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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 10 Oct 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Christian Lady, Aasia Bibi, Facing Execution: Death for Drinking Water and Blasphemy

New Age Islam News Bureau

10 Oct 2016

Women at a debate party on Sunday in San Francisco reacted to Donald J. Trump’s remarks. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times


 In A First, 3 Women Elected To Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union Cabinet

 Your Move, Iran: Hijab Stakes At International Women's Chess Match

 Donald Trump Talks at Debate, but Many Women Hear Only a 2005 Tape

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Pakistan Christian Lady Facing Execution: Death for Drinking Water and Blasphemy


The brave Christian lady called Asia Bibi (Aasiya Noreen) highlights that while ISIS (Islamic State – IS) hit the headlines, this Christian female is a victim of ordinary Muslims and institutional discrimination in Pakistan. Even before her ordeal, she faced intimidation based on being told to convert to Islam on many occasions. Then vengeful Muslims utilized the chance to persecute Asia Bibi based on her drinking water from the same utensils that local Muslims use. In the eyes of these Muslims they deem themselves superior, therefore, “unclean Christians” shouldn’t drink from the same utensils. After an altercation broke out Asia Bibi defended her Christian faith but then was accused of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammad.

Asia Bibi feared greatly when Muslims began to make charges of “unclean Christians” and that Christianity was false. After countless derogatory remarks about Christianity and Jesus Christ – and with being extremely upset about being called “unclean” – she responded back “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?”

Note, her faith was mocked first but obviously blaspheming against Jesus Christ, the Buddha, Lord Ram, and others, doesn’t equate to equality. Similarly, while comments made about Christianity were derogatory, Asia Bibi merely made a statement in defense that was much milder.

Irrespective if people agree or disagree with the words stated by this Christian lady they are merely words. How can any rational justice system deem this case to be worthy of prison – let alone facing the death penalty? However, Asia Bibi still faces the prospect of being hanged, while also facing the harshness of prison and knowing that other individuals accused of blasphemy have been killed in prison.

The Daily Telegraph says, “In a case that has gained international infamy, the mother-of-five from rural Punjab was convicted in 2010 for defaming the Prophet Mohammad during an argument with a group of Muslim women over a bowl of water. She has been on death row ever since.”

Asia Bibi’s nightmare began in 2009 and today she still faces the death penalty. It is high time that real pressure is put on nations like Pakistan because it is ludicrous that people face death for mere words in the modern world.



In A First, 3 Women Elected To Aligarh Muslim University Students' Union Cabinet

Oct 9, 2016

AGRA: In another step forward for gender equality at Aligarh Muslim University, for the first time in the institution's history, three women were elected to the cabinet of the students' union+ .

The three women students, Ghazala Ahmad, Labeeba Sherwani and Sadaf Rasool, were elected to the 10-member cabinet, along with Naved Ahmad, Waseel K, Abdul Wasay, Irfan Ali, Asif Idrees, Mohd Naved Siddiqui, and Amanullah. Faizul Hasan, Phd (sociology), was declared as the union president, while MSW student Mohd Nadeem Ansari and MBA student Nabeel Usmani were elected vice-president and honourary secretary respectively.

In November 2014, TOI had reported how girl students were being barred from accessing the central library. University authorities had said that the presence of girls would distract male students. Following TOI's coverage of the matter, the university had allowed girl students to access the library.

Khan Mohd Maaz (faculty of international studies and management), Haider Saifullah (faculty of social sciences), Siraj Ali (agriculture and theology, Q A Nizami Quranic Centre), Sultan Azeem (science), Mohammad Noman (engineering and technology), Mohd Asim Chaudhary (faculty of law), Faizur Rahman (faculty of commerce), Umair Khan (arts), Shaiq Azam (medicine), Mohsin Masood (unani medicine) and Saif Ahmad (life sciences) were elected as student representatives to the AMU court.

In the Women's College students' union election, Nagma Sharif was elected as president, while Farheen Sherwani and Utba Israr Sheikh won the seats of vice-president and honourary secretary respectively. Humaira Khan, Ilma Hasan, Insha Khan, Rabia Umar, Sara Dilshad, Sonam, Falak Naaz and Ufraq Shahid were elected for cabinet positions.

According to AMU spokesperson Omar Peerzada around 70.46% of the 17,000 students+ exercised their voting right for the various students' union positions and also for the election of student representatives from eleven faculties on the university's apex body, AMU court.

Dubbing the election of the three women students a "significant" development, faculty members said, "Times are changing and people are responding to it." Talking to TOI, secretary, Aligarh Muslim University Teachers Association (AMUTA), Mustafa Zaidi, said this is a positive sign.

Ghazala Ahmad (BSW final year) told TOI that their victory is evidence of the growing awareness among women and their resolve to participate in electoral processes of the university.

Kehkashan Khanam, a research scholar in theology department and a former cabinet member, who unsuccessfully contested for vice-president's post this year said though she had lost, she was "elated" with the show of women power in the students' cabinet.

Five candidates each were in the fray for the top three posts of AMUSU - president, vice-president and honourary secretary.



Your Move, Iran: Hijab Stakes At International Women's Chess Match

October 10, 2016

“One town’s very like another,” says lyrics in the musical “Chess,” “when your head’s down over your pieces, brother.” That is probably not the case when your head has an unfamiliar, unwanted piece of cloth draped over it because of the town — and the country — you are in and because you are a woman.

So you have to wonder what (and whether) world chess officials were thinking when they decided to hold next year’s women’s world championship in Tehran, where the Islamic Republic commands all women to wear the headscarves that its interpretation of Islamic law requires.

Nazi Paikidze, who grew up in the former Soviet republic of Georgia and now plays as an American, announced that she would refuse to participate — “even if it means missing one of the most important competitions of my career.”

Ms. Paikidze has expressed her position both in terms of her own rights and as a refusal to support the oppression of Iranian women. Both are good reasons. No one should be required to submit to laws such as the compulsory hijab as a condition of participating in a global competition. And such submission could be construed as condoning the tyranny that imposes that law on its citizens.

The question is not the hijab; the question is freedom. Those women for whom the hijab is a genuine expression of personal faith have every right to wear it. But no one has the right to impose it on women who do not believe in it.

There may be only one thing that could redeem this. A spokesman for the World Chess Federation said it was “reviewing all possible solutions for the players’ comfort and will discuss all the issues with the organizers in Iran during meetings in the next few weeks.” If, somehow, the chess players can go to Iran without having to wear the hijab, that might be a crack in the Islamic Republic’s oppressive regime.



Donald Trump Talks at Debate, but Many Women Hear Only a 2005 Tape


It was Donald J. Trump’s chance to sound contrite and mature, to explain away the sexually predatory boasts he was caught making on tape and to persuade Americans that — for all his no-apologies braggadocio — he was, in fact, capable of feeling shame.

Maura Cotter, 22, a senior at the University of Notre Dame, was shocked at what Mr. Trump did instead in Sunday’s debate: repeat, over and over, that what he had said on the 2005 recording, about forcing himself on women and grabbing their genitals, was simply “locker-room banter.”

It was, Ms. Cotter said, “not an apology — no reason to believe he’s changed at all.”

A classmate, Abigail Wilson, who is a registered Republican, listened closely to Mr. Trump and was reminded, she said, of the time she was groped by a stranger. The Republican nominee, she said soberly, “may not have physically harmed anyone with his words, but he has the power to do so by example.”

Whether they love Mr. Trump or loathe him, many female voters interviewed across the country seemed to watch Sunday’s historically nasty debate through the same inescapable prism: a raunchy three-minute recording in which Mr. Trump told of kissing and touching women however he pleased. “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” he said, loud and clear, on the tape.

Donald Trump Featured Paula Jones and 2 Other Women Who Accused Bill Clinton of Sexual Assault OCT. 9, 2016

Some said they were so upset by what they had seen — over and over — that they could barely bring themselves to turn on the television and watch him in the debate. Others dismissed the tape as entirely beside the point, a decade-old distraction with no bearing on the presidency.

“We’re all human,” said Gayle Mason, 73, a retired kindergarten teacher and a Republican in West Covina, Calif., who watched the debate on Fox News over iced tea. “When he becomes president, you’re not going to see stuff like that.”

But on this, the voters interviewed all agreed: The sound of Mr. Trump at his most obscene lingered over Sunday night’s confrontation like an unbudging cloud.

Several voters tuned in for the sole purpose of watching Mr. Trump explain his lasciviousness aboard the “Access Hollywood” bus.

Joey Elliott, 63, who lives in South Bend, Ind., said she wanted “to see how he tries to squirm out of it.”

From the debate’s opening moments, Mrs. Clinton grabbed hold of the recording and turned it into a rhetorical battering ram. In a measured but firm tone, she seized on Mr. Trump’s claim that the tape did not really represent who he was.

“I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it,” she said. “It represents exactly who he is.”

It was a striking and singular tableau: a male candidate for president being asked, by the first woman to share such a stage, to defend crude comments in which he had seemed to reduce her gender to its anatomy.

Despite his best efforts, Mr. Trump could not quickly put the issue to rest. A moderator, Anderson Cooper, pressed him about the tape four times, wondering if Mr. Trump understood the gravity of what he had said, and whether he had ever carried out the lewd actions he had described. No, Mr. Trump said. Eventually, the debate moved on.

After saying he was sorry but doing little to demonstrate remorse, Mr. Trump instead sought to turn the ugliest phase of his campaign into an attack on Bill Clinton’s past sexual trespasses — by turning Mrs. Clinton into a wife who had abided, aided and abetted her husband’s misdeeds.

“There’s never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women,” Mr. Trump said, minimizing his behavior as language, not actions. “Don’t tell me about words.”

Rarely has gender played such a significant role in a presidential debate. The candidates on the general-election stage, until now, were always men, and discussion of the sexes tended to be perfunctory. But Sunday night was different. Sex was a cudgel, a motif, a backdrop. It was never out of the picture.

And the dynamics between the man and the woman onstage played out in powerful and unexpected ways.

At one point, Mrs. Clinton deferred to Mr. Trump on a question about the future of President Obama’s signature health legislation, the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Trump tried a moment of male chivalry.

“No, I’m a gentleman, Hillary,” Mr. Trump said, with a dramatic sweep of his arm. “Go ahead.”

And with each response, Mrs. Clinton stepped toward voters in the audience, paying little mind to Mr. Trump’s personal space, as if seeking to rattle Mr. Trump merely by being a woman unbound, free to roam where she pleased, as a nation watched.

In nearly two dozen interviews conducted in person and by telephone during the debate, women expressed deep reservations about Mr. Trump’s demeanor, interruptions and, above all, the dismissive manner with which he brushed aside the recording in which he casually bragged about assaulting women.

Diane Crawford, 62, a resident of Greenfield, Iowa, was struck by how eagerly Mr. Trump sought to change the subject to Mrs. Clinton’s spouse and his infidelities.

“He just kept throwing Bill Clinton in there,” she said, “and Bill Clinton is not running for president.”

A skeptic of Mrs. Clinton’s heading into the debate, Ms. Crawford said she had changed her mind during those tense exchanges. “I’m not hesitant any longer to support Hillary,” Ms. Crawford said. “She showed her leadership ability with her response.”

Karyn Sloas, 48, an independent in Knoxville, Tenn., said she had planned to vote for Mr. Trump until she heard about the recording on social media over the weekend.

She was repulsed. She thought of the example that Mr. Trump had set for her 16-year-old daughter and her 18-year-old son. “I don’t want him to think it’s O.K. to talk that way,” Ms. Sloas said.

The tape was a breaking point for Donna Stevens, too. An independent in suburban Valley Cottage, N.Y., she was leaning toward voting for Mr. Trump. Then she watched the recording. “What he said was appalling,” she said.

For Mr. Trump, Sunday night’s early focus on the 2005 tape was the culmination of a remarkable series of provocations against women.

His first appearance in a primary debate, in August 2015, had led to a highly public — and deeply sexualized — attack against a woman, Megyn Kelly, when he suggested that Ms. Kelly, a Fox News anchor who was among the moderators, had been menstruating when she asked him tough questions. He went on to mock the appearance of a female rival, Carly Fiorina. And he accused Mrs. Clinton of playing “the woman card” in her primary, suggesting that she expected to prevail simply because of her sex.

Now, in the final weeks of the campaign, it is Mr. Trump whose campaign is imperiled by his careless approach to gender.

On Sunday, Ms. Sloas in Knoxville waited for Mr. Trump to redeem himself in her eyes, by displaying real regret for his treatment of women on the recording. “He’d have to show true remorse,” she said. “We, and I mean ‘we,’ as in America, would have to see remorse.”

All night, she said, he failed to demonstrate it.

“I wanted to hear ‘I was wrong,’” Ms. Sloas said, minutes after the debate had concluded. “I didn’t get that.”

Reporting was contributed by Yamiche Alcindor, Sarah Maslin Nir, Sara Olkon and Rebecca Raney.




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