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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 13 Apr 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Non-Muslim Woman Launches Campaign against Anti-Islam Billboard In Florida

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Apr 2016 

Photo: Prime minister Manuel Valls talks with children next to Education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and Minister of State for Cities, Youth and Sports, Helene Geoffroy. Asked whether headscarves should be banned by law from universities, Valls replied: ‘It should be done.’ Photograph: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images


 French PM Calls for Ban on Islamic Headscarves at Universities

 Dalit Woman’s Efforts to Educate Muslim Women in Mumbai

 Emirati Weightlifter Al Haddad Blazes a Trail for Muslim Women

 Afghan Woman Appointed Human Rights Commissioner in OIC

 A 60-Year-Old Christian Woman Was Caned In Indonesia for Breaking Sharia Law

 Saudi Female TV Host Denounces Muslim 'Hypocrites' For Not Owning Up On Terrorism

 Two Muslim Women File Discrimination Complaint against Belmont Park

 Tiss Survey Shows Many Muslim Girls Aspire To Be Nurses

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Non-Muslim woman launches campaign against anti-Islam billboard in Florida

Wednesday 13 Apr 2016

St. Augustine beach, Florida, (IINA) - A non-Muslim woman in Florida has launched a campaign against an anti-Islam billboard in St. Augustine beach, Florida, according to media reports.

"It was disturbing to me," says Becky Williams. "My daughter was in the back seat with me and my first thought was, 'if that was the faith we followed, how would we explain that to her?''

Williams, who is not a Muslim, says this is not the message her community wants to send to those following the Islamic faith.

Therefore, she started an online petition. Since Saturday, it has gathered more than 2,000 signatures. Some of them were from as far away as India, First Coast News reported.

“I’m amazed at how many people have spoken out,” Williams said.

A sign, which reads St. John's Outdoor Advertising, is on the bottom of the billboard. First Coast News tried reaching the company. But the phone number is no longer working and no one answered the door at the business’ address.

It's also unclear who paid for the message on the billboard. Anas Benjelloun the Imam of the Islamic center in Saint Augustine said, “To see a billboard like that, it has a bad tone for the whole city.”

He and members of the Islamic Center of St. Augustine were very surprised to see the billboard in their own city. They say their religion is a religion of peace, love, and respect, but that the billboard promotes hatred.

However, he is touched by the woman who started the petition.  “I haven’t met her and these are the kind of people I now in St. Augustine caring, loving people,” Benjelloun said.  “To see it’s somebody not from the Muslim faith that started this, this truly shows the kind of people who live in St. Augustine.”

Meanwhile, Williams says she understands the person who paid for the billboard has freedom of speech, but she does too.

She said, “When you see something unfair happening, you have to stand up and do something about it, no matter how small the action.”



French PM calls for ban on Islamic headscarves at universities

Wednesday 13 April 2016

The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, has sparked controversy by suggesting the Muslim headscarf should be banned in universities and that a majority of French people think Islam is incompatible with the values of the Republic.

The Socialist, under pressure over contested labour reforms and growing street protest movements, reopened the divisive question of whether students could be banned from wearing headscarves at French universities.

In a long interview with the daily Libération, he was asked whether headscarves should be banned by law from universities and replied: “It should be done,” conceding that the constitution made it difficult.

But other Socialist ministers immediately contradicted him. “There is no need for a law on the headscarf at university,” said Thierry Mandon, the higher education minister. He said students were adults, and as such they ”have every right to wear a headscarf. The headscarf is not banned in French society.”

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the education minister, said she did not support banning headscarves from universities, adding that students were young adults with “freedom of conscience and religious liberty” to do as they please. “Our universities also have a lot of foreign students. Are we going to ban them access because in their culture there’s a certain type of clothing?” she said.

In the past, figures on the right, including the former president Nicolas Sarkozy, have suggested headscarves should be banned from higher education.

But university leaders have consistently expressed strong opposition to any ban, saying students should be able to do as they please and that discriminating against students in headscarves is illegal.

The issue of Islamic head coverings has long been a highly contentious political issue in France, which has some of the hardest-hitting legislation on headscarves in Europe. In 2004 it banned girls from wearing headscarves in state schools, along with other religious symbols such as crosses or turbans. In 2011, Sarkozy controversially banned the niqab (a full-face Muslim veil) from all public places. State workers in the public service must by law be impartial and neutral, and so cannot show their religious belief with an outward symbol such as a headscarf.

In December last year, the French national consulting body, the Observatory of Secularism, found it would be “neither useful, nor appropriate” to legislate on the wearing of religious symbols – including headscarves – at universities.

Valls also came under fire for telling Libération: “I would like us to be able to demonstrate that Islam, a great world religion and the second religion of France, is fundamentally compatible with the Republic, democracy, our values and equality between men and women.”

Asked if he was therefore implying that Islam had so far not shown itself to be compatible with French society and values, he said: “Certain people don’t want to believe it, a majority of French citizens doubt it, but I’m convinced that it’s possible.”

Abdallah Zekri, head of the Observatory on Islamophobia and a member of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, expressed exasperation that the prime minister was suggesting Muslims in France had not already demonstrated that their religion was totally compatible with life in France.

“We’re fed up of being stigmatised ... [and] of this populist discourse which is worse than the far-right,” he told BFM TV.



Dalit Woman’s Efforts to Educate Muslim Women in Mumbai

April 13, 2016

Mumbai started imparting training to Muslim women in a one room school. Earlier, a school by name Bazm-e-Furquan was running in that room. Sujatha surveyed the area for two months. She persuaded Muslim women to come to the center for training. Out of 5000 women only 22 came forwards for training. Local residents, Shameeem Bhai, Bhola Bhai and Shahid Bhai came to her help. Later, Mr. Sudhender Kulkarni came to the center and encouraged her. A cultural program of children was organized to persuade people.

After training, she negotiated with a company for placement. The management of the company bluntly refused saying that they don’t provide job to Muslim women. When she asked the reason, she got the reply that the management have prohibited to employee Muslim women. When she told them to give it in writing, they said that they can’t do that. She continued her efforts, at last they agreed to employee 11 women. She took them to Kandi Velle. This was the first time that these women had come out of their houses for work. When they came back they were tired. They refused to go on the second day.

She talked to the management of Somia Hospital. They had recently stared the Dept. of Oncology. They gave job to 5 women. When they got the first salary, their joy had no bounds. Ameena Bibi has a daughter. She accumulate money and celebrated her daughter’s marriage. When she gave birth to a girl, she was sent out of the house by her husband. The girl lost her father. Her second marriage was not possible. Her mother used to cry seeing her. The girl showed interest in learning the work. When she got Rs. 8300 as her first salary, her mother started weeping with joy.

Sujatha says that she did not do anything for her but when she dies, there will be many persons to weep for her.



Emirati Weightlifter Al Haddad Blazes a Trail for Muslim Women

April 12, 2016

Dubai: Emirati weightlifter Amnah Al Haddad heads to Uzbekistan for the Asian Championships on April 25 to try and secure a place at this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

However, in a newly released Nike promotional video from the Inner Strength Series, she says participation is more important than qualification.

“It’s a journey, that’s the thing,” said the 26-year-old, who is not only the first Arab to be featured on the series by Nike but also the first woman. “It’s not just going to the Olympics or not. It’s more about learning about who you are, and how you can impact the world in a positive way and that’s what I want to focus on: Keep impacting the world in a positive way.”

Five years ago, Al Haddad, from Dubai, was a young journalist with an ambition to alter her unhealthy lifestyle and now she stands on the verge of a debut Olympic appearance.

Last year, she won six golds and three silvers at the International Weightlifting Federation Asian Interclub Championships in Jordan and was the first hijab-wearing competitor at the Arnold Weightlifting Championship in Ohio.

“I’m someone who broke a lot of barriers for Muslim women. There’s a lot of resistance, a lot of rejection, but when that happens you know you are tapping on something that is untouched and that is when you create a path for others. That’s what pushes me.

“Before all this, I was a very unhealthy person. I was depressed, and a few pounds overweight. Then there was a day where I was like, ‘You can do much more than this, you can be better than this’. So, I said to myself, ‘Go and do something. Go for a walk’. And that’s what I did. I went for a walk and that kind of changed my life.

“From there, I started going to the gym normally, and then I got into CrossFit, which changed my view of strength sports for women, and I just fell in love with weightlifting.”

During this time Al Haddad started looking for a good place to train.

“When I first got into competitive weightlifting, I never found the right environment or the right coach for me at the time. There were times where I would show up to training sessions and there was no one there, just me. These moments were really hard for me because I really wanted that environment where I could be with other athletes who are doing what I’m doing and feel the same way I do.”

It was a vacation to Alaska that led her to stay on in the US and explore better training opportunities there.

“I stayed an extra month in the US, exploring different areas and I really fell in love with Akron. It was so different than Dubai in every sense – the weather, the people, the atmosphere, the trees. I mean I live in a forest right now. That’s crazy.”

“My coach [in Akron] really pushed me to the point where I had to strip the bar down to zero just to be able to get my technique right. Moving to the States has been a game changer for me in the sense that I now have similar technique to those at Olympic level.”

Al Haddad’s journey hasn’t been without obstacles. A back injury last summer has slowed her progress, and her current goal is simply to qualify for this summers’ Olympics.

“I’m pretty hard on myself when I train because I always put such high expectations of what I can do versus what my body can do, and sometimes those two do not work together. You can go on six months doing the same thing over and over again: Smash, clean and jerk, back squat and whatnot. And you will hardly ever add one kilo to the bar. That is mentally devastating but you still push through it.”



Afghan Woman Appointed Human Rights Commissioner in OIC

Wed Apr 13 2016

An Afghan was unanimously appointed Human Rights Commissioner from Asia group in Organization of the Islamic Cooperation during an election process organized on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said Asila Wardak received the most votes among the candidates from all three zones (Asia, Africa and Middle East) during the election process for OIC Human Rights Commissioners.

A statement by MoFA said this is the first time an Afghan woman from Afghanistan is appointed Human Rights Commissioner in OIC by receiving the highest votes.

Miss Wardak has completed her higher education in Kabul and New Jersey Universities, the statement by MoFA further added.

According to MoFA, Miss Wardak completed her Bachelor’s Degree in the field of agricultural economy from Kabul University and received Masters Degree in the field of International Relations and Diplomacy from New Jersey University.

She has been serving with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since seven years as Head of Human Rights and International Women’s Affairs as well as Deputy Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations.

The 13th meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Organization (OIC) kicked off on Sunday in Istanbul will continue holding summits until Friday.

The senior officials held meetings on Sunday and Monday while the Foreign Ministers of OIC members are holding meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Heads of OIC members will hold meetings on Thursday and Friday.



A 60-year-old Christian woman was caned in Indonesia for breaking sharia law

Wednesday 13 Apr 2016

A 60-year-old Christian woman was caned yesterday (April 12) in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh province—for breaking rules aimed at Muslims. It was the first time somebody from outside the Islamic faith was caned under the province’s harsh sharia regulations.

In the same nation where beachgoers in Bali throw back beers and frolic in bikinis, the woman was whipped nearly 30 times with a rattan cane before a crowd of hundreds, for the crime of selling alcohol. The canings are performed in public with shaming in mind. While many onlookers find the punishments hard to watch, some shout insults at the victims and hold up their cameraphones to record and share the macabre spectacle.

Until recently, sharia regulations applied only to the province’s Muslim population. But under bylaws that went into effect late last year, now members of other religions can also be punished under the rules—although until yesterday it wasn’t clear just how far that would go.

Banda Aceh is the only province in Indonesia allowed to implement Islamic law. For decades it tried to break free from the nation, and to help end the separatist movement Jakarta agreed to give the province a degree of autonomy—including the right to use sharia law. Since the two sides struck a peace deal in 2005, following the devastating tsunami that struck the region, the province has steadily implemented more sharia regulations.

When the new bylaws were passed late last year, many voiced concerns about how non-Muslims would be affected. Islamic leaders sought to allay their fears.

“The fact is that Muslims in Aceh do tolerate religious freedom and we can coexist without any problems,” Teungku Faisal Ali, head of the provincial chapter of the influential Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, told BenarNews at the time. “We don’t want to raise the impression that Islamic law in Aceh infringes on the rights of non-Muslims… It doesn’t [force] sharia law on non-Muslims because they are free to observe their own faiths and beliefs.”

The Christian woman caned yesterday—and no doubt in considerable pain today—might beg to differ.



Saudi Female TV Host Denounces Muslim 'Hypocrites' For Not Owning Up On Terrorism

12 April 2016    

Saudi journalist and TV news anchor Nadine Al-Budair recently shook up the airwaves by blasting Muslim "hypocrites" who refuse to admit that terror is rooted in extremist Islam.

Budair made the extraordinary remarks during a TV commentary on Saudi Arabia's Rotana Khalijiyah TV 3. Following the "abominable" Brussels bombings, she said "it's time for us to feel shame and to stop acting as if the terrorists are a rarity," the Middle East Media Research Institute reports.

"We all know that the number of the homeless in Europe is very high. They sleep in the streets and beg for alms, and some of them are alcoholics or drug addicts, but we do not expect these addicts or criminals to even consider coming here and blowing up a mosque or a street in our city. It is we who blow ourselves up. It is we who blow up others," she pointed out, according to WND.

The TV host insisted that the "perpetrators" have emerged from "our environment" and that they belonged to "our society."

She said many of her fellow Saudis are aware that someone close to them, a neighbor, a relative, a nephew, a grandson, a father, or a mother had gone to Syria to wage jihad.

The journalist highlighted her country's education system which enforces memorisation of hard-line Salafist texts, as well as schools and universities that teaches their students that non-Muslims are infidels, WND reports.

Saudi Arabia stands on strict Quranic literalism. This takes a seventh-century view of unbelievers, women and minorities that allows for terror, murder and deprivation of human rights, Religion News reports.

The same report disclosed the lamentations of some Muslims on major U.S. Muslim groups that say religion is not responsible for the growing Islamist terror or that violence has roots in Islam, and the Islamist political terror is nurtured in Saudi Arabia's strict Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam.



Two Muslim Women File Discrimination Complaint against Belmont Park

April 12, 2016

The female students who are Muslim and were wearing Hijab, or head scarves are now filing a complaint and say they have seen this type of allege discrimination before.

The women, both born and raised in San Diego felt isolated and embarrassed over the incident they say did not entitle them to practice their religion.

Miski, 19, and Maryam, 23, did not want us to show their faces or use their full names because of concerns over safety and security, something they have been dealing with most of their lives.

“I actually got very emotional after,” said Maryam.

But it was their visit to Belmont Park that led them to file a discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing against the park.

“It wasn’t until we were seated and then the employee called the manager and the manager told us we had to leave. We were actually pretty shocked,” she said.

“Our head scarves were not lose at all, we even offered to tuck them in making them even, you know less loose,” said Miski.

GROUP122222The complaint alleges violations of their civil rights based on what they say is the park’s unwillingness to permit park attendees to wear Islamic head scarves to ride Beach Blaster and other major rides.

“Shame on Belmont Park and all those who discriminate,” said Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the San Diego Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Leaders with the group say they have filed three separate complaints against the amusement park in the past.

“They should have clear signs and warn people and let people know ahead of time. It is unfair and discriminatory,” he said.

In a statement, park officials say “We pride ourselves on providing a safe, fun and friendly place. There are times staff make decisions to ensure the safety of our guest including not permitting certain types of shoes, long hair, scarves and cell phones.”

“Our intention, why we are here today is to show that we don’t stand for this and so that stuff like this doesn’t happen to other people,” said Maryam.

Officials with Belmont Park say the longer flowing head scarves do pose a heightened danger of getting stuck on one of the rides and because those rides spin, it can cause such loose articles to strangle a rider.

Shorter headscarves are permitted as they do not pose the same risk.



Tiss survey shows many Muslim girls aspire to be nurses

Apr 12, 2016

hane: A state department-commissioned Tiss research document on Muslim girls' education and their aspirations has revealed good and bad news for the minority community.

The study, spearheaded by Abdul Shaban, a professor at Tiss, has pointed out that while the overall percentage of Muslim girls seeking education has increased over the years, most of these young girls have no clear aspirations.

While Muslim students constitute 95% of the students in Urdu schools in the state, the share of Muslim girls consistently rises with every level of enrolment. Of the 35 districts in Maharashtra, 21 districts have more female students in Urdu schools. Of the total students in Urdu schools in Mumbai suburban, Mumbai and Thane districts, over 55% are girls.

The aspirations of most of these girls is confined to schooling or college-level education.

According to the project, 'Urdu medium schools in Maharashtra', funded by the minorities development department, which studied trends in admission, retention and goals of these girls in and beyond schooling, 71.3% female Muslim students have no clear aspirations beyond schooling.

Of the remaining few who have thought about their future, 12.8% have chosen careers in teaching, nursing and other fields in keeping with the nurturing role of women prescribed by the community, activists working towards women empowerment in these traditional pockets claimed.

"The aspirations of these girls are directly proportionate to their exposure to the world and its facilities. If their only engagement is with a teacher and traditional family members, that is all they know, and make them into their role models. In the seven years that I have been fighting for the right of sports for girls in Mumbra, I have seen a change in their mindsets and ambitious choices in their goals," said Sabah Khan, a member of the Parcham NGO.

Abdul Shaban, deputy director of Tiss, Tuljapur, through the report stated that the aspirations of these girls vary with their medium of education, level of education and income of their households.

"Muslim girls studying in English medium schools have a significantly higher clarity in aspirations, as against those studying in Urdu, Marathi or Hindi medium schools. Urdu schools, which house most female Muslim students, suffer lack of adequate teachers, and they are not as qualified," he said.

"Those who come from the lower socio-economic strata tend to drop out even without completing schooling As this medium of education is not effectively linked to career prospects, except for Urdu teachers, this affects the quality of education, turning the situation into a vicious cycle, making Muslim women a larger victim of government negligence and tradition," he added.

The researchers and activists stated that the limited choices available for Muslim students and the patriarchy within the community, which compromises the education, personal and overall development of Muslim girls, can only change with government intervention.

"A large share of Muslim children and youth are out of the mainstream development due to these reasons, coupled with the lack of proper education facilities. If these are provided, it will benefit the socio-economic mobility of the community," said Shaban.

"In Urdu and other civic schools in Mumbra, where there are barely any teachers, the corporation is giving smart boards. The government should focus on providing the students with a holistic education, exposing them to role models and engaging them with the world outside so that their aspirations can soar," added Sabah Khan.




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