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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 29 May 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Non-Muslim Women Take On Ramadan Hijab Challenge

New Age Islam News Bureau

29 May 2018

British Christians Ellie Lloyd and her daughter Grace are participating in the 30-day Ramadan hijab challenge [Saba Aziz/Al Jazeera]



 Asma Hamid to Become First Woman AG of Punjab, Pakistan

 Malaysia’s Most Powerful Female Politician Wan Azizah Aims to Be Role Model for Women

 ‘Women In America, Europe Face More Crimes Than In Pakistan

 Iraq Executes Four Turkish Women over ISIS Membership

 Two Female Bombers Kill Three in Nigeria

 Saudi Shoura Council Approves New Law against Harassment

 Africa: We Muslim Girls Know How It Feels to Be Noura. Now We Must Fight for Her

 Swedish Girls Fearing Forced Marriage Told To Hide Spoon in Underwear

 İYİ Party Head Akşener Says She Hopes To Become Turkey’s First Ever Woman President

 Two Belgian Women In Syria Take Belgium To Court

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Non-Muslim Women Take On Ramadan Hijab Challenge

by Saba Aziz

May 29, 2018

Grace Lloyd got a round of applause when she walked into her classroom at Doha's Gulf English School on the first day of Ramadan, wearing a black hijab with her blue uniform.

The shy 11-year-old flushed as her fellow grade seven classmates in the Qatari capital clapped and cheered for her earlier this month.

Lloyd, a British Christian, will be covering her head for the entire duration of the holy month this year in solidarity with Muslim women who face discrimination for wearing the hijab.

"I feel very strongly about this," said Lloyd, the youngest participant of the 30-day Ramadan hijab challenge, a yearly initiative by the non-profit World Hijab Day (WHD) organisation, inviting women of all faiths to wear the headscarf for a month.

"I usually wear the black one, I feel more comfortable with it because all the people in my class wear it too," she told Al Jazeera, adding she might try a different colour later in the month.

The hijab is a headscarf worn by Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion.

For the organisers, the purpose of the month-long activity is to build bridges and break stereotypes.

"This event is for those who want to experience the hijab for more than just one day in order to better understand what Muslim women go through on a daily basis," said Nazma Khan, the president and founder of the World Hijab Day organisation.

Each year on February 1, Khan's non-profit also invites women to cover their heads for a day to mark World Hijab Day.

"It's great to have the one day where you walk in somebody else's shoes, but for 30 days, you really, really get to walk in somebody else's shoes," Ellie Lloyd, WHD's executive director and Qatar ambassador for the non-profit, said.

"In the most basic terms, the hijab is a piece of fabric, but for a Muslim woman who puts it on, it has the deepest of spiritual meaning," she added.

Fasting experience

Muslims in the United States, Europe and Turkey began fasting on May 16 this year, with some countries in the Gulf and Middle East region welcoming the holy month on May 17.

As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting is obligatory during Ramadan. Observers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex from dawn to sunset.

Khan told Al Jazeera that non-Muslims wearing the hijab has a greater social impact than fasting as part of the Ramadan challenge.

Afaf Nasher, executive director for the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), agrees.

"Fasting is, for the most part, not visible to the public, thus, wearing a hijab promotes the faith publicly in a way fasting does not," she said.

However, as a Mormon Christian, besides wearing the hijab for 30 days, Kayla Hajji said she is also fasting this year.

"There is such beauty in coming together as a community of believers to fast that is indescribable unless you participate," the 35-year-old American from Fresno, California, said.

She wanted to take the hijab challenge to get a small glimpse into what her "sisters in faith deal with" to "better understand their struggles or triumphs".

Ellie Lloyd, who is also considering fasting this month, says she and her daughter Grace have had to "completely change their wardrobes" for less revealing clothes to complement the headscarf.

"It's not just about the actual scarf, it's how you dress as well," the 38-year-old told Al Jazeera.

"There's no point in wearing the hijab and then wearing skinny jeans and a crop top because it's about the whole thing," Lloyd explained. "So it's respectful in my entire dress, not just covering my hair."

Facing discrimination

Muslim women have often faced discrimination and threats for wearing the hijab.

Earlier this year, letters urging people to attack Muslims on April 3 - termed Punish A Muslim Day - began circulating across different cities in the UK.

The leaflet, received by several Britons through the post, said there would be rewards for pulling the headscarf off Muslim women, verbally abusing Muslims, and throwing acid in their faces.

After President Donald Trump's election and "Muslim ban", CAIR reported a 17 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents in the US last year, compared with 2016.

"A headscarf on a woman was the trigger in 13 percent of the incidents," the group said in its latest civil rights report published last month.

Additionally, there was anger among Muslim women in Europe last year when the European Court of Justice ruled that employers are entitled to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols.

Brazilian student Pamela Zafred, who is wearing the hijab as a social experiment this month, said the experience has been an "eye-opener" for her.

The 19-year-old from Goiania, who was raised as a Catholic but does not follow any religion, told Al Jazeera the first day of the 30-day challenge was the "worst".

"I went to the gym [wearing the hijab], and I could hear incessant jokes about me," she said. "Our classes were conducted in groups, but no one chose to stay with me until the instructor divided the groups himself."

"I could imagine this happening with women who wear the hijab and how they would feel rejected, affecting their sense of belonging."

The challenge has also received some negative reaction on social media, with words like "oppression" and "bondage" being used.

Habit of hijab

Many Muslim women are using the month-long challenge to make the hijab a part of their lives even after Ramadan.

Rawzatul Zannat wore the hijab for nine months last year before she stopped.

The Bangladeshi Muslim was often asked questions by her classmates about her headscarf, called "boring" and "too lazy" to do her hair.

"Ramadan is a time when almost all the Muslims try to be their best, so I chose this month to continue my hijab forever, and my message will be if you try something for a month you can continue doing it always," the 19-year-old student told Al Jazeera.

Bilkis Salifu from Ghana, born and raised a Muslim, is in a similar situation.

"I do wear hijab but only sometimes," the 33-year-old said. "I'm using Ramadan, which is a holy month, to see if I can get used to making it a part of me."

WHD's Khan is hoping the month-long activity encourages other Muslim women, like Zannat and Salifu, to wear the hijab without fear and make them comfortable with the head covering.

"This event is meant to provide global support to Muslim women who want to wear the hijab, but don't have the courage to take the first step."



Asma Hamid to Become First Woman AG of Punjab, Pakistan

May 29, 2018

The Punjab government approved a summary on Monday to pave the way for Asma Hamid to become the new Advocate General (AG) of Punjab. This will be the first time that the important constitutional post will be held by a woman.

Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shehbaz Sharif approved the summary to give a go-ahead to the appointment of Asma, who would replace Shakilur Rehman.

Asma Hamid has a post-graduate degree in constitutional law from Harvard University and was appointed as Assistant Advocate General in January 2014, and as Additional Advocate General in March 2015. In addition, she had also assumed the charge of acting Advocate General on two occasions in the past. She had also represented Punjab in many cases in the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court.

Asma had also saved hundreds of acres of state land, especially in the ‘Province of Punjab vs Syed Ghazanfar Ali Shah’, where she won the case in the apex court and secured 117 acres of forest land in Sheikhupura from illegal occupants.

She also played an instrumental role in regulating the cement industry in 2017. Due to her action, the Punjab government had placed a ban on the establishment and expansion of the industry without seeking prior permission from a relevant cabinet committee.

After the case, cement plants were ordered to stop utilising groundwater in Chakwal in a period of six months and to ensure that the level of holy water in the sacred pool of the Hindu pilgrimage site at Katas Raj temple remained at an acceptable level.

Asma also assisted the apex court in many human rights cases, including the famous Zainab rape and murder case in Kasur. In addition, she had also advised the Punjab CM on different issues, including energy, property, environment, media, tax, state and evacuee property, service, contract and other laws.



Malaysia’s Most Powerful Female Politician Wan Azizah Aims to Be Role Model for Women

May 29, 2018

PUTRAJAYA: Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s childhood ambition was to become a doctor and cure disease. Now that she is Malaysia’s most powerful female politician, she says her mission is to improve women’s rights.

The 65-year-old made history this month when she was named Malaysia’s deputy prime minister. She is the first woman to hold the post, and one of only a handful of female politicians in high public office in Southeast Asia.

Wan Azizah has vowed to push for greater women’s rights in a country where female representation in national legislatures is among the world’s lowest.

“People look up and say, ‘Yes we have hope,'” Wan Azizah told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday, in her first interview since being sworn into office.

“Women now see that you can break barriers, it can happen – with a little bit of perseverance, commitment and belief that you can actually do it,” she said at her office in the administrative capital, Putrajaya.

Wan Azizah has also been tasked to head the ministry of women and family development.

Although it is Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy and women generally lead a modern life, Malaysia was ranked 104 out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Gender Gap Index after scoring poorly on political empowerment.

Trained as an eye surgeon, Wan Azizah was first thrust into politics after her husband, Anwar Ibrahim, was sacked as a deputy prime minister and jailed in 1998. She went on to lead an opposition front and mobilised support for his release.

Campaigning on a platform of reform, Wan Azizah and the opposition alliance swept into power in the historic May 9 poll, heralding the first change of government since Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957.

The soft-spoken politician said her priorities would include strengthening legislation to protect women from sexual harassment and abuse, especially in the wake of the global #MeToo campaign.

“There are some laws that you have to change, anti-harassment, anti-domestic violence, these are the things we have to go through,” she said.

The deputy prime minister said the government would also look into policies to help women in workplaces, especially mothers, by improving child care facilities.

Despite Wan Azizah’s pledges, activists said the new government had failed to fulfill a campaign promise to ensure at least 30% of ministers appointed to national and state governments were women.

“It’s not a quota. We have to fill the positions with people who are able to deliver,” Wan Azizah said, adding that the government was still committed to meeting the target.

Of the 14-member federal Cabinet, three are women including Wan Azizah. Campaigners said women were also being sidelined from positions in states like Johor, where only one of 11 state executive councillors is female.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union ranks Malaysia 155 out of 188 nations in terms of women’s representation in national legislatures, below less developed Southeast Asian nations such as East Timor, Vietnam and Laos.

Anwar, who is now free after receiving a pardon following the election, is expected to return to politics. Wan Azizah rejected theories she is a seat warmer for her husband.

She pledged to continue her work to break cultural barriers and improve gender equality.

“It’s a slow process,” she said. “It’s going to take some time, with (the help of) some legislation and education.”



‘Women In America, Europe Face More Crimes Than In Pakistan

May 29, 2018

The ratio of crimes against women in America and Europe is much more higher than in Pakistan but the way of reporting such crimes there is different.

This was stated by Strategic Reform Unit (SRU) Director General Salam Sufi while talking to media here on Monday.

He said: “In Pakistan, if some incident of violence against women is committed, the whole country or whole society is blamed, and it is alleged that such acts are a routine in the country, which is totally wrong.”

He said that misreporting is playing a role in painting a negative image of our country. There is no logic of linking whole society with any act of individual or of few persons. Quoting examples of Mukhataran Mai and Qandeel Baloch, he said that violence against them was an individual act and it should be taken as it was.

He said: “Generalisation of an act may have big impact on society and this should be stopped.” He said that the SRU had got the law of violence against women passed from the assembly by successfully doing advocacy for it.

He said that some people opposed the law without even reading it, but we engaged Ulema from all schools of thought and convinced them about this law and its importance in Islam.

Sufi said that the SRU effort was acknowledged not only in the country but abroad as well and he was awarded a “Voices of Solidarity Award” in this regard. This award has so far been given to only five or six people in the world.—APP



Iraq Executes Four Turkish Women over ISIS Membership

May 29, 2018

Iraqi authorities executed four Turkish women who were sentenced to death in March over charges of involvement in Islami State (ISIS), elbowing aside the calls from international community and families of the convicted.

Last week, Ruveyda D. (25), mother of two children, Kubra E. (22), Ipek O. (24) and Sukriye Catal, mother of one, were executed by Iraqi law enforcement.

In March, Iraq’s regional courts handed down death sentences to 16 Turkish women who were captured by the Iraqi forces in operations against ISIS in Tel Afar and Mosul last year. They were believed to be spouses of militants fighting on behalf of the extremist organization.

Since Iraqi forces liberated Mosul and the remaining pockets of territory from ISIS control, the authorities accelerated legal probes and trials against suspected members of ISIS. But the pace of trials and the nature of convictions drew criticism from the international community.

Baghdad refused to heed with the calls for the release of the women who, according to their families in Turkey, had no combat role during their presence in northern Iraq.

Turkish Foreign Ministry took steps to bring back the bodies of the slain women. Yunus Catal, the brother of Sukriye Catal told Sputnik Turkey that he did not believe his sister was executed.

He said the family was informed by the military intelligence over the execution of the four women, but no details were provided by the Turkish officials.



Two Female Bombers Kill Three in Nigeria

May 29, 2018

KANO - Two female suicide bombers suspected to be Boko Haram jihadists killed at least three people in northeast Nigeria, emergency services said Monday.

The bombers detonated their explosives inside a house and near a mosque in the Mashamari area of Konduga, 35 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of the Borno State capital Maiduguri, on Sunday evening. "Three people were killed in the two attacks and seven others were injured," Bello Danbatta, chief security officer of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), told AFP. "One of them detonated near a mosque while residents were preparing for the evening prayers and moments later the second one detonated inside a house," said Danbatta, who was involved in evacuation of the victims.

But Ibrahim Liman, of the civilian militia force assisting the military against Boko Haram, said two more victims died on the way to the hospital in Maiduguri, raising the death toll to five.

The attack came two weeks after five militia members were killed by a male bomber who detonated explosives concealed on him at a checkpoint outside Konduga.

Boko Haram's nine-year violence to create a hardline Islamic state has killed 20,000 people and displaced 2.6 million from their homes in Nigeria.

The violence has spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Although the militant group has been considerably weakened in a regional fightback mustering troops from Nigeria and its neighbours, attacks persist.

The jihadists have resorted to the use of suicide bombers, mostly women and girls, targeting military checkpoints, mosques, markets, bus stations, schools and other crowded places.

On May 1 at least 86 people were killed in twin suicide blasts targeting a mosque and a nearby market in the town of Mubi in neighbouring Adamawa state.



Saudi Shoura Council Approves New Law against Harassment

May 29, 2018

JEDDAH: A new draft legislation outlawing harassment was approved on Monday by the Saudi Shoura Council.

Anyone convicted under the new law faces up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to SR300,000 (around $80,000).

The new draft law “aims to combat the crime of harassment, prevent its occurrence, punish the perpetrators and protect the victims, in order to preserve the privacy, dignity and personal freedom of individuals guaranteed by the provisions of Islamic law and regulations.”

“I believe this law to be of extreme importance,” Shoura member Hoda Al-Helaissi told Arab News.

While the law protects people of both sexes, it has particular relevance to the end next month of the de facto ban on female drivers, Al-Helaissi said. 

“The timing is important. Driving, although probably the main reason for it, is not the only one.

“Any comprehensive society needs a law such as this one to protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of gender.”

There would be amendments to the law in the near future “to make it more complete and up to the standards required by our society,” she said.

Latifah Al-Shaalan, another Shoura member, said on social media: “The anti-harassment law approved today is a very important addition to the history of the Kingdom’s law and regulation, which fills a large legislative vacuum. It is a deterrent law compared to a number of other laws in other countries.”

Al-Shaalan said she had proposed a number of additional articles for the law regarding the protection of witnesses and of the identity of those who report such incidents, the provision of social and psychological support to the victims of harassment, and raising awareness of the provisions of the law. Anyone who witnessed an instance of harassment should be required by law to report it, she said.

Leading lawyer Dimah Alsharif told Arab News the new law was “a qualitative leap” in combating sexual harassment in the Kingdom. “Not only for women, but for all genders of different ages and in different situations,” she said.

The end of the driving ban gave attention to the issue of potential harassment “a boost,” she said, and the new law would help by “imposing clear and specific clauses to match the driving aspects and to assure people’s freedom in practicing this right.”

Rawan Al-Jabri, 26, a Saudi national, said: “This is not a privilege as much as a basic right for all women. Taking disciplinary measures against those who harass women, and even men, will definitely lower the harassment rate and hopefully put an end to it all together.”

Speaking as a woman who had faced harassment, Al-Jabri said she was thrilled by the new law. “With women starting to drive, this law is extremely necessary.”

In September 2017, a royal decree announced the end of the decades-long ban on women driving, which will be effective from June 24.



Africa: We Muslim Girls Know How It Feels to Be Noura. Now We Must Fight for Her

24 MAY 2018

By African Arguments

A Sudanese teenager faces the death penalty after killing her rapist in self-defence. Like for many of us, home was not a safe place for her.

When I was 18, I had a boyfriend who wasn't Muslim like me. Coming from a very conservative community, my actions were strictly monitored and my relationship created a lot of drama. My mum was constantly upset with me and saw my behaviour as inappropriate for a good Swahili Muslim girl.

One evening, I stayed out past my 6 pm curfew, so my mother sent my male cousins to look for me. I bumped into them on my way home. They grabbed me but I fought them. At one point, I picked up a rock and hit my cousin's leg. His scream gave me immense satisfaction.

I shook myself free and started running - towards home, the very place from which my public humiliation had been sanctioned. Home, which was supposed to be where I felt most secure, but where this violence against me originated. But where else could I go? Islam is not a monolith. Like all religions, it infuses itself into cultures across the world in very different ways. Patriarchy operates similarly, embedding itself in its own unique ways around the globe. Yet for many Muslim women and girls, there are some common experiences that cross divides, borders and boundaries. Whether in Indonesia, France or Kenya, we confront many of the same attitudes and societal expectations, albeit to hugely varying degrees.

That is why so many of us Muslim women intimately understand what happened to Noura Hussein, even though her life may be thousands of miles and a world apart from some of ours. She is currently facing a death sentence in Sudan after killing her husband in self-defence.

As a Swahili Muslim, I understand the cultural pressure towards women to conform. Many of us are brought up to believe we belong to the community and that our lives are everyone's business. In many places, everything girls do is seen a reflection of the community and any diversion from expectations is seen as dishonouring. It becomes everyone's job to judge and police girls' personal choices and lives. Because of this, many of us live double lives. We exist in a complex back and forth, trying to be ourselves while being expected to carry the burden of an entire community.

In this high stakes game, the family and home plays an important role. Like many non-Muslim women facing other kinds of gendered oppression, we come to realise that home is not necessarily a safe space for us. The love and protection of our family is conditional. There are things we can do, personal choices we can make, that will make our families turn against us. Things like having a boyfriend, going out, being confused about whether to wear hijab or not. All of these can elicit violence from our families. They can even be a matter of life and death.

Every time I read about Noura, whose tragic tale has been well-documented, my stomach clenches. I imagine her on the night she was tricked back home after she had escaped to her aunt aged 16 to avoid a marriage she did not want. I think of the people who were closest to her, who were supposed to protect her, but instead lied that the wedding plans were cancelled when they intended to force her into marriage on her return.

I imagine the fear that consumed her the night her husband's family members held her down so he could rape her. I think of her rage the next day when he returned to assault her again and she felt her only option was to stab him to save herself.

Noura was turned over to the police by her own family and convicted of murder. The man's family had the option of monetary compensation or the death penalty. They chose the latter.

Noura now faces execution because she protected herself when no one else would. Instead of defending their daughter, her family condemned her. Instead of upholding her rights, the state system now wants to kill her because she was the only one brave enough to stand for herself.

Tomorrow, on 25 May, Noura faces an appeal hearing. She would have undergone her trauma or be in the dock if it were not for the actions and silence of many Muslim women and men. But nor would she now have a shot at justice and be known the world over if it were not for the actions and demands of many other Muslim women and men.

Often in situations like this, it is Muslim women who rise up and, in this instance, brave Sudanese women started the #JusticeForNoura movement. Without this movement, Noura would have been a mere statistic in Sudan, where 10.7% of women are married before the age of 15 and 38% before the age of 18.

It is time for everyone in Muslim communities to confront the cultural practices and systems allow stories such as Noura's to happen. She had to save herself because no one else would and her own home turned against her. Noura's story demands not just an answer but solutions to the question: Where will Muslim girls find sanctuary?



Swedish Girls Fearing Forced Marriage Told To Hide Spoon in Underwear

May 21, 2018

LONDON: A Swedish city is advising girls who fear being taken abroad for forced marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM) to tuck a spoon in their underwear before going through airport security.

Airport staff in Gothenburg have been told how to respond in such circumstances, said Katarina Idegard, who is in charge of tackling honour-based violence in Sweden's second biggest city.

"The spoon will trigger metal detectors when you go through security checks," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "You will be taken aside and you can then talk to staff in private."

"It is a last chance to sound the alarm," Idegard added.

There is no data on the number of girls taken abroad for forced marriage, but Idegard said a national hotline received 139 calls last year about child marriage or forced marriage.

Activists will encourage other cities to follow Gothenburg's lead and adopt the spoon initiative to protect girls, she added.

The idea comes from British charity Karma Nirvana, which said the tactic had already saved a number of girls in Britain from forced marriage.

The charity said hiding a spoon in their underwear was a safe way for girls to alert the authorities, which was often difficult if they were constantly surrounded by family.

Idegard said the advice on hiding a spoon was part of a wider campaign to tackle honour-based violence in Gothenburg, which has a population of 1 million people.

Schools and social workers have been asked to be extra vigilant in the run-up to the summer holidays when girls from diaspora communities are more likely to be taken abroad.

"We are doing this now because the risks of forced marriage and FGM increase during the school holidays, especially the long summer break," said Idegard.

Forced marriage and FGM are illegal in Sweden, even if carried out abroad, and punishable by prison terms.

In 2016, a father was convicted of forcing his daughter to marry against her will after tricking her into making a trip to Afghanistan.

In another case in 2014, a 14-year-old girl whose father had taken her to Ethiopia to marry an older cousin was rescued after asking a school counsellor for help via Facebook.

Idegard said a 2015 study found up to 38,000 girls and women living in Sweden may have undergone FGM - with victims including women born in Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt and Gambia. (Editing by Kieran Guilbert



İYİ Party Head Akşener Says She Hopes To Become Turkey’s First Ever Woman President

May 28 2018

İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener said on May 28 that she hopes to become Turkey’s first woman president in snap elections on June 24.

“Thank God, 100,000 people gave their signatures in four hours, meaning that I became the first woman to place her [presidential] candidacy with the signature of the people. And with God’s permission, I will be hopefully the first woman president too,” Akşener said during an election rally in the western province of Afyonkarahisar.

She was referring to the more than 100,000 signatures collected as of May 6, necessary in order to qualify to run in the presidential elections.

According to the new presidential election system, a candidate can either be presented by a political party that has received more than 5 percent of the votes in the previous elections or a political party that has a party group in parliament. They can also be an independent candidate if they have collected signatures from 100,000 citizens.

Akşener also said on May 28 that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was responsible for Turkey’s current economic troubles because “production has not been put at the center of the economy.”

She noted that there are currently millions of people in Turkey struggling with major credit card debts, which she vowed to “wipe out.”

“We will erase these [debts] once and for all. They [AKP] have gotten mad [at us], asking how we will do this. We will establish a solidarity fund for it. Some 8 billion Turkish Liras [$1.7 billion] is needed,” Akşener said, adding that this money would be collected by cutting back on extravagant state spending on top officials.

“Ministries, undersecretaries, CEOs, their wives, sons, daughters and in-laws are all using luxury cars that are paid for from your pockets. The price of that is 8 billion liras,” she said.



Two Belgian Women In Syria Take Belgium To Court

28 May 2018

Two Belgian women who married IS combatants and are currently with their children in a refugee camp in the north of Syria have decided to initiate legal proceedings against the Belgian State, applying for summary judgment.

The Child Focus Organization has joined their action, indicates Monday VRT editor.

The two women from Borgerhout were recently convicted in absentia by a Belgian court and sentenced to five years and a fine for participating in terrorist activities, according to the VRT. They have been on Syrian soil for a few years, having followed their husbands who are since deceased.

The reason for the legal action launched by the attorney of these two women: their desire to see their children leave Syria and grow up in Belgium. It is also why Child Focus, the foundation for missing and sexually exploited children, decided to join the initiative. The foundation believes that it is the Belgian State’s duty to try to bring back any child present in a conflict zone who has one parent of Belgian nationality, to Belgian soil.

“A certain number of grandparents have asked us to help them because their grandchildren are in camps in Syria or Iraq,’’ explains Dirk Depover from Child Focus. “They are sometimes with their mother; their father being deceased.”

According to Child Focus, living conditions there may be appalling. “They do not have enough to eat and have no access to health care. Our government must plan a reception for them, in our country, and provide them with assistance.”

Around 145 minors of a Belgian parent could currently be present in a conflict-afflicted area.




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