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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 13 Oct 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Women Seek Direct Contact with Voters

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Oct 2015

From left: Ellisha Remnant, Warda Ahmed and Tasneem Vali react to debate over the Niqab this federal election. (CBC)


 Debate on Niqab A Distraction from Real Issues, Canadian Muslim Women Say

 High Security for Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari’s Visit to Lyari College Irks Many

 Emirati Women Attend Global Meet in France

 UAE Female Fighter Pilot Honoured

 DAP’s New Strategy: Win over the Women for the Next General Election

 Indonesia to Resume Sending Domestics to Saudi Arabia

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Saudi Women Seek Direct Contact with Voters

Oct 13, 2015

DAMMAM — Female candidates trying their luck in the upcoming municipal elections are opposing the supreme election committee’s decision to ban their direct contact with voters terming it as “discriminatory and unacceptable.”

The committee suggested that female candidates hire representatives to deal with voters and public relations companies to manage their promotional campaigns. Female candidates were also banned from entering men’s sections at the location of their electoral campaigns.

But female candidates and their supporters are demanding a revision of the decision to guarantee equal rights during the campaigning phase. The decision, several candidates said, caused a lot of frustration among women who see their participation as a genuine opportunity to contribute to decision-making.

Female candidates were shocked by the committee’s decision to set a penalty of SR10, 000 for violations. The candidates will also be billed the fees for the companies the committee hires to manage their campaign.

Nasima Al-Sada, a candidate, said financial penalties are against the bylaws of the election campaign. The bylaws, she said, ensures a candidate’s right to meet with his or her voters. She asked how equality would be achieved during the election process when female candidates are banned from meeting face-to-face with voters and talk about their election program. She stressed that including women into the election process should integrate women into society and not isolate them.

Muna Al-Husain, an employee, thought that the ban sabotages the experience of women’s participation in elections. “The decision must be reviewed,” she said.

Nawal Al-Ramadan, a nurse, said that the financial penalty is an obstacle that prevents women from participating in municipal elections.

Zahraa Al-AbdulKarim, a teacher, said that the experience of female members of the Shoura Council must be duplicated successfully in other areas of women’s participation in their society.

Voting to choose 284 municipal councils all over the Kingdom begins on Dec. 12 and the results will be announced the same day.



Debate on Niqab A Distraction from Real Issues, Canadian Muslim Women Say

Oct 13, 2015

Three Winnipeg Muslim women are speaking out against efforts to politicize the Niqab in this federal election.

The Niqab, or veil, that partially covers a woman's face has been front and centre on the campaign trail in recent weeks.

Tasneem Vali said the attention being paid to a piece of clothing that is worn by a small number of women in Canada has come as a shock.

"This is not a fundamental issue that we must all agree on," said Vali. "It is what you consider to be your personal form of modesty. For me to tell you that you're wrong in thinking that way that is not what Canada is about. That is not what Islam is about."

The Niqab gained prominence as an election issue after a court ruled in favour of Zunera Ishaq, who challenged a 2011 Conservative ban on wearing the Niqab while taking the citizenship oath.

Last Friday Ishaq took the oath while wearing the Niqab at a government building in Mississauga, Ont..

Zunera Ishaq, who challenged ban on Niqab, takes citizenship oath wearing it

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper also drew attention to the Niqab last week. Harper said his government would examine a wider ban on the Niqab for federal public servants if he is re-elected.

Niqab ban for public servants would be considered: Stephen Harper

Vali believes the decision to wear a Niqab is a personal choice that should be left to a woman to make on her own.

The mother of three said at one point in her life, she wore the Niqab for a period of about two months, before deciding it wasn't the right choice for her. Vali was working as a teacher in Pakistan at the time. 

"I thought that doing that was that extra modesty that I was looking for that would bring me closer to God," said Vali. "It didn't add to my expressed spirituality per se that I was looking for, I think. And that does not mean that I don't respect and value somebody who does do the Niqab."

Vali said instead of debating the Niqab, this election should be about issues that affect the majority of Canadians.

Warda Ahmed, a 26-year-old student at the University of Manitoba, agrees.

"Elections [are] supposed to be about making things better and bringing people together and making it a more inclusive and diverse society — not picking as to what a woman chooses to wear as part of her faith," Ahmed.

Islamophobia and the importance of tolerance

Ahmed said she feels the Conservative government's attempt to ban the Niqab in citizenship ceremonies is an example of Islamophobia.

"I don't think that's a hidden agenda," said Ahmed. "I think it's a very clear agenda that it is Islamophobia and it just really makes us more divided instead of creating space and making elections a way for us to come together as Canadians."

Ahmed said this controversy has demonstrated the need to talk about the importance of tolerance.

"Once we take care of someone else's right who is a minority, our rights also will be taken care of," said Ahmed. "We can't only just take care of ... the way we look, or what we believe in. But, also what someone else believes in and how they look, for us to be able to come together as an inclusive Canada."

'Don't distract us'

Ellisha Remnant said she thinks discussion and debate on the Niqab has turned into a distraction from real issues like the economy.

"Don't distract us with the Niqab when a very small percentage of the Muslims wear the Niqab," said Remnant. "So, please let's focus on what's important to make our community a better community, a more harmonious community and let us all participate on the positivity of our community."

Remnant is happy Ishaq took her citizenship oath while wearing the Niqab.

"This is what democracy is all about," said Remnant. "That's why a lot of people have come to Canada. For this. To be able to be part of a community, to dress however they feel fit."



High security for Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari’s visit to Lyari college irks many


October 13, 2015

KARACHI: Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, the youngest daughter of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and co-chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari, on Monday visited Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (SMBB) Medical College in Lyari that was closed even for many students and faculty members due to tight security arrangements, a statement and witnesses said.

The statement issued by Bilawal House stated the visit was designed by the youngest daughter of the former president herself to personally review facilities available there and requirements for further improvement in the college in the heart of Karachi’s old area, but there was no word about flaws in the security arrangements that deprived several students of their regular studies.

“The SMBB Medical College was established in the light of vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for progressive, prosperous and educated Lyari where Lyari General Hospital was approved by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto herself many two decades back,” the statement quoted Aseefa Bhutto as saying while interacting with the students and faculty members there.

“Earlier, Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari visited the faculties and was briefed by principal Professor Anjum Rehman about the college and its needs. She intermingled with the medical students and exchanged pleasantries with them. Students were excited to see Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari among them and took selfies with her.”

She came to the college with a brigade of security guards, including women, in a number of vehicles that led to suspension of normal activities in the neighbourhood. The college gates were closed on her arrival and the students who arrived later were not allowed to enter. Regular movement of vehicles and people around the college were also banned for a couple of hours with armed guards and policemen deputed around the building.

According to the statement, Ms Bhutto-Zardari was pleased that the SMBB Medical College had been promoted to A-Category college within four years of its establishment. She was also happy to know that the first batch of 100 would be graduating from the college within the next few months and exhorted them to serve the poor humanity in their native areas, especially those having meagre health facilities, added the statement.

It stated that she also assured the students and the college management that she would talk to the chief minister and the health minister to solve the problems they shared with her during her visit.



Emirati women attend global meet in France

October 12, 2015

Dubai: A delegation of UAE women leaders is on its way to the 11th Women’s Forum Global Meeting to be held in Deauville, France, from October 14 to 16.

Part of more than 2,000 international delegates, the group of Emirati women is visiting the forum under the directives of Shaikha Manal Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of UAE Gender Balance Council and President of Dubai Women Establishment.

The visit is part of the UAE’s efforts to participate in international events to actively engage with global leaders on issues of mutual interest. The UAE delegation will seek to highlight the UAE’s achievements in women’s empowerment and the role that women are playing in the social and economic development of the country.

The visit comes as Dubai prepares to host the Women’s Forum in February next year, the first time the forum will be held in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

Commenting on the visit, Shaikha Manal said the delegation will demonstrate the leadership and capabilities of Emirati women as active contributors to UAE society, apart from highlighting the UAE’s efforts to empower Emirati women.

She added that the forum is a good opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with international women leaders and convey a clear picture of the developmental process in the country.

Speaking about the choice of the UAE as the host of the Women’s Forum for the first time in the region, Shaikha Manal said: “The choice of Dubai as the venue of next year’s Women’s Forum represents global recognition of our achievements in women’s empowerment and acknowledges the UAE leadership’s vision of empowering women and enhancing their role as strategic partners in national development.”



UAE female fighter pilot honoured

October 12, 2015

Dubai: Major Mariam Al Mansouri, the UAE’s first female pilot who led a strike mission in Syria against Daesh in October 2014, is expected to be honoured on Tuesday at the United Nations with the Asia Game Changer Award.

The annual award, which was launched by the Asia Society in 2014, was formed to recognise individuals, organisations and movements who make a positive contribution to the future of Asian society. According to Asia Society, Maj Mariam will be honoured for her role in “battling stereotypes, and terror, from the air”.

Known on social media as ‘Lady Liberty’ and ‘Daesh’s nightmare’, Maj Mariam had spent several years working for the General Command, waiting for the air force academy to open up to female recruits, before realising her dream and becoming one of the first women to join the UAE’s Air Force.

In a previous interview published in Gulf News, Maj Mariam commented that striving for success in a male-dominated field required her to first and foremost compete with herself and pave her own path in developing her own abilities. “Unlike competing with others, competing with yourself is a never-ending process and is a source of motivation for continuous learning,” she said.

Earlier in 2014, the now veteran F-16 operations pilot had previously received the Mohammad Bin Rashid Excellence Award, taking home the Pride of the Emirates medal.

Also to be honoured on October 13 at the United Nations are Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, who was named the Asia Game Changer of the Year 2015. Other recipients of the award include 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics awardees Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for developing the light-emitting diode (LED) bulb; Chanda Kochhar of the Indian banking industry; Lei Jun, known as China’s Steve Jobs; Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin, who was one of China’s top ballet dancers; Indian comedian and activist Aasif Mandvi; and Indian interior designer Kiran Bir Sethi.



DAP’s New Strategy: Win over the Women for the Next General Election

FMT Reporters | October 13, 2015

PETALING JAYA: DAP is paying special attention to winning the hearts of women as it prepares for the next general election, according to the party’s secretary-general, Lim Guan Eng.

As part of this strategy, DAP would be appointing more women to its state committees, Lim said. The aim is to have women make up at least 30 per cent of the membership of these committees.

The party would also ensure that its community services would pay more attention to resolving problems faced by women, he added.

Speaking at the Johor DAP convention in Batu Pahat this weekend, Lim said DAP was embarking on the new strategy because women voters could determine a party’s victory or defeat in elections.

“Most voters are women,” he said. “We might as well pull in this group to vote for us.”

One of the subjects that came up at Sunday’s convention was the Conference of Malay Rulers’ recent statement, which expressed anxiety over the 1MDB scandal.

DAP Advisor Lim Kit Siang said the party would publicise the statement by uploading it on social media and distributing printed copies.

He said his party was “proud” of the Malay Rulers for expanding their focus from issues related to religion and culture to problems relating to the economy and other aspects of public life.



Indonesia to Resume Sending Domestics to Saudi Arabia

13 October 2015

JEDDAH: A top Indonesian official said the decision to stop sending Indonesian workers is temporary and includes all countries that recruit Indonesian workers, not only the Kingdom.

The Indonesians will resume sending workers after ending all procedures to improve labour laws.

Director of Protection of Indonesian Citizens Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Iqbal said that the procedures to recruit domestic workers will be across companies through coordination with the Labour Ministry to preserve labour rights of Indonesian workers.

At the same time, the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh started organizing workshops to raise awareness of labour regulations and traditional customs of Saudi society among Indonesian domestic workers, in cooperation with the Labour Ministry, stressing that this program will be applied in other countries in the Middle East, according to a media report.

“The number of Indonesian workers in the Kingdom is 270,000, according to official statistics, while there are unofficial reports which revealed the number is 700,000. However, the number of complaints of Indonesian workers against their employers in the Kingdom is 10,000 a year,” Iqbal said.

“The Indonesian Embassy is working to support its domestic workers who have no problems with their employers, while the embassy does not force their country’s nationals to leave the Kingdom as they can stay there through renewing their residence permits,” he added.

Iqbal said: “The Foreign Ministry is working with the Labour Ministry and other organizations in Indonesia, to improve labour procedures and work laws. The decision to stop exporting domestic workers to countries in the Middle East was due to lack of providing insurance for Indonesian workers.”

Meanwhile, President of Recruitment Committee at Jeddah Chamber for Commerce and Industry Yahya Al-Maqboul confirmed that Indonesian domestic workers’ rights have been safeguarded in the Kingdom. All domestic workers, drivers and housemaids receive free medical services in Saudi public hospitals and clinics.

Speaking to Arab News, he said: “The private sector has been forced to cover its workers with medical insurance. That is an important requirement to renew residence permits of workers. So health services are provided to all workers in the Kingdom.”