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

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Saudi Police Arrest Woman for Posting Photo without Veil on Twitter

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Dec 2016

 Saudi Police Detain Young Woman for Removing Abaya

 Western Modernity ‘Not Best’ For Muslim Women: Azhar Head

 Muslim Women Offered Self-Defense Class in Maryland amid Spike in Anti-Islamic Attacks

 The Merkel Burqa Ban: Criminalizing Islam in Germany

 Pakistani Wife of Indian Muslim Denied Entry in Kutch

 'All Children' In Syria's Aleppo Suffering Trauma: UNICEF

 Women’s Game Is Not Overtaking Men’s In Popularity: Jorgensen

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Saudi Police Arrest Woman for Posting Photo without Veil on Twitter

Dec 13, 2016

RIYADH: Police in the Saudi capital said on Monday they had arrested a woman for taking off her veil in public and posting pictures of her daring action on Twitter.

Police spokesman Fawaz al-Maiman did not name the woman, but several websites identified her as Malak al-Shehri, who triggered a huge backlash on social media after posing without the hijab in a main Riyadh street last month.

Maiman said in a statement that the police in the ultra-conservative kingdom acted in line with their duty to monitor "violations of general morals".

He said the women posted a tweet of herself standing next to a popular Riyadh cafe but without wearing the Islamic headscarf that is required in Saudi society.

The woman, in her 20s, was taken to prison, he said, also accusing her of "speaking openly about prohibited relations with (non-related) men".

"Riyadh police stress that the action of this woman violates the laws applied in this country," Maiman said, urging the public to "adhere to the teachings of Islam".

The oil-rich desert kingdom has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women and is the only country where they are not allowed to drive.

Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to cover from head to toe when in public.



Saudi Police Detain Young Woman for Removing Abaya

December 13, 2016

Saudi police detained a young woman for violating 'modesty rules' after she removed her abaya, the loose-fitting, full-length robes women are required to wear, on a main street in the capital Riyadh, local media reported on Monday.

The conservative Muslim country enforces a strict dress code for women in public, bans them from driving and prohibits the mixing of sexes.

The Arabic-language al-Sharq newspaper reported that the woman was detained after a complaint was filed by the religious police.

"Police officers have detained a girl who had removed her abaya on al-Tahliya street, implementing a challenge she announced on social media several days ago," the newspaper quoted Colonel Fawaz al-Maiman, a Riyadh police spokesman, as saying.

The news website said the unnamed woman had posted on Twitter that she would go out in public without her abaya.

Both and another news website,, carried a picture of the woman wearing a black jacket over an ankle-length orange and pink dress. concealed the exposed parts of her body.

The post had drawn an angry reaction from some Saudis.

"She has been arrested and we demand utmost punishment, for the state has rules that she did not respect," one Twitter user said.



Western modernity ‘not best’ for Muslim women: Azhar head

December 13, 2016

Abu Dhabi: The head of al-Azhar, Egypt’s top Sunni authority, said on Monday that the Western concept of modernity is not the “best example” for Muslim women to follow.

“Islam has done justice to the Muslim woman and freed her from shackles and restrictions,” said Al-Azhar’s grand imam, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.

Muslim women were “influenced more by tradition and customs than by the precepts of Islam,” he told the Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliaments in Abu Dhabi.

The sheikh said that in some ways the situation of women had deteriorated to a pre-Islam state, in an apparent reference to the influence of radical Islamists.

However he insisted that emulating life in the West was not the solution.

“The Western concept of modernity is not the best example to be followed by the rest of the world,” he said, acknowledging, however, the “positive aspects” of scientific and humanitarian progress.

The two-day summit brings together 50 women parliamentary leaders from around the globe.



Muslim Women Offered Self-Defense Class In Maryland Amid Spike In Anti-Islamic Attacks


Following a spike in anti-Islamic attacks during and since the 2016 election campaign, Muslim women will be offered a free self-defense class this week in College Park, Maryland.

The workshop on Wednesday is being provided by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the local Aqabah Karate Martial Arts Institute. It will offer tips to women and girls about how to “mentally, physically and spiritually prepare to defend against an attack,” according to a statement from CAIR. The event will also be live-streamed.

"Hate incidents targeting Muslims are occurring with alarming frequency," said CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Dr. Zainab Chaudry. "Learning basic self-defense techniques not only boosts self-confidence but is essential to personal safety and well-being."

Hate crimes against Muslims in the United States have reached their highest level since the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, following a rise of 67 percent in 2015 from the previous year, according to FBI figures. And women wearing hijabs, the traditional veil, have been a particular target.

“What we have seen is women being targeted. So particularly head-scarf wearing women,” Corey Saylor, director of the department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, told International Business Times last month. “From all the case summaries that I’ve seen, that’s the main target of this backlash. Because they’re very visible. The head scarf tends to be what’s singled out in a lot of cases we’ve seen.”

Chaudry said that she is aware of four incidents of Muslim students having their headscarves grabbed on Maryland college campuses since the election.

The class in Maryland is not the first example of individuals attempting to protect against the threat.

Following the election, a therapist in Chicago, Zaineb Abdullah, who normally offers self-defense classes for death and hard-of-hearing people, posted a video online of what she termed the “Hijab Grab” escape following a flood of requests for assistance. The video has since gone viral, garnering close to 4 million views.

“People wanted to know if [there were] strategies for defending against bigoted attacks,” she told The Guardian. “I looked online and saw there was nothing. I kept hearing on the news that someone tore off this woman’s scarf and she sat on the floor and cried, or ran away crying; I’m so tired of that. Fear is a legitimate and reasonable reaction, but it’s not the only reaction we can have.”

Meanwhile, in New York City, the Muslim Community Network has set up a self-defense class for women and saw close to 3,000 women sign up.



The Merkel Burqa Ban: Criminalizing Islam in Germany

By Roger Sollenberger

December 12, 2016

Angela Merkel, speaking Tuesday at the Christian Democrat party conference, gave her support to a proposed ban on Islamic face veils in Germany, calling them “not appropriate here” and saying they should be banned in the country “wherever legally possible.” The ban is backed by right-wing nationalists and an increasing number of populists grown fearful of immigrants. The proposal was prompted after an Afghan teenager who sought asylum in the country raped and murdered 19-year-old college student Maria Ladensburger this October.

This signals an abrupt shift to the right for Merkel, who just last year opened Germany to over a million asylum-seekers, most of them Muslims from regions ravaged by war. That humane decision, though — the “Welcome Policy” — was immediately savaged by far-right and nationalist groups, and soon enough, a pretty big portion of the public.

Merkel — a conservative who’s been Germany’s Chancellor since 2005 — is again up for re-election next year. She’s going to have to take up what’s now become an all too familiar fight against a surge of far-right nationalism in her party. She’s probably most worried about the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD), which won a startling 145 seats in the latest state elections and touts an extreme anti-Islamic platform that calls for bans on face veils, minarets, calls to prayer, and other Islamic symbols and practices. Their slogan: “Islam is not part of Germany.”

This is probably the first of many signals Merkel will send to her base in coming months as she dusts off her conservative credentials and tries to shore up more support from the right, so it’s unclear whether she’s being cynical or serious. No matter — there’s a lot more to it when you look closer. The ban is about much more than politics, violence, or terrorism. It about much more than women’s rights, even. It’s about identity — what it means to be German or European.

I’ll go further: It’s about what it means to be human. Given the history in that part of the world, this terrifies me. I know that sounds sensational and clickbaity, but let me explain. See if you agree.

What the ban will do

First of all, the ban wouldn’t do much. There are a little less than five million Muslims in Germany, and experts estimate that none of them wear a burqa, which covers not just the full body but has a beekeeper-ish mesh over the eyes as well. And only a few hundred Muslim women in the country wear another traditional full-face veil, called the niqab. Then there’s the hijab, which is the headscarf alone — no veil. That’s far and away the most popular.

Burqa bans have bounced around Europe for a while. This summer the mayors of several towns in France banned “burkinis,” prompting a major backlash in France and the U.K. before those laws were overturned by the French courts. And to be completely honest, the burqa itself — with its masked eyes — does invoke a reflexive, visceral unease in me before reason takes control. Not proud, but it’s true. It’s something about the covered eyes. There’s an “uncanny valley” effect, I guess. It doesn’t bother me in a cultural sense.

Still, even if the ban is passed, it would affect so few Muslim women that hardly anyone aside from those directly affected would notice. But that doesn’t matter to the far right, because it was never about Muslim women, anyway.

These nationalist messages resonate with voters who see Merkel’s “Welcome Policy” (which has since been halted) as a huge mistake. Many cite violent crimes committed by asylum-seeking immigrants, such as during the New Year’s celebrations in Cologne when an estimated 1,000 women were reportedly sexually assaulted. This week the German government prompted a backlash when it warned the public not to respond to Ladensburger’s murder by attacking or marginalizing immigrants. This also led to accusations — familiar to us in the U.S. — that the media, which didn’t broadcast the story in main headlines, was sacrificing security in the name of political correctness. The next day another asylum-seeker was charged for raping two students.

This merely proves that asylum-seekers are just as capable of committing heinous crimes as anyone else. More to the point, perhaps, is the recent series of terrorist attacks in Germany carried out by asylum-seekers inspired by but unaffiliated with the Islamic State. A shooting outside a McDonald’s at a Munich mall resulted in nine deaths. A suicide bomber injured 15 at a concert. There’s also been a run of knife attacks, which are terrifying to think about.

That shooting, though? Not an asylum-seeker. An Iranian. His parents were immigrants. He was a German citizen, born in Munich.

It’s notable that Merkel didn’t respond to calls for veil bans following these big events. She responded to calls following the rape and murder of a young, white woman.

Sleight of the right hand

There’s a larger political trend in Europe, and really, across the world — see Brexit, Trump, Erdogan, Duterte, etc. Right-wing nationalists are gaining critical momentum and political power, largely because of the “immigration issue.” Germany obviously isn’t immune to this. It’s particularly troubling to see it there, though.

First, Germany is basically the leader of the E.U., and all the more important after Brexit. Germany has the largest economy in the E.U. and third-largest in the world. The fact that right-wing parties are gaining traction there raises the possibility of a potentially devastating “Germexit.”

And I don’t need to dwell on this, but we can’t totally discount Germany’s far-right history. The nation has gone to extremes to confessing that history, vociferously denouncing it, and teaching it in all its blackness and shame in order to stop similar populist movements from ever taking root.

And yet it’s happening. In supporting the ban, Merkel and her more centrist Christian Democrat party acknowledged there is a problem with Islam. Right-wing nationalist rhetoric has seeped into centrist parties: Women in Europe can wear whatever they like — but not Muslim women.

Ah, but I can hear them now: But Muslim countries ban veils, too! And those places are far worse to women!

Those are fundamentally flawed arguments. In those countries the debate truly is about how women should be treated, often in the confines of a shared religion. The veil obviously isn’t perceived there as a threat to their way of life — but to Western nationalists it is. When people in Western countries demand that veils be banned, it’s not about women’s rights at all: That’s a cynical and despicable argument using the very political correctness the right wing despises. That lie is especially despicable when it exploits and twists the name of Maria Ladensburger, a young woman whose rape and murder had obviously nothing to do with a veil. The fact that the response to that crime was a call to ban all face veils says a whole lot.

The real crime here is a crime of identity. It’s what the veil represents. Nationalists might publicly call it violence, terrorism, even immigrants, but it’s much deeper. Islam is the crime. And the crime that Islam committed isn’t rape or murder or terrorism. The crime of Islam is simply being a type of human — a type of human that isn’t fully human. The veil is the perfect target: A faceless people.

This goes way beyond how we or other nations and cultures treat women. This is about who has the privilege of law. The real argument the right wing is making when calling for the burqa ban is that Muslim women do not deserve the full privileges of law. In democracies such as Germany the law is an egalitarian human right.

We are slowly but surely drawing a line between who is human and who is not.

Merkel — who I believe does have noble intentions — will probably keep shifting to the right to secure votes, precisely to fight off the advances of the far right. But her embrace of right-wing policies — even cynically — is tacit complicity in a nationalist ideology and sends a troubling message to the German public. What’s more, these policies will radicalize more Muslims and asylum-seekers, begetting more attacks, begetting more severe policies, and so on and so forth. Right wing nationalism will continue to surge, and sadly, so will violence against immigrants. If this keeps going, that violence will be commonplace.

These veil bans are the first step to dehumanization. It’s ironic, and probably not coincidental, that the veil is literally a mask that covers a human face. The populists in Europe don’t want to see Muslim faces. They want to replace one veil with many, many millions more.



Pakistani wife of Indian Muslim denied entry in Kutch

By Aadil Ikram Zaki Iqbal

December 13, 2016

Ahmedabad, Dec 13: Due to ongoing tension with Pakistan, Indian authorities denied entry to a Pakistani wife of Indian Muslim in Gujarat’s Kutch district. Indian authorities granted visa to the Pakistani wife and her family on condition that they would choose any place but Kutch to stay. When the Pakistani family tried to rent a house in Morbi, nobody was ready as they had come from Pakistan. At the end, the Pakistani family stayed at a hotel in Morbi.

Altab Paleja, who has his house in Bhuj, in Gujarat’s Kutch district, is married to Pakistan national Sidra. Eight months ago, when Sidra along with her family visited India, they were clearly told that they would not visit border district of Kutch. Following the orders, Sidra and her family decided to stay in Morbi district, but nobody was willing to rent a house to the Karachi-based family because they had come from Pakistan. Eventually, they stayed at a hotel.

“Finally, we had to stay at a hotel. It was difficult because my family from Bhuj also decided to stay with my in-laws,” Altaf Paleja was quoted as saying by Times of India. “This is really strange… The authorities have no reason to deny my wife entry into Kutch,” Paleja added.

Altaf Paleja has now initiated the procedure to invite his wife and in-laws again, along with a special guest he hasn’t met before — their six month-old son Muhammad Azaan. Eight months after, things have not changed. Indian government has made it clear that they will get visa only if they agree to stay away from Kutch district. BJP MP from Kutch Vinod Chavda has also written to the Indian high commissioner’s office, urging permission for Pakistani nationals to live in Bhuj town. (Photo credit: TOI)



'All children' in Syria's Aleppo suffering trauma: UNICEF

December 12, 2016

ALEPPO: All children in Syria's battered Aleppo are suffering from trauma after enduring some of the worst violence in their country's war, the UN children's agency said on Sunday.

"All children in Aleppo are suffering. All are traumatised," Radoslaw Rzehak, UNICEF's field office head in Aleppo, told AFP inside the devastated city.

"I have never seen in my life such a dramatic situation (as) what is happening to children in Aleppo," said Rzehak, who has been working for UNICEF for the past 15 years.

Tens of thousands of children in Syria's northern city have borne witness to one of the bloodiest phases of the country's nearly six-year war.

Rzehak estimated that half a million children in Aleppo need some kind of psychological and social support, including 100,000 who need more specialised assistance.

The city's east had been a rebel stronghold since mid-2012, but government forces in recent weeks have overrun more than 85 percent of that area.

An estimated 120,000 people have fled the city's east, many heading towards displacement centres in government-controlled areas to the west.

Rzehak said preliminary psycho-social assessments at these centres showed children from east Aleppo were "losing their basic instinct of defence."

"Some of the children who are five, six years old, they were born during a time when war was already happening. All they know is war and bombing," he said.

"For them, it's normal that they are being bombed, that they have to escape, it's normal that they are hungry, that they have to hide in the bunkers. This trauma is going to last for a very, very long time."

He said this was putting children at risk, as they have not been conditioned to take cover or hide during bombardment.

"For them, this is not danger. This is every day life."

West Aleppo's children, meanwhile, had been severely impacted by seeing classmates or teachers killed in rocket attacks on their schools.

"The place that was the most secure for children became the place where they die," Rzehak said.

The war has even undermined the ability of parents to care for their children as they struggled with their own trauma.

"It's very difficult to blame them. They also went through the nightmare," Rzehak said.

More than 300,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011, and millions more have been forced to flee their homes.



Women’s game is not overtaking men’s in popularity: Jorgensen

December 12, 2016

The Rio Olympics gold medal contest in the women’s singles between India’s P V Sindhu and Spain’s Carolina Marin attracted 17.2 million TV viewers in India, according to the broadcasters.

Staggering figures isn’t it, especially for a sport that is struggling in recent past to produce the kind of role models of yore. Sindhu’s rise to stardom during the Olympics has come as a blessing in disguise. Not only has it given the women’s game a much-needed shot in the arm but the popularity charts have certainly gone up by leaps and bounds, as compared to the men. However, Jan Ostergaard Jorgensen, refused to accept that the women’s game was more popular than the men.

Speaking on the sidelines of the draw ceremony for the Dubai World Superseries finals held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai, on Monday, the 28-year-old Dane categorically stated that he didn’t see the popularity of women’s badminton overtaking the men.

“I don’t see that at all,” he said tongue-in-cheek. “It’s nice to see all the Indian fans from all over the world coming to WATCH Sindhu and other Indian players as it makes the sport huge in India.

“I like when different countries do well, like Carolina Marin from Spain so I hope the sport can grow bigger,” said the World No. 1.

The bronze medallist at the 2015 World Championships feels the sport needs to have more events like the one in Dubai and the upcoming Premier Badminton League (PBL) in India. For that he says a lot needs to be done. “What badminton needs to do is have more events like these. There are a lot of people wanting to see us play in different parts of the world so we have to let everything loose and it’s about time to just put everything up for grabs and see who wants it most.

“I just want the sport to get more professional, grow more. I need work done on organisation, I need work done on doping issues, I need everything to be more professional because like I said the sport is growing, the MONEY is getting bigger so I want all the things to follow.

“I want the umpires to speak English. You can stand in China and not know a word. Also, I don’t want to play in the middle of the night,” added the Dane whose Rio Olympic campaign was ended by India’s Srikanth Kidambi in the round of 16.

Jorgensen is No 3 on the BWF World Rankings but is seeded No. 1 for the Destination Dubai event. When asked about the pressures of being No. 1, he said: “The World rankings is a better reflection of standings in the destination for the Dubai rankings. I don’t like the fact that Lee Chong Wei is not seeded. It’s not appropriate because he is the favourite. He hasn’t played many tournaments this year. I’ve played more tournaments than him that’s why I’m the number one but I still go into the tournament as a regular. I don’t see myself as a huge favourite just because I ended up as the No. 1 for the Dubai series.”“I see myself as a competitor for the title if I do well. I guess my name is not the first one if you had to predict a winner. I think that would be the guy from Malaysia so I just take it as another chance to go for the title.”




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