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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 26 May 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan CII Proposes Husbands Be Allowed To 'Lightly Beat' Defying Wives

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 May 2016 

Photo: The CII will now forward its proposed bill to the Punjab Assembly.


 British Muslim Women Face 'Double Bind' Of Gender and Religious Discrimination, Report Warns

 Muslim Schoolboys Told To Shake Hands with Female Teacher or Face £3,500 Fine in Switzerland

 Video Captures Man Telling OC Muslim Women He Doesn't Want Them in His Country

 Don’t Panic! They’re Just Three Muslim Women Busting out Hip-Hop Moves in Niqab, Hijab, Abaya and High-Tops

 Modest Wear Fashion for Muslim Women Enters Florida Mainstream

 100 Years of Hijab Styles Video Brings A Century Of Fashion And Politics To Life

 Two of her daughters joined the Islamic State, Now she's trying to save her two younger girls

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Pakistan CII Proposes Husbands Be Allowed To 'Lightly Beat' Defying Wives

May 26, 2016

In a bizarre move, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has proposed its own Women Protection Bill, recommending ‘a light beating’ for the wife if she defies her husband.

The council has proposed that a husband should be allowed to ‘lightly’ beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires, turns down the demand of

intercourse without any religious excuse or does not take bath after intercourse or menstrual periods.

It further suggests that beating is also permissible if a woman does not observe Hijab, interacts with strangers, speaks loud enough that she can easily be heard by strangers and provides monetary support to the people without taking consent of her spouse.

It says that there should be a ban on co-education after primary education, ban on women from taking part in military combat, ban on welcoming foreign delegations, interacting with males and making recreational visits with ‘Na-Mehram’.

It further states that female nurses should not be allowed to take care of male patients and recommends that women should be banned from working in advertisements. The council recommends that an abortion after 120 days of conceiving should be declared ‘murder’. However, it says a woman can join politics and contract a ‘Nikah’ without the permission of parents. The bill suggests that anyone, who tries to force women to marry with the Holy Quran or facilitate this, should be awarded 10-year imprisonment.

Similarly, the proposed bill says if any non-Muslim woman is forced to convert then the oppressor will be awarded three-year imprisonment while the woman will not be murdered if she reverts to her previous faith. The Express Tribune quoted sources as saying that this proposed bill is under consideration by the body and further deliberation will continue today when CII chairman Muhammad Khan Sheerani will give final recommendations with the consent of other members. The three-member delegation of Justice (Retd.) Manzoor Hussain Gilani, Noor  Ahmed Shahtaz and Muhammad Abdullah yesterday raised objections on many clauses of the proposed bill and urged the chairman to moderate the same. They said the bill was drafted by  Mufti Imdadullah, a member who belongs to JUI-F, adding that the above three members have insisted the chairman and Imdad follow the current circumstances while drafting the law.  They said the bill was discussed by a panel comprising men as the only female CII member, Sameeha Raheel Qazi, was not present yesterday. The bill was drafted after the CII rejected Punjab’s controversial Protection of Women against Violence Act (PPWA) 2015, terming it un-Islamic. The CII will now forward its proposed bill to the Punjab Assembly.


British Muslim Women Face 'Double Bind' Of Gender and Religious Discrimination, Report Warns

May 26, 2016

Muslim women are experiencing a ‘double-bind’ of religious and gender discrimination which sees them subjected to abuse and harassment in the workplace, online and in public life,  new research has warned.

Muslim women have been found to face significant barriers in the workplace, including pregnancy discrimination, an enlarged pay gap and racial profiling in job applications. The report, titled ‘Forgotten women: The impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women in the UK’ was commissioned by the European Network Against Racism and British group Faith Matter to ascertain the experiences of British Muslim women.

Muslim women with degrees have been found to be much less likely to have a graduate level job than White Christian women with the same qualifications. They are also much less likely  to receive replies to job applications when submitting CVs.

1 in 8 Muslim women said they had been illegally asked in a job interview if they plan on getting married or having children, compared to 1 in 30 non-Muslim women. Furthermore, 1 in 4 employers admit that they would be hesitant to hire Muslim women due to concerns that childcare will be an issue for them on the basis of cultural assumptions and stereotypes.

43 per cent of Muslim women in the UK feel they are ‘treated differently or encountered discrimination at job interviews’ because they are Muslim. The figure rises among women who  wear a hijab, whereby 50 per cent feel they have ‘missed out on progression opportunities because of religious discrimination and that the wearing of the hijab had been a factor.’ The  report’s authors suggest that as hijabs are perceived as visibly marking out a woman’s faith, wearers can be particularly targeted for their beliefs compared to other faiths with less  visible attire.

Verbal harassment in public areas was another common issue raised by women in the study. Women reported being spat at and strangers attempting to rip their veils off, particularly after high-profile terrorist attacks such as the Brussels bombings or Paris attacks.

Online harassment was also found to be a concern, with ‘troll’ accounts on social media websites singling out and targeting Muslim women for wearing hijabs or other religious garments.

Women are shouted at to not go ‘beheading’ people- in a clear reference to Isis

'Forgotten Women' report

The report’s authors suggest: “Muslim women face multiple discrimination when searching for employment, in career progression, and in gender-based pay equity. This multiple discrimination is a [combination] of gender-based, ethnic, and religious factors.

“Often women are more identifiable [than men] due to their expression of religious identity through clothing and this might trigger attacks. Hate crimes usually occur in public spaces and  one of the most common crimes includes spitting at women who wear the hijab or pulling their clothes in order to remove it. Women are shouted at to not go ‘beheading’ people- in a  clear reference to Isis.”



Muslim Schoolboys Told To Shake Hands with Female Teacher or Face £3,500 Fine In Switzerland

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Muslim schoolboys in Switzerland have been told they must shake their female teachers' hands or see their parents pay a fine of up to 5,000 francs (£3,500).

The Canton of Basel-Landschaft said it would enforce the rule in all cases following an incident that caused uproar at a school in Therwil earlier this year, when two students refused to shake their teacher's hand because they said physical contact with a woman outside their family went against their religion.

The pupils were given a temporary waiver from shaking any teacher's hand, which is a common greeting and sign of respect in Switzerland, while local authorities discussed the issue.

In a decision released on Wednesday, Canton officials said all schools had been informed of the new rules enabling parents to be fined up to 5,000 francs (£3,500) and children disciplined in a “necessary and proportionate” manner if they continue to refuse.

“A teacher has the right to demand a handshake,” a statement by the local department of education, culture and sport said.

“The public interest with respect to equality between men and women and the integration of foreigners significantly outweighs students' freedom of conscience (freedom of religion).”

Refusing to shake a person's hand on religious grounds amounted to a “religious act” separate from permitted expressions like wearing a headscarf or declining swimming lessons, the decision said, adding: “The social gesture of handshake is important for students' employability later in their professional lives.”

The Local Switzerland said children are taught to shake hands from an early age as a sign of respect and that the Therwil case was seen as an “affront to Swiss culture”.

The custom starts with children shaking hands with teachers at the beginning and end of lessons and continues through life, from business meetings to social gatherings and trips to the dentist and hairdresser.

The Canton of Basel-Landschaft said the issue resulted in a “broad societal discussion” and heated Facebook debates that caused Office for Migration officials to caution a person for

“glorification of violence on social media”.

A spokesperson said the refused handshake in Therwil was one of “a number of challenges in the field of integration, which do not only affect schools”.

The authority did not comment on the students' nationality or residence status in Switzerland.



Video Captures Man Telling OC Muslim Women He Doesn't Want Them In His Country

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- When Malaak Ammari and Nura Takkish stopped to get ice cream at Andrew's Ice Cream in Orange, they never expected to get yelled at by a stranger.

The women, who are both Muslim, saw a man arguing with a cashier. They said he left angrily, but then he came rushing back, looking at them. Malaak began recording on her cell phone when the exchange happened.

After the owner asks him to leave, the man points at the pair, saying "I don't want them in my country."

"I was really hurt because I'm American. I'm just as American as anyone else," Nura said.

Nura posted the video to her Twitter and it quickly went viral. While the women said they're hurt and shocked by the exchange, they're thankful the store owner stood up for them.

Cynthia Ramsay and her husband Greg own Andrew's Ice Cream. She said she gave the man his money back and asked him to leave when he continued to make racially charged  comments.

"Everybody should be loved and accepted. Everybody should be welcome here. This is a community hangout," Cynthia said.

Ramsay and the women all took something away from the experience.

"Most people are like those women so I don't really look at it as a negative experience. I look at it as a very positive one," Nura said.



Don’t Panic! They’re Just Three Muslim Women Busting out Hip-Hop Moves in Niqab, Hijab, Abaya and High-Tops

May 26, 2016

Among the few misconceptions about Muslim women wearing the Hijab is that they are forced to do so, and are oppressed. But in truth, it represents modesty and morality, and women who choose to do so, can still feel liberated.

With Islamophobia rising and stereotypes looming, Muslim-American dancer, choreographer, teacher, Amirah Sackett, formed an all-female hip-hop dance group “We’re Muslim, Don’t  Panic” (WMDP) in 2011, to address these misconceptions surrounding Muslim women.Teaming up with two other dancers Khadijah and Iman, the three-woman dance group execute flawless hip-hop moves wearing a Niqab, hijab, abaya and high-tops.

Standing up for Muslim women, Amirah claims, “I wanted to flip the script.I wanted to educate others and reflect the beauty that I know and love in Muslim women."

“Yes, there are oppressed women in the Muslim world. Women are oppressed the world over. These are our mutual struggles,” she told

Amirah says that their performances has helped challenge stereotypes, and made people recognise that Muslim women are strong and independent.

She also stressed that they choose to wear baggy clothing to send a message that “we don’t want to be objectified”.

Dancer Khadijah also explained her personal choice to wear the Hijab: “I wear hijab because I like wearing hijab. When I didn’t wear Hijab I felt like boys were more attracted to me and I didn’t like the way they treated me. Now that I do wear Hijab I feel like they respect me more and they look at me as a regular person.”

While Iman opens up that the Hijab can be deceiving as people undermine her talent, but are later surprised when she dances so well in a battle, “When people look at me, they don’t think that I look like a dancer…but when my sister and me start dancing they can’t believe…so my hijab does fool some people”.

With much of the Western rhetoric surrounding the Hijab, Amirah stresses that she just wants people to have a different look on Islam. She believes hip-hop culture, as a whole, gives  voice to those often unheard and is a way to uplift, inspire, and bring change to those communities that need it the most.

“I hope everyone enjoys WMDP and I hope it makes you change your mind a little bit.”



Modest Wear Fashion for Muslim Women Enters Florida Mainstream

May 26, 2016

The crowd outside Verona boutique is thick with women. In their hands, sleek black shopping bags. On their heads, patterned scarves called Hijabs.

From a small booth a DJ spins Arabic pop that has some women nodding their heads. Others, like Maryam Khan, sit on benches taking in the scene. The 30-year-old wears a fashionable fuchsia, orange and white-striped Hijab-tunic-skirt ensemble.

“This is from a company in Dubai but then you pay a lot of shipping in Dubai,” she says.

For Khan and other Muslim women, typical Florida fashion—the short sleeves, knee-length skirts, and capris—are no-nos.

Covering up is a symbol of modesty and spiritual growth. Stylish, original, and appropriate modest clothes live online. Finding those kinds of pieces in mainstream stores takes time.

“You find something that’s armless,” Khan says. “And then we have to find a cardigan or find an under shirt that matches. Plus it’s hot outside, so to have to wear all that—it’s hard.”

The opening of a store in Orlando Fashion Square, where tops with full-length sleeves, full skirts without slits, and even active wear, are constantly in stock is a sign of progress.

“We finally have a store that is so easily accessible,” says Khan. “We don’t have to wait online for shipping. We don’t have to wait if they’re sold out. We just come here and get what we need.”

Verona is a first for a mainstream mall in Florida, and one of few in the country.

Co-founder Lisa Vogl and her partners launched Verona as an online boutique.

“We started out with just one dress, two skirts and four hijabs. Now we are seeing the actual product where we can see our customers and talk to them in real life.”

Vogl says she and her partners chose to open a store in Orlando because it is a tourist hub. For them, their store is giving women options they never hadm and changing perceptions of  what it even means to be a woman in this area’s growing Muslim community.

“It is a hijabi Muslim-run, women-run business. This is front in-your-face that we are exactly not who you think we are. We are strong, independent, business educated women,” she adds.

Perceptions aside—pure numbers show the Islamic fashion industry is responding to a real need. Haroon Latif heads research for Dinar Standard, a global firm that looks at how the world’s growing Muslim population is driving certain industries, like modest wear.

“There’s 3 to 5 million Muslims in the US,” says Latiff. “And that’s expected to double by 2050. Muslims consumers are a consumer group that has their own values and as those values  deepen, they start to demand very unique services. Modest fashion is just a subset of that.”

In a recent report his firm found that Muslims spent an estimated $244 billion in clothing last year. He predicts spending to reach more than $300 billion by 2020.  Demand for modest wear  is up—and mainstream companies are responding.

Latif says more than 150 modest wear brands exist now—most less than five years old. He cites twenty-five mainstream stores that are integrating modest fashion into their lines.

“H&M, Dolce & Gabbana, in the UK in particular Marks & Spencer is one of the leading retailers and they have just launched a ‘burquini’ brand.”

Back at the mall, Maryam Khan stands outside the store. She’s looking forward to seeing all kinds of women discover modest wear fashion. Her coworkers have already been asking her 

for the names of her favorite online stores.

“It’s always nice when I go to my work and my VP will come in and be like ‘Oh my God! I love your outfit! Where did you get it?’ And I share all my websites with them. And you’d be  surprised. They order the stuff and they wouldn’t wear it the way I wear it but they still wear it because, at the end of the day, it’s just clothes. It’s fun, fashionable clothes.”



100 Years of Hijab Styles Video Brings A Century Of Fashion And Politics To Life


The popular “100 Years of Beauty“ videos are known for highlighting how fashion trends in a specific country change over time. Now, has released its own twist on this  format by focusing on an article of clothing that, because of its spiritual nature and history, is much more than a fashion trend — the hijab, a headscarf worn by some Muslim women.

Muslim Girl recently released a video that aimed to illustrate 100 years of hijab fashion in one minute. The creators featured styles from a range of places in the Middle East, North Africa,  and Asia. Starting in Egypt in the 1910s, the video passes through Kurdistan, Palestine, Pakistan, Algeria, Yemen, Iran, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq before ending in Syria in the 2010s.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder and editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl, told The Huffington Post that her team dreamed up the video after realizing that the hijab was being “commodified” by  the Western fashion industry during a time when Muslim women are being discriminated against for wearing it. In fact, fashion brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Uniqlo have started to  cash in on modest fashion by releasing their own lines of apparel targeted at Muslim women.

“The hot trend of modest fashion is neglecting the rich history and nuance of the hijab and how it relates to Muslim women’s identities,” Al-Khatahtbeh told HuffPost in an email. “It’s  more than just a cloth on our heads. It is a symbol of our power, history, and agency.”

Al-Khatahtbeh explained that the hijab styles in the video are meant to represent a moment in each country or region’s political history that is central to its present-day reality. For  example, the producers chose to highlight Pakistan during its movement towards independence, Algeria during its revolution against French rule, and Egypt during its revolution against  British colonization.

The Muslim Girl team put the hijab styles in the video within the political context of their decade by layering a historical image into the background. The purpose, according to Al-

Khatahtbeh, was to underscore that Muslim women have always been driving forces in their societies — getting involved in politics, protesting on the front lines, and making sacrifices  for their countries.

But the fact is that these revolutions haven’t always had a positive impact on women. For example, Iranian women today have mixed feelings about whether the Iranian revolution,  which is highlighted in Muslim Girl’s video, helped bring progress to women’s rights in that country.

Al-Khatahtbeh agreed that women’s demands are often neglected in times of political upheaval. But she wanted to emphasize that women were still a force in those movements.

“They still organized in public and private spheres of life and made tremendous sacrifices for the country’s fate and future,” she wrote. “And that is more important than anything else in  my opinion: the long legacy of Muslim women speaking truth to power that is rarely highlighted, but should be.”

The producers also said that they intentionally included times and countries in which wearing the Hijab wasn’t a free choice for Muslim women because, as Al-Khatahtbeh noted, “that is  an important part of the hijab’s history and also discourse surrounding it today.”

“The politicization of the Hijab, both by Muslim governments as well as Western governments that are outlawing it, reinforces that our freedom lies in our choice,” Al-Khatahtbeh wrote.  “Ultimately, we want to reclaim the headscarf, from politicization just as much as commodification.”

The video isn’t without its critics. On Facebook, some users have questioned why the video focuses on the MENA region when there are vibrant Muslim populations in other parts of Africa and Asia.

Al-Khatahtbeh explained to HuffPost that the team is working on another video focusing on Hijab styles in Sub-Saharan Africa. For this first version, they were aiming to “include a  selection of countries that has defined the average understanding of the Middle East region.”

“The countries in the video have been recipients to some of the worst American foreign policies of the past century. We also wanted to make it a point to highlight the history of  colonization and imperialism that has greatly impacted Muslim women’s resistance through the ages,” Al-Khatahtbeh wrote.



Two of Her Daughters Joined The Islamic State, Now She's Trying To Save Her Two Younger Girls


MORNAG, Tunisia — In a small box in her bedroom, Oulfa Hamrounni keeps the photo she treasures most. It shows one of her daughters, brown hair flowing, a smile on her round face.  The photo was taken before the girl and her sister left home to join the Islamic State's affiliate in Libya.

Today, Hamrounni is struggling to bring her teenage daughters back to Tunisia. She's also trying to prevent two others from joining them.

"I am afraid for my younger daughters," she said. "They still have the same ideology of my older daughters."

Her younger daughters are 11 and 13.

Hundreds of foreign female radical Islamists, including many Westerners, have journeyed to the battlegrounds of Syria and Iraq to begin new lives under the Islamic State, also known as  ISIS or ISIL. Now, there are signs that they are being encouraged to travel to Libya as well, signifying a shift in the strategy of the terrorist network as it faces growing threats and 

constraints to its operations in the Middle East.Most radicalized women and girls join the Islamic State to marry fighters and bear their children, which helps the group's arm in Libya build a state, mirroring its strategy in Syria, experts who monitor jihadist activity have said. The creation of family structures deepens the Islamic State's reach and ideology in its territory, which makes it more difficult for Western and regional governments to eradicate the militants and defuse their threat in North Africa.

"Official propaganda showcases Libya as the new frontier of the self-proclaimed caliphate," said Melanie Smith, a researcher with the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue,  which focuses on violent extremism. "Hence the encouragement of foreign females signifies a need to consolidate the land they have managed to acquire."

When he announced the "caliphate" in 2014, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi specifically invited women alongside male engineers, doctors, lawyers and architects, signifying  that the women's "primary responsibility is to physically build and populate territory," Smith said. As wives, their role is to be dutiful and obedient to their militant husbands. As mothers, they nurture the next generation of fighters. Some women also have combat duties.

Rahma, 17, became the wife of Noureddine Chouchane, a senior Tunisian Islamic State commander who is believed to have been killed in a U.S. airstrike on the Libyan city of Sabratha on Feb 19. Her 18-year-old sister, Ghofran, was married to an Islamic State militant who was killed after the attack. Six months ago, she gave birth.

Both sisters are now in the custody of an anti-Islamic State militia in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

On a recent day, their mother sat in her small rented house in Mornag, a gritty town 15 miles south of the capital, Tunis. In front of her was the photo of Rahma.

"They used to be the opposite of this," she said in a low, resigned voice.


The sisters loved hard rock music.

Rahma played the guitar. She and Ghofran often wore T-shirts and mingled with boys in cafes. They eschewed headscarves, favored by many Muslim women, their mother said.

But their family life was troubled. Their father struggled to find work and often came home drunk, Hamrounni said. In 2011, the couple divorced, and he disappeared.

By then, Tunisia was in the midst of its Arab Spring revolution. With the toppling of its dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and the new openness that followed, religious extremists made inroads with disaffected youth frustrated by the lack of jobs and opportunities. One group set up an Islamic education camp across the street from Hamrounni's home in the central city of Sousse.

From a loudspeaker, the imam implored young people to give up their Western influences, warning of catastrophic consequences.

First Ghofran joined the camp, then Rahma.

"I was happy that my daughters were respecting Islam," Hamrounni recalled.

They began wearing a Niqab — a black veil with an opening for their eyes. They stopped watching television, save for religious programs. They avoided shaking hands with males. They urged their two younger sisters to leave school because it was secular and taught by "non-believers."

One day, Rahma threw her guitar and CDs into the trash. Western music was now taboo. On another day, the sisters tossed out their hard-rock T-shirts. They burned pictures of  themselves playing music, the ones with their faces uncovered.

All except the photo their mother keeps in her box.


More than 700 Tunisian women have joined the Islamic State and other militant groups in Syria and Iraq, according to the nation's ministry of women. Badra Gaaloul, a researcher with the Tunis-based International Center of Strategic, Security and Military Studies, estimates there are more than 1,000 female foreign radical Islamists in Libya, including 300 Tunisians. Others are from Sudan, Syria, Egypt and Morocco, as well as Western European nations.

"They serve as wives, mothers, as religious instructors to teach the laws of the Islamic State," Gaaloul said. "They also police areas and train to be fighters and suicide bombers."

Researchers are noticing efforts on social media to lure more female radical Islamists to the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, which the Islamic State seized in the chaos that followed the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi five years ago. In tweets, monitored last fall by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, female radical Islamists urged followers to head to Libya, noting that routes from Turkey into Syria were blocked.

"How many brothers & sisters in Turkey cannot go back home, and cannot enter in . . . Make your visa and go to #IS in #Libya," wrote an extremist named "Zawjah Shahid," or "martyr's  wife" in Arabic.

By 2014, Rahma and Ghofran were attending ceremonies celebrating the martyrdom of Tunisian Islamist extremists killed in Syria. Through social media and websites, they learned about the armed groups fighting there. They placed the black Islamic State flags in their bedrooms.

"By then, I had lost control of my daughters," Hamrounni said.

They also began to radicalize their younger sisters, Taysin and Aya. They bought a toy Kalashnikov rifle and showed them how to operate it. They showed them videos of how the Islamic State trained children to use weapons.

"We used to watch how they taught children to become snipers," said 11-year-old Taysin.

"They always told me to join ISIS and go into the field and fight," said 13-year-old Aya.

In late 2014, Hamrounni crossed the border with her family to the Libyan city of Zawiyah to find work. The war's violence had not reached there.

Within weeks, Ghofran had fled the house. Two days later, the family returned to Tunisia. Hamrounni restricted Rahma's movements, but it didn't stop her aspirations.

Last summer, she also vanished.


In Libya, while her sister was a dutiful wife of a militant, Rahma trained in weapons. Her mother thinks she was in Sabratha with other Tunisian Islamist extremists to launch an attack in Tunisia. After the U.S. airstrike, the sisters were captured.

In a phone interview, Ahmed Omran, a spokesman for the Libyan militia, acknowledged that the girls were in their custody but declined to comment further.

Hamrounni has gone on national television, chastising the Tunisian government for not doing more to get her daughters released, even though she is aware they will be thrown in jail.  Tunisia's Interior Ministry did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Hamrounni no longer allows her two younger daughters to access Facebook. She doesn't let them speak to their older sisters the rare times they call.

"I am not with the Islamic State now," said Taysin, a precocious girl dressed in pink with a black headscarf.

But as the conversation flowed, it became apparent that she still felt some sympathy for the militants' ideology.

"The non-believers, they have to be killed," Taysin said. "The non-believers are trying to beat Islam. We have to fight them."

Next to her, a doll lay on a shelf. Taysin had named her Rahma.

When asked how she felt about her older sisters joining the Islamic State in Libya, she replied:

"They did the right thing."




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