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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 19 Nov 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Woman Opens First All-Female Restaurant in Al-Ahsa

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Nov 2015

A young Muslim man holds placards that read ‘terrorism is not Islam’ and ‘Islam is like this flower. Terrorism has no religion’ during gathering at one of the sites of the Paris attacks. Photograph: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images


 Female Suicide Bombers Kill 15 in Nigeria

 Senegalese Authorities Ban Niqab

 Assault of Muslim Woman in Toronto Seems 'Motivated By Hate', Police Say

 Was Influenced By YouTube, There Will Be A Caliphate: ISIS Sympathiser Afsha Jabeen

 Woman Blows Herself Up In Paris Raid

 Woman Elected Head of UAE Advisory Parliament

 In Indonesia, a Motorcycle Taxi Service Targets Muslim Women

 So Much for the West ‘Saving’ Muslim Women from Terrorism

 Veiled Muslim Woman Attacked In Southern France

 FIFA Not Ready For a Woman Head — Female Football Chief

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Saudi woman opens first all-female restaurant in Al-Ahsa

Nov 16, 2015

HOFOUF — A Saudi woman opens the first all-female restaurant in Al-Ahsa.

The owner of the restaurant, who called herself Al-Sheikha, said she inherited her talent in culinary arts from her mother.

“People used to call my mom Al-Sheikha because of her talents in the kitchen. Now that I have inherited her gift and have opened my own restaurant, I’m asking people to call me Al-Sheikha as well. I was hesitant of opening own restaurants but my family was very encouraging,” she said.

Al-Sheikha said she was a cook since childhood.

“I used to only cook for my family and friends but now I can share my menu with the rest of the people in Al-Ahsa. I started cooking professional when I was in high school. I would cook for occasions and festivities,” said Al-Sheikha.

She also said she started an Instagram account and began widening her clientele.

“I wanted to expand my service even more and bring it to the local market. I wanted to open my own restaurant. I attended business school to learn how to start a business and presented a study of my future restaurant,” said Al-Sheikha.

She said her study received a lot of praise and she was the only one who passed among 28 other people who submitted business ideas.

“I had a very clear vision of my restaurant. I wanted it to be a women-only restaurant and kitchen to encourage other women who are passionate about cooking to work for me and learn from my experience. I also wanted it to focus on traditional dishes of the region so people can never lose the traditional flavor of Al-Ahsa,” said Al-Sheikha.

She said she herself went to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and got her business license to open her own restaurant.

“My dream is finally realized and I am grateful to my family for their encouragement. I am also grateful to my customers who were very positive and constructive in their criticism,” said Al-Sheikha.



Female suicide bombers kill 15 in Nigeria

19th November 2015

KANO: At least 15 people were killed on Wednesday when two female suicide bombers, one said to be aged around 11, blew themselves up at a busy mobile phone market in northeast Nigeria.

Two explosions ripped through the Farm Centre market in northern Nigeria's biggest city, Kano, shortly after 4:00 pm (local time), with one of the bombers said to be aged just 11 and the other 18.

Boko Haram has previously used young girls as human bombs in its six-year insurgency in northeast Nigeria that has left at least 17,000 dead and made more than 2.6 million homeless.

In July 2014, Kano was hit four times in the space of a week by a spate of young female suicide bombers whom experts say are unlikely to be willing participants to the carnage.

“A minibus carrying some women came to the Farm Centre GSM market and dropped off one girl aged about 11 and another aged about 18, both wore the hijab,” said Kano police spokesman Musa Magaji Majia.

“One went inside the market, the other stayed outside then they exploded, killing themselves and others nearby,” he told AFP.

“The victims were taken to hospital and it was later confirmed that 15 people died, not including the suicide bombers. “The attacks came after at least 32 people were killed in a bomb blast in Yola, northeast Nigeria, on Tuesday night, that also bore the hallmarks of the Islamist rebels.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who has given his military commanders until next month to crush the militants, described both attacks as “barbaric” and “cowardly”.

He called for increased vigilance to stop further attacks against “soft" targets and said the government was “very much determined to wipe out Boko Haram in Nigeria” and bring perpetrators to book.

“Nigeria's reinvigorated, well-equipped and well-motivated armed forces and security agencies (will) overcome Boko Haram very soon,” he added.

Related: Blast at market in northeastern Nigeria's Yola kills 32

Fears revived

Trader Nafiu Mohammed said he was preparing for afternoon prayers when he heard an explosion “deep inside” the popular market at 4:10 pm.

“Police officers from a nearby police station mobilised to the scene while traders in confusion locked up their shops and moved out of the market,” he said.

He and fellow trader Suleiman Haruna watched at a distance as ambulances transported the victims to hospital.

Nearly 1,500 people have been killed in northern and northeast Nigeria since Buhari came to power on May 29, according to an AFP tally.

Tuesday's attack in Yola was the first suspected Boko Haram strike in Nigeria since a twin suicide bombing in the city on October 23 and a similar strike in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.

A total of 27 people were killed in Yola and six in Maiduguri.

Also Read: 2 female suicide bombers kill 30 in northeast Nigeria

The lull suggests the military's strategy of cutting off Boko Haram's supply routes and targeting its camps is working, forcing the Islamic State group affiliate to revert to guerrilla tactics.

The latest attacks have revived fears of a fresh round of carnage and Majia said police were hunting four women in the vehicle that dropped off the young bombers at the Kano market.

Kano has been relatively spared from the violence in the last six months, a fact attributed in part to its security network using local networks of traditional chiefs and civilians.

On July 6, a girl thought to be aged just 13 blew up outside a mosque in the city, killing only herself. In November last year, at least 120 people were killed and 270 others wounded when two suicide bombers blew themselves up and gunmen opened fire during weekly prayers at Kano's Grand Mosque.

The attack is thought to have been revenge for an earlier call by the Emir of Kano, a traditional leader, for citizens to take up arms against the Islamist militants.



Senegalese authorities ban niqab

18 November 2015

With the recent surge of Boko Haram attacks, including suicide bombings increasingly carried out by young women, Senegalese authorities have initiated a ban on wearing the niqab, the full-face veil.

Interior Minister Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo said late Tuesday that this was a preventive measure as Senegal was not exempted from potential terrorist attacks, namely from the extremist group Boko Haram.

"The fight against terrorism starts with prevention. The full veil is not a religious matter and does not fit our culture. It is more a question of national security. We are all Muslims," Diallo said.

In recent months several African governments including Congo, Chad, Cameroon and Guinea have banned the niqab using the fight against terrorism as the main argument for doing so.

Young girls wearing a niqab have carried out numerous suicide attacks in Chad and Cameroon.

Muslims make up around 92 percent of Senegal's population.


Assault of Muslim woman in Toronto seems 'motivated by hate', police say

17 November 2015

Canadian police have said that the assault and robbery of a Muslim woman in Toronto appears to have been “motivated by hate”.

Police said two men beat the woman up Monday while she was heading to pick up her son from school.

“It was a completely unprovoked attack,” said Constable Victor Kwong. “She was punched all over and kicked.”

The two men used bigoted slurs and tried to rip off the woman’s hijab, Kwong said. She was robbed of her cellphone and some money, he said.

“There’s no doubt that this is hate-motivated,” Kwong said, noting that police typically see a spike in such incidents after events like the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

The woman was treated in a hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening and later released. Police have not identified the woman.

Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, who represents the riding where the Toronto assault took place, said Canadians need to guard against racism.

“This is actually a time we need to reach out to our Muslim neighbors and friends and recognize the acts that took place in Paris were acts of terrorism and not borne of religion,” said Wynne.

Toronto mayor John Tory also denounced the attack, calling it “disgusting, unacceptable and not reflective of our city’s values”.

The assault came two days after a mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, was set on fire in an act police are treating as a hate crime.

Police are still searching for suspects in the Saturday night blaze and say it is unclear if it was connected to the attacks in Paris the previous day.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for last week’s attacks in Paris that left at least 129 people dead. French officials said the attacks were carried out by disaffected French Muslims under the supervision of a Belgian who had fought in Syria.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has advised Muslims to be vigilant against potential backlash, saying there was concern members of the community would be targeted.

It decried both the assault on the woman and anti-Muslim graffiti seen in Toronto.

“Such hateful and cowardly acts are abhorrent to all Canadians who stand united in condemning xenophobia and hatred,” said executive director Ihsaan Gardee.



Was influenced by YouTube, there will be a caliphate: ISIS sympathiser Afsha Jabeen

November 19, 2015


Age 38

From Dubai

Arrested in Sept 2015 on deportation from UAE

Her hobby is recorded as “Internet chatting”, dress habits as “western” and food preferences as “tandoori chicken, pizza and KFC”. In her interrogators’ words, Afsha Jabeen is “a split personality”, with “conflicting opinions” on everything, who remains a staunch follower and sympathiser of the Islamic State, and who believes that one day “a global caliphate will be established”.

The only woman charged in India for association with the IS, the 38-year-old Jabeen is an unlikely figure for a jihadist. Settled in Dubai, married to a Hindu real estate agent and the mother of three young girls, she is accused of being an online recruiter who indoctrinated many using a fake identity.

Her interrogation report, accessed by The Indian Express, has her justifying beheadings of Iraqi prisoners by IS soliders, equating it to “the act of killing the war prisoners” in Quran. Jabeen also supported “secession of J&K from India as Muslims of that state are tortured by Indian forces”, and said, “Nationalism is passe”.

About the Caliphate, she said it would implement the Sharia law. “I disbelieve man-made laws rather than the eternal law of Sharia.” Further, she said, “Election of Calipha will be done by Shoora council rather than namesake democracy.”

“… as per me 2/3rd of Quran is jihad, which is Holy War”, Jabeen added.

The indoctrination: Love, discord

Jabeen is one of four sisters born into a Hanafi Sunni family of Hyderabad. Her father is a post-graduate in microbiology and her mother a science graduate. When she was three, her family migrated from Hyderabad to Abu Dhabi, where her father worked at a British firm for a brief period before opening a stationery and printing store, which he ran till 2002. Her mother taught at a school.

After schooling in Abu Dhabi, Jabeen came to Hyderabad in 1996 and stayed in the city for the next four years while she finished her BCom from Shadan College. It was after she had returned to Abu Dhabi that Jabeen met her future husband, who was a paying guest at their home for four-five months.

In 2002, after Jabeen’s younger sister had completed her Class XII, her family decided to return to India. Jabeen, however, stayed in touch with her Hindu friend, and when he proposed marriage, readily accepted.

Jabeen’s fiance travelled to India and embraced Islam, and the couple got married on September 29, 2002, as per Arya Samaj and Muslim traditions. For some time after their marriage, they stayed at her husband’s elder sister’s house in Hyderabad.

Jabeen admits she wasn’t religiously inclined till then. “I became one after my marriage, due to problems (in) my wedlock.”

The metamorphosis: Creation of Nicky Joseph

Sometime in 2003, while she was working as an international reservation clerk at a travel agency in Hyderabad, Jabeen had her eldest daughter. In 2006, her husband went to Dubai for work, and she moved to her parents’ house in Hyderabad, where she stayed for a year. She admitted her stay wasn’t easy. “My parents were dead against my marriage with a Hindu and we had strained relations since then.”

Her husband wanted them all to move to Dubai, but for that they had to get their passports renewed and to make one for their daughter. According to Jabeen, her husband faced problems with his passport and the Wakf Board had to intervene.

In Dubai, Jabeen said, their problems didn’t end. “(Our sponsor) demanded 10,000 dirhams to sponsor visas for us. Due to this, we did not get visas and stayed there illegally from 2009 onwards.”

It was then that Jabeen’s “online religious activity” began. “I was influenced by watching videos posted on YouTube of several famous Islamic scholars such as Zakir Naik… I subscribed my name in YouTube with Yahoo mail id as ‘Afta Zita’.”

“I was alone in the house after my husband and daughter went for work and school respectively. My husband (had) provided laptop and WiFi facility in our house for my time-pass. I used to sit in my house and started searching (the) Internet about Islamic religious literature. Till that time, I did not have in-depth knowledge of Islam, though Islamic studies was one of my subjects up to XII standard. After that I decided to improve my religious knowledge and started searching on the Internet for the same.”

Around that time, she also acquired a new name and identity, Nicky Joseph, of British origin.

The friendship: Entry of Salman Mohiuddin

One of her online comments on a video of Zakir Naik’s lecture was corrected by a Salman Mohiuddin, an engineer who had been forced to return to Hyderabad from the US in October 2014.

“Over a period of time, based on the comments posted by Salman Mohiuddin, I could understand that he has fair knowledge of Islam. Then, I started liking Salman and shared my Yahoo group ID with him and our relationship went on for some time. Regularly we used to share our views on YouTube and Yahoo group on various religious issues, up to 2010. With regard to opening and closing of accounts, technicalities were taught to me by Salman Mohiuddin,” Jabeen claimed.

She said she also told Mohiuddin that she was having problems in her marriage.

Between 2011 and 2013, there was a gap in Jabeen’s online activity. A hypo-thyroid patient, she delivered two daughters prematurely. “We suffered a lot financially as my babies were kept in incubators for two months each,” she recounted. “I was busily engaged with my two younger daughters as (a) lot of medical care was required for almost three years.”

Jabeen and her husband’s passports were kept by the hospital as security till they cleared their dues. “We were unable to take new passports in the names of our kids, visas and renew our passports. We owed huge amount to immigration authorities in Dubai for regularisation of our stay.”

In early 2013, Jabeen as Nicky Joseph created the Facebook group ‘Islam vs Christianity, a friendly discussion’. The group got 50,000 followers within a short span of time, and pro-IS news and photographs began being posted on the group.

The radicalisation: Propagating for IS

Jabeen has spoken of IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s declaration of a Caliphate on June 29, 2014, and ‘Operation Protective Edge’ launched by Israel in Gaza on July 8 last year as events that affected her. “Since then, I became more radicalised,” she said.

The Indian Express reported earlier that disclosures by Jabeen following her arrest led intelligence agencies to at least nine IS sympathisers in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kashmir who were “active members’’ on her Facebook group and are now under watch. She claimed to have converted four non-Muslims too to Islam.

She identified six administrators of her Facebook group “Islam Vs Christianity, a friendly discussion”, as well as 14 active members of the group based in India and abroad. Investigators say Jabeen and Mohiuddin floated several online groups to indoctrinate and recruit youths for the IS.

In January this year, Mohiuddin was arrested from Hyderabad’s international airport, while allegedly on his way to Dubai and onwards to Syria.

Eight months later, on September 11, Jabeen was deported by the UAE authorities for pro-IS activities. On landing at Hyderabad airport, she was arrested.



Woman blows herself up in Paris raid

November 19, 2015

PARIS - A woman suicide bomber blew herself up in a police raid that foiled a plan to hit Paris’ business district, days after attacks that killed 132 people across the French capital.

Police stormed an apartment in the Paris suburb of St Denis in a hunt for Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian militant accused of masterminding the bombings and shootings, but more than 15 hours later it was still unclear if they had found him.

Heavily armed officers entered the building before dawn, triggering a massive firefight and multiple explosions. Eight people were arrested and forensic scientists were working to confirm if two or three militants died in the violence.

“A new team of terrorists has been neutralised,” Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters, saying police had fired 5,000 rounds of munitions into the apartment, which was left shredded by the assault, its windows blown out and the facade riddled with bullet impacts. “This commando could have become operational,” Molins said.

According to reports, preliminary investigation suggested that the dead woman might have been Abaaoud’s cousin, while the Washington Post quoted senior intelligence officials as saying Abaaoud himself had died in the shootout.

Molins said none of the bodies had been identified, adding only that Abaaoud was not amongst those detained.

Police were led to the apartment following a tip-off that the 28-year-old Belgian, previously thought to have orchestrated the Nov 13 attacks from Syria, was actually in France.

Investigators believe the attacks - the worst atrocity in France since World War Two - were set in motion in Syria, with militant cells in neighbouring Belgium organising the mayhem.

Local residents spoke of their fear and panic as the shooting started in St Denis just before 4.30 am (0330 GMT).

“We could see bullets flying and laser beams out of the window. There were explosions. You could feel the whole building shake,” said Sabrine, a downstairs neighbour from the apartment that was raided.

She told Europe 1 radio that she heard the people above her talking to each other, running around and reloading their guns.

Another local, Sanoko Abdulai, said that as the operation gathered pace, a young woman detonated an explosion.

“She had a bomb, that’s for sure. The police didn’t kill her, she blew herself up...,” he told Reuters, without giving details. Five police officers and a passerby were injured in the assault. A police dog was also killed.

The suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was not among a number of people arrested in a huge police raid, the city’s prosecutor said.

At least two bodies were found in the apartment in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, after a shootout with police, but they have not yet been identified, prosecutor Francois Molins told a press conference.

He said intelligence had led investigators to believe Abaaoud, a leading Islamic State extremist, could have been in the apartment.

In a ferocious shootout, a woman detonated her suicide vest and a body was found riddled with bullets and was “not in a state that allows it to be identified”, Molins said.

Therefore, he said: “I am not able to give you a precise number and identity of those killed. There are at least two dead and verifications will likely take longer than expected” due to the state of the apartment building.

According to Fox News, investigators would not publicly identify the second person killed in the raid, but The Washington Post, citing two senior European intelligence officials, reported that the suspected mastermind of Friday’s horrific attacks was dead.

The man believed to be the orchestrator of the massacre, 27-year-old Belgian ISIS militant Abdelhamid Abaaoud, had mocked Western authorities for his ability to slip out of their sights, into and out of Syria. Investigators traced him to an apartment in suburban Saint-Denis by tracking phone conversations and piecing together surveillance images and witness accounts.

Highlighting US fears over the attack, two Air France flights bound for Paris from the United States were diverted Tuesday and landed safely after anonymous threats that the carrier described as a “bomb scare”.

Meanwhile, A man arrested on Wednesday during a police assault on the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis told AFP he had loaned his apartment to two people from Belgium as a favour to a friend.

“A friend asked me to put up two of his friends for a few days,” Jawad Bendaoud told AFP.

The apartment was targeted by police hunting the mastermind of the Paris attacks last Friday.

“I said that there was no mattress, they told me ‘it’s not a problem’, they just wanted water and to pray,” Bendaoud said before being handcuffed and led away by police.

He said his friend told him the men came from Belgium, where according to investigators several of the jihadists were known to have lived.

“I was asked to do a favour, I did a favour. I didn’t know they were terrorists.”



Woman elected head of UAE advisory parliament

November 19, 2015

ABU DHABI : A woman was elected Wednesday as the first female to lead the UAE's Federal National Council, the half-elected parliament that serves as an advisory body, state news agency WAM reported.

Amal al-Qubaisi, previously FNC deputy speaker, was elected as speaker after the new council convened following October polls.

Local media said she was not challenged for the post.

Eight woman in total were appointed as members of the 40-seat council, which has a purely advisory role and whose seats are shared equally between elected and appointed members.

This year, 224,000 people had the right to vote out of a citizen population of just under one million.

That compared with 129,000 in 2011 and just 6,000 in the UAE's first election in 2006.

The electoral roll is drawn up by the rulers of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates, who also appoint the remaining FNC members.

Women in the UAE occupy top positions, including ministerial portfolios and high executive posts in the public sector.



In Indonesia, a Motorcycle Taxi Service Targets Muslim Women

19th November 2015

Riding motorcycle-taxis can be tricky for Muslim women who are not allowed to ride with men they are not married to, according to Islamic Law. But a new on-demand service in Indonesia is ready to solve that problem.

Ojek Syar’i caters to this market by providing motorcycle-taxis known as ojek in Indonesia, driven by hijab-wearing Muslim women.

The startup, based in Surabaya –  a port city on the Indonesian island of Java– started in March this year and follows the Islamic teaching that suggests that unmarried men and women shouldn’t ride a motorcycle together,  a practice commonly found in Indonesia where ojek is a popular transportation mode.

“Many women complained that their options for women-only public transportation mode are limited,” said PT Ojek Syari Indonesia’s 19-year old co-founder, Evilita Adriani in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.  “There should be plenty of transportation services designed specifically for women.”

Ojek Syar’i has expanded to nine cities outside its home town of Surabaya, 470 miles from Jakarta, including the capital and its satellite cities of Tangerang and Bekasi. It relies on social media websites to market its service as the company is building its first mobile application for Android devices to reach more customers, Ms. Adriani said.

In the absence of an app, passengers can order a ride by sending texts to its designated Whatsapp number, SMS, or call the customer service hotline. It operates every day from 6.00 a.m. until 8.00 p.m., but if customers require an ojek earlier it can be arranged, Ms. Adriani said. It won’t take orders later than 8.00 p.m. to consider the safety of its more than 200 drivers, she added.

Although non-Muslim women can also order the service, Ojek Syar’i only allows Muslim women to be their drivers, the company says.

Base fare is 5,000 rupiah (US 30 cents), while additional fare is 3,000 rupiah (US 20 cents) with a minimum distance of five kilometers.  The company gets 30% of revenue from every ride, while the rest goes to the drivers.  Ms. Adriani hopes that in the future she can help more women in need by expanding the company to other cities beyond the Java Island.

In Indonesia, Ojek Syar’i is going head-to-head with LadyJek, another service in Jakarta which targets women riders. It also competes with larger companies such as Go-Jek and GrabBike, which both have secured funding from investors. Go-Jek alone has 200,000 drivers.

Ms. Adriani, currently in her second year of college, founded the service with her friend Reza Samir in March.  She says her  dream job is to be “a problem solver” and used to work part-time as a food delivery courier and ojek driver before she decided to set up her company.

“When I was carrying passengers, I felt more comfortable when I rode with women,” Ms. Adriani said, adding that her experience drove her to build the service with Mr. Samir.

“We often heard about sexual harassment that happened to women on public transportation,” Ms. Adriani said.

During the first few months of Ojek Syar’i’s inception, the two founders faced many challenges including doubts raised by their friends and parents. Lack of funding also forced Ms. Adriani and Mr. Samir to be stringent about costs from the start.

“My parents were not supportive,” Ms. Adriani said. “They said, ‘a girl shouldn’t be out during the night’ but now they’re fine because I’m focusing more on the company’s management.”



So much for the West ‘saving’ Muslim women from terrorism

By Karen Attiah

November 18, 2015

“We respect our mothers, our sisters and daughters. Fighting brutality against women and children is not the expression of a specific culture; it is the acceptance of our common humanity — a commitment shared by people of goodwill on every continent. … The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.”

These words were spoken by first lady Laura Bush, 14 years ago this week at the outset of the invasion in Afghanistan. Her words stand as emblematic of the grand rhetorical tradition of linking America’s war on terror to the liberation of women and children. Western democracies for years used the salvation of Muslim women as a reason to go to war. But today, the Western world looks to be severely lacking in the “humanity” and” goodwill” Bush spoke of. For Western leaders to actively campaign against refugees fleeing terrorism, many of whom are women, reveals stunning hypocrisy on the part of those who in the past invoked those very same women as reasons to launch the war on terror. Resettling women and children seeking refuge is a pretty clear way to “save” women from terrorism in the Middle East, and the United States and Europe have decided to turn their backs on them.

After the Paris attacks on Friday that claimed at least 129 lives, at least 26 governors, mostly Republican, declared their refusal to let refugees into their states (even though they have no power to do so.) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) announced his plans to introduce a bill preventing Syrian refugees from entering the United States.  Ben Carson falsely claimed that “a majority of [Syrian refugees] are young males.  The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that over three-quarters of the 4 million refugees from Syria are actually women and children. But protecting the most vulnerable is not on the list of priorities for U.S. conservatives. Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie has said that he wouldn’t even accept 5-year-old children. Barack Obama shot back at the anti-refugee candidates, saying, “These are the same folks often times that say they’re so tough that just talking to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin or staring down ISIL (ISIS) or using some additional rhetoric will solve the problem — and they’re scared of widows and three-year-old orphans.”

So far, only about 1,500 Syrians have been accepted into the United States. According to a report from BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, a State Department spokesman said of Obama’s plans to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees, “Our emphasis is on admitting the most vulnerable Syrians – particularly survivors of violence and torture, those with severe medical conditions, and women and children – in a manner that is consistent with U.S. national security. … Military-aged males unattached to families comprise only approximately two percent of Syrian refugee admissions to date.” The United States has asked UNHCR to prioritize women with children for referral for refugee status. According to a 2014 U.N. report, women were the sole providers for a quarter of Syrian refugee families fleeing violence. None of this is not to say male refugees don’t matter. But studies have shown women and children are particularly vulnerable in conflict, especially to sexual assault in refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) camps, as well as trafficking and unwanted pregnancies.

Remember when Western leaders and feminists were fawning over Malala Yousafzai, the teen activist for girls’ rights to education who survived being shot by the Taliban in Pakistan? It was just last year that Cruz sent a message of congratulations on her Nobel Peace Prize win, calling her a “brave and powerful voice.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said this month that he would love to have a beer with the young Muslim. But today, if Malala were a Syrian, Rubio wouldn’t be so generous. In the wake of the Paris attacks, the presidential candidate, who once was open to the idea of resettling those fleeing from Syria, has reversed course, saying Sunday “we won’t be able to take in more refugees.” For her part, Malala, who opened a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon in July, blasted the response to the refugee crisis, calling world leaders “stingy.” She likely would be even more furious with the virulent anti-Muslim sentiment and xenophobia being spouted by leaders in the same countries that toasted her accomplishments. It’s ironic that the Nobel Peace Prize winner who became a symbol for the global war against terrorism would likely be refused shelter.

The issue of women and children fleeing war and terrorism is fundamentally a global feminist issue. The use of brutality against women and children that Laura Bush spoke of 14 years ago is well-documented within the Islamic State. Rukmini Callimachi of the New York Times penned a chilling exposé of the Islamic State’s use of kidnapping, systematic rape, and forced enslavement of women and girls from the Yazidi minority in Iraq. The Islamic State has beheaded and stoned women in Syria. Speaking up for resettling women and children fleeing such violence should be a priority for Americans right now. At this juncture, it’s not.

“In America, next week brings Thanksgiving,” Bush said at the end of her radio address in 2001. “After the events of the last few months, we’ll be holding our families even closer. And we will be especially thankful for all the blessings of American life. I hope Americans will join our family in working to insure that dignity and opportunity will be secured for all the women and children of Afghanistan.” As Thanksgiving approaches this year, it’s a shame that American leaders are actively working to ensure that dignity and opportunity are being denied to women and children fleeing Syria and other places affected by war and terrorism.



Veiled Muslim woman attacked in southern France

19 Nov 2015

A young woman wearing a veil was attacked in Marseille on Wednesday by a man who reportedly called her a terrorist.

The woman was leaving a metro station in the centre of the city when she was approached by a man who called her a terrorist, police said.

The man, who was in his 20s, then made a reference to the fact that she was wearing a hijab - a head covering worn by some Muslim women.

He then punched her in the neck and sliced her chest with what is thought to have been a box cutter, before fleeing the scene.

The woman escaped serious injury and was prescribed two days off work.

Police said that other Islamophobic attacks have surfaced in the area after Islamic extremists killed 129 people in Paris on Friday, but did not go into detail.

The city of Marseille also saw three attackers stabbing a Jewish school teacher in what investigators say was an anti-Semitic attack on Wednesday night. The assailants shouted support for Isis (Daesh) after the attack, reports say.

Attacks on veiled women in France have made headlines already this year, most notably in March, when a headscarf-wearing Muslim woman in her final month of pregnancy was violently assaulted in Toulouse, southern France.

Christophe Borgel, the local MP of Haute-Garonne, was outraged after hearing of the attack and it was "without a doubt" motivated by racism and anti-Muslim sentiment.

"I was shocked to learn of this attack. This French woman of Muslim faith was attacked because she was wearing the traditional headscarf," said Borgel in a statement sent to The Local.

France saw a similar incident in June, 2013, when a pregnant Muslim woman was attacked in the suburbs of Paris by two ‘skinheads’, allegedly for wearing an Islamic face veil. She later suffered a miscarriage, however it wasn't clear whether the loss of her baby was linked to the attack.



FIFA not ready for a woman head — Female football chief

Nov 18, 2015

LONDON — Touted as the possible first female leader of world soccer body FIFA, Sierra Leone’s Isha Johansen said the time was not right for her to aim for the top job now but she would not rule out a shot at the presidency in the future.

FIFA was thrown into turmoil in May by US indictments of 14 football officials for alleged corruption and President Sepp Blatter has been suspended ahead of February elections when five candidates will vie for the leadership and to clean up the game.

Johansen, 51, president of the Sierra Leone Football Association, is one of only a handful of women to ever head football associations among FIFA’s 209 member countries.

She said it was a shame that no women were in the running for the FIFA presidency next year but she said this could change in the future as women took a greater role in the sport.

“If I can successfully accomplish the things I want to do I can see no reason why I would not want to go for the top job eventually,” Johansen said in an interview Tuesday.

“Women definitely should try to aspire to high places … but I was too new in my role to consider this now,” she added, speaking on the sidelines of the Trust Women conference on women’s rights run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Studies have repeatedly shown that increasing the percentage of women on corporate boards can improve financial performance, corporate social responsibility, and increase the number of women in other high-level positions.

Johansen said she had not set out for a career in football but fell into the role as the daughter of a professional banker who co-founded one of Sierra Leone’s most famous clubs, East End Lions FC, and with two sports mad brothers.

She is now owner and CEO of Sierra Leone National Premier League club, her country’s top professional football league.

She is also the founder of football club FC Johansen that she set up as a humanitarian project in 2004 to inspire young footballers and is now in the premier league.

Johansen said the success of FC Johansen gave her the confidence to run for president of the Sierra Leone Football Association in 2013, winning the post and vowing to bring discipline, sanity and integrity to football in her country.

“(Football) was never a career option,” Johansen said. “I didn’t see myself coming and a lot of people didn’t see me coming .. and those that did thought it was a big joke.”

Over the years she has faced verbal and physical abuse for taking such a high profile role in a sport dominated by men and in a country where sexism is rife. Her 18-year-old son has had to endure similar abuse on social media, she said.

But Johansen said this had not deterred her from her task of leading football in Sierra Leone where she has tried to tackle mismanagement and corruption head on.

“Sexism plays a large part but it is good governance that I am driving and it makes it hard work being a woman,” she said.

Johansen said she hoped getting more women into leadership roles in public and private sectors would inspire a new generation of women and that she personally would be a role model for other women to go into football administration.

“The power of football to break barriers is enormous,” she said. “We have to try to elevate our young girls to a status both mentally and physically through the power of football.”