New Age Islam
Thu Dec 03 2020, 08:27 AM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 13 Apr 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

‘Nobody Is Giving Me Dirty Looks’: West Muslim Women Who Cover Their Faces Find Acceptance Among Coronavirus Masks




Muslim women who wear the niqab, or Islamic face veil, via Sarah Amy Harvard / Twitter

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• ‘Nobody Is Giving Me Dirty Looks’: West Muslim Women Who Cover Their Faces Find Acceptance Among Coronavirus Masks

• Young Singer Talks Women's Rights In New Song 'Mera Jism Meri Marzi'

• Muslim Women React as World Wears Coronavirus Face Masks: ‘Everyone Suddenly Understands It!’

• Tunisia Honours Trailblazing Woman Physician on Note

• Internet Users Slam Shams Al-Kuwaitia for Comments on Moroccan Women

• COVID-19: Female Afghan Refugee Doctor Praised for Treating Poor Patients in Pakistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

 

URL; https://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/‘nobody-is-giving-me-dirty-looks’--west-muslim-women-who-cover-their-faces-find-acceptance-among-coronavirus-masks/d/121575

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‘Nobody Is Giving Me Dirty Looks’: West Muslim Women Who Cover Their Faces Find Acceptance Among Coronavirus Masks

Anna Piela

04.13.20

Americans began donning face masks this week after federal and local officials changed their position on whether face coverings protect against coronavirus.

This is new terrain for many, who find themselves unable to recognize neighbors and are unsure how to engage socially without using facial expressions.

But not for Muslim women who wear the niqab, or Islamic face veil. Suddenly, these women – who are often received in the West with open hostility for covering their faces – look a lot more like everyone else.

niqab wearers for my upcoming book on Muslim women who wear the niqab in the United States and United Kingdom. Almost all of them were British and American citizens, but they came from all across the world and all walks of life. They were converts from Christianity, Judaism, former atheists, white, African American, African, Arab and South Asian women.

The niqab – a garment that is not required by Islam but is considered recommended in some interpretations – is usually worn with a loose, coat-like garment called an abaya and a hijab, or headscarf. Some women pair it with a long skirt and tunic to conceal the body shape.

All the women interviewed for the book felt the spiritual benefits of niqab-wearing, which makes them feel closer to God and deepens their practice of Islam. But wearing it in public often subjected them to Islamophobic, racist and sexist street harassment.

Wearing the niqab, the most conspicuous form of Islamic dress, is most dangerous. Eighty percent of British niqab wearers interviewed for a 2014 report by the human rights group Open Society Foundations had experienced verbal or physical violence.

The perpetrators tend to perceive niqab-wearing women as oppressed, backward, foreign, socially separated or a threat. Attackers often excuse their actions by citing security and immigration concerns.

Now, in an unexpected turn of events, people across the West are jogging in face masks and grocery shopping in bandannas tied across their mouths. That's making public life in the niqab much more pleasant, say Muslim women.

"There's a marked difference to the way I'm being perceived. Nobody is giving me dirty looks because of my gloves and the covered face," said a woman I'll call Afrah, from the the U.K., in a Facebook Messenger chat. "Everyone suddenly understands it!"

"I was wearing a handcrafted niqab today and it was amazing," Jameelah wrote to me from France, where the niqab is legally banned in most public spaces. "Because of the situation, I didn't receive malicious glares."

Fashion designers are even trying to make face coverings look stylish – an effort that has Muslim women long perceived a security threat rolling their eyes on social media.

Rumana, a Muslim from Croatia, told me that the growing acceptance of face covering has helped her overcome a reluctance to use the niqab.

"I am usually an anxious person who doesn't like to attract attention so that was always the biggest issue. Now that face coverings are seen everywhere," she says, "I have finally found the courage to wear it."

Https://Www.Good.Is/Muslim-Women-Who-Cover-Their-Faces-Find-Acceptance-Among-Coronavirus-Masks

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Young Singer Talks Women's Rights In New Song 'Mera Jism Meri Marzi'

Hamza Azhar Salam

Murtaza Ali Shah

Apr 13 2020

LONDON/NEW YORK: A New York-based Pakistani singer has highlighted women’s rights in the Pakistani context in her recently-released song titled "Mera Jism Meri Marzi."

Sophia Jamil, also known as Fifi, said the song is a tribute to Pakistani women who are trying to make their mark in Pakistan by standing up for their rights.

The slogan 'Mera Jism Meri Marzi,' or 'My Body My Choice,' became popular in the advent of Aurat March — a women's rights movement that spread across Pakistan and held its rally for the third consecutive year. Despite opposition from multiple quarters in the country, Pakistani women — including Jamil who hails from Chitral but lives in New York — have used art and music to highlight the issue of women's rights.

Speaking to Geo.tv, Jamil, 22, said: "I watched women and men come out in masses on the streets to protest for equality ... they called it the Aurat March and I was in awe.

"I was taking a closer look at the banners that the people were holding, which said all sorts of things from talking about the wage gap to talking about honour killings and acid attacks, all the posters so creative and colourful," she added.

Jamil — whose spent her early childhood in Pakistan but was raised in New York City — further stated that she used the slogan 'Mera Jism Meri Marzi' as the hook line for her song as she went in depth to discuss all the social issues that it encompassed. She has received critical acclaim on her song from numerous Pakistani women as it resonated with them.

A corporate lawyer who took part in the Aurat March 2020 said: "Fifi's song is a great way to highlight women's rights. I hope it has a strong impact on the masses who sadly, don't believe women should have equal rights."

Speaking on the controversy surrounding her song, the young singer said: "There will always be critics but anyone who thinks that woman asking for equal rights has anything to do with some 'Western propaganda' needs to look at the facts.

"There are real issues that woman are facing in Pakistan, such as the highest gender wage gap in the world, more than 1,000 honour killings a year, child brides, acid attacks, human trafficking, and the list goes on, unfortunately.

After the song went viral on social media, the Aurat March organisers got in touch with Jamil and thanked her for raising their voice. The singer has now taken a gap year from college to pursue music on a full-time basis.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/282583-young-singer-talks-womens-rights-in-new-song-mera-jism-meri-marzi

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Muslim Women React As World Wears Coronavirus Face Masks: ‘Everyone Suddenly Understands It!’

Written By Anna Piela

20 hours ago

Americans began donning face masks this week after federal and local officials changed their position on whether face coverings protect against coronavirus.

This is new terrain for many, who find themselves unable to recognize neighbors and are unsure how to engage socially without using facial expressions.

But not for Muslim women who wear the niqab, or Islamic face veil. Suddenly, these women – who are often received in the West with open hostility for covering their faces – look a lot more like everyone else.

I interviewed 38 British and American niqab wearers for my upcoming book on Muslim women who wear the niqab in the United States and United Kingdom. Almost all of them were British and American citizens, but they came from all across the world and all walks of life. They were converts from Christianity, Judaism, former atheists, white, African American, African, Arab and South Asian women.

The niqab – a garment that is not required by Islam but is considered recommended in some interpretations – is usually worn with a loose, coat-like garment called an abaya and a hijab, or headscarf. Some women pair it with a long skirt and tunic to conceal the body shape.

All the women interviewed for the book felt the spiritual benefits of niqab-wearing, which makes them feel closer to God and deepens their practice of Islam. But wearing it in public often subjected them to Islamophobic, racist and sexist street harassment.

Research confirms that Muslim women who wear Islamic dress in non-Muslim majority countries are frequently subjected to abuse. In a 2017 American study of 40 Muslim women, 85% reported verbal violence and 25% had experienced physical violence.

Wearing the niqab, the most conspicuous form of Islamic dress, is most dangerous. Eighty percent of British niqab wearers interviewed for a 2014 report by the human rights group Open Society Foundations had experienced verbal or physical violence.

The perpetrators tend to perceive niqab-wearing women as oppressed, backward, foreign, socially separated or a threat. Attackers often excuse their actions by citing security and immigration concerns.

Now, in an unexpected turn of events, people across the West are jogging in face masks and grocery shopping in bandannas tied across their mouths. That’s making public life in the niqab much more pleasant, say Muslim women.

There’s a marked difference to the way I’m being perceived. Nobody is giving me dirty looks because of my gloves and the covered face,” said a woman I’ll call Afrah, from the U.K., in a Facebook Messenger chat. “Everyone suddenly understands it!”

“I was wearing a handcrafted niqab today and it was amazing,” Jameelah wrote to me from France, where the niqab is legally banned in most public spaces. “Because of the situation, I didn’t receive malicious glares.”

Fashion designers are even trying to make face coverings look stylish – an effort that has Muslim women long perceived a security threat rolling their eyes on social media.

Rumana, a Muslim from Croatia, told me that the growing acceptance of face covering has helped her overcome a reluctance to use the niqab.

“I am usually an anxious person who doesn’t like to attract attention so that was always the biggest issue. Now that face coverings are seen everywhere,” she says, “I have finally found the courage to wear it.”

Afrah, from the U.K., told me that her non-Muslim aunt wants to use a niqab now because she finds regular face masks uncomfortable. And Sajida, an American Muslim, spoke of a convert friend whose father – a vehement critic of Islam and believer in anti-Muslim conspiracy theories – now encourages his daughter to wear a niqab to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The niqab alone is not sufficient protection against influenza-like viruses because it is not airtight. Mosques are warning women who wear the niqab to additionally wear a mask underneath for more effective protection. However, the niqab, like any cloth face covering, is likely to protect others from the wearer’s sneezes if worn snugly around the eyes, ears and nose.

The niqab-wearing women who commented for this story recognize that the improved perception of face covering comes at a time of crisis, when ordinary social norms and interactions are suspended.

“I’m wondering if this empathy will continue or will it disappear as soon as the pandemic’s over,” Afrah said via Facebook Messenger. “I wonder if people will keep this reflection, this need to protect oneself, no matter the reason.”

“I hope the sisters who were previously anti-niqab and then embraced it in a time of need and fear don’t return to their niqab-shunning ways,” Sajida said via email.

Muslim and non-Muslim friends donning the niqab for the first time need their help tying it securely, and ask whether it’s culturally appropriate to cover just the nose and the mouth – rather than the whole face except the eyes.

https://newsone.com/3927314/coronavirus-face-masks-muslim-women-react/

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Tunisia honors trailblazing woman physician on note

Apr 13, 2020

By Arthur L. Friedberg

The first bank note in the Arab world to feature a woman was issued by the Central Bank of Tunisia on March 27. The blue 10-dinar note ($1.46), measures 148 by 73 millimeters, and shows the bust of Dr. Tawhida Ben Cheikh.

Not only was she the first Muslim woman to become a medical doctor in North Africa in the 20th century, but as a specialist in gynecology, she was also a trailblazer in women’s health, particularly in the areas of contraception and abortion. Crane Currency mentions this is believed to be the first bank note in the world to feature a female doctor.

The face of the new issue shows a facing bust of the doctor above the words TAWHIDA BEN CHEIKH (1909–2010) in English and Arabic. There are also floral and arabesque patterns, and at the bottom edges, two horizontal lines for the visually impaired, easily recognizable by touch. It also has a watermark with the doctor’s portrait and the value, a security thread, and a color-changing circle with the denomination inside.

The back has vignettes of some pieces of pottery and Berber jewelry, along with floral and arabesque patterns. The text is mainly French.

The Omron rings — a device used by many countries, intended to prevent digital copying — appear on both sides, as does a see-though feature in the area of the watermark. A layer of varnish protects the two sides of the bank note against dirt and grease.

After completing her early education that included Arabic, French, the Quran, as well as modern subjects at Tunisia’s first public school for Muslim girls, Ben Cheikh enrolled at the School of Medicine in Paris. She earned her degree in 1936 and returned to Tunis, where she opened a women’s reproductive health clinic. She often provided free medical services to the poor.

She was also very active in the nationalist movement that won independence from France in 1956. She was an active proponent of family planning, and in the sixties and seventies instructed other doctors in related fields of specialty.

https://www.coinworld.com/news/paper-money/tunisia-honors-trailblazing-woman-physician-on-note

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Internet Users Slam Shams Al-Kuwaitia for Comments on Moroccan Women

By Madeleine Handaji -

Apr 2, 2020

Essaouira – Kuwaiti singer Shams Al-Kuwaitia has met serious backlash online after she posted a video calling Moroccan women “witches” on Instagram.

In a video post responding to a question from one of her 1.3 million followers, the singer both complemented and insulted Moroccan women, playing on the Middle Eastern stereotype that Morocco is populated by home-wreckers.

“How else do you keep a man? And I haven’t met a Moroccan woman who can’t cook and fill up an entire buffet. The power of smell and the effect it has on the brain. That’s why Moroccan women are witches,” she concluded.

In another post, the singer talked about Sahrawi women, telling her followers they bind their waists to look more feminine.

“Look at the culture of conscious Moroccan mothers, knowing that when their daughters grow up, along with teaching them how to cook, their bodies will look feminine so that they are loved by their husbands, and can be secure in their marital lives,” she said in a video.

Shams bit back at the criticism saying, “I am not a sheep.” The singer denied having offended anyone and said she has the right to speak her mind.

She then complemented Moroccan women, calling them “sweet as honey.”“You left Coronavirus and created a hashtag that involved 16,000 tweets to release your poison,” Shams finished.

https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2020/04/298358/internet-users-slam-shams-al-kuwaitia-for-comments-on-moroccan-women/

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COVID-19: Female Afghan refugee doctor praised for treating poor patients in Pakistan

April 09, 2020

Ashfaq Ahmed

Dubai: As the country battles to control novel coronavirus, a female Afghan refugees doctor have won hearts of Pakistanis for being the front line warrior in treating the poor patients including coronavirus victims.

Dr Saleema Rehman is serving some of the poorest patients in a small Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees tweeted to pay tribute to Dr Rehman. “At Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, Afghan refugee Dr Saleema Rehman provides a lifeline to some of the poorest people in Pakistan,” says the UNHCR tweet.

At Holy Family Hospital🏥 in Rawalpindi, Afghan refugee Dr Saleema Rehman provides a lifeline to some of the poorest people in Pakistan.

The hospital provides healthcare to #refugees and locals. It is supported by @EuropeAid 🇪🇺 + @UNHCRPakistan #WorldHealthDay

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan has risen to 4322 on Thursday morning with 63 deaths while the country is facing acute economic crisis due to lockdown.

According to UNHCR, as an Afghan refugee in Pakistan, the 28-year-old Dr Rehman has faced a lifetime of barriers in her quest to get an education.

After nearly three decades of study, Saleema has beaten the odds by training to become the first ever female Turkmen refugee doctor in Pakistan. “I have a duty to help women. I feel so lucky. In my community many girls do not get this opportunity. I think it is in my destiny,” she said.

This sense of duty led her to specialise in gynaecology. Every day, she delivers around five babies at Rawalpindi’s Holy Family Hospital and cares for 40 women in each ward, many of whom live in poverty. Treatment is free. However, there are two patients for every bed and she works long shifts to attend to them all, according to information available on UNHCR website.

“Sometimes we eat dinner at 2am,” she says, from the hospital staff room. Her first priority is people, even here, as she offers an exhausted colleague water and wraps a blanket around her shoulders. “We have to put aside our hunger.”

Growing up in the Turkmen refugee community in northwest Pakistan, cultural expectations and insecurity meant Saleema faced an endless battle for education. As a refugee, that battle was twofold — but she was not alone.

Her father, who fled Afghanistan at the age of 13, was by her side at every step. He helped to open local schools and advocated for girls’ education. By day, he sold bananas to keep his daughter’s dream alive. By night, he designed carpets.

Eventually, after years of schooling, a highly-prized scholarship offered by Pakistan opened the doors to Saleema’s medical career.

“Saleema applied for three consecutive years for medical scholarships,” says her father Abdul, 49. “She was always struggling to make her dream come true. We faced many challenges from our elders who said that we should not be sending children to school, but finally, we won. We got that fruit for which we struggled a lot.”

Three years into her placement at Holy Family Hospital, Saleema is flourishing. Her supervisor, Humaira Bilqis, has helped to nurture her talent.

“She is very special,” says the consultant gynaecologist. “She has worked so hard in her life. Whatever challenge we give her, she never says no — day or night, she doesn’t hesitate. She has never disappointed me. I am very proud of her.”

“I didn’t know she was a refugee,” she adds, glowing with pride. “I don’t see her as that. We have never thought of her as not Pakistani. She is one of us. She is an asset for her country. After knowing it, I am even more proud of her.”

Next year, Saleema will finally finish her specialisation as a gynaecologist. But, as a refugee, her future as a doctor in Pakistan is uncertain.

“Training is allowed, studies are allowed,” she says. “But what to do afterwards? If the Pakistan government allows us Afghan refugees to practice here, we can be very helpful to our community, and I can work for the Pakistanis as well.”

“Whenever I go home, women come to me and say they feel very proud. I am so happy that maybe their ideas will change and they will send their daughters to school. I want them to get an education. This will make a difference to generations.”

“Even my own niece wants to be a doctor,” she adds, laughing. “She always takes my stethoscope. She calls me Doctor Aunt.”

“If there is a problem in my community, they ask me because I have a daughter who is a doctor. It is a great sense of pride for us. Saleema is an example for Pakistan, for our community, for Afghanistan. She is an example for people,” her father said.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/covid-19-female-afghan-refugee-doctor-praised-for-treating-poor-patients-in-pakistan-1.70875782

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