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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 29 Apr 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Lobbyist in US Optimistic About Women Driving

New Age Islam News Bureau

29 Apr 2017

Ayob Khan said these women had sold off properties and even obtained loans, including using up their study loans, just so they could head over to Syria and find love. — AFP pic



 Muslim Women in Syria Are Not Cut Out Of Inheritances

 German Parliament Votes In Favour of Partial Burqa Ban

 Report: Malaysian Women Sell Homes, Take up Loans to Be with IS Lovers in Syria

 Pakistan: CLAAS Recovers 14-Year-Old Christian Girl Forcibly Converted To Islam

 Austrian President Calls on All Women to Wear Headscarves In Solidarity With Muslims To Fight 'Rampant Islamophobia'

 'Don't Politicise Triple Talaq Issue', Says PM Narendra Modi

 Subramanian Swamy Says Muslim Women Have Third Class Status In Islam

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Saudi lobbyist in US optimistic about women driving

29 April 2017

JEDDAH: A Saudi lobbyist in the US has expressed optimism that women will get the right to drive in the Kingdom.

In an opinion piece published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Friday, Salman Al-Ansari, president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), referred to the transformative changes put forward by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“He explicitly hinted that an end to the ban on women’s driving is in the pipeline,” said Al-Ansari.

“Despite the many challenges, the deputy crown prince is attempting to undertake LBJ-like social reforms and Thatcher-like economic reforms in a country that is infamously resistant to change.”

Former US President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) was known for supporting path-breaking reforms, especially regarding civil rights. The late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher changed the UK with her economic reforms.

Granting women the right to drive “would arguably be the most symbolic change toward women’s rights in the Kingdom,” said Al-Ansari.

Prince Mohammed has taken bold decisions, such as issuing “a transformative order that barred the religious police from making arrests, which they previously did to young men and women for even attempting to mix with the opposite sex,” said Al-Ansari.

He added that Prince Mohammed was keen on putting Saudi women in positions of power and influence.

Al-Ansari cited the appointment of Princess Reem bint Bandar as vice president of women’s affairs at the General Authority of Sports, and Sarah Al-Suhaimi as chair of the Saudi stock exchange (Tadawul).

He said the deputy crown prince “is strident in his pragmatic efforts toward reforming the traditionally conservative Kingdom (and) he recognizes that the key ingredient to any resilient and diverse economy is the unbridled empowerment of women.”

Delving into the Kingdom’s recent history, Al-Ansari said it was “on the cusp of full legal gender equality” in the 1970s, but two factors stopped the march toward full rights for women.

“Saudi Arabia’s collaboration with the US in the expulsion of the Soviets from Afghanistan could not have been done without giving hardline religious voices more space to influence Saudi society,” said Al-Ansari.

“The second factor was the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Makkah in 1979. Saudi Arabia made some concessions to the religious establishment as a guarantee to preserve social cohesion.”

He said the primary beneficiaries of not giving women the right to drive were a few influential religious parties.

“They have shamelessly used women as a socio-political tool to gain socio-political influence,” said Al-Ansari.

Whenever there is talk of granting women more rights, he said, Saudi intellectuals raise two critical points.

“First, they must be small, slow, and gradual, so that no overwhelming cultural upheaval will be imposed on the Saudi people. The second point is that this openness must come from within, rather than from external forces.”

Al-Ansari said he agreed only with the second point. “I vehemently disagree with the first (because) the harsh reality is that the ‘gradual-change’ approach would take a needlessly long time to fully implement.”

He said the Kingdom had gone through a number of cultural shifts since it was established in 1932.

“Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly a conservative country, since it revolves around the sacredness of the Two Holy Mosques. It still, however, possesses a capacity for opening up,” he added.



Muslim women in Syria are not cut out of inheritances

Apr 29, 2017

Priyanka Kumar’s otherwise excellent April 16 Book World review, “Grandmother’s life in Syria: Moments of beauty and fear,” of Alia Malek’s new book, “The Home That Was Our Country,” may have given readers the wrong impression about inheritance laws for women in Syria.

Of one figure in the memoir, it was noted that “because she is a woman, she does not inherit anything from her wealthy father.” However, Muslim women in Syria are allotted half the share of any inheritance that male heirs receive. This is standard in countries in which family law for Muslims, including inheritance, is based on Islamic law and traditions that mandate this share of inheritance for female heirs. A large majority of Syrians are Muslims.

In a subsequent passage, the review noted that “Malek’s family is Christian.” Given that family law in Syria is adjudicated on a sectarian basis — with different laws applied to religious communities based on their traditions (a standard arrangement in the Middle East, including Israel, and a legacy of the Ottoman Empire) — this is almost certainly the explanation for any lack of inheritance.

It’s important that readers are not left with the impression that Syrian women typically do not inherit from their fathers, when the large majority of them are guaranteed a significant share of any family legacy because of, and not despite, Islamic law.



German parliament votes in favour of partial burqa ban

April 29, 2017

The German parliament has supported a draft law banning women working in the civil service, judiciary and military from wearing full-face Islamic veils, it has been reported by The Independent.

Burqas and niqabs will be prohibited in selected professions as part of the legislation, which will not come into effect until being approved by the Bundesrat state parliament.

Thomas de Maiziere, the German interior minister, argued that the ban was compatible with integration as debate continues over the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers in the country.

“Integration also means that we should make clear and impart our values and where the boundaries of our tolerance towards other cultures lie,” he said.

“The draft law we have agreed on makes an important contribution to that.”

Some right-wing politicians have called for a full ban on the burqa in public, which has been imposed in France and Belgium, but Mr de Maiziere said the move would be incompatible with Germany’s constitution.

The new law will require government employees to show their faces, as well as giving authorities the power to check women’s identities in elections.

It was opposed by politicians from the left-wing Die Linke and Die Grünen parties, who dismissed the legislation as a “purely symbolic policy” pandering to the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) ahead of September’s elections.

Critics argued that burqa-wearing soldiers and officials do not actually exist, making the new rules redundant, and said they will worsen tensions.

Angela Merkel announced her support for the move in December, saying full-face veils were “not acceptable in Germany” and calling them to be banned “wherever it is legally possible”.

She is bidding for her fourth term as Chancellor, battling a rise in support for the anti-immigration AfD, which has blamed her decision to open Germany’s borders to refugees in 2015 for a series of Isis-inspired terror attacks.

Concerns about integration have also risen following the arrival of more than a million asylum seekers, who are mainly from Syria and other countries in the Middle East.

The state of Bavaria brought in its own burqa ban in February, prohibiting full-face Islamic veils in schools, polling stations, universities and government offices.

Joachim Herrman, Bavaria’s interior minister, said the burqa and niqab were not compatible with Germany’s “communication culture” and were needed to maintain government neutrality.

“A culture of open communication with one another is part of the free and democratic understanding of Christian values,” he added.

“Communication happens not only via language but also via looks, facial expressions and gestures.

“It forms the foundation for our interactions with each other and is the basis of our free and democratic order.”

A poll last year showed that 81 per cent of Germans supported a ban on the burqa within public institutions.

Dutch MPs voted for a similar prohibition in the Netherlands last year, covering public transport, education, healthcare and government buildings and punishing any infractions with fines.

Support for bans on full-face veils has been growing across Europe since France became the first country to implement such a law in 2011, followed by countries including Belgium and Bulgaria, with partial bans being imposed in Austria and parts of Spain, Italy and Switzerland.



Report: Malaysian women sell homes, take up loans to be with IS lovers in Syria

April 29, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — In hopes of finding love with Islamic State (IS) militants more than 20 women here have lost millions of ringgit and left stranded at the borders of Syria, Utusan Malaysia reported today.

The Malay daily cited Counter Terrorism Division principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay saying these women had sold off properties and even obtained loans, including using up their study loans, just so they could head over to Syria and find love.

“But upon arrival, they are placed in a shelter for some time and during their stay, all of their belongings are slowly taken away by these so-called caretakers of the place.

“Once their monies are all taken, these caretakers will then chase these women away,” he was quoted saying.

The easiest way to get these women to leave, Ayob said, was to bring the women to the Turkey-Syria border and let them get caught by the authorities for overstaying their visit in the country.

“The caretakers will then vanish to find more women for the job,” he was quoted as saying.

Ayob reportedly said that these caretakers were working closely with the country’s top IS militant Mohamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi to retrieve large amount of monies from these ladies.



Pakistan: CLAAS recovers 14-year-old Christian girl forcibly converted to Islam

Apr 29, 2017

He had kept her in his illegal detention for the last six months. On Sunday April 21, 2017 Sumbel’s mother, Elizabeth, approached CLAAS and met Mr. M.A Joseph Francis National Director CLAAS-PK.

She requested legal assistance for the recovery of her daughter. Elizabeth, her two daughters and four sons live in Mohallah Hasan Town, Hafiz Abad. Her husband passed away in 2013. There were only two Christian families among the Muslim Community.

Sumbel was good friends with her next-door neighbour Munir Ahmed's sister-in-law, Mariam, and they would often visit each other's house.

Sumbel’s sister in-law, Shazia wife of Sunny is deaf and dumb the pair would often fight over minor issues. Last December Sumbel and Shazia had a fight and Shazia beat Sumbel in Mariam's presence. To settle the dispute Marriam invited Sumbel to her house, where she spent the whole day.

In the evening Elizabeth took Sumbel back, but later that night Munir intruded their house and asked Sumbel to go with him.

Sumbel was still angry with her family, and although her brothers and mother tried to stopped Munir, he beat them all and forcibly took Sumbel.

After two or three days Elizabeth submitted an application against Munir Ahmed in the same Police Station, where Munir was working. She tried several times to see her daughter but Munir and his family did not allow her.

She contacted the local parish priest Fr. Mushtaq Payara who telephoned and requested the head of the police station to resolve the matter.

The Senior officers summoned both families to the police station where produced Sumbel. When the concerned police officials asked Sumbel to join her mother and live with her, she was scared and did not say a word.

Then Munir Ahmed stated that Sumbel had embraced Islam and her Islamic name was Fatima. He said that she lives with Munir to practice her Islamic religion and did not want to go with her mother again.

He further stated that Sumbel will stay with him and they will get her married to a Muslim man.

According to Elizabeth, Munir Ahmed is a corrupt police officer who brings the girls from Dar-Ul-Aman, keep them at his house for some time and then sells them for prostitution.

The majority of the girls were Christian who he had converted into Islam.

On April 26, 2017 CLAAS lawyer Tahir Bashir filed a Habeas Corpus Petition in Lahore High Court on the behalf of Elizabeth for the recovery of her daughter.

On the same day the court deputed bailiff for the recovery of Sumbel and ordered for her to be produced on April 27.

After the court orders CLAAS succeeded in recovering Sumbel from Munir Ahmed house.

Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK said forced conversion is an ongoing phenomenon against Christians and other minority girls, but he applauded the court’s decision and said every year CLAAS deals with several similar cases but normally the court sides with the Muslim abductors, and decides the case in their favour, and sadly, under the guise of Islamic law denies custody of underage girls to their Christian parents.

He added: "Most of the time girls are threatened for their and their families lives if they return. While according to domestic and international laws underage girls' statements cannot be accepted.

"Abduction and forced conversion of Christians and other minority girls is now a well-known issue and it continues to rise in Pakistan. CLAAS not only helps several families and girls but has been campaigning for the last several years to stop their ongoing misery.

"CLAAS has raised this matter at the international level as well as with the Pakistani government on several times, but the government has failed to bring any legislation to stop forced conversion.

"Last year, the Sindh provincial assembly had passed a law criminalising forced conversion. Sadly, the bill was rejected by the late governor, Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, following protests by various Islamic groups."



Austrian President calls on all women to wear headscarves in solidarity with Muslims to fight 'rampant Islamophobia'

Lizzie Dearden

April 29, 2017

The President of Austria has called for all women to wear headscarves in solidarity with Muslims to fight “rampant Islamophobia”.

Alexander Van der Bellen, the left-wing former Green Party leader who narrowly beat a far-right candidate to take office in January, said freedom of expression was a fundamental right.

“It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants, that is my opinion on the matter,” he told an audience of school pupils.

“And it is not only Muslim women, all women can wear a headscarf, and if this real and rampant Islamaphobia continues, there will come a day where we must ask all women to wear a headscarf – all – out of solidarity to those who do it for religious reasons.”

Mr Van der Bellen was responding to a question from a schoolgirl who argued a ban on Islamic headscarves or veils would reduce women to their appearance, rather than accomplishments, and shut some out of the labour market.

His comments were made in March but emerged after being broadcast on Austrian television, amid debate in the country and neighbouring Germany about “burqa bans”.

A spokesperson said that following Isis-linked terror attacks across Europe, Mr Van der Bellen would like to see Muslim representatives in Austria make “clearer statements” emphasising that the atrocities could not be justified within Islam.

“He also warned against ‘racism from the other side’, giving the example of a Muslim taxi driver refusing to take Orthodox Jews,” a statement said, adding: “This is absolutely unacceptable.”

The President’s office said he believed prohibitions were only justified in select circumstances, such as for female judges, where religious dress could raise questions over their professional neutrality.

Mr Van der Bellen would apply any restrictions to all religious symbols equally, including Christian crosses and Jewish kippas.

Despite the President’s left-wing background, the Austrian government is a coalition between the centrist Social Democratic Party and conservative Austrian People's Party.

The populist Freedom Party of Austria has pushed for policies including a partial ban on full-face Islamic veils in courts, schools and other public places, which was announced in January.

The partial prohibition, which has not yet come into effect, would apply to the niqab and burqa but not headscarves (hijabs), which cover the hair and neck only.

But the government also agreed to prevent police officers, judges, magistrates and public prosecutors from wearing headscarves in the interest of appearing “ideologically and religiously neutral”.

Thousands of people took Vienna’s streets to protest the proposed legislation, which was dismissed as a knee-jerk reaction to appease the far-right as the coalition floundered.

Debates over restrictions on Islamic veils have reignited in Europe following a wave of terror attacks and the refugee crisis, which sparked concern over integration.

The German parliament voted in support of a draft law banning women working in the civil service, judiciary and military from wearing the burqa and niqab on Thursday.

Thomas de Maiziere, the German interior minister, argued that the ban was compatible with integration, which “means that we should make clear and impart our values and where the boundaries of our tolerance towards other cultures lie”.

Angela Merkel announced her support for the move in December, saying full-face veils were “not acceptable in Germany” and calling them to be banned “wherever it is legally possible”.

Dutch MPs voted for a similar prohibition in the Netherlands last year, covering public transport, education, healthcare and government buildings and punishing any infractions with fines.

Support for bans on full-face veils has been growing across Europe since France became the first country to implement such a law in 2011, followed by countries including Belgium and Bulgaria, with partial bans being imposed in Austria and parts of Spain, Italy and Switzerland.



'Don't politicise triple talaq issue', says PM Narendra Modi

Apr 29, 2017

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today used the occasion of the birth anniversary of a social reformer to urge Muslims to "not politicise the issue of triple talaq" and to "protect women from the effects" of the practice of oral divorce.

"Reformers from the Muslim community itself will come forward to fight what (our) Muslim daughters have to go through (in the name of triple talaq), they will find a way out," said the PM in New Delhi today at an event to mark the birth anniversary of Basava, a 12th century philosopher and social reformer.

Modi also urged the Muslim community to have an open mind about the triple talaq issue.

"I also request the Muslim community, don't look at this issue through a political lens, don't let it go that route," Modi said.

The PM has raised the issue of triple talaq several times recently, even as the Supreme Court is hearing a case on potentially banning the practice that some Muslim men follow of saying 'talaq' three times for an instant divorce.

Earlier this month, at the BJP's national executive meeting, the PM said society should be woken up and made to take action against social evils. It should make efforts to provide justice to the victims of pernicious practices, he said.

"He (Modi) talked about social justice. He said our Muslim sisters should also get justice. Injustice should not be done to them. Nobody should be exploited. We do not want that there to be a conflict within the Muslim community over this issue," said a BJP member to PTI after the party's executive meeting.

The Supreme Court is hearing a case related to a batch of petitions filed with it - including by the Centre - regarding whether divorce by saying 'talaq' three times is legal or whether it impinges on equal rights, or in this case, on women's rights. It's also hearing arguments on whether the freedom to practice religion - via the Muslim Personal Law for Islam - takes precedence over basic freedoms, among other things.

The Centre has argued that triple talaq is against women's rights. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board's (AIMPLB) most recent statement on this divorce practice is that it isn't allowed "without valid reasons".

"Those who give triple talaq without reasons prescribed by the Sharia (religious law) will face social boycott," said the AIMLPB earlier this month.

The AIMPLB is against any "outside interference" on an issue that was described as part of the Sharia, or religious law, and thus a fundamental right. It, however, decided to put in place a mechanism to ensure that the option of triple talaq is exercised in the rarest of the rare case. It said it could exercise restraint on oral divorce by socially boycotting and fining those who resort to the practice wantonly.

The Supreme Court decided that a five-judge constitution bench will rule on the constitutional validity of the practice of triple talaq. It has set May 11-19 as the timeline to conclude hearings on its legality.

The court said it would hold daily sittings between May 11 and May 19 to decide on whether to make the practice of oral talaq illegal. The hearings will begin May 11.



Subramanian Swamy says Muslim women have third class status in Islam

29th April 2017

NEW DELHI: Citing examples of ‘triple talaq’ and the practice of ‘marrying four wives’ in Islam, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Saturday described Swamy Prasad Maurya’s comments on Muslim women as 'correct', asserting that there is no gender equality and women have third class status in Islamic religion.

Swamy told ANI, "There is no doubt that in Islamic practice and preaching women have been given second or third class status. Triple talaq, marrying four wives tradition are examples of that."

Terming Swamy Prasad Maurya as 'correct', Swamy said "Islam religion permits men to commit atrocities against women."

"Maulana’s may disguise the fact but this is the reality of Muslim religion," he added.

On Friday, Yogi Adityanath's cabinet minister Maurya made a controversial statement saying, "Muslim men resort to triple talaq to quench their 'lust' by changing wives".

The statement came when Maurya was present at BJP leader Jitendra Pal's residence in Uttar Pradesh's Basti, for a personal event on Friday.

The minister also added that BJP is standing shoulder to shoulder with Muslim women on the issue of triple talaq, but claimed that "Muslim personal law board has no provision on the issue".

"Muslim men leave women to die on the streets with her children,"said Maurya.

Claiming that Maurya has humiliated Muslim women across the nation with his statement, the All India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) on Saturday demanded the former’s resignation.

AIMWPLB President, Shaista Amber told ANI, "Where on the one hand, Muslim women are fighting for their injustice, Cabinet Ministers like Swamy Prasad Maurya are making such obnoxious statements. He should be given strict punishment and should be sacked from his post. I would appeal to Yogi ji to sent Maurya to a mental asylum."

"This is disturbing. They don't know Islam at all. If he won't apologize, I will go to the Supreme Court against him if needed," she added




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