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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 22 Dec 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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No Plan to Set Minimum Age for Marriage of Girls: Saudi Grand Mufti

New Age Islam News Bureau

22 Dec 2014

Manal Kassem defied bridal tradition and instead placed her flower bouquet in tribute to the Sydney Siege victims. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)


  Muslim Bride Stirs Applause at Sydney Memorial

 Makkah Region Top for Runaway Girls

 Seven Bosnian Schoolgirls Aged 13 And 14 Fall Pregnant On Class Trip

 Jihadist’s Widow Posts Picture of a 4 yrs Old Boy Posing with Toy Gun by IS Flag

 Rocker Turned ISIS Recruit Lures Girls, Says Life Is ‘Awesome’

 Muslim Woman Attacked By German Racists

 Saudi Woman Apologizes For Attending Soccer Match

 Ohio Muslim Woman Sues Over Jail Church Attendance

 Saudi Sponsors Pay SR400, 000 Arrears to Housemaids

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





No Plan to Set Minimum Age for Marriage of Girls: Saudi Grand Mufti

 22 December 2014

RIYADH – The Kingdom’s Grand Mufti has said the Board of Senior Scholars has no intention to set the minimum marriage age of women in the country to 15 years.

In a telephone interview with Al-Riyadh newspaper, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh reiterated that marriage of girls below 15 years is “permissible”.

The Ministry of Justice submitted a proposal to the Board of Senior Scholars to restrict under-age marriages in the country two years ago, but the board has yet to take a decision on the issue.

A high-ranking source in the ministry said the ministry had referred to the Presidency for Religious Research and Ruling a comprehensive proposal to set the marriage age of women at 15 after taking into account the psychological, social and health implications of under-age marriages.

The proposal was made by a committee, comprising representatives of various government agencies, formed by the ministry to come up with a solution based on Islamic principles to the issue of under-age marriages. The committee studied the subject from Shariah, social and health aspects.

In the proposal referred to the Board of Senior Scholars, the ministry suggested that the power to marry under-aged girls be transferred from the marriage official (ma’zoun) to the Shariah court judge.

The girl’s guardian should be advised against the decision, but the judge can go ahead with signing of the marriage contract if the guardian insists.

The source said the ministry was in the process of finalizing an electronic marriage contract, which will include the ages of both the bride and the groom.

The move is aimed at ascertaining the age of couples entering a marriage relationship and to compile data on under-age marriages in the country.

The source said the marriage of under-age girls in the Kingdom is very limited with only 10 cases reaching the courts so far.

The ministry is working hard to restrict under-age marriages in view of their harms to girls, the source said, adding that it has made recommendations for a suitable mechanism to make the courts the only authority to approve such marriages.

Under these recommendations, marriage officials will be prevented from officiating such marriages unless they have a written approval from the concerned court.

The conditions to be met for approving an under-age marriage include consent from the girl as well as the girl’s mother.

The guardians should also ensure that the marriage is not consummated until the girl has been given sufficient time to be prepared mentally and is trained to take up the responsibilities of family life.

According to the proposal, the guardian is required to submit a request to the court to exempt his daughter from the minimum marriage age.

The request should be accompanied by a medical report from a specialist committee, which includes a female gynaecologist and obstetrician, a female psychiatrist and a female sociologist, proving that the girl is physically and mentally fit for marriage.



Muslim Bride Stirs Applause at Sydney Memorial

22 December 2014

An Australian Muslim bride stopped by a memorial for the victims killed in a deadly siege of a Sydney café last week to pay her respects, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Sunday.

Mahmoud Homaisi watched as his bride Manal Kassem, dressed in an opulent wedding dress, Hijab, and veil, laid her bridal flower bouquet in tribute to those killed.

A crowd that gathered around the newly-weds erupted in applause, the Mail reported.

“She did it out of respect for her country, that will one day be the country of her children and grandchildren,” Dina Kheir, the couple’s wedding planner to the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

Kassem’s tribute was applauded not only at the scene but also on Twitter where several users posted in support of her gesture.

Kassem had initially planned to get her wedding photos taken in the city but she had second thoughts following the attack.

“She was going to cancel [the photo-shoot] because she didn't want to be judged...celebrating her wedding in a scarf while people were terrorized,” Kheir said.

“But she made is a priority to visit the memorial site as the first pit stop.”



Makkah Region Top For Runaway Girls

 22 December 2014

RIYADH — The Makkah region had the most girls who ran away from home according to a 2012-2013 report from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia), Makkah daily reported.

The commission, however, said the statistics were not alarming because there were 61 cases in total, of which Makkah Province accounted for 25.

Riyadh had nine cases, Madinah and Tabuk had six each, Qassim and Jazan had five each, Asir and the Eastern Province each had two cases, and Al-Jouf had one.

Hail, the Northern Borders, Najran and Baha had none. The commission said it is aware that precautions and preventive methods must be taken to tackle the issue and prevent it from turning into a social trend.

In a statement, it said: “There are great risks to such an unethical and unsafe act to the girls and society.

“Moreover, it is an extremely irresponsible act that must be dealt with seriously and officially.”

To fight the phenomenon, the commission said, there is a need for an official plan developed in cooperation with several public directorates and aligned with the five-year development plan of the Kingdom.

The organization claimed it has been requesting the development of a plan to mobilize its qualified human resources and implement various recreation and development workshops and programs since 1992.

Such a plan would enable the commission to develop its main office, 13 other branches in various areas of the Kingdom and 521 other administrative units, the commission said.

“That way, the commission will be better equipped and capable of dealing with such growing issues in society,” it added in its statement.

The commission’s request has apparently been rejected by the Ministry of Economy and Planning several times as the latter views the former as an administrative entity that does not need its own development plan.



Seven Bosnian Schoolgirls Aged 13 And 14 Fall Pregnant On Class Trip

22 December 2014

Seven girls aged between 13 and 14 have fallen pregnant after going on a school trip in Bosnia.

Furious parents are demanding to know why there was such a lack of teacher supervision when the girls, from the town of Banja Luka, returned from a five-day trip to the capital city.

The school had taken 28 girls on the educational outing to Sarajevo to visit museums and other historical sites, but since returning the girls have now reportedly dropped out of lessons.

The case has provoked nationwide discussions about sex education in Bosnia, where the number of sexually active girls aged between 13 and 15 has increased significantly.

Senad Mehmed basic, a gynaecologist from Sarajevo said that a growing trend for underage pregnancies in Bosnia is worrying.

'That is the trend of today. But we cannot continue to allow our children to be educated about sex on the street and not in school,' he added.

He added that educational institutes and parents should play a stronger role in providing effective sex education.

'It is obvious that children do not have enough knowledge of health education so they engage in such activities, not knowing the consequences.

'We have to be more direct in the educational system, it must not be allowed that street teaches children about intimate matters, and that they are later slapped by life.'

Young girls in Bosnia are seeking advice from experts online, the In Serba News Network has reported. 

One schoolgirl wrote: 'I would have sex with my boyfriend, even though I'm only 14... But I am afraid I'll be judged.'

Last year in Sarajevo 31 underage girls became pregnant but seven out of 28 girls in one five day period has set something of a record.

The National Coordinator for Reproductive Health of the Republika Srpska, Nenad Babici, admitted more children in his country are engaging in sexual relations as early as at age of 13 or 14.

But he didn't blame the teachers for the school trip pregnancy boom - he said it was down to 'parental neglect'.




Jihadist’s Widow Posts Picture of a 4 yrs Old Boy Posing with Toy Gun by IS Flag

22 December 2014

The 18-year-old British widow of an ISIS fighter killed fighting in Syria has tweeted a picture of a young boy clutching a toy gun in front of the black flag of the terror group.

The image was posted by Umm Khattab, believed to be from London, with the caption: 'Next generation, Bismillah (God willing).

Last week it was reported that British Muslim extremists are offering teenage girls in the UK money to marry Islamic State militants waging bloody jihad in Syria and Iraq.

Supporters of the terror group are believed to be offering cash incentives to encourage schoolgirls as young as 17 to travel to the group's de facto capital Raqqa and marry fighters.

Although the boy, who appears to be aged about four, is not likely to be Khatab's son, his mother could be Lewisham-born Khadijah Dare, 22, from Lewisham in south London, who left Britain to join ISIS and is married to Swedish terrorist Abu Bakr.

The pair are believed to live in Manjib, northern Syria, along with other British jihadi brides.

The teenager also posted pictures of the food she receives, such as pizza and chocolate cakes, because of her status as the widow of a 'Shaheed', or martyr. Her youth is evident in the three 'smiley' emoticons she places at the end of the tweet.

Khattab, whose husband died in the war-torn town of Kobane on the border of Syria and Turkey, also tweeted a picture of foods from Kobane, including a drink from Starbucks, reports The Sunday Times.

It is understood that ISIS channels money for the would-be jihadis' payment and travel expenses through international money wire systems, enabling the group's UK cell to offer significant sums of cash to disenfranchised teenagers, many of whom are from poverty-stricken backgrounds.

The whole grooming process operates using the same techniques of trust-building and reward-offering employed by sexual predators, and is designed to turn the teenage girls into jihadi brides.

News of ISIS' secret teenage terror trade was revealed in The Times, following a three month investigation by the newspaper in which reporters posed as two schoolgirls.

It exposes how vulnerable young British Muslims are to ISIS' chilling network or groomers - and reveals that police are taking seriously the idea that the terror group has already provided money and travel assistance to children under the age of 16.

Posing as Aisha, a 17-year-old girl from East London, the reporters - who have not been named for their own safety - were swamped with approaches from ISIS sympathisers, and were eventually put in touch with an alleged Syria-based extremist of Lebanese origin named Abu Abbas al-Lubnani.

Having built something of a rapport with the jihadi - including getting him to prove his authenticity by asking him to send photos taken in Raqqa with a banner reading 'Aisha' - al-Lubnani then offered to introduce 'Aisha' to a British intermediary, who would then pay for her to travel to the Islamic State.

A surveillance operation followed, in which investigators identified a white British Muslim convert as the prime candidate for being the UK-based jihadi who offered to pay for two girls to travel to Syria.

The man reportedly also offered intensive coaching on how the girls could avoid drawing attention to themselves before and during their journey to the Middle East.

Police in Britain have been urging families to contact them if they believe their loved-ones are trying to leave for Syria so they can be stopped.

Detectives say young women are being manipulated online with glamorous descriptions of life in Syria with ISIS, only to suffer a miserable existence when they arrive.

Yusra Hussien, 15, from Bristol, left home in September but instead of going to class went to Heathrow where she caught a flight to Turkey.

She boarded a plane with a 17-year-old British girl Samya Dirie, who she met online and the two are now believed to be in Syria, and may have married jihadist fighters.

Police failed to stop schoolgirl Miss Dirie despite being told she had run away with her passport.

Three hours after her panicked parents alerted officers that she was missing, she was allowed to fly from Heathrow to Turkey.

Her exit may have prompted the urgent response in the latest Heathrow case.

In June 'terror twins' Zahra and Salma Halane, both 16, of Chorlton, Manchester, are thought to have married in the war-torn nation since disappearing overnight from their home.

Both have insisted that Allah had 'chosen' for them to be in Syria.

The pair have 28 GCSEs between them and were planning to become doctors, having just finished their first year of sixth-form college, but were said to have been radicalised over the internet.

Their father Ibrahim and mother Khadra travelled to the region to try to bring them home, but without success. The couple has 10 children and their 21-year-old son Ahmed is said to be fighting with Al Shabaab, a militant group in Somalia.

Details of the investigation came after it was revealed that police stopped a plane at Heathrow just seconds before it was due to take off because a 15-year-old girl on board was planning to fly to Turkey before continuing her journey on to join ISIS militants in Syria.

The young girl had secretly saved up to buy a ticket from London to Istanbul and planned to continue her journey through Turkey and over the border into Syria. It appears it was treated as a missing person's inquiry and she was not arrested.

Her family, who had no idea she harboured extremist views, reported her missing and Scotland Yard tracked her down to a passenger jet about to leave Britain.

After rushing to Heathrow, officers realised the girl's plane was already taxiing along the runway, so the pilot was ordered to stop and the girl taken home.

It later emerged that a second British 15-year-old girl was not spotted on board and was able to continue her journey to join the Islamic State in Syria.



Rocker turned ISIS recruit lures girls, says life is ‘awesome’

22 December 2014

A British woman who travelled to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria earlier this year has been attempting to recruit young women to join the militant group, Britain’s the Sunday Times reported.

Speaking to fictional 17-year-old Aisha, created by the British weekly as part of an ongoing investigation on ISIS, Sally Jones said the teenager’s “sins would be forgotten.”

Jones, who now goes by the name Sakinah Hussain, also revealed during the exchange information on payment methods to possible recruits in the United Kingdom.

“At the end of the day if you’re Muslim you gave to get out of ul kufr [the land of the disbelievers] to please Allah if you can [sic],” she unsuspectedly told the Sunday Times in a message.

The first point of contact was Twitter before the correspondence was moved to messenger app Kik.

Aisha, according to the Times, expressed concerns over the true identity of a certain Abu Abbas al-Lubnani, a name provided by Jones who would set up the meeting in which Aisha would receive money to facilitate the travel of two girls to Turkey.

“U have [to] give the bros name to Western Union as the collector. Listen if he’s giving u money to help u make hijrah [holy migration] dw [don’t worry] sis. He needs ur passport pics to check u aint spys or police cos hed get in big trouble if u was so dw ok just meet his brother and get the money,” Jones told the Sunday Times reporters.

According to Jones, who said she did not know Lubnani, girls would often receive the money but would never travel.

Her remarks mirrored those of Lubnani who according to the Times said: “people send money to girls to make hijrah and they take the money but dont come my sis said.”

She explained to Aisha the reality of living the militant’s self-declared caliphate.

“Women dont have careers sis under sharia law . . . We are wives we are expected to look after our men.”

However, she described life under ISIS as “awesome.”

"They look after u. U will never want for money again u live a good life here. U need to get married to get a house im just being honest with u but there are loads of men.”

Western Union are monitoring transactions into and out of Syria and Iraq and are on the lookout for any illegal activity.

“People in these countries have a humanitarian need for our services, which is why we continue to operate there. We have suspended some of our agents in areas that appear to be Isis occupied,” a spokesperson told the Times.



Muslim woman attacked by German racists

World Bulletin / News Desk

22 December 2014

A 29 year old Muslim women was hit by a car and at the same reportedly was sworn at using anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim words at her in the German city of Braunschweigh where numerous racist Germans reside in the town of Gliesmaro

According to a report in the 'Braunschweigter Zeitung' a police statement said that the attack was racist and xenophobic, whereby a car of racists had verbally abused the Syrian Muslim woman and then hit her in the knees with their car. They then left their car and physically attacked her, holding her by her collar Surrounding witnesses shouted at them, assisted the women and the racists escaped by car.

The Braunschweig Association harshly condemned the attack, saying it was a result of those who are aligned with Pegida, the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamicization of the Occident inciting hate and Islamophobia amongst the public. The Association said that they will not allow Islamophobia and incitement against refugees to have a place in society.



Saudi woman apologizes for attending soccer match

22 December 2014

MAKKAH — A young woman who was arrested for disguising herself as a man to attend a football match last week was released by Jeddah Police, Makkah daily reported.

The 20-year-old was arrested at the King Abdullah Sports City’s Al-Jawhara stadium.

She was then released after paying bail and signing a written agreement to never repeat her actions.

Her case was forwarded to investigation authorities for further examination.

The woman, who was from Qunfudah governorate in Makkah Province, said she just wanted to cheer for her favorite team, Al-Shabab.

She snuck behind her parents’ back and bought a ticket for the game. She arrived at the match in a taxi and passed through security disguised as a man.

The woman admitted that she was aware that she was breaking the law but she was not aware of the possible consequences.



Ohio Muslim woman sues over jail church attendance


22 December 2014

A Muslim woman who says she was forced to attend Christian church services during a 60-day jail stint on an assault charge has sued the county.

Sakeena Majeed said in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that a correction officer made her and other Cuyahoga County jail inmates attend Friday afternoon services led by a Baptist minister. She alleged that she was threatened with solitary confinement if she did not attend and that another correction officer mocked her when she refused to actively participate.

"That should be offensive to anybody, no matter what your religion is," said her attorney Matthew Besser, who filed the lawsuit. "The government can't tell you what god to pray to or to pray at all."

Majeed's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. A county prosecutor's spokesman, Joe Frolik, declined to comment about it on Friday.

Majeed, of suburban Rocky River, was sentenced to the county jail on April 3 after pleading guilty to assault. She was arrested on her lunch hour on July 18, 2013, after getting into a confrontation with a police officer who had stopped her for jaywalking, Besser said. Records show she was indicted on charges of felonious assault, assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. Her sentence began April 11.

Forcing someone to attend a church service against his or her will is a clear violation of the constitutional right to freedom of religion, a right that is not lost when someone is incarcerated, Besser said. Majeed primarily wants to bring the jail's practice to light and to prevent what she experienced from happening to others, he said.

Majeed served her sentence in a trustee unit. Inmates had free run of their jail pod except for Friday afternoons, when they had to attend church services, Besser said. Even the minister would make fun of her for not participating, Besser said.

"She grew up in Kansas, and she's American as apple pie," Besser said. "She just has a different religion than most people."



Saudi Sponsors pay SR400,000 arrears to housemaids

22 December 2014

Saudi sponsors in the capital last month paid SR400,000 in money owed to housemaids being held at the government’s detention centers, Arab News has learned.

Now that they have received their money, they can be sent home. They were handed over to the government after running away from their Saudi sponsors because of alleged financial and physical abuse.

Maids working in Saudi Arabia are mainly from Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Sri Lankan Consul General in Jeddah, Atham Bawa Uthuma Lebbe, told Arab News that once the maids are handed over to the detention centers, the mission’s responsibilities are over.

“The officials at the detention centers are kind enough to negotiate with the Saudi sponsors to get the maximum sums legally due to the poor housemaids.”

He said there has been a drop in the number of runaway maids arriving at the Jeddah mission recently, mainly because maids now fear they have to pay back the recruitment fees spent by their sponsors.

Previously the Jeddah mission dealt with more than 100 runaway maids a month, but this has now fallen to fewer than 10. Recently a labor court in Jeddah ordered that two runaway housemaids pay SR25,000 each for them to be deported to Colombo, their hometown.

Uthuma Lebbe said that a Saudi sponsor spends more than SR20,000 to get a maid from Colombo. “How can he recover the money if the maid runs away from the household in this manner?” This total includes SR5,000 paid to the maid, visa fees, agent fees and the airfare. 

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Last year, 15 Saudi sponsors filed cases against Sri Lankan housemaids who ran away from their homes in the Eastern Province.