lost all of it but a tiny patch in the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border.
More than 40 trucks carrying men, women and children left the enclave on Friday, AFP correspondents at a position of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces outside the village reported.
Most were women and children, their clothes caked in dust, but the passengers also included men with their faces wrapped in chequered scarves.
Women clung to the railings of the trucks, while the hair of younger girls blew in the wind, as they left enclave in the second such large-scale evacuation in three days.
On the back of one of the trucks, three men covered their faces with their hands, apparently not to be caught on camera.
One woman raised the index finger of her right hand in an Islamist gesture signifying “There is no god but God”.
Asked what the situation was like inside the last IS scrap, a young man replied: “Not good”.
SDF spokesman Adnan Afrin said more than 2,000 people were estimated to still be inside the pocket, and more trucks were expected to bring them out.
– ‘War or surrender’ –
Once the evacuations have ended, the jihadists will have to decide whether to continue defending the less than half a square kilometre (a fifth of a square mile) they still hold, he said.
“They will be faced with a choice: war or surrender,” Afrin said.
Earlier on Friday, SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said he hoped civilian evacuations could be completed by Saturday.
The SDF evacuated 3,000 people on Wednesday — mostly women and children — but trucks left near empty on Thursday.
Bali said that screening had determined that most of those evacuated on Wednesday were foreigners.
“The majority are Iraqi and from countries of the former Soviet Union, but there are also Europeans,” he said.
David Eubank, the leader of the Free Burma Rangers volunteer aid group, said they included “many French women”, as well as others from Australia, Austria, Germany and Russia, and one woman from Britain.
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based watchdog, urged the SDF and the US-led coalition supporting it to make protecting civilians a priority.
“Witnesses described harrowing conditions in the last months, with lack of food and aid forcing them to eat grass and weeds to survive,” it said.
Beyond Baghouz, IS retains a presence in the vast Syrian desert and sleeper cells elsewhere, and continues to claim deadly attacks in SDF-held territory.
On Thursday, they detonated a car bomb that killed 20 people near the Omar oil field, the main base for the SDF operation in Baghouz.
The battle for the village is now the only live front in Syria’s war, which has killed 360,000 people and displaced millions since 2011.
– US ‘peacekeepers’ –
Any SDF victory would accelerate a planned withdrawal of US troops from Syria announced in December by US President Donald Trump.
Kurdish forces, who have spearheaded the US-backed fight against IS in Syria, have expressed fear that a full pullout would leave them exposed to a long threatened attack by neighbouring Turkey.
But the White House said Thursday the US military will keep “a small peacekeeping group of about 200” in Syria after the withdrawal.
The Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria welcomed the move.
“We positively evaluate the White House decision to keep 200 US soldiers in our region as a peacekeeping force,” foreign affairs official Abdulkarim Omar said.
It is a “very important to maintain stability and protect our region from the Turkish threats, and ensure that terrorism will not be back,” he wrote on Twitter.
At the height of its rule, IS imposed its brutal ideology on an area roughly the size of the United Kingdom, attracting thousands from abroad.
But some of those foreigners have been killed, while the SDF holds hundreds more.
Syria’s Kurds have requested their home countries take them back, but foreign governments have been reluctant.
On Thursday, the father of Alabama woman Hoda Muthana, 24, sued to bring her home after the Trump administration declared she was not a US citizen.
London teenager Shamima Begum, 19, faced being left stateless after Britain revoked her citizenship, and Bangladesh, where her parents were born, said it not want her.
Married Couples, Women Happier According To Life Satisfaction Survey
Happiness can be relative and slightly on the decline, but the number of Turkish citizens happily living in the country is still strong. Married people, women and senior citizens are among the happiest. That's what the life satisfaction survey released by the state-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) on Friday about the 2018 figures on what makes people happy says.Last year was turbulent for Turkey, especially in terms of the economy, where the Turkish lira took multiple hits and the inflation rate soared while the country was striving for growth. TurkStat figures show the rate of people who answered the institute's survey who said they were satisfied with living in Turkey decreased to 53.4 percent last year from 58 percent for 2017. This does not mean that the lives of the rest were bleak as the number of people calling themselves unhappy rose to 12.1 from 11.1 percent and the remainder did not express their opinion on the levels of their life satisfaction.
For women, the rate of those declaring they were happy dropped to 57 percent from 62.4 percent. This was 49.6 percent for men, decreasing from 53.6 in 2017.
How one sees happiness can vary but invariably it was the senior citizens, those at the age of 65 and above, who were the happiest, according to survey. An overwhelming 66.1 percent of the elderly declared themselves happy, apparently a reflection on how age may change views of happiness. Those between the ages of 45 and 54 were the most "unhappy" citizens, the survey shows.
Marriage is another factor in happiness, the survey indicates that the rate of married people declaring their happiness was higher than single citizens. Moreover, married women were happier compared to married men.
The survey also answers what makes citizens happy. Family, as it was the case in previous surveys, made people happiest. Children were the second source of happiness for 12,9 percent of interviewed citizens. The spouses follow children in the source of happiness. Being healthy also makes people the happiest. Some 15.5 percent of those responding to the survey said it was love that made them happy. Success, money and jobs followed love, respectively, as sources of happiness.
On an educational level, people who did not attend school or dropped out were happier compared to those who graduated. Some 53.9 percent of "happy people" were graduates from an institution of higher learning.
The survey also delves into people's satisfaction with services. People were most satisfied with security services. This was a given though, as security significantly improved in the country, whose past is tainted with a string of terror attacks. No major terror attacks took place in the country last year. Large-scale operations against terrorist groups ranging from the PKK and Daesh to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) certainly played a role in better security. It was followed, at 74.8 percent, in satisfaction with transportation services. This was expected too as Turkey has invested heavily in its road network and high-speed train services, while the number of flights across the country is gradually being increased. Health, social security, education and judiciary services also had high satisfaction levels for the public.
Happiness may be on the decline but hope prevails. The rate of those who say they are hopeful for a brighter future was 72.1 percent in 2018. The rate of men expressing hope in the future surpassed women, TurkStat figures indicated.
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