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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 7 Jun 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Minister’s Wife Shares Fake Facebook Photo of Suu Kyi in Islamic Headscarf

New Age Islam News Bureau

7 Jun 2014

Photo: Muslim Women Call to End Headscarf Ban in Tatarstan


 Saudi Men Go Abroad In Summer for ‘Pleasure Marriages’

 Muslim Women Call to End Headscarf Ban in Tatarstan

 Nigerian Schoolgirls Face Danger of Rape

 The Dutch 'Iron Lady' Destroying Syria's Chemicals

 Pakistani Girl Shot, Thrown In Canal over Marriage

 Niqab: A Good Idea When Travelling Abroad?

 Should Saudi Women Wear The Niqab At Work?

 Hope For Maldives Women Condemns “Offensive” Child Abuse Article

 Bangladesh: Women Leadership Summit Opens Tomorrow

 Columbia Students Pay Tribute to Sexual Assault Victims

 Fate of Hijab after the Islamic Regime

 Activists Hijacking Feminism to Attack Israel at Women's Studies Association Meeting

 Saudi Women Urged To Hike Private Sector Participation

 European Women Find Appeal in Syrian Jihad

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Minister’s Wife Shares Fake Facebook Photo of Suu Kyi in Islamic Headscarf

June 07, 2014

RANGOON — Ye Htut, Burma’s deputy minister for information and the presidential spokesman, has posted an apology note on Facebook after a storm of criticism followed his wife’s posting of a Photoshopped image of Aung San Suu Kyi in Islamic garb this week.

The post, of Suu Kyi wearing a Hijab and being crowned with a tiara as “Woman of the Week,” criticized the opposition leader for her push to amend Burma’s Constitution and was shared widely on Facebook, with the minister’s wife, Khin Sandar Tun, among those who shared the picture.

Another post, urging people to speak out against a rumoured plan to teach all of the world’s major religions in school, was also shared by his wife.

The altered image is particularly sensitive in Burma, where rising anti-Islamic sentiment has accompanied political reforms over the last few years that have included greater freedom of speech. That has coincided with rising use of social media sites like Facebook, which has been blamed for at times fanning the flames of interreligious tension by spreading false rumors and hate speech.

After screenshots of her post were spread by other Facebook users, Khin Sandar Tun deleted her Facebook account, as online criticism mounted that the behaviour of the deputy minister’s wife was unbecoming and threatened to stir up greater religious conflict.

One Facebook user named Demo Fatty wrote: “They simply have shown that they have a discriminating mind on different religions and races. By sharing that post, it shows the discrimination and taunting of the Muslim women. People with this kind of shallow point of view will also do the same thing to Christians or whoever, for they always think those who are different from themselves are lower than them.”

Another comment, posted by Win Min Than, said: “There are many like the minister’s wife, who are acting the same on Facebook. Thanks to Facebook, we now know their minds and their quality.”

After a few hours of back and forth among the Burmese Facebook community, Ye Htut—who has earned the nickname “Facebook minister” for his frequent use of the social media site—posted an apology on his Facebook account, saying it was his responsibility to control his wife’s behaviour when it came to sharing such posts.

The minister opens the apology saying: “There are ethics to using Facebook. We have to take care with the posts that we ‘like’ and share, for there may be hateful posts and defamation. The posts we write on our own should not be those that spread hate speech or personal attacks.

“As a responsible person of the government and as the head of the house, I have the responsibility to teach my family members to behave accordingly, to the standard that the majority of the people are upholding,” he continued.

“Apologies to those who respect and support Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and to those who visit my Facebook for my failure.”

The minister also included in his apology note that he had urged his wife to delete the posts as they were a breach of democratic standards and social media ethics.

The comment wars on Facebook have continued, with some accepting the apology as sincere, while others have accused the minister of masking his true sentiment with talk of democratic ideals.

“[I] respect the action of the minister for daring to take responsibility and apologizing, but she should think before making a mistake. Being the wife of a minister for information but having a low level of knowledge is a shame,” wrote one user, Ney Lin.

Another, who goes by the Facebook name Khet Oo, wrote: “Just think. Who is the most scornful? The wife of U Ye Htut, who acted out of ignorance, or U Ye Htut himself, who pretends to be a democrat and full of ethics by using fake words.”



Saudi Men Go Abroad In Summer for ‘Pleasure Marriages’

June 07, 2014

Many Saudi men who want to marry a second wife do not have enough courage to do so because they are afraid of their first wife. That is why you see them waiting patiently for summer vacation. When summer comes, they travel to an Arab or Muslim country and marry the young woman of their choice for a temporary period of time. This type of marriage is called a “pleasure marriage”. It continues for a short time, which the husband and the wife (or rather the broker) agrees upon. It can last for a month or two or maybe more.

Those Saudis who marry women this way can only be described as exploiters because they take advantage of the fact that some families abroad are poor and want to marry their daughters to rich men.

When a Saudi man arrives at the airport of one of the countries known to have this type of marriage, he will be approached by marriage brokers as soon as he gets off the plane. Usually, the brokers show the man photos of different women and provide him with information, such as the woman’s height, weight, hair colour, etc. The entire matter is conducted like a business deal. At the end of the agreed period of the “marriage”, the Saudi husband will divorce the young woman and return home, leaving her behind.

Because such marriages can have a detrimental social and human impact on the women involved in such contracts with Saudi men, the government has established the Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awasser). The society takes care of 7,000 families abroad who have been abandoned by Saudi men.

If a man wants to get married, he should do it legally and ethically. It is better than traveling to different countries searching for temporary wives. It is also better than making a mistake and letting Awasser pay for it.



Muslim women call to end headscarf ban in Tatarstan

World Bulletin / News Desk

June 07, 2014

The Union of Muslim Women in Russia and Tatarstan have called on the Russian Education Ministry to remove the headscarf ban in schools in the Republic of Tataristan.

In the 'Women Representatives of Peace' meeting, which hosted 324 delegates including those from the Russian republics of Bashkortostan and Mordovia, speakers called for the ban on the headscarf to end.

Union of Muslim Women in Russia head Naile Ziganshin said that even though there was no official law on the headscarf, schoolgirls were being forced to remove it. She then called on the Education Ministry to do what was necessary to prevent this breach of rights.



Nigerian schoolgirls face danger of rape

Jun 7, 2014

NEW YORK: The more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who remain captives of Boko Haram militants "definitely" face the danger of being raped, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict said.

"My worry is those girls don't come back half of them pregnant," said Zainab Hawa Bangura told a luncheon at the British Residence in New York.

She was meeting with editors, including Tina Brown, and the British ambassador to the US in preparation for an unprecedented global summit next week in London on sexual violence in conflict. Angelina Jolie and British foreign secretary William Hague will co-chair.

The abduction of more than 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants in April shocked the world and caused outrage among Nigerians. More than 200 girls remain captive.

Bangura said that the international community needs to prepare the girls' families for their return and put psychological and other supports in place for the girls.

And she told her audience that more than 2,000 girls in Nigeria already had been abducted before this case brought the situation to the world's attention.

The fate of the schoolgirls is expected to be an intense discussion at next week's summit. Some aid and advocacy groups wonder how any pregnancies from rape in such a high-profile case will affect the wider debate over access to abortion services.

US foreign aid is prohibited by Congress from subsidizing abortions as a method of family planning, but advocacy groups have lobbied the Obama administration to issue an executive order saying aid could be used to provide abortions for women raped in conflict.

"It is imperative that during next week's summit, (secretary of state John) Kerry and others address post-rape care as part of the larger conversation around sexual violence in conflict," Serra Sippel, president of the Washington-based Center for Health and Gender Equity, said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

Bangura, the daughter of a Muslim cleric, was almost married off at the age of 12 in Sierra Leone but became a forceful advocate for women during the deadly conflict there. She said more than 60,000 females were raped during the violence. She said the youngest victim she advocated for was 3 years old.

On Friday, Bangura wove stories of her own background with startling details about her work persuading leaders, often male leaders, to see sexual violence as a serious issue.

She said she won Congo President Joseph Kabila's attention to the issue of sexual violence by members of his military by asking him how he would feel if his twin sister were raped.

But she said that in Somalia, a leading judge there scoffed, "In Somalia, we don't have rape."

A report released this year by her office said that there is unprecedented political momentum globally to end conflict-related sexual violence, but more effort is needed at the national level.

Bangura, on Friday, said that her office is now looking at 12 priority countries, including Syria, Colombia, Bosnia and Congo.

She has said perpetrators almost never face justice.

The issue of sexual violence goes beyond women, she added.

"Today, almost 10 countries we're looking at have evidence of sexual violence against boys," she said. "In Syria, it's terrible."

Bangura also spoke of the need to fight the stigma of rape, especially in cultures where women might be blamed. In some cases, she said, women give up children born of rape because of the discrimination that follows.

She urged a higher status for women overall.

"If you don't respect your women in times of peace, you can't protect them in times of war," she said.



The Dutch 'Iron Lady' destroying Syria's chemicals

AFP | Jun 7, 2014

UNITED NATIONS, United States: The diplomat ridding the world of Syria's chemical weapons is Sigrid Kaag, a statuesque and impeccably dressed mother of four who speaks six languages and is fearless in a war zone.

For nine months she has led the international mission to destroy Damascus's declared chemical agents, braving mortar fire, jetting between the Middle East, Europe and New York, and liaising with Moscow, Washington and maritime fleets.

Syria may have missed deadlines but with 93 per cent of its declared chemical arsenal out of the country, Kaag is responsible for the only glimmer of good news to emerge from the horror of a war that has killed more than 160,000.

Her star is in the ascendancy at UN headquarters, abuzz with praise for the woman who at Unicef worked with Jordan's Queen Rania and once dreamed of becoming a singer.

The 52-year-old Kaag speaks fluent Arabic and diplomats say she has done an excellent job. She is respected too in Damascus, where some have dubbed her the "Iron Lady."

"She never stops working and practically never sleeps," one of her local employees confided to AFP.

What seems certain is another big job after her mission concludes in the coming months.

The media has touted her a possible successor to Lakhdar Brahimi as mediator on the stalled Syrian peace process although others tip her for a different post in the region.

She quashes any suggestion that a Western woman should find it difficult in the Arab world, saying she has always been treated with respect and never in a derogatory way.

"I think in many negotiations women have great assets," she told AFP in an interview, dressed in a black trouser suit, red top and high heels.

"You can bring different component parts — be as strong and on message and negotiate, but I think we have a wider skill set available."

Her husband is a Palestinian former diplomat and having children who are half Arab can also be an asset, she said.

"You're one foot in, one foot out. But I think ultimately people judge you on the basis of what you bring, if you're sincere, if you're committed and if you're up to the task," she added.

As head of the joint UN-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mission, she manages a staff of 110.

In Damascus she said mortars have fallen around the hotel where they live and work, and that she sent away some staff who were unable to cope.

"You've got to keep your composure, you've got to keep your calm and you've got to be in the moment," she said.

"The fact that you don't get hit, you feel blessed but you know that you're in an active war zone."

It has been a stratospheric rise for the daughter of a music professor who moved to Egypt to study at the American University in Cairo as an undergraduate.

She has a masters degree from Oxford and worked in the private sector for oil giant Shell in London for two years before joining the Dutch foreign ministry.

Kaag decided to quit the job after meeting her husband in Jerusalem, signing up instead to the UN Relief and Works Agency which looks after the plight of Palestinian refugees.

In the last 20 years, she has lived in Jerusalem, Jordan, New York, Sudan and Switzerland, adopting one child and giving birth to three more, juggling marriage with a career.

She was previously number three in the UN Development Programme and Unicef director in the Middle East and North Africa, during which she met Syria's first lady Asma Assad.

In her current job she has hardly taken a break. Her mother died since she moved to Damascus and she admits it is "very difficult" to see her children, aged 11 to 19.

Home is currently in east Jerusalem, where the family moved last year. Do they worry about her living in a war zone?

"They've been very impressed by my close protection, that gave them an immediate sense of safety," she smiled.

"They cope but they know it's finite and I've underlined that." She describes herself as "results oriented" and with nerves of steel. "I don't panic easily," she said. The rare exception being during a near crash on a tiny charter plane years ago.



Pakistani girl shot, thrown in canal over marriage

AP | Jun 7, 2014

ISLAMABAD: An 18-year-old Pakistani woman "miraculously survived" after being shot and thrown into a canal by her father for marrying against the family's wishes, police said on Saturday, describing the latest in a series of such attacks on women in the Muslim-majority country.

The assault on Wednesday came days after a 25-year-old woman was beaten and stoned to death by her family for marrying a man they did not approve of, one of hundreds of so-called "honor killings" carried out every year in Pakistan against women accused of bringing shame to their conservative families through sexual transgressions.

Local police officer Ali Akbar said the teenager's father, with help from some of his close relatives, attacked her in Hafizabad, a conservative city 200 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of the capital Islamabad.

Akbar said Saba Maqsood was in love with a man from a nearby city and married him last week, but her father Ahmed brought her back to his home, promising she would not be harmed. Akbar said her family members beat her, and the following day Ahmed took her to a deserted area and tried to kill her.

The woman told police her two uncles looked on as her father shot her in the face, put her in a burlap sack and threw her into a canal, Akbar said.

"Saba Maqsood told us that her father and other relatives had assumed that she was dead, but she regained consciousness, opened the sack and came out of the canal," he said. He said she made her way to a gas station, where she alerted a security guard.

"We are raiding different places in an effort to capture her father and all those who participated in the assault," he said.

The fatal stoning last month cast a harsh light on violence against women in Pakistan, where human rights activists say perpetrators are often acquitted or given light sentences.

Under Pakistani law, those charged with killing women can see their criminal case dropped if family members of the deceased forgive them or accept so-called "blood money."



Niqab: A Good Idea When Travelling Abroad?

June 07, 2014

The veiled Saudi woman faces many predicaments when she travels abroad and is often the target of glares from curious onlookers. In many cases, instead of diverting attention, women who wear the Niqab attract attention in countries where covering one’s face is an alien concept.

As families all over the Kingdom get ready to travel abroad for the summer, Al-Riyadh daily spoke to a number of Saudi women to find out whether or not they wear the niqab when abroad.

Umm Mohammad said that she wears the Niqab whenever she is abroad so she won’t be recognized by anyone she knows. “This saves time wasted putting on makeup to appear presentable in front of friends or anyone else I may run into. My husband also prefers that I wear a Niqab because he doesn’t want others seeing me,” she said.

For Suad Saad, wearing the Niqab abroad meant attracting unwanted attention. She now covers her hair but rules out wearing a face veil.

“Wearing the Niqab attracts more looks than is comfortable. People will always stare when they come across something strange or foreign to them but I do think Hijab is sufficient. On my honeymoon, my husband wanted me to take off my Hijab all together but I refused because I believe in preserving my beliefs,” she said.

Echoing the same view was Badriah Alsadoun, a teacher who is opposed to wearing the niqab in Western countries.

“Wearing the Niqab attracts unwanted stares. Saudi women, whether or not they wear the Niqab, will always attract stares due to their extravagant sense of fashion. In foreign countries, the Niqab becomes an impediment as it is challenging for women to eat and drink in public cafes and restaurants. Also, people tend to stare out of curiosity to see how veiled women will go about eating or drinking,” she said.

Ghandourah Alyamani said she tried wearing the Niqab when abroad but stopped after people asked to pose for pictures with her and her own children refused to be seen in public with her. Many women who spoke to Al-Riyadh daily said covering one’s hair is sufficient and questioned why everyone, specifically men, feels entitled to voice their opinion on what a woman should or should not wear.

“Leave it to the women to decide,” said Wafa Alhakami. “Foreigners adhere to our customs when they visit our country, so we should adhere to their customs and be understanding towards their reservations against attire that complete conceals one’s face,” she added.

Sociologist Dr. Abubakr Bagader said the Niqab sparks peoples’ curiosity, the opposite of what it is supposed to do. “The idea of Hijab and Niqab is to appear in a respectable manner as a woman and not cause too much attention. However, by wearing the Niqab in European and North American countries, a woman becomes more noticeable and is the subject of mockery on social media websites. Many women wear their Niqab to obey their husbands or brothers. People need to understand the main purpose of the Niqab and not just apply it exteriorly. Similarly, a foreign woman will go through the same predicament if she comes to our country wearing skimpy Western attire,” he said.



Should Saudi Women Wear The Niqab At Work?

June 07, 2014

The Ministry of Labour has recently issued a decision requiring Saudi women who work for women’s accessory shops to wear a Niqab (face veil) and to refrain from speaking with their male co-workers. However, the ministry has breached a basic human right of women employees by interfering in their affairs by telling them what they should wear and to whom they should and should not talk. Furthermore, the decision has been taken at a time when most malls have surveillance cameras in place which can record any act of harassment of women, be they customers or workers.

Improving the condition of the work environment for women is more important than telling female workers how to behave at work. This decision might spur other government agencies to follow suit and end up putting even more pressure on women.

Questions which must be answered include: Who is going to implement the ministry’s decision and make sure all women wear a Niqab? Will employers set the wearing of a Niqab as a condition for a job application?

It is up to a woman to decide whether or not she will wear a Niqab. Imposing it on workers who do not want it is another way of discouraging women from working. The ministry has made a lot of concessions on this issue. However, there is, unfortunately, a small group in society that has the upper hand and tries to impose its ideas on the majority of the public. This group wants the world to think that this is the position of Saudi society regarding women working.

We all remember when members of this small group went to the ministry’s headquarters and protested the decision allowing women to work. That was a few years ago. Those people do not want women to go out, let alone work. They do not have any right to impose their opinions on others. The government does not force any woman to work in women’s accessory shops. Therefore, no one has the right to prevent women from making a living and leading an honourable life as long as such work is being done under the supervision of the concerned authorities. The Niqab decision is nothing more than a step backward making it difficult for women to earn money legitimately. In fact, if anything, it seeks to marginalize women in society.

Every year hundreds of Saudi women travel abroad for study or vacation. Some wear a niqab and some do not. Yet, they are treated with due respect. Personal convictions should be differentiated from traditions. Look all over the Kingdom and you will see different members of society with different views on the Niqab. You will see many women in some parts of the country who wear a Niqab while in other areas they do not. It all boils down to our personal views of the Niqab.

If the ministry had made this decision after it conducted several studies on the female workforce and the environment in which women work and had discovered what women wanted, I would have held this decision in high esteem. But, as I have heard, women were not part of the decision-making process. In fact, many of them were surprised by the decision.

The Niqab has been a contentious issue among scholars. Cairo-based Al-Azhar University has banned female students from wearing a Niqab on campus and in class. The niqab is banned in several places for reasons of security because there have been terrorist operations executed by people who used the Niqab to hide their identity.



Hope for Maldives Women condemns “offensive” child abuse article

June 07, 2014

Hope for Women has expressed concern about the portrayal of domestic violence in Maldivian media, following the publication of a controversial article this week regarding the sexual abuse of minors.

“At a time where the epidemic of sexual abuse has thoroughly established its claws in the society of Maldives, we are currently witnessing a media determined to re-victimize the victims of this tragedy,” said the women’s rights NGO.

The article in question, published by online news outlet Sun Online, suggested that underaged girls were abusing elements of the Child Sex Abuse (Specials Provisions) Act in order to engage in prostitution.

“Even if the girl is addicted to sex in prostitution cases, no action is usually taken against her,” read the article, which then suggested that some girls engage in prostitution due to an addiction to sex.

“The girl who engages in prostitution should also be arrested and brought to justice in the same way the person who pays for it is,” it continued.

“And that girl should not be released back into the society after the case is taken to the court, until a verdict is reached. Otherwise it is possible to see many such cases from her before the initial case reaches a verdict.”

Quoting a criminal lawyer named Adam Asif, the article said that there are cases where some girls accuse their family members of child abuse when they disagree with her choice of boyfriend.

Hope for Women have described the article as “irresponsible journalism” and its tone “very offensive”.

“The article blames the victims and instead of getting a fair public opinion, it deprives the rights of these victims and demeans their prestige and reputation. By focusing on the perpetrator, the article failed to fathom the grievance of the actual matter,” said the NGO.

“Hope for Women harshly condemns all such reports on media re-victimizing the victims.”

Reports of child prostitution in the Maldives were aired publicly for the first time last year by the then Minister of Family, Gender, and Human Rights Azima Shukoor.

“The number of children facing abuse at one point in time in the Maldives is a number that is unreasonable for a country with such a small population,” said Azima.

Speaking with Minivan News shortly after this news, clinical psychologist Dr Aishath Ali Naaz explained that child prostitution had become so “common” in some parts of the country that the underage victims considered it “normal”.

The practice, believed by multiple sources interviewed by Minivan News to be prevalent across the Maldives, ranges from male benefactors grooming children with ‘gifts’, to parents actively selling the sexual services of their children – some as young as 12.

A former island chief explained to Minivan News that there have been cases of middle aged or elderly men providing financial support to young girls for basic necessities “and then taking advantage of the position [of benefactor].”

Reported cases typically involved low income families “with four or five children,” he said, with adolescent girls aged 16-17 often targeted.

Hope for Women concluded it’s statement by calling for responsible authorities to monitor sensitive media reporting in order to “enhance justice” for survivors of violence.

“Also, we call every individual and the relevant authorities to take all the measures to prevent all forms of reporting that are misleading and irresponsible written on domestic violence.”

“We reiterate the fact that we all have a critical role to play, governments, independent institutions, civil society, young people, the media, religious groups and the corporate sector and most importantly, individuals for zero tolerance to domestic violence,” said Hope for Women.



Bangladesh: Women Leadership Summit opens tomorrow

June 07, 2014

The keynote sessions will be chaired by four leading women from various professional sectors

An extensive discussion on empowering women for leadership roles is going to be held at Westin Hotel in the capital tomorrow.   

The daylong event styled “Horlicks Women Leadership Summit 2014” is expected to be attended by representatives from large business organisations, higher educational institutes and various development agencies.

 With the vision to empower and equip women to reach leadership positions in the various fields of professionalism, the summit is the first step in the ‘Inspiring Women in Leadership’ project.

The keynote sessions will be chaired by four leading women from various professional sectors.

Dr Fahima Aziz, vice-chancellor of Asian University for Women in Chittagong, will be addressing the event as the first keynote speaker with a speech titled “High Participation, Low Presentation of Women; Dangerous Demographics”.

Chief Executive of BELA Syeda Rizwana Hasan will lead the summit as the second keynote speaker and will be followed by the third speaker Naazneen Karmali, editor of Forbes India and a veteran business journalist.

The summit will feature Kathy Tracey, founder & managing director of the Learning Company Ltd, as the fourth keynote speaker.

Apart from keynote speeches, there will be three panel discussions.

The first panel discussion titled “Women of Tomorrow: Health & Psyche - Are We Doing Enough?” will address nutrition and health concerns of women in the society and will be moderated by Dr Abdun Noor Tushar.

The second will be moderated by Syeda Yasmin Rahman, chief people officer of Accenture, and the third by Nazim Farhan Choudhury, managing director of Adcomm Limited.

The summit has been organised by Bangladesh Brand Forum with title sponsor Women’s Holicks, hospitality partner the Westin Dhaka and associate partner RFL.



Columbia students pay tribute to sexual assault victims

June 07, 2014

Expressing solidarity with victims of sexual assaults in India and across the world, several students graduating from the Ivy League Universities like Columbia and Harvard wore a red tape on their graduation cap during their convocation ceremony.

An Indian-American Columbia student Rakhi Agrawal came up with the idea to honour victims of sexual assault and sent out an email to graduating students asking them to put a red tape on their graduation caps to show solidarity for the survivors of sexual assault.

Indians and Indian-American students, along with several other graduates, wore the red tape during the convocation ceremony as a mark of respect.

Graduates from other prestigious US institutions like Harvard University and Brown University also chose to wear the red tapes during their graduation convocation to show their solidarity, Agarwal said.

Later, several students from these universities participated in a peaceful protest against the rise in sexual violence in India, especially in Uttar Pradesh. They also remembered the 23-year-old victim of the brutal Delhi gang rape in 2012.

“Respect for a woman’s dignity is respect for humanity. And that respect starts at home, spreads through communities, extends across university campuses to nations around the world,” said Arnab De, a young Indian scientist who served as the student representative of the Public Safety Committee at Columbia.

“An assault on one woman is an attack on the entire human race. It is basically about respecting the rights of another human being,” De added.



Fate of Hijab after the Islamic Regime

June 07, 2014

What will happen with controversy Islamic Hijab in Iran once the people of Iran get rid of the Islamic regime? This question might be answered by the four following options:

 1- Muslim fanatics even after the fall of the Islamic regime are expected to uphold Hijab as a tradition of their religion. With bated breath for the release of new version of Hijab. Hijab for them does not forcibly represent an emblem of Islamofascism, but rather an apolitical tradition and thus a religious duty. They will water down the notorious weight of Hijab by differing it as to whether Hijab should be required to be shrouded form a head-to-toe black chador to a thick scarf. It would be enough to cover the hair, neck, shoulders, and bosom by a thick scarf to match both their Islamic tradition and a bit fashionable styles.

2- Female Muslims would not consider Hijab as Islamic self-assessment, nor as an acceptance of Islamism. They look down on full face cover women, would reject Islamic Hijab, but not forcibly Hijab. For them, Islamic Hijab is an old dated tradition which does not fit today’s norms of emancipated woman and participation of women in all spheres of social life, but are not against that. This is similar to women’s individual freedom under the Shah. To this category all Muslim women will belong who are today compelled to wear Islamic Hijab under the Mullah’s regime.

3- All other women who for political or conscious achievements are fed up with the supremacy of Islam throw away Hijab. People with such ideas would propose radical laws prohibiting or restricting limiting Islamic Hijab. In a radical form, they will propose ban of Islamic Hijab in any form on public places. They would argue that the wearing of any garment that obscures the face and prevents identification of a female, in schools, universities, sport clubs, government office, at any entertainment venue, and on any means of public transportation must be banned. The primary purpose of such a ban is to liberate women from irrational restrictions. This option targets devout Muslims and especially the leftovers of the Islamic regime, those who consider Islamic Hijab as an obligatory code of dress for women in Islam.

4- There will be a liberal category who argues that women are free to choose themselves: from the head-to-toe black chador, women in full Burqaand Islamic headscarf and any form of clothing so far as in mini skirt “minijupe”, and bikini. This category follows unconditional liberty of individual freedom. For them, Hijab or non-Hijab should not be an obligatory and mandatory decision imposed by the state. Muslim parents can decide for child Hijab and force their daughters of any age to wear Hijab, for “moral or safety” reasons, not to participate in entertainments, sports, play, and in other words all a girl with Islamic Hijab cannot or is too limited to do.

Ban of Hijab in Iran was first experienced by Reza Shah in 1936. The process took different steps such as approving the unified clothing. However, the influence of Islam was still too imposing. Most women refused running “naked” in the streets and stayed mostly home. Reza Shah's forced unveiling diminished with the end of his reign when he was deposed by the Allies 1941 in favour of his son Mohammad Reza Shah. Reza Shah’s secular ambitions, including unveiling, were inspired from Mustafa Kemal Atatörk, but without sufficient support of Iranian population. Islamic Hijab came back after his reign namely under his son.

Today, there is no such an analogy between Reza Shah’s forced unveiling and a ban of Hijab. Most Iranians consider Hijab as an obvious manifestation which is linked to political Islam rather than Islam itself.

Wearing of Islamic Hijab is today an obstinate symbol of Islamism; it is therefore banned or restricted in many democracies because of people’s demand due to the pressure of people. In France full Hijab in banned in public, religious signs like Hijab are forbidden in primary and secondary schools. Even Russia, an alley of the Mullah regime, banned Muslim girls from attending classes while clad in any form of Islamic Hijab.

Similarly, Hijab ban or Hijab restriction seems to be a likely option of the people of Iran after the fall of the Islamic regime. This will not be a matter of a state, but rather a demand of fervent people in a free Iran who believe that Islam and modern cultures cannot live next to each other. They will see Hijab as an affront to society's values and will not feel good to see veiled women still exposing Islamic emblem around.

It can be very psychologically imaginable that in free Iran Hijab will be exclusively associated with the plague of the Islamic regime, as the Swastika is Germany is associated with all evil. Hijab will also remind women of all misogynistic and sickening measures the regime committed by any means including the Morality Police, acid-throwing, harassment, and humiliation of “bad-veiled” women.

As the history of World War II unfolded, the victory of the Allies upon the Nazi Germany caused a ban of all fascist symbols. Namely, no Swastika, no Nazi uniform, no Nazi salute…. is permitted in Germany.

Hijab ban will be similarly a victory of Iranians upon the regime of Nazi; it is a victory of the secular assumption and attitude of men-women equality. Hijab will therefore be banned as a symbol of collective prejudices under Islamofascism because it represents more than an Islamic tradition, namely an emblem of political Islam. Furthermore for many average Iranians, not forcibly nationalists or anti-Arabs, the ban of Hijab is also a respect for the values of Iranian pre-Islamic civilisation.

Considering these four options, any new state in free Iran has a big task to adequately deal with Islamic Hijab.



Activists Hijacking Feminism To Attack Israel At Women's Studies Association Meeting

June 07, 2014

The next National Women’s Studies Association annual meeting will take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 13-16, 2014 and is aptly named “Feminist Transgressions.” Indeed, the conference itself is “transgressive” in that it minimizes the cause of women to focus, yet again, on the cause of Palestine, aka the destruction of Israel.

This is only the latest, among many other examples, of the way in which Women’s Studies—an idea which I pioneered so long ago--has been Stalinized and Palestinianized. I wonder whether the forces of evil will try to pass a resolution in favor of boycott, divestment, and sanctions—not against Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, or Russia—but against Israel only.

The Association’s line-up of professorial and celebrity talent is 100% politically correct; the speakers are mainly African-American, African-Hispanic, and African/Asian Caribbean. While I may not agree with some of their views, e.g. the pro-sex “work” agenda which is being presented at this conference, I recognize that these speakers--my old friend bell hooks, Ana-Maurine Lara, Ana Irma Lassen, and Kamala Kempadoo--are all genuinely feminist.

However, not so the Plenary session speakers. The Plenary is titled: “The Imperial Politics of Nation-States: U.S., Israel, and Palestine.” The speakers are Brandeis graduate Angela Davis, the well-known (former) communist, former associate of the Black Panther Party, and recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize. In 1970, Davis purchased the firearms that Jonathan Jackson, the brother of the imprisoned George Jackson, used in the kidnapping of a judge, prosecutor, jurors, and two or three African-American prisoners in open court. A police shoot-out ensued which led to the death of the judge and of three African-American men.  Davis made the FBI Most Wanted List, was jailed, tried, and found innocent by an all-white jury. Support for her was tremendous. She visited Cuba and found it an anti-racist paradise, she visited Soviet Russia to receive the Lenin Peace Prize, and she ran for vice-president of the American Communist Party.

Next up at the Plenary is Dr. Islah Jad of Birzeit University. Dr. Jad may be a true feminist, but she is mainly dedicated to the development of Palestinian women and Palestinian nationalism. She does not study or advocate for non-Arab or non-Muslim women in the region. Further, her work does not seem to focus on honor killings, honor related violence, forced marriage, forced face veiling, polygamy, arranged marriage, feminist development under an Islamist totalitarian and apartheid regime—all burning issues on the West Bank and in Gaza. Instead, some of her articles are titled: “The Conundrums of Post-Oslo Palestine: Gendering Palestinian Citizenship” and “Islamist Women of Hamas: Between Nationalism and Feminism.”

Finally, we come to none other than Rebecca Wilkomerson, who is the executive director of the infamous anti-Israel “peace” group, the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). This is a U.S. based organization which views itself as the “Jewish wing” of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement. According to the NGO Monitor, the JVP has “actively promoted the central dimensions of the political warfare strategy against Israel which was adopted at the 2001 Durban NGO Forum. This ‘Durban strategy’ includes the tactics of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), a sustained campaign of demonization such as accusations of ‘apartheid’ and ‘racism,’ and support of a ‘Palestinian right of return’ with the ultimate goal of dismantling Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” Board members of JVP include Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Tony Kushner. In 2013, even the Anti-Defamation League declared the JVP “one of the top ten anti-Israel groups,” along with CODEPINK (with whom JVP works), and the Students for Justice in Palestine.

These three speakers--Davis, Jad, and Wilkomerson--and their organizations are not interested in women, per se, nor are they interested in real gender and religious apartheid as practiced in the Arab and Muslim world. They are not really interested in racism, at least not if anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are also considered racism, which they surely are.

For years, my people--the Women’s Studies professors, students, and programs--have been more concerned with the alleged occupation of Palestine than with the occupation, world-wide, of women’s bodies. Israel has been falsely accused, non-stop, of precisely those crimes that are endemic to the Arab and Muslim worlds: barbaric misogyny, gender and religious apartheid, female genital mutilation, honor killings, and a host of other crimes. 

When feminist and anti-Islamist hero Ayaan Hirsi Ali had to leave Holland, not a single Women’s Studies program offered her a perch. Only the conservative American Enterprise Institute did so. Most recently, the drive to dis-invite Hirsi Ali at Brandeis was spearheaded by the Women’s and Gender Studies Department.

Many feminists have claimed they are pacifists and have always condemned the United States for its violent invasions of other countries, including Afghanistan; oddly enough, these same feminists rarely oppose the murderous terrorism of the Palestinian liberation movement and Hamas, members of which they consider to be “freedom fighters.”

For some time some, feminist marchers have waved the Palestinian flag and worn Arab headdresses in various demonstrations. (They don’t have it right, though, because they wear Arab male keffiyahs. Were they marching anywhere between Cairo and Kabul, they’d be wearing burqas, headscarves, veils.) Feminists have signed petitions in favor of boycotting Israel, including the boycott of Israeli academics, many of whom are also feminist academics, and many of whom are also anti-Zionists.

American feminists have condemned one nationalist struggle (the one being waged by Jews) and backed another (the one being waged by the Arab Palestinian people), and they have done so as feminists. Like everyone else, academic and intellectual feminists have not seemed reluctant to render passionate opinions on matters about which they have no special expertise. 

From 2000 on, every feminist listserv group that I’ve been on has been inundated with petitions against Israel and with anti-Zionist propaganda. The Internet atmosphere has been highly charged, tense, hostile, and heart-breaking, and the discussions have been decidedly unfriendly toward anyone who dares to question this exact party line. It’s almost as if the feminist world has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the PLO.

These very same feminists (so keenly aware of Palestinian suffering) have failed to condemn the terrorist attacks against Jewish civilians in Europe and Israel—not even when nearly half the dead and wounded have been women and children; nor have they condemned the physical violence against and intimidation of Jews on various American campuses. International feminists have not organized contingents of human shields to ride the buses in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, or to live in endangered “politically correct” kibbutzim whose historic and current priority is peaceful coexistence with their Palestinian neighbors.

What some American feminists have done is to misapply feminist concepts in the service of demonizing Israel. For example, my friend, Andrea Dworkin, whom I personally had funded to join me on her first-ever trip to Israel and whose work I have in the past championed, wrote the book Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women’s Liberation in which she made the analogy between Israelis and “pimps” and “johns” who treat the Palestinians as the “prostitutes” of the world. (I could not make this up, and it gives me no joy to share this information with you.)

In 2002, a lifetime ago, a feminist conference on women, war, and peace in Palestine-Israel featured a keynote speaker which fully equaled Dworkin’s metaphoric hyperbole. Ruchama Marton, an Israeli Jewish psychiatrist, likened Israelis to “batterers” in a marriage. Guess who is the “battered wife”? None other than the Palestinians.

Are the Israelis and Palestinians married? Is the feminist view of marriage that it is like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? When one says this, one is both misusing hard-won feminist knowledge and rendering the specifics of both Israeli and Arab Palestinian suffering invisible. Such an inflammatory and vulgar misuse of ideas is worthy of Joseph Goebbels, not of supposedly independent-minded feminists.

This is indeed the problem. Like so many other academics, feminists are no longer independent-minded. They have also become the spawn of Edward Said’s thinking about post-colonialism and Palestinian nationalism. Worse yet, they are also, along with all the rest of the herd, die-hard Lacanians and post modernists, and one cannot understand a word that they write—except when they are clearly, cravenly, attacking Israel and Zionism.



Saudi women urged to hike private sector participation

June 07, 2014

With only 2 percent of Saudi women employed in the industrial sector in Saudi Arabia, industrial forums are encouraging women to work in industries which require specific skills.

According to officials, studies have demonstrated that women can effectively contribute to the industrial sector, such as the design and garment industry, the jewelry manufacturing and design industry, the assembly of electronic devices, as well as in the manufacturing of chocolates, baked goods, perfumes, and cosmetics.

Dr. Fahd bin Suleiman Al-Tejekhifi, assistant undersecretary for development at the Ministry of Labor, said the royal decree calling for the feminization and the Saudization of the industrial jobs appropriate for women has allowed the ministry to initiate strategies and initiatives to increase the participation of women in the private sector in the short term by increasing incentives and through gradual substitution. Long term strategies to increase female participation in the private sector involves the development and implementation of a field study aimed to involve relevant parties, in addition to the implementation of the electronic link of the ministry to reduce the problems that occur following employment, he said.

Al-Tejekhifi explained that there is a ban on the employment of women in some businesses that do not suit their nature, but women are entitled to own or manage these businesses, noting that the employment of women does not require obtaining a permit from the Ministry of Labor or any other party. Women are also prohibited from working in factories before six o’clock in the morning or after five o’clock in the evening.

Women would be permitted to work in production lines in factories that do not fall within the prohibited activities, and in the factories’ offices, said Al-Tejekhifi. Further controls are in place to prevent discrimination in wages between male and female workers, as well as to monitor part-time jobs, contractual relationships, rehabilitation and training for women, financial support, and the penal system.

Production lines must employ all women and no less than 10 women should be employed per shift. Women should account for at least one-third of the total number of workers in the total production facility, and the employer must provide safe and decent clothing for women, he added.

Al-Tejekhifi concluded his statement saying that the continuing support regarding the recruitment, training and rehabilitation of women, in coordination and cooperation with government agencies and the private sector will lead to the entry of more women in the industrial sector.

Nawal Hady, chairperson of the Board of Businesswomen in the Yanbu Chamber of Commerce, said that women can manage industries that are commensurate with their capabilities and traditions of Saudi society.

Additionally, regulations are necessary to govern the work of women in industries, such as the cosmetics industry, the small and medium-sized plastic household items industries, the packaging industry, and many others, which have high chances of success and low market risks, she said.

Hady pointed out that women are partners in many industries and major projects, but within a distinct group of family businesses, such as Al-Hamrani Fox, Al-Olayan, Zainal companies, and others, noting that the Gulf women generally account for 40 percent of the capital of the existing companies in the region, and Saudi women have the biggest share of that figure.

She said: “The Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Yanbu is working to revitalize industrial projects and attract strong and permanent investment.” She said the chamber is very keen on encouraging innovation and new ideas that encourage positive partnership initiatives, not only among businessmen but also female entrepreneurs in the Kingdom and abroad.

Areej Abdul Latif Jastaniah, president of the Foundation for Perfumes and a member of the Artisans Committee in the Chamber of Commerce in Makkah, welcomed the involvement of women in the industrial field. Areej, who is considered one of the first women to be nominated for the board member elections in the Makkah Chamber of Commerce, said that women have proven to have a positive role in the industrial sector, and since the entry of women in these factories, production has increased to the extent that some factories have started to export products to other Gulf countries.

She encouraged women, whether they are working or investing, to take part in the sector and ensure that their rights are protected.

Regarding her own experience, Areej said she started manufacturing perfume at home, and then rented a small lab to expand her work and attract more labor. She is now trying to expand her operations to include more Saudi women and to eventually expand locally and internationally.

Speaking about the obstacles she encountered in her business, she said the marketing process is one of the biggest obstacles she and many businesswomen face.

Abdel Moneim Al-Aadas, director of the Department of Financial Advice at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, confirmed that the entry of women in the industrial sector calls for financial support, indicating that the proportion of women investors in the industrial sector of the Kingdom does not exceed 1 percent, and women’s general participation in investments in Saudi Arabia does not exceed 5 percent, according to studies.



European women find appeal in Syrian jihad

June 07, 2014

AMSTERDAM — Khadija (not her real name) enjoyed a quiet life in the Netherlands, the country she grew up in. She had a place to stay and the opportunity to study. However, over the last couple of years, she found it more difficult as a devout Muslim and felt increasing hostility.

She came across images of black al-Qaeda flags in Syria on the Internet, and she found out that several Dutch Muslims had joined the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). They were talking about Sharia, creating an Islamic state and fighting against the Syrian regime, aspects that appealed to her.

In the fall of 2013, her best friend told her that she was planning to join her husband, a jihadist fighter, in Syria. Khadija, who had always wanted to focus on her religion more, became convinced that she should come along. By the end of 2013, the two friends took a flight to Turkey. Contacts there smuggled them across the border into Syria and they were taken to a place near Aleppo. There, they were welcomed by other European women whose husbands were ISIS fighters.

“I always wanted to live under Sharia. In Europe, this will never happen. Besides, my Muslim brothers and sisters over there need help," Khadija, 24, told Al-Monitor over the phone.

“According to the Quran, Syria is a blessed land, and jihad is obligatory for all Muslims,” she said.

The London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalization estimated in an April report that up to 2,800 Westerners have gone to Syria to fight, mainly from Europe. Intelligence and security services in Europe say that most of them are affiliated with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda branch in Syria.

"Jihad" attracts women as well as men. Sara, 18, from the Netherlands described how she went to Syria to “follow God’s rules” and to “help the people.” Like Khadija, Sara pointed out that she was not coerced in her decision.

“Muslims do not want to be humiliated in a Kuffar [infidel] country where our rights are being violated. I left my country with a big smile, and I don’t care that the [Dutch] government doesn’t want me back," she wrote on her Facebook page.

Sara radicalized after she became friends with Salafist Muslims in the Netherlands. She began to cover herself with an Islamic face veil. That resulted in insults on the streets, even from Muslims, many of whom consider the full black veil an extremist form of Islam.

Montasser AlDe'emeh, a researcher studying jihadist fighters at the universities of Antwerp and Leuven in Belgium, believes there are various reasons why European women join radical Islamist groups. The rise of right-wing parties — often anti-Muslim — in Europe is one factor, as is the women's difficult childhood.

“These girls feel there is no place for them in society, as they are being rejected by everyone, including Muslims. By contacting Muslims who feel the same way, they try to fulfill needs such as love, recognition and sisterhood,” he told Al-Monitor.

AlDe'emeh, a Palestinian Muslim, said that creating a caliphate by connecting all the Islamic countries is the ultimate goal of European jihadists who join ISIS.

“The fighters believe that the fall of the Ottoman Empire led to dictatorial regimes in the Muslim world. They do not believe in the colonial borders that were determined by the British and the French,” he said.

According to Khadija, most European jihadist women went to Syria with their husbands. Others get married on the spot, just like Sara, who recently married a Belgian fighter called Brian de Mulder.

A week after she arrived, Khadija was introduced to a Tunisian ISIS fighter. “A religious man with green eyes, I really liked him,” she said. After she agreed, a local sheikh performed the marriage.

European female jihadists in Syria describe a sober, domestic life, in which their duties of jihad play a key role. The main task of the female jihadist is supporting her husband, who fights, and being a good Muslim. This is part of the "inner or greater jihad," which is much needed in Syria, because, according to these extremists, the West does not care about the war-torn country. Fighting is considered to be part of the "outer or smaller jihad."

“I baked cookies, cooked for my husband, chatted with women and played with my pets. I had five fish, two birds and four cats,” Khadija said, smiling nostalgically, adding that she did not have contact with the locals, except for one Syrian woman, while in Syria.

ISIS, which has spread across Raqqa, northern Aleppo and some of the border areas, attracts young jihadists from all over the world. The European fighters in Syria form a tight community. On social media, male fighters share updates about attacks that their comrades have carried out, pictures of fallen jihadists and videos about their missions. As for the female jihadists, Quran verses are being shared and pictures of meals and snacks — next to that a Kalashnikov — appear on Facebook. Western countries are often being criticized and fighters who die as martyrs are hardly being mourned, because it is believed they go straight to heaven.

A European jihadist from Raqqa said she “pities Muslims who still live in a Kuffar country."

“Here we feel that Allah is with us. Brothers and sisters are happy. Allah’s flag is waving in every street. So sweet," she wrote on Facebook.

But local Raqqa residents bemoan ISIS’ occupation of their city and the imposition of strict Islamic rules. Women are forced to wear a niqab and smoking is prohibited. Not a day goes by without an execution, crucifixion or torture. According to a local activist, the numbers of foreign jihadists are still increasing.

“Fighters from the United States, Czech Republic, Belgium, Germany, Norway, the Arab world. Believe me, I have seen them all, living in big houses and hotels. Of course, they have plenty of food,” Ammar Mohammed (not his real name) told Al-Monitor via Skype.

ISIS is not only involved in a battle with the Syrian regime, but also with their rival Jabhat al-Nusra. On May 27, a car bomb exploded in front of a hotel in Raqqa where the children and wives of foreign fighters live. ISIS said dozens of women, children and fighters were wounded and accusations were directed at Jabhat al-Nusra.

In Europe, there are growing concerns that European radicals will parlay their experiences in Syria into terrorism back home. These fears were realized when it became clear that the French national suspected of having shot dead three people in the Jewish Museum in Brussels last month spent most of 2013 fighting with radical Islamist groups in Syria.

Khadija also returned to the Netherlands after a two-month stay in Syria. Her husband brought her to the border himself after she told him she missed her family. She now lives in Amsterdam again, but her radical sentiments remain strong.

“I would like to go back to Syria soon," she concluded. “If I die over there, I die on God's path."