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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 19 Sept 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Nigerian Muslim Group Warns Lagos Schools over Hijab Ruling

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Sept 2016

Muslim students leave the courtroom after the initial judgment at the Lagos High Court in Lagos, Nigeria on October 17, 2014. A ban upheld by the court has since been overturned by the state's appeals court. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES


 Banning Burkinis: It Doesn’t Stop Terrorism but It Does Curtail Women’s Freedom

 Muslim Women Talk What It's Like Being a Muslim Woman in America

 London Counterterrorism Woman Officer Quits Over Double Standard for Muslims

 Female Terrorists Train To Attack the West, Authorities Say

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Nigerian Muslim Group Warns Lagos Schools over Hijab Ruling


Muslim students’ association has warned teachers in Lagos to abide by a court ruling instructing that female students be allowed to wear Hijabs or face the prospect of legal action.

The Lagos branch of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) said in a statement on Sunday that schools and teachers must uphold the ruling by the Lagos Court of Appeal, which found in July that a ban on the headscarf violated the religious freedoms of Muslim girls.

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“Let it be made clear that nobody has the right to remove, deny or harass our female students in public schools in the state,” said a statement from the MSSN’s Lagos unit posted on Facebook on Sunday. “In case of any form of harassment on a female Muslim student by anyone, report should be made immediately and rest assured that prompt action would be taken as such person[s] will have to face the law for a breach of fundamental human right[s].”

Two Muslim girls brought the case to the appeals court after a High Court ruling against them in 2013. Following the appeal court’s ruling in favor of the girls, the Muslim Rights Concern—a leading Muslim group in Nigeria— stated that the unanimous ruling “leaves a firm stamp of authority on the legality of the use of hijab not only by female Muslim students but also by all Muslim women in the country.”

Elsewhere in Nigeria—which is roughly divided equally between a majority Muslim north and a largely Christian south—the wearing of hijab in schools has provoked controversy. A High Court ruling in June in the southwest state of Osun, which lifted a ban on the attire, resulted in Christian students turning up to school in church robes. Musa Asake, the secretary-general of the Christian Association of Nigeria—an umbrella group representing Christian interests—told Newsweek that the demonstration was in protest at the “one-sided” ruling, which he described as a “clear indication that the state is for Muslims.”



Banning Burkinis: It Doesn’t Stop Terrorism but It Does Curtail Women’s Freedom

Sep 19 2016

In Nice, France, four armed policemen forced a woman on the beach to remove her burkini, a designer bathing suit that allows religious Muslim women to dress modestly and to swim. The Mayor of Nice declared this was necessary to stop terrorism.

Certainly France has seen plenty of that recently with the mass murder at the Charlie Hebdo office, to the soccer stadium and Bataclan, and siege of the peaceful Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

“Nice is the most recent French resort to ban the burkini, following bans in the Corsican town of Disco, and the Riviera resorts of Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet,” writes Harry Cockburn for the Independent.

These vicious attacks have fuelled intense Islamophobia in response. However, restricting the dress of Muslims in public places crosses a boundary in that it can be perceived as curtailing religious freedom.

Relying on banning religiously prescribed clothing in France is nothing new. A law in 2004 banned the wearing of overt religious symbols in public primary and secondary schools. It included wearing the Jewish kippa, large crosses, and the Hijab, but affected disproportionately those wearing the hijab because there are few parochial schools for Muslims, so they have no choice but to go to state schools.

These laws are only the latest to penalise Muslim women in the name of France’s national precept of secularism, or ‘laïcit — headscarves have been banned in public schools since 2004, and the niqab, or full-face veil, has been verboten in public places since 2011.

None of these restrictions have stopped terrorism, though they may have limited religious freedom and freedom of expression through attire.

In America, the same tactics of limiting fashion options, particularly for women have been used over and over again. Many American women have been asked to leave public places because they are nursing a baby even if, like the French Muslim women, they are more covered than most of those around them. This one I know from personal experience. In college, we were forced to wear a trench coat over our knee-length Bermuda shorts when they first came out.

Now in France they are punishing women on the beach for being too covered. This rule has no rhyme or reason from a modesty viewpoint since there are many bare-chested, bikini-clad European women on French beaches. And, since health experts are telling us we should cover ourselves to protect ourselves from the sun, we know it’s not about getting vitamin D. Why is the woman in a T-shirt and jeans allowed on the beach when a woman in a burkini is not? What about the nun in full regalia? All are covered head to toe. Is it Xenophobia? Islamophobia? Misogyny? Would a nun on the beach in Nice be asked by armed policemen to remove her habit? We see the bias and hypocrisy.

Too much cover, too little cover, we women just can’t do it right. This obsession with our attire is all about our perceived irresistibility as sexual objects. I suppose we should be flattered!

From a capitalist viewpoint France’s ban on burkinis at beaches is a boon. The Australian designer who thought of the notion of a burkini has benefitted. Sales have gone up 200 per cent since the ban. She has opened her market by insisting the burkini gives women freedom. Freedom to go out in the sun if they have cancer or are on chemotherapy, and freedom to be both religious and physically fit. True and true!

But this too is not the whole story. Dictating conservative dress has long been touted as a way to protect women’s freedom. As in “she can walk safely at night if only she didn’t wear a mini-skirt or a low cut dress or…”

As we delve deeper we see that this kind of outfit is a boon to many of us who want to cover what we’ve been taught to think of as ugly or provocative. Varicose veins, cellulite, and scars. Breasts, and legs.

Burkini by other names can unite many religious groups: orthodox Jews might turn the pants into a long skirt and Mormons might fashion it like the undergarments they are required to wear. Oh the opportunity for Victoria’s Secret, not only lacy and colored bikini underwear, but they could really go to town designing exquisite undergarments and peignoir sets for every religious group. This is the beginning of a retail fashion gold mine!

It is not, however, a solution to the problem of terrorism which is the reason the Mayor of Nice proudly declares he is curtailing by this action. We can understand his desperation to protect his city and its beautiful beaches and to maintain tourism, such an important source of revenue for Nice and the rest of the French Riviera.

Banning burkinis on the beach, besides curtailing women’s freedom, would hardly be an effective deterrent to terrorists. No, this is just another example of using women’s bodies to avoid the complicated and expensive social issues. This also seems another example of overzealous policing, because police can’t stop terrorism or violence they can at least do something. We know how racial profiling has led to many black deaths in America. We can’t condone a sideshow of action to stand in for real counterterrorism.

This is a distraction, a way to make some people feel the police are doing something. Perhaps it’s not so different from American politicians who focus on restricting women’s choices by opposing abortion rather than improving maternity care, childcare, and wages, which might actually reduce the need to abort unplanned children.

We all want to get rid of terrorists, but restricting women’s dress isn’t going to do it. Toning down rhetoric, education, and realistic expectations of what government and politics and revolution can actually accomplish would probably be much more effective strategies.

In the meantime, while we personally choose to have the free fresh wind on our skin we support letting others coverup–that is a personal choice to be respected and protected. Freedom for all women, of whatever religious and personal beliefs, to cover themselves, wear scanty bikinis, or only the ‘outfit’ God gave them on the beach must be protected and defended. Whatever works to keep us healthy and happy and does not hurt others seems like a good fashion option! Thank you, creative designers! Keep on giving us clothing choices that allow for our many selves and our individual tastes and preferences.



Muslim Women Talk What It's Like Being a Muslim Woman in America

Monday, September 19th 2016

After being silent for years, Muslim women are speaking up, sharing what it means to be a Muslim woman right now in this country.

“Muslim women are the ones seeing the brunt of this Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments. Literally, over the weekend, we saw three attacks of Muslim women,” said CAIR-Alabama Executive Director Khaula Hadeed.

Hadeed sparked Sunday’s conversation. She said it was long overdue.

“We hear other people talking about us and we thought it was high time we did the talking,“ Hadeed said.

Eighteen-year-old Rowan Elqishawi shared stories of battling bigotry and stereotypes

“When I wore the scarf, I faced indifference and stares. It’s shattered my soul, but strengthen my resolve,“ she explained.

Other shared messages meant to empower, educate and engage.

“Being a Muslim woman is a bit more challenging in society than it is for men. I personally use his as a means of being a walking example. I want you to come ask me questions,” continued Elqishawi.

She said this conversation is needed more than ever and she has plans to keep the message going with the younger generations.

“I’m a very big advocate for this kind of cause. When you see people oppressed on a daily basis, I can’t just sit there so I try to change people’s perception and misconceived notions about Muslims,” Elqishawi said.

“That’s the goal here today, where you see all these young women who are volunteering and they want to be engaged. They want to speak up. They want to do stuff. They are moved after seeing everything that’s happened over the last decade and now more so than ever,” Hadeed added.

Also, a part of this event was a voter registration drive. In all, more than 50 people registered to vote.



London Counterterrorism Woman Officer Quits Over Double Standard for Muslims

SEPTEMBER 19, 2016

When Javaria Saaed, a member of the counterterrorism division at Scotland Yard, reported extremist behavior and comments from fellow Muslim officers, she expected her concerns to be taken seriously. Several Muslims in the London police force were expressing views consistent with extremist interpretations of Islam; something she assumed would interest her superiors. But she was wrong. She hadn’t counted on the double standard applied to Muslims in the West, or government officials’ intense fear of being labeled Islamophobic.

According to Saeed, herself a practicing Muslim, a Muslim constable told her that female genital mutilation—a sickening practice that has been outlawed in Britain since 1985—ought to be legal. Another said women should report domestic violence to Sharia courts instead of police (except in cases of extreme violence). Yet another Muslim officer said that what Pakistan needs is a “strict religious solution… like the Taliban” to resolve its security problems.

Political Correctness Creates Massive Injustices

Naturally concerned about these radical comments from law enforcement officials, Saeed reported them to her superiors. They told her she shouldn’t pursue any complaints about the beliefs or comments of these Muslim officers because it would hurt her “career progression and tarnish [her] reputation.”

In Saeed’s opinion, her superiors were afraid to punish Muslims in their departments out of fear of being called Islamophobic or racist. Based on their comments about her career, it seems this fear runs up the chain of command. Eventually, Saeed resigned over what she saw as Scotland Yard’s “political correctness” and the “sickening views and behaviour of some Muslim officers.”

This isn’t the first time Britain has turned a blind eye to actions within the Muslim community for fear of accusations of bigotry. In the English city of Rotherham, city officials, police, and social workers looked the other way for decades while a child sex ring groomed and prostituted more than 1,400 young white girls and women. Why? Because the men running the ring were of Pakistani descent, and no one wanted to be accused of racism for prosecuting them. The horrifying story broke in 2014 and received tremendous attention, but recently it was revealed that the problem persists.

The situation with Scotland Yard, in addition to the Rotherham scandal, points to the double standard applied to Muslims in the West, who get away with behavior that would otherwise be considered offensive or inappropriate—or criminal.

Saeed claims Muslim officers working for London’s Metropolitan Police were often racist toward white officers. But few people take seriously the claim that a minority can be racist against a non-minority. What’s often called “reverse racism” is dismissed as being racist itself. The conversation, it would seem, is closed on this issue. Only whites can be racist. If minorities have negative views of whites, it must be because of their history of oppression.

The Double Standard for Muslims in the West

Saeed also reported that many of her fellow Muslim officers were sexist toward women. They called her a “bad Muslim” because she didn’t wear a head covering, a common practice for Muslim women that’s considered a sign of purity and propriety. She was also told that she was “better off at home looking after [her] husband.”

Compare this to how sensitive we are in the West to even the slightest whiff of sexism in the workplace. We’ve taken the real need to protect women from sexual harassment and turned it into a witch-hunt of sorts, so all a woman has to do is feel uncomfortable, with little producible proof or discrimination, and the man in question is assumed guilty. Yet a Muslim police officer can come out and tell a woman how to dress and that she ought not to be working at all, and face no consequences.

Imagine the outrage if Christians went around telling women they belong at home, not in the workplace. But a Muslim man’s view that a woman should live like a 1940s American housewife, something that today is anathema in the West, is just accepted as part of his culture?

Or take attitudes toward homosexuality. An American baker who won’t design a special-order cake for a gay wedding has his life turned upside down and is painted as the worst kind of bigot. Meanwhile, the mainstream media bends over backwards to avoid talking about homophobia in Islam in the wake of the Orlando shooting in a gay night club, which a Muslim carried out in the name of ISIS.

As Saeed herself pointed out, if a white officer had behaved as her Muslim co-workers had, he would have most definitely been fired. Instead, Scotland Yard gave the officer who made the comment about female genital mutilation “management action,” which usually means some type of training course. It’s no wonder Saeed describes some Muslim officers as feeling like they’re above the law. They essentially are.

Lately there’s been much talk about tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe and America, especially during the ongoing migrant crisis. Many in the West have decided the solution is to carve out special exceptions for Muslims and treat them with kid gloves.

This is wrong-headed and condescending. The best hope Europe and the United States has for peaceably co-existing with Muslims and inviting them to participate in our society is to hold them to the very same standards to which we hold everyone else. They deserve that much from us.



Female Terrorists Train To Attack the West, Authorities Say

September 19, 2016

WASHINGTON — A plot to attack the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris unraveled earlier this month after a police officer spooked a female attacker. She fled, leaving a car loaded with gas canisters sitting very close to the iconic structure with its hazard lights flashing. She never had the chance to detonate them.

French authorities eventually arrested three women on terrorism charges. They are part of what authorities fear may be a wave of women fighters partially inspired by a former female punk-rocker turned terrorist.

Sally Jones, the British widow of a prominent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leader, who released location information about U.S. military members in 2015, has re-emerged in Raqqa, Syria.

This time, she’s not just taunting the U.S. intelligence community — she’s allegedly building an army of women fighters for ISIL.

“There were some recent reports out that she is leading a cell targeting women specifically in terms of recruitment and in terms of carrying out attacks particularly in the West,” said Tara Maller, senior policy adviser at the Counter Extremism Project (CEP).

According to an account from an “ISIL defector” in London’s Telegraph newspaper, Jones is now head of “the secretive female wing the Anwar al-Awlaki battalion.” The unit was formed by her late husband, Junaid Hussain, ISIL’s social media architect, who was killed in August 2015 in a U.S. precision strike.

ISIL is trying to leverage the unique advantage of using women in attacks, Maller said. According to CEP, Jones issued terrorist threats against the United Kingdom, calling upon Muslim women to launch terrorist attacks in London, Glasgow and Wales during Ramadan.

To Maller, the use of female attackers is a distinction without a difference.

“A suicide bomb is a suicide bomb, so the danger and the risk is the same — man or woman. But the reason why there is a strategic difference is because traditionally more terrorists have been men, and it is sometimes easier for women to fly under the radar,” Maller said.

Female members of terror organizations are not a new phenomenon. A female suicide bomber killed India’s former leader Rajiv Ghandi in 1991.

But today’s female terrorists are quietly growing into a force that counterterrorism authorities all over Europe and the U.S. are coming to grips with.

“ISIL is opportunistic and has shown that it is only too happy to exploit whatever resources and recruits it is able to marshal,” a U.S. intelligence official told WTOP.

FBI Director Jim Comey warned Congress in late 2015 that ISIL had learned how to appeal to more than just angry young men.

“Unlike other groups, ISIL has constructed a narrative that touches on all facets of life — from career opportunities to family life to a sense of community. The message isn’t tailored solely to those who are overtly expressing symptoms of radicalization,” said Comey.

He indicated many, including women, who join the group are attracted by its online messaging.

“It is seen by many who click through the internet every day, receive social media push notifications, and participate in social networks,” said Comey. “Ultimately, many of these individuals are seeking a sense of belonging.”

In June, Spanish authorities arrested four suspects linked to three terrorist cells in Cueta — a 7-square-mile, autonomous Spanish city on the north coast of Africa, next to Morocco.

Two of the cells were headed by men. One cell, according to a Spanish magistrate, recruited adolescent girls with family problems, illnesses and mental handicaps. Two men from a second cell recruited women from former romantic relationships.

A third cell was run by a woman. She used the social media applications Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram to recruit girls. The objective of that cell, according to a foreign intelligence source close to the case, “was to send young women to Iraq and Syria to marry ISIL fighters and give birth to a new generation of terrorists.”

“Official data confirm that there are DA’ESH (ISIL) camps in which women are preparing to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe and the U.S., according to Europol. They are spaces for tactical training,” said Jose Maria Gil, director of the department of terrorism studies at Spain’s Institute of Global Security. “In Europe, we have already seen cases of women integrated in ISIL terrorist operations.”

He recalled an incident following the Paris terror attacks.

“On Nov. 13, 2015, when French police raided a flat in Saint Denis where the suspects were holed up, a woman acted against the policemen by triggering a suicide-bomb belt,” he said.

The turn toward women as fighters, according to the U.S. official, is an ironic part of the organization’s desperation to survive.

“Like in many Sunni extremist groups, ISIL men wield authority and women are at best second-class citizens [and] are often treated much worse,” the official said.

The U.S. military has noted the same irony.

“It is an organization that is so completely demeaning to women, that degrades them, forces them into marriages and sexual slavery, and at the same time it has women in it that serve in positions of prominence and leadership as well,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the Pentagon.

But Davis said there will be no difference in the way female attackers are treated.

“We’ll absolutely take action to protect ourselves, to engage the enemy and remove people from the battlefield, regardless of gender,” he said.

Security organizations charged with advising their U.S. clients are faced with a difficult task.

“Given our propensity to always be ‘fighting the last battle,’ unless and until female terrorists become more commonplace, many security officers in the West may not appreciate this threat until it is too late,” said Mike Maness, director of global threat detection firm Trapwire and a former CIA officer who conducted covert operations against terrorists for 20 years.

“Most of us probably view a woman pushing a baby stroller as one of the least threatening people you’ll encounter,” Maness said. “However, this ‘cover for action’ could be used to launch devastating attacks against soft targets around the country.”



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