New Age Islam News Bureau
14 Jul 2012
• Indian State Minister Mohammad Azam Khan supports Restricting Freedom of Women
• Bomb kills head of women’s affairs in Afghan east
• British Feminist Gets a Real Taste of “Progressivism”
• Canada Honours Muslim Woman by Appointing To The Order Of Canada
• Non-Muslim Women Kept Out Of Waseela-E-Haq Programme
• Women's Centre Is Struggling After 'Extremism' Claims Because Of Headscarves
• Saudi's Olympic Opening to Women Highlights Wider Gender Battles In Saudi Kingdom
• Quebec Muslim Activist First Woman Charged Under 9/11 Terror Laws
• Fury over Rural Diktat Banning Women from 'Falling In Love'
• France Continues Bias against Women Who Wear Hijab
• Toronto Woman Denies Expulsion from Free Syrian Army
• Church, State, Hijabs
• Before Games, Wins for Women
• Rights group urges Clinton to speak on women’s rights with Egypt president
• Utah’s Muslim Athletes Game for the Ramadan Challenge
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: Bomb kills head of women’s affairs in Afghan east
Muslims, Jews Women Work Together To Help Heal Wounds from Religious Conflicts
By Alicia Purdy
July 13 2012
Our take: In spite of the bloody conflicts between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East, Jerusalem's Hadassah-Ein Kerem hospital has become a place where women of both faiths find they are able to work together. In fact, according to the New York Times, "In some cases, Muslim nurses treat Israeli soldiers wounded in fights with Palestinians while their Jewish colleagues also attend to Palestinians who attacked Jews." Although there is no emerging resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian fighting, politics must be left at the door of the hospital, so employees can focus on healing.
There are no empty beds this day in the recovery room at the Hadassah-Ein Kerem hospital. Doctors and nurses hover over patients. Manar Igbarya, 25, is giving a woman an injection and inspecting a bandage on her right leg. The Orthodox patient is absorbed in talking to her visiting husband. Everyone is chatting in Hebrew; nothing in this scene seems unusual, except that Ms. Igbarya is a Palestinian Muslim.
Muna al-Ayan, 22, who works as a secretary in the same hospital, wears a hijab; everyone recognizes her as a Muslim. She said it had been hard for her to find a job in the past because of that, but she was accepted at the hospital because all they cared about was how I do my job. Every so often, she said, smiling, a patient is surprised to see a Muslim working here.
Ashgan, 35, who asked not to be identified by her family name, works in the operating room as a nurse. We all speak Hebrew, and all we do here is our job, though we all carry our Palestinian identity inside us, she said, looking at the other two women. No one can forget their identity.
Indian State Minister Mohammad Azam Khan supports Restricting Freedom of Women
July 14, 2012
LUCKNOW: Even as the diktats of a village panchayat in Baghpat restricting movement of women was widely condemned, the Uttar Pradesh urban development minister Mohammad Azam Khan played down the incident saying that people have freedom to express their views but the government will act in case there is any violation of law.
Khan's statement has been criticized by women groups and social activists, who said that such an attitude of he government will embolden the 'talibani' elements in the society. Khan's statement is being seen as 'appeasment' of Muslims and hardliners in west UP from where Azam comes.
The minister, however, was unmoved. "Anyone can say anything. We have freedom of speech and how can you prevent from them from this, but if any force is used or it comes in the way of the law of the land then for that there is the government and there is law, " said Khan, who also holds number two position in the ruling Samajwadi Party to reporters in a reply to a question regarding Taliban-style diktats by Asara panchayat.
He said that it may be the opinion of the local people, but not a diktat. "I don't know how much you know about the meaning of farmaan (diktat). If people sitting in common village say something, it is not a diktat. It is like some bearded person says something, people start terming as fatwa,"Khan said while equating the 'order' passed by the panchayat with that of issuing fatwas by the Islamic seminaries and Muslim clerics.
The panchayat in Asara village in Baghpat's Ramala area also ruled on Wednesday that when women leave their homes, their heads must be covered. Banning love marriages, the panchayat said those doing so would not be allowed to live in the village. Local residents claimed the panchayat had issued the directives after a consensus was reached on them by members several communities living in the village.
On Firday, the police called two sarpanch of the village for questioning in connection with panchayat orders. However, locals created ruckus and the forced the police to release the two sarpanchs. They assaulted policemen and torched their bikes. Later, the police registered a case against the villagers. On the other hand, the UP State Women Commission also sought a report from the Baghpat district administration on the issue.
However, Azam said, "We need to look into what is the background and under what situation such a thing took place". He said that it is an independent country where people have right to take independent decisions about their lives provided they do not clash with the law or cross the legal line. It should not be such a thing which creates huge controversy. From my point of view, it cannot be a diktat. This could be an opinion and it is not necessary for all people follow it, " he said.
Bomb kills head of women’s affairs in Afghan east
14 July 2012
NANGARHAR, Afghanistan: A regional head of women’s affairs was targeted and killed by a car bomb in Afghanistan’s east yesterday, officials said, the latest act of brazen violence against women in the country.
Hanifa Safi was killed while driving through the capital of Laghman province, Mehtar Lam, when a bomb attached to her car exploded, provincial spokesman Sarhadi Zwak said.
“It killed her and left her husband, who was with her in the car, in a coma,” Zwak said, adding that the attack about 150 km (93 miles) east of Kabul also wounded 10 civilians.
Zwak declined to say whether or not he believed the Taleban were behind the attack, instead saying “enemies of Afghanistan” planted the bomb. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The United Nations condemned the attack.
“The deliberate killing of a brave woman and a public servant, dedicated to improving the situation of Afghan women and working for the safety and security of her country, is an outrage,” said Jan Kubis, its representative to Kabul.
Safi, appointed in 2008, was the second provincial head of women’s affairs to be assassinated since the posts were created a decade ago in each of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, reporting to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul.
Safia Ama Jan, who headed the department in southern Kandahar province, was gunned down in 2006 by the Taleban.
Friday’s killing came after Reuters obtained a video on July 7 of a 22-year-old woman, named Najiba, being publicly executed for alleged adultery about an hour’s drive from Kabul, touching off an international outcry.
The Taleban denied involvement, although officials in Kabul directly blamed the austere Islamist group for the shooting, which bore similarities to punishments meted out during their 1996-2001 reign that chilled many ordinary Afghans.
A manhunt has been launched for the alleged Taleban members involved in her killing in Parwan province late last month.
There has been increasing violence against women in Afghanistan that activists blame on what they say is waning interest in women’s rights on the part of President Hamid Karzai’s government.
Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and employment since the Taleban were ousted from power, but fears are mounting at home and abroad that such freedoms could be traded away as Kabul seeks a peace deal with the group.
There is also concern on the ground and among rights groups that Afghan women are being left out of the equation as most foreign troops plan to leave by 2014 and donor fatigue and general war weariness take their toll on the country.
British Feminist Gets a Real Taste of “Progressivism”
July 11, 2012
Want an example of how a liberal society is set up to eventually commit suicide? A feminist journalist from England, Cinnamon Heathcote-Drury, got involved in a case that serves as just such an example.
Heathcote-Drury got her world turned upside down over the last few months, and the liberalism of her own self-defeating British culture is what did her in. One has to feel for her, if only a little bit, but her case most certainly shines a spotlight on the failings of progressivism.
So, imagine the scene. A British, feminist journalist sees a woman in a hijab loading a large number of groceries onto the store conveyor belt at check out. She begins fuming with feminist ire because this Muslim woman’s husband stands idly by doing nothing to help the overworked woman load the groceries.
The journo can take it no more and just has to say something. She brusquely confronts the man telling him that his wife needs help loading the merchandise. She pushes past the man and starts helping the hijab-clad woman herself because, “This is what feminism’s about – women helping women.”
As it happened, neither the Muslim man nor his wife much appreciated the “social lesson” the journalist thought to teach them. And, as so many Muslims in Britain do, they proceeded to play the Brit’s liberalism against them. The couple cried racism and had the journalist arrested for a “hate crime.”
Canada Honours Muslim Woman by Appointing To The Order Of Canada
MOHAMMED AZHAR ALI KHAN
14 July 2012
Canadian Muslim women’s drive for a better understanding of Islam by fellow Canadians and equal rights, justice and opportunities for women has received a big boost: a Muslim woman has been appointed to the Order of Canada, the country’s highest award, which is given for a “lifetime of outstanding achievements, dedication to the community and service to the nation.”
Alia Hogben of Kingston, Ontario, is the second Canadian Muslim woman so chosen. The late Lila Fahlman of Edmonton, who founded the Canadian Council for Muslim Women (CCMW) in 1982, was the first. Hogben has been executive director of CCMW for ten years.
Hogben calls the award a recognition of the contributions Muslim women are making to their families, community and country. She’s right. The CCMW encourages them to serve Muslim women and work with people of other faiths for social justice and similar goals. Its chapters across the country include 1,000 Muslim women. That’s not much in a Muslim population of around a million. But it’s a start - Muslim men have no similar national organization.
Hogben was honored for her social services, promoting the rights of women and interfaith understanding.
CCMW encourages Muslim women to participate in society. It works with educational institutions, government agencies and private groups. It seeks to project Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims as “humane, egalitarian and equality-driven.” It has several goals and proclaims that it is guided by “the Qura’nic message of God’s mercy and justice, and of the equality of all persons, and that each person is directly answerable to God.” It says it wants to work with all organizations and individuals.
Hogben, in addition, writes once a month for the Kingston Whig-Standard to explain Islam and the challenges facing Canadian women.
Last year, Queen’s University awarded her an honorary PhD for her contributions.
Her convocation address emphasized the human brotherhood that Islam preaches. She said that the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) initiated the treaty of Madinah to promote peace and good relations between the citizens of Madinah who were pagans, Jews and Muslims.
Then followed the Charter of Privileges with the Christians of the Monastery of St. Catherine of Mount Sinai for their protection and that of their property. Hogben states, as do other Muslims, that Muslims of Canada face increasing difficulties since 9/11 – being teased at schools, denied jobs and harassed at the border. But some Muslims have done things which have reinforced this, she stated, citing the Toronto 18 terror plot by some youth.
A study prepared by economist Daood Hamdani for CCMW based on the 2001 census reported that one in three Muslim women has a university degree, compared with one in five for other women. Muslim women holding master’s degrees and doctorates number twice the female population proportionately. Nearly two-fifths of Muslim women specialize in highly technical, cutting-edge disciplines such as engineering and medicine. Yet the unemployment rate among Muslim women was 16.5 percent in 2001 - more than double the national average. Only Aboriginal women fared worse.
One of the disturbing findings of the study was the low political participation among Muslim women. In the 2000 federal election, only 39 percent of Muslim women cast a ballot compared to 45 percent of men. In 2004, 43 percent of Muslim women voted compared to 50 percent of Muslim men.
Hogben is troubled by this vicious circle: The more Muslims are made to feel different or unwanted, the more they withdraw. The more they segregate themselves from society, the more likely they are to be seen as outsiders. More productive contact with fellow citizens will produce better understanding, she feels.
Hogben was born in Burma but her family moved to India. She lived in several countries where her father worked as a diplomat. He was the Indian high commissioner to Canada. Hogben married Dr. Murray Hogben, a respected journalist and lecturer who converted to Islam and was a pillar of the Kingston Islamic Society. They have three children. She has lived in Canada for more than 50 years. She worked for 20 years with the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services before she was drawn to CCMW.
The challenge for Hogben and CCMW is to encourage Muslim women to participate fully in society and at the same time convey to society at large that Muslims are no different from other Canadians and that the overwhelming majority of them are productive, loyal, hard-working and law-abiding.
Honors such as those won by Hogben and other Muslims are a double blessing. They send an unmistakable message to all Canadians, whatever their faith, that Canada welcomes everyone and cherishes its citizens and respects their diversity. The awards also produce role models for Muslim youth and women and inspire them to serve their community and faith with patience and determination. They also signal to other Canadians that Muslims are precious assets for Canada and deserve support.
— Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan is a retired Canadian newspaperman, civil servant and refugee judge. He has received the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.
Non-Muslim women kept out of Waseela-e-Haq programme
July 14, 2012
Islamabad—On the eve of the historic decision taken by the federal cabinet about the increase in the number of minorities seats in the national and provincial assemblies, PPP minority women leader Nida Nazir revealed minority women were being deprived of the benefits of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
Addressing a press conference at the National Press Club, she said some 500 Christian women and students who fulfilled the criterion of the Waseela-e-Haq Programme are denied the micro credit loans, scholarships and other benefits of the BISP. She welcomed the raise in the number of seats reserved for minorities at the national and all the provincial assemblies, however, she said still there was a long way to go to generate equal economic opportunities for the Christian and other non-Muslim communities in the society.
Full report at:
Women's Centre Is Struggling After 'Extremism' Claims Because Of Headscarves
14 July 2012
A COMMUNITY centre alleged to have links with Islamist extremist groups has been left ruined by the ‘false accusations’, one of its leaders has claimed.
Rita Gibbins, treasurer of Burton Women’s Centre in Dallow Street, Horninglow, spoke out six months after Staffordshire Police, East Staffordshire Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council first made the accusations.
“Since the accusation was made and it went on the front page of the Burton Mail, we have heard nothing,” she said.
“No-one from the police or councils has visited us since.
“It has become really difficult to get new members and get funding.”
The three organisations cut funding and staff support to the centre, which has a predominantly Asian membership, after it was alleged people associated with it had ‘links to groups that promote Islamist extremism’.
Full report at:
Saudi's Olympic Opening to Women Highlights Wider Gender Battles In Saudi Kingdom
Jul 13, 2012
The state-sponsored silent treatment was a lesson into the deep intricacies and sensitivities inside the kingdom as it took another measured step away from its ultraconservative traditions.
While Saudi rulers found room to accommodate the demands of the International Olympic Committee to include women athletes, they also clearly acknowledged that _ in their view at least _ this did not merit billing as a pivotal moment of reform in a nation that still bans women from driving or travelling without the approval of a male guardian.
"It does not change the fact that Saudi women are not free to move and to choose," said political analyst Mona Abass in neighbouring Bahrain. "The Saudis may use it to boost their image, but it changes little."
Even the two athletes selected to compete under the Saudi flag _ 800-meter runner Sarah Attar from Pepperdine University in California and Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani in judo _ live outside the kingdom and carry almost no influence as sports figures. There is no other choice: Women sports remain nearly an underground activity in Saudi Arabia.
Ahmed al-Marzooqi, editor of a website that aims to cover women and men's sporting events in Saudi Arabia, viewed Thursday's announcement as mostly an attempt to quiet international pressure on the lone nation trying to stick with an all-male Olympic team. The other former holdouts, Brunei and Qatar, had already added women Olympic athletes _ with Qatar even planning to have a woman carry its flag in London later this month.
Full report at:
Quebec Muslim Activist First Woman Charged Under 9/11 Terror Laws
Jul 13, 2012
A Quebec activist who fought the stereotyping of Muslims was charged with supporting terrorism on Friday after an RCMP investigation linked her to an alleged scheme to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Mouna Diab, 26, was charged with committing a crime “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group,” the RCMP said in a statement. She faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
The Laval woman was arrested at Montreal’s Trudeau airport last year and accused of violating an international arms embargo targeting Lebanon, but police added the far more serious terrorism charge on Friday.
While Canadian police have laid dozens of charges under the anti-terrorism laws enacted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Ms. Diab is the first woman to face charges related to a foreign terrorist organization.
Full report at:
Fury over rural diktat banning women from 'falling in love'
July 14, 2012
A VILLAGE council in India has issued a Taliban-like diktat banning women under the age of 40 from falling in love, using mobile phones or going out in public unescorted.
The “fiat” issued by the Asara village council in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh province, 40km northeast of the capital New Delhi, has outraged women’s rights activists across India. It also requires women to cover their heads while away from their homes.
Anyone defying the order would be ostracised and then expelled from the village, council member Mohammad Mokam said yesterday. He added there were “other ways” to make the village women follow these “instructions” but that would be decided later.
“Love marriages are a shame for society as they dent the respectability of the girl’s family,” Sattar Ahmed, another council member, declared. Anyone who goes for such a union will not be allowed to live in Asara, he said.
The majority of marriages in India continue to be “arranged”, based largely on caste and community considerations following negotiations between the parents of the prospective bride and groom.
The Muslim-dominated Asara village council, however, claimed the edict was in response to complaints of sexual harassment from several young women, an explanation social rights groups dismiss.
Full report at:
France continues bias against women who wear hijab
July 14, 2012
France’s war on Muslim headscarves continues, despite the ousting of Nicolas Sarkozy. At several major cities, airport security is violating EU regulations by forcing Muslim women to publicly remove their hejab, and even have it X-rayed, in the name of safety.
France has an extremely strict law forbidding displays of religion they deem ostentatious, and it extends even to the soccer pitch. Soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, recently reversed their ban on female players wearing the hejab, but France is the only nation which is refusing to comply.
France claims to strictly separate church and state, yet there are many Christian public holidays, state financial support of Catholic schools, fish on Fridays in school lunchrooms and much more.
Pressure to assimilate in France is much stronger than in other western countries which encourage multiculturalism. But even though many 3rd-generation Muslims proudly call themselves100 percent French, they don’t understand why a hejab, or a yarmulke, or a cross, or other personal displays of religious belief arouse such hostility.
Toronto woman denies expulsion from Free Syrian Army
Jul 13, 2012 –
A Toronto woman who left for Syria to join the rebel army denies a published report she was expelled from a Free Syrian Army committee and says she continues to work with soldiers inside the volatile country.
Thwaiba Kanafani, 41, an engineer from Toronto, travelled to northern Syria and enlisted in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), whose troops have been fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad for the past 16 months, at the end of June. She announced her arrival in a video on YouTube, posted last week.
The woman said she had been recently working from Antakya, Turkey, near the border with Syria, co-ordinating with FSA leaders in both countries in an attempt to unite the rebel factions.
The mother of two was given a seat this week on a FSA committee based in Turkey, whose aim was to unite the movement under a strategic hub, she said.
Friday, a report in the Globe and Mail said Ms. Kanafani had been “expelled from the group.”
She says she resigned but is still an active member of the FSA, with the Aleppo Martyrs, and continues working with rebels in Syria.
“I am in the Free Army still, but they took my position because they wanted the position,” she said.
On Thursday, the committee held a meeting attended by new members Ms. Kanafani had never met. They began jockeying for her job as a co-ordinator and questioning her motives.
To avoid conflict, the woman said she resigned.
“They said that you might be from the regime, you might be from Israel. They said you might be from outside,” Ms. Kanafani said.
Full report at:
Church, State, Hijabs
JULY 13, 2012
Lots to write about this week, so I have to be a little eclectic
In Quebec a girl was told she couldn’t play soccer while wearing a hijab and the usual suspects screamed “Islamophobia.”
Actually there are two very simple solutions to this. The young lady must either remove the hijab, or she must not play soccer in that particular league. It’s called obeying the rules, and while you don’t have to like it, you do have to observe it.
The argument really stops there, but if you want more here goes. Wearing a burqa is not a religious requirement as the Qur’an only demands modesty, but it is an outward symbol of a cultural statement, and in many ways it is more political than theological.
There are several forms of Islamic covering, but the hijab is the Muslim Brotherhood-prescribed version. Organized soccer does not allow political expression.
A hijab might cause an injury or might give the girl an unfair advantage when heading the ball, but that’s largely irrelevant.
Playing soccer is not a fundamental human right and religion does sometimes require sacrifices. Sorry dear, play somewhere else or do what Christians are always told and change with the times.
Oh, and just to do the irony thing, in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Afghanistan, where the hijab is compulsory, women have been killed for watching soccer, let alone playing it.
Full report at:
Before Games, Wins for Women
By JERÉ LONGMAN
July 13, 2012
The drastic transformation of sports in recent decades, with women increasingly populating competitive arenas throughout the world, reached two significant milestones this week: Saudi Arabia agreed to send two women to compete at the London Olympics, meaning that for the first time all participating nations will have female athletes competing; and, also for the first time, the United States Olympic team will field more female athletes than male athletes.
The appearance of women from each of the 200-plus participating nations captures the sea change across the sports landscape. Until the 1984 Los Angeles Games, women were not even allowed to run a marathon. Less than 20 years ago, at the 1996 Atlanta Games, 26 countries did not send women.
“We need to celebrate and recognize” such advances, said Janice Forsyth, the director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario.
Saudi Arabia’s government and sports officials had faced mounting international pressure as the country continued a policy of allowing only men to participate in the Games. In March, the International Olympic Committee said it was confident that Saudi Arabia would send women to the London Games. But contradictory signals were sent by Saudi officials in the ensuing months. Meanwhile, two other Muslim countries — Qatar and Brunei — said they would send women to the Games for the first time.
Saudi Arabia is considered the most significant of the three, given its size, oil influence and the restrictions placed on women in daily life.
Full report at:
Rights group urges Clinton to speak on women’s rights with Egypt president
14 July 2012
CAIRO: A leading human rights organization has called on American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to broach the issue of women’s rights with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi when she meets with the first democratically elected leader of Egypt on Saturday.
Human Rights First urged Clinton to make the meeting more than just symbolic.
“Egyptian women were at the forefront of their revolution, but the systemic oppression they faced under Mubarak continues under the military regime that replaced him,” the US-based group said in a press statement.
“Tell the Secretary to secure President Mohamed Morsi’s support for advancing women’s rights,” they added.
The questioned the new president’s promise to name a woman as one of his vice-presidents, arguing that his history with the Muslim Brotherhood makes them wary of following through.
HRF argued that the Brotherhood has a history of “regressive plants [and] holds that a woman cannot be president of Egypt.”
The organization argued that it is “time for the United States to demonstrate that it sides with the Egyptian people, including Egyptian women.”
Their statement comes after weeks of rumblings on women’s rights issues in the country. June saw a massive number of sexual violence against women in and around the iconic Tahrir Square in central Cairo.
None was worse than the attackagainst British journalist Natasha Smith, who was stripped and assaulted while covering the celebrations on a nearby street following the announcement of President Mohamed Morsi’s victory on June 24.
Over the course of the past month, Egyptian and foreign women have told Bikyamasr.com in the latest sexual violence craze to hit the country.
Full report at:
Utah’s Muslim athletes game for the Ramadan challenge
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
Jul 13 2012
Halah Khan loves soccer so much she would play every day if she could. She also is devoted to her Muslim faith.
When the Islamic month of Ramadan kicks off Friday, the 14-year-old athlete from South Jordan will face tough choices between the two. Her sport requires full energy and stamina, while her religion expects her to forgo food and drink from sunrise to sundown — which, at this time of year, is about 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. — for 30 days during one of Utah’s hottest summers.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, a sacred obligation required of all able-bodied believers. Practically the only exceptions are pregnant or menstruating women, young children, and those with extenuating medical conditions.
This year, the holy month coincides with London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, creating a problem for more than 3,000 Muslim athletes from around the world.
Many of them, including Mo Sbihi, the first practicing Muslim to row for England, plan to delay their fast until the Games end. Others have appealed to a verse in the Quran, which says that those travelling should delay their fasts.
Full report at: